This review was originally written when Dunhill Icon was released in 2015. It was revised in October 2017 to include the Bespoke Unit Fragrance Formula. BUFF is a review matrix developed by Paul Anthony and Charles-Philippe Bowles, which standardises Bespoke Unit’s fragrance reviews.
I’ve been a long time fan of Dunhill fragrances, having used “Dunhill Man” on and off for many years. So I was excited to learn of the latest release from Dunhill, called ICON.
Thus, on a trip to Las Vegas in 2015, I picked up a bottle from the Dunhill boutique in the Caesars Palace Mall. You can however buy it here from Amazon.
- Brand: Dunhill
- Fragrance: Icon
- Concentration: Eau de Parfum
- Introduction: 2015
- Olfactive Fragrance Family: Woody Aromatic
Dunhill is one of the oldest designer fragrance houses. For instance, Dunhill For Men was released in 1934. Icon is their nineteenth unique fragrance release. It promised to be a perfect transitional fragrance into fall / autumn with its citrus top notes and woody / leather base notes.
Created by Carlos Benaim, the scent is said to be more complex then previous releases by the British firm, which made it an intriguing acquisition.
If you’re new to fragrances then there are a few key things to know including the classification of the fragrance strength, as well as how to analyze the aroma as it “matures” through the head, heart, and base cycle. You can learn more about them with our dedicated fragrance guides.
Dunhill Icon’s Composition
Dunhill themselves classify the fragrance family as “aromatic woody.” This is due to the accord, which blends aromatic and herb notes with wood-based resins.
Although the terminology may come across as particularly wordy, our fragrance family guides explain in detail the logic behind this.
- Petit Grain Tunisia
- Black Pepper
- Italian Bergamot
Icon opens up with a citrus burst closely followed by the sweet oily essence of neroli. The petit grain adds flavours that are reminiscent of earl grey tea. Meanwhile, the black pepper creates a spicy, masculine background.
- Cardamon Absolute
- Lavender de Provence – I powerfully get this coming through the heart
- Silver Sage
- Juniper Tonic – whereas my girlfriend gets this most strongly
The two italicized notes above, again add to the allure of fragrances for me. After all, everyone interprets a given fragrance slightly differently, like a fine whisky or wine. The heart is where I personally feel ICON shines as a season transitional fragrance. This be because it carries light but deep notes, without being something corny like pumpkin spice!
Newer formulations seem to include a greater amount of iris notes as detected in 2017. This addition develops an accord with the lavender, which creates a much more floral bouquet. Overall, this creates a complex contrast with the aromatic notes of sage, juniper and cardamon.
- Orris-leather accord (this is an exclusive to ICON)
- Agarwood / Oud
- Oak Moss
ICON’s base is what ties it most to its seasonality. The combination of resinous woods and green notes anchor the aroma in fall where I believe it’s best suited. The 2017 formulation appears to contain notes of labdanum, which adds an oily, animalistic musk. This further brings out the orris-leather accord created by the agarwood oud resinous aromas.
Life-Cycle, Wake & Strength
ICON’s composition seamlessly transitions through its dry-down to such an extent that some may claim it to be linear. However, the wide palate of diverse notes ensure that the fragrance follows a constant theme.
Each cycle phase is long enough to be noticed and enjoyed before the powerful oily resins emerge from the base. It’s these characteristics that make it a premium and long-lasting fragrance.
In addition, ICON is an “eau de parfum.” This is a much stronger and longer lasting fragrance than an “eau de toilette,” which is what most over-the-counter fragrances are.
This was the case with ICON, as I found the scent to be strong, but not overpowering throughout the day as I wore it, occasionally catching the odd whiff. (Note: This is one of the main reasons that I like to rotate my fragrances with the seasons. By doing so, one’s nose does not become immune to any particular fragrance.).
Further, ICON uses two absolute ingredients: neroli and cardamon. While more expensive to use, these two ingredients afford the best longevity and depth for the fragrance.
Reactions To Dunhill Icon
Feedback to Dunhill ICON is generally positive with many applauding its complex and elegant palate of dark aromas. Those who particularly enjoy it find that it is an refined fragrance and often liken it to incense. Others find the scent overtly enticing and persevering without wandering into pushiness.
Yet, a small minority did find the fragrance’s oily and resinous character slightly off-putting. For those that aren’t fond of animal musk or woody incense, ICON may not be their ideal fragrance. These particular notes aren’t overpowering to most people. However, they may not be enjoyed as much by those with a sensitivity to ouds.
When Should You Wear Dunhill ICON?
In terms of seasonality, some users consider ICON to be a spring or summer fragrance. However, I find that the use of warm aromatics and deep resin makes ICON the definitive fall fragrance. The warm notes are akin to a smoky fireplace and winter spices. However, the fragrance never strays too close to oriental notes meaning that it retains a bond with the colder months.
In addition, the use of such refined and balanced notes make this a fantastic formal fragrance. Dunhill ICON would be an ideal choice for most special occasions from dates to formal gatherings. The leather accord brought on by the agarwood and labdanum is both romantic and elegant.
In that regard, I find that Dunhill ICON particularly suits my lifestyle needs and therefore is my favourite go-to fragrance. It pairs very well with a tuxedo or dinner jacket when attending events. Yet I will often wear this when going out on evening dates with my girlfriend.
Machine Turned Bottle
One thing not to be overlooked with any fragrance, and in particular with ICON, is the bottle. With a price tag of $130 per 100ml on its release (even being an eau de parfum), ICON is one of the steeper price points for an “off the rack” fragrance.
Nevertheless, ICON has been in circulation for a few years now. Therefore, even the eau de parfum variant can be found today for less. For instance, 100 ml of the eau de parfum can be found on Amazon.com for $45. On Notino.com, it’s slightly more at $48.91.
However, the high price tag is compensated by a glorious machine turned metal case, around a substantial glass bottle. It brings one back to the roots of Dunhill’s automotive origins.
The bottle actually comes in at a whopping 21oz (600 grams). Feeling very sturdy, but not cumbersome or too large in the hand. The atomizer also performs very nicely giving an effective spray with a balanced cloud dispersal. You can use it at most ranges without find yourself with too little or too much on your skin.
As you may have already guessed by now, I’m a big fan of ICON and feel it shall be a great addition to any collection. In fact, you’ll find it among our selection of the best men’s fragrances of all time.
With pricing having reduced after a few years of circulation, it is now a much more affordable option. Lastly, eau de parfums perform much longer, which gives added value.
I shall personally be using it this fall as it is a great fragrance for transitioning from summer scents. ICON sits perfectly before I crank out my full blown winter fragrances such as Opus by Penhaligon’s.
If you enjoyed this review, remember that you can also watch our video below!
"The perfect fall fragrance. After a citrus burst and aromatic head, Dunhill ICON mellows into one of the most enticing bases I've ever experienced. The notes of agarwood, leather and musk are a refined accord for the discerning gentleman."Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★