Brut Original Eau de Toilette Fragrance Review: A Classic Parisian Throwback of the 1960s

By | 2017-12-04T05:45:42+00:00 Aug 24th, 2017|Categories: Fragrance: Men's Perfume, Cologne & Aftershave|Tags: , |6 Comments

Brut is one of the most iconic colognes of the 1960s that was developed by Karl Mann and first launched by Fabergé in 1964. Although it is today owned by Unilever, little has changed since its hey-day. In the review below, we will explore the fragrance’s structure, seasonality and versatility as well as its value for money.

brut original eau de toilette backlitOverview

  • Brand: Brut
  • Fragrance: Original
  • Concentration: Eau de Toilette
  • Introduction: 1964
  • Olfactive Fragrance Family: Aromatic Fougere

Brut is to continental Europe as what Old Spice is to the USA and the UK. That said, this iconic fragrance is just as popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Brut is a hallmark of men’s 1960s personal grooming culture and has stood firm against 50 years of fashion trends.

In 1989, Unilever took over Fabergé. However, the household name was kept on its eau de toilettes until recently as a mark of authenticity and quality.

Aside from the classic original aftershave and eau de toilette, the Brut name hosts a huge spectrum of grooming products. A plethora of Brut deodorants and shower gels are staples of men’s bathroom cabinets.

Furthermore, over the last 15 years the label diversified into different fragrances such as Oceans, Musk and Attraction Totale.

Although there is now a range to suit most male palates, the original cologne remains its greatest success and one of the most familiar fragrances to men of all ages.

fragrance formula review brut original edt

Download the Brut Original Fragrance Formula as a PDF

Brut Original’s Composition

Brut Original has a diverse palate that above all denotes cleanliness whilst edging slightly beyond its Aromatic Fougere fragrance family.

Head Notes

  • Lavender
  • Anise
  • Basil
  • Lemon

Although a decidedly aromatic fragrance, Brut’s head is exceedingly heaving on citrus. This is the fragrance’s infamous drawback that has received the most criticism over the years. The sickly sweet lemon and bergamot clash with the anise undertones that create a nose-curling bitterness. Fortunately, the lavender conceals this until it quickly dissipates without a trace and reveals the fragrance’s heart.

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Heart Notes

  • Jasmine
  • Bergamot
  • Geranium
  • Vanilla

Brut’s surprisingly floral heart is a welcome relief following the chaotic head. A bouquet of jasmine and geranium complement the citrus aftermath with a hint of bergamot. As the floral blossom dwindles, it draws out dry and soft vanilla notes before transitioning to the base.

Base Notes

  • Sandalwood
  • Vetiver
  • Tonka Bean
  • Patchouli

brut original eau de toilette detail shot

Brut’s base is probably the most familiar component of the fragrance laden with whimsical nostalgia. The vanilla heart opens up to overarching sweet tonka bean notes that intertwine with a patchouli accord.

The powdery foundation of sandalwood and vetiver is reminiscent of talcum powder, which can bring out vivid childhood memories. Many wearers of Brut often comment on the comforting and familiar imagery provoked by the fragrance.

Although this is likely one of the secrets to its success, the base’s structure denotes cleanliness and freshness. Despite a complexity of two intertwined layers of accords, the base is a simple and effective component of the fragrance.

Furthermore, the combination of a well-groomed and soap-clean floral fragrance with strong masculine father figure connotations has proved to be attractive to women.

The Lifecycle of Brut Original

Brut’s rocky opening may let its lifecycle down but fortunately doesn’t penalise it entirely. Interestingly, it’s citrus-heavy head functions particularly well as an aftershave due to the higher alcohol content.

Nevertheless, the head is fortunately very brief and leads to a fanciful yet short-lived floral heart. Although we only get a glimpse of the bouquet, it counteracts the head’s traumatic opening before introducing us to the long drawn-out base.

Wake & Strength

Upon application, Brut is a deceptively strong fragrance. As soon as the overpowering head fades, only a glimmer remains and longevity is consequently poor. Wearers are unlikely to get more than one or two hours of fragrances before it expires entirely.

To overcome this, the fragrance needs to be over-applied in large quantities to be able to survive beyond the morning commute.

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brut original eau de toilette dark

This may feel like a fatal mistake at first but within minutes the fragrance will still seem faint. As boxer Henry Cooper would say in Brut’s 1970s advertising campaign, “splash it all over.”

Whilst the fragrance still lingers, it leaves a mild projection behind the wearer that stays within a comfortable radius of about 1 metre. Similarly, sillage is present but not overbearing and leaves only a minor trail that quickly dissipates.

Brut will likely need applying more than once during the day unless accompanied by the brand’s deodorant. As the two complement each other well, it will create a mild projection that will require touching up maybe once during the lunch hour.

When Should You Wear Brut Original?

brut original eau de toilette & deodorantAside from criticism for its bitter citrus head, general feedback with Brut is largely positive.

