This an excellent oriental that is easy to wear and keeps away from the typical pitfalls of so many in its genre. At no points is it heavy, overbearing, or excessively powdery. While it exudes a classy, quiet sophistication, 1899 is ultimately an amiable composition that avoids encumbering itself with an unnecessary sense of formality or ostentation.
It opens with a deftly balanced accord of juniper, cinnamon, pepper, vanilla and iris. The juniper is sweet and airy and sort of hovers over the top of the other notes. The iris, of the plasticky, lipstick variety found in Dior Homme, plays the background and provides a solid compliment to the spiciness of the cinnamon and pepper. The first couple of hours are sweet, airy, lively, spicy, and even aromatic. There is nothing dense or plodding about 1899, nothing oppressive or dull. It is enlivened with a particular light vibrance owed to the skill of its perfumer, Gerald Ghislain. It's a great way to start things off, and the quality of this composition is evident right from the start.
The opening accord persists for some time, and as the middle stages develop, a soft vetiver emerges and the vanilla moves more toward the front of the composition. The vetiver adds depth and serves to temper some of the sweetness of the base notes (vanilla, amber). This is where the fragrance finally rests, in a comforting accord of vanilla, amber, iris and vetiver. A day-time comfort scent; lively and sweet; cozy, but not sleepy.
This has quickly become one of my favorite oriental fragrances. I find it so easy to wear at pretty much any time of the day. A lot of times, I find that rather than wearing orientals, orientals have a tendency to wear you if you're not careful. They can become oppressive, their opulence intrusive and overshadowing. That's never the case with 1899, and if you've been put off by orientals for the reason I just described, but like the idea of their basic structure and notes, this could be a great choice for you.
Longevity is very good, as I typically get anywhere from 8 to 10 hours. Projection is perfect, with about an arms length of radiance for the first 5 hours. Regarding gender, I would classify this as a masculine scent, leaning toward unisex.
In relation to Spicebomb, the sweetness of the opening accord is quite similar, and I understand why the comparisons have been made. I'll admit, it's the first thing that came to mind when I tried 1899. And both feature prominent cinnamon notes in their heart. But that's where the comparison ends. 1899 is altogether lighter, livelier, and stays on the side of florals and woods, whereas Spicebomb moves toward tobacco and leather. It also more sophisticated and well-composed than Spicebomb (which I've owned, and liked), in my opinion. They are really not that much alike in the end.
To summarize, 1899 Hemingway is a great offering from Histoires de Parfums that can be worn easily during the day or night. It features an excellent structure and balance of notes and may be the perfect fragrance for someone who likes their orientals on the lighter, more approachable side versus the denser, more formal.