I am fascinated by fragrances that combine seemingly irreconcilable opposites: Jasmine or tuberose fragrances for men, oriental vetivers - and dark, heavy eau de colognes / cologne waters.
As explained in my blog on the subject of Eau de Cologne, the following components belong to a classic Cologne water: Neroli (possibly orange blossom, but usually too sweet), lemon, bergamot and / or: petitgrain, mandarin, lime, grapefruit (Hesperidia), cedar (as light, light wood), lavender (as the freshest and lightest of all florals), rosemary (and / or comparable light herbs).
In my blog I further claim that the absence of dark, heavy, oriental tones such as patchouli, sandalwood, oud, vanilla, amber / amber, larger amounts of musk, labdanum, tonka, civet and beaver geil (at best in the smallest doses) is just as important. The green-woody and earthy basic accent vetiver (in all its derived variants: vetivery acetate, vetiver oil) is also more likely to be avoided, since it can quickly imprint a vetiver stamp on a fragrance and would thus inadmissibly change its basic character. The list could be extended by other striking green resinous tones (mint, resin, moss) (quoted after my blog "Kölnische Wässer - 1709 und heute").
But what if you enrich a fragrance that initially meets all the criteria of a classic eau de cologne with darker, oriental or warm accents? Then something very fascinating can come out, in the best case a fragrance like Cologne Intense by Houbigant.
If you take a closer look at the list of ingredients, you won't notice anything unusual in the top note (and you could say that a Kölnisch Wasser has nothing else). It's all there: Neroli, bergamot, petitgrain, lemon, lavender, the light herbs (tarragon), but then surprisingly also a good portion of frankincense (the only drawback: you could have been a little more economical with the dosage of this ingredient), Labdanum / resin of the cistus (you smell: resinous, almost animal-like, as I always perceive Labdanum). Labdanum gives the fragrance a chypre twist that suits it well and makes it a few semitones deeper. The frankincense provides for an oriental impact, which remains however still very bright. I can't isolate patchouli and amber at all, and I can imagine the moss smelling from many, but I don't see it in the foreground. More like musk, which in the base note intensifies the tingling tones of incense.
All in all, Cologne Intense is a good example of a bold creation that uses a basic scheme but varies it greatly. Oriental Colgnes would be worth a blog of their own, but at least I want to mention Eau de Memo, which varies the Cologne theme with leather, the Chypre-Cologne men's classic Pour Monsieur by Chanel - or some Acqua, the Parma fragrances and the Déclaration series by Cartier. But that's just a first, very rough grid. Here is the proposal for a collection ("Black Colognes"):
For getting to know such an experiment, a test of Houbigant's second big litter after Fougère Royale would be highly recommended, but a black Cologne would be strongly discouraged from blind purchases.