Sunday, January 29, 2012
C.O. Bigelow Barber Elixir Black
Elixir Black is considered by most people to be the best of Bigelow's four "Barber Elixir" fragrances. I've never smelled Elixir Red (and with a name like that, I'm not sure I want to), but I can say that Black, though nothing great, is a lot better than Bigelow's mediocre Elixir White and their awful Elixir Green. It's the best in a series of lousy fragrances. To make an analogy to food, it's like saying it's the best pizza you can get at Domino's.
Black is a simple, stripped down sweet wood fragrance. The main wood note here is oud (a/k/a agarwood), which is a very expensive oil when it's natural (this fragrance obviously uses the synthetic type), and it is presented in a very toned down, user-friendly way. Due to its semi-medicinal and semi-animalic smell, oud is one of those wood scents that most people who smell it either love it or hate it. I'm indifferent to oud.
In Black, the oud's rawness is tempered with vanilla and amber, which of course makes it smell sweet and creamy. However, it's not sickeningly sweet, or so sweet as to render the oud unrecognizable. What I like is how the oud smell actually gets stronger the longer you wear this, thus making the vanilla and amber less annoying. Rather than smelling medicinal, the oud here smells tart, no doubt caused by the vanilla and amber, and it's an effect that works pretty well.
Though I don't really like this fragrance, I have to give a thumbs up to C.O. Bigelow for giving the general public a decent oud fragrance for a ridiculously low price of $20 for 2.5 ounces standard retail. Oud fanatics probably won't like this because the oud isn't raw enough, but Elixir Black wasn't meant for them anyway. I don't like it because it's too sweet for me and I find it boring. However, I have to give points to Bigelow for presenting oud in a way that won't repulse most people, yet doesn't completely emasculate the oud note either.
My positive rating is due more to this being a good fragrance value, rather than it being some masterful piece of perfumery; it doesn't screw anything up, but it doesn't do anything exceptionally well either. It's a solidly constructed scent. Those of you who like sweet, woody oriental fragrances may want to give Elixir Black a try. You certainly can't beat the price, that's for sure.
MY REVIEW: 7.5/10
Fragrance House: C.O. Bigelow