Dunhill ICON – Men’s Fragrance Review

By | 2018-03-23T11:02:04+00:00 Oct 6th, 2015|Categories: Fragrance: Men's Perfume, Cologne & Aftershave|Tags: |17 Comments

Dunhill ICON box with bag

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.

Overview

  • 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.

Download the Dunhill Icon Fragrance Formula as a PDF

fragrance formula dunhill icon eau de parfum review

Learn More About The Bespoke Unit Fragrance Formula (BUFF)

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.

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Head Notes

Dunhill ICON Bottle

  • Neroli
  • 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.

Heart Notes

  • Iris
  • 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.

Base Notes

  • Orris-leather accord (this is an exclusive to ICON)
  • Labdanum
  • Vetiver
  • 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.

ICON Bottle Bottom And Side

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.

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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

Unboxing 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.

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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.

Dunhill ICON Bottle weighed

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.

Conclusion

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.

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If you enjoyed this review, remember that you can also watch our video below!

Dunhill ICON
Reviewed by Paul Anthony, on .
"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 ★★★★★

About the Author:

Paul Anthony is the founder and creative director at Bespoke Unit. He has had a life long affair with design, watches, fragrance and clothing. Originally from England, he now lives in the USA splitting time between NYC & Philly. Favoring "British Style", but has an overall eclectic taste.

17 Comments

  1. Scott Jones October 7, 2015 at 10:16 am - Reply

    I recently got this aftershave too. I agree with it being a good one for autumn. Dunhill make some really good scents.

    • Paul Anthony September 12, 2017 at 9:43 am - Reply

      I agree on all fronts!

      – Paul

  2. Jude Agu June 4, 2016 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    I recently got one from a dear friend as a gift. The fragrance relaxes my spirit. I urge everyone to get one not minding the price as the value far out weighs the price. The scents is a perfect choice for this raining season here in Nigeria.

    • Paul Anthony September 12, 2017 at 9:44 am - Reply

      Thank you for your comment. It is indeed a very relaxing scent.

      All the best,

      – Paul

  3. Sean October 11, 2017 at 8:44 am - Reply

    Big fan of this fragrance, now that the weather is getting cold it’s going to come into its own.

    • Paul Anthony October 11, 2017 at 10:32 am - Reply

      Couldn’t agree more!

  4. Ramón Gestal Gómez December 31, 2017 at 11:03 am - Reply

    Delicious scent which blends perfectly to my natural skin scent.

    • Charles-Philippe January 2, 2018 at 11:33 am - Reply

      Hi Ramón,
      Glad you enjoy it as much as we do! Check out our other fragrance reviews too and let us know what you think!
      Best,
      Charles-Philippe

  5. Joe Landone April 6, 2018 at 3:53 am - Reply

    Agree 100% with your review of this modern day classic. The dry down on this juice is absolutely exquisite, and it performs like a beast – still going strong after 8 or so hours. For the maturer gentleman (30 yrs +), this is definitely signature scent worthy. So glad I stumbled across Dunhill Icon!

    Great website, by the way. Lots of useful info here. Very much appreciated!

    • Charles-Philippe April 6, 2018 at 6:39 am - Reply

      Hi Joe!

      Glad to hear that you enjoyed Paul’s review and that you’re digging our site! Yes, Icon is a firm favourite at BU. So much so that it’s featured as our number 1 men’s fragrance of all time!

      Best,

      CP

  6. Msc May 15, 2018 at 7:37 pm - Reply

    Batch 7342, made in usa. Reformulated to a joke, does not last at all.

    • Paul Anthony May 15, 2018 at 9:05 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the feedback!

      Let’s hope the trend does not continue, as it’s one of my all time favorites…

      Cheers – Paul Anthony

  7. Dan Tucker July 14, 2018 at 1:30 pm - Reply

    Recent blind-by: first impression = awful.

    I think petigrain, cardamom, vetiver and juniper wreck it for me. But I found it difficult to reconcile what I perceived, with the fragrance pyramid.

    Anyhow …

    Switched to Aramis by Aramis, for tonight.

    Have put Icon aside, for now. Will try again, as I did with Terre D’Hermes; which I have come to like and appreciate.

    Waiting for bottles of Iso E Super and Ambroxan to layer with some other fragrances; should be interesting …

    • Charles-Philippe July 15, 2018 at 6:42 am - Reply

      Hi Dan,

      Sorry to hear that the first impressions weren’t to your taste. I admit that I didn’t love it at first either but after reading Paul’s review and trying it again recently, I’ve come to appreciate it.

      Can’t beat Aramis, though!

      Hopefully it’ll improve!

      Best,

      CP

  8. Arnout July 17, 2018 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    It puzzles me why this is called a woody aromatic? It clearly is a citrus fragrance, the top notes (the bergamot, neroli, pepper and the petitgrain) dominate this fragrance the whole duration. Yes its gets a bit softer and sweeter after a couple of hours, but seriously: Oud? Vetiver? Lavender? Juniper? I don’t get any of those. I don’t think Icon is a bad scent, but rather redundant, since I already own a large bottle of Mugler Cologne. And that one has more substance, smells rounder and gives me a something more than citrus only, a hint of vetiver?, although it isn’t listed as a note.
    Maybe my Icon bottle is reformulated or could it be a bad batch?

    • Charles-Philippe July 18, 2018 at 4:14 am - Reply

      Hi Arnout,

      Which batch did you get and when was it purchased? This article reviews at 2015 bottle whilst the flacon in our video was in 2017. They were very similar save for a great emphasis on the iris notes in the heart.

      As for the olfactive family, the overt agarwood (oud) notes set it firmly in the woody umbrella whilst various notes like oak moss, vetiver, lavender and cardamon give it an aromatic (rather than spicy) profile.

      Best,

      CP

      • Arnout July 18, 2018 at 2:46 pm - Reply

        Hi Charles-Philippe,
        Batch code 7251, production date 2017-09-08.
        I get the same citrus dominated scent applied on a paper strip, so my skin is not to blame 🙂
        Oh well, bad luck. Nice bottle though 🙂

        Kind regards,
        Arnout

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