Compliments are often directed towards its cleanliness and sweet aromatic aura as well as its nostalgic value. As many adults above 25 may have had fathers that wore Brut at least once in their lives, the fragrance is often greeted with enthusiasm.

Consensus has shown this to be particularly effective among women as the scent likely chimes with the notions of a strong father figure.

Its clean and aromatic properties make the fragrance ideal for most daytime office environments. However, being something of a budget and fleeting fragrance, evening activities and special occasions may require something more prestigious.

Otherwise, this is a very masculine fragrance that is ideal for men approaching on well into their thirties and beyond.

Brut’s broad spectrum of aromatic notes renders this fragrance particularly versatile throughout the year. Its effectiveness may dwindle during the winter as the notes are green and floral.

However, it can be worn during the colder months at a push thanks to the presence of anise and sandalwood. Nevertheless, this is a fragrance that shines during late spring as its aromatic notes denote freshness with a slight gourmand warmth from the vanilla and tonka bean.

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Presentation and Value For Money

brut eau de toilette original bottle & packaging

Although the logo still looks excellent with art nouveau vibes reminiscent of early bottles of Couty’s Chypre, packaging is unlikely to win prizes. In the USA, plastic long-bottle necks with a metallic medallion appear to still be the norm but weren’t available in Europe.

The European market instead favours wide glass bottles, which come with an atomiser for the eau de toilette and a splash bottle for the aftershave. The glass bottle is by no means bad and reflects the price range but it lacks the prestige and quality of more luxurious fragrances. However, although Brut as a brand is associated with green colours, the eau de toilette is actually a mustard yellow.

The atomiser and cap appear to be a cheap plastic, which is unsurprising for the price. However, the atomiser functions exceedingly well with decisive sprays and hearty clouds.

Pricing seems to vary drastically between countries. In the USA, a 3.2 Oz (100 ml) bottle of eau de toilette can be found on Amazon from $20. Meanwhile, a whopping 750ml (25.4 Oz) of the US cologne can be found on Notino for only $20.60.

However, in France a bottle can be picked up for just over $6 at most drug stores. It’s a small comfort given that usually similar classic fragrances are much more expensive in Europe than America.

Nevertheless, this puts it at a very good value fragrance, which is a relief given that so much is needed to last the day.

Closing Thoughts

Hurt by an overbearingly bitter citrus head and weak longevity, Brut is an otherwise excellent choice. It’s not only ideal for frugal and vintage-minded fragrance enthusiasts but still a force to be reckoned with despite fluctuating trends and forever evolving fragrances.

High praise not only comes from its nostalgia value but the complex notes that give way to minimalist accords. With such a low price tag, a bottle of Brut belongs on every man’s bathroom shelf.

Brut Original
Reviewed by Charles-Philippe Bowles, on
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"1960s Parisian Swagger. Oozing with whimsical nostalgia, Brut Original is a classic fragrance that walks a fine line between cleanliness and complexity."
Rating: 4.0 ★★★★

About the Author:

Charles-Philippe is a Franco-Briton who in forgetting where he parked his time machine, settled down somewhere between Paris and Champagne during the early 21st Century. A Brie connoisseur and wine enthusiast with a penchant for all things vintage, you can find him loitering on Instagram when he isn’t writing for Bespoke Unit.

6 Comments

  1. James August 26, 2017 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    I’ve been wearing this fragrance for many years, glad to see some contemporary coverage of it.

    – James

    • Paul Anthony August 26, 2017 at 4:22 pm - Reply

      Thanks James!

      Keep an eye out for weekly fragrance reviews of more classics and newer ones too.

      Yours, Paul

  2. electrofunk November 8, 2017 at 1:16 am - Reply

    Is the “eau de toilette” longer lasting than the “cologne” or “eau de cologne” version that is available in the U.S.?

    • Charles-Philippe November 9, 2017 at 10:23 am - Reply

      Hi Electrofunk! I haven’t yet had the opportunity to try out the US version of Brut but I’d hazard a guess that if they sell it under “cologne”, the eau de toilette I reviewed should be stronger. If you do get to try both, please check back in here and let us know!

      Best,

      Charles-Philippe

  3. King John November 29, 2017 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    This sweet, fresh fougere was originally a female fragrance. The antecedents were Ambush and then Dana’s Canoe. With Brut and its many descendents, it is now accepted as a preminently masculine direction.

    • Charles-Philippe December 1, 2017 at 2:29 am - Reply

      Hi King John (or should I say “Your Highness”?)! I didn’t realise that these were the direct ancestors of Brut but it doesn’t surprise me. Men’s fragrances have always had a tendency to appropriate what were originally women’s scents. We’ll throw around “masculinity” but it’s all very conceptual. It leads back to your comment regarding Tabac and how as long as a product has “pour homme” slapped on it, men will feel comfortable enough to wear it.

      I was actually testing some women’s fragrances a few days back and took a whiff of Patchouli by Reminiscence Paris. Its bittersweet musky floral note could easily be worn by a man and has often been incorporated into many masculine fragrances but I doubt that men would dare wear it because it’s supposedly destined for women.

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