I have a test for masculine fragrances to identify whether they meet the mark or not. I call it ‘The Nigel Test’. Nigel, as you may be aware is my husband and he, in his very discerning way only wears masculine scents, and only ones that he deems to smell rather luxurious. The test always starts the same way. I spray on a scent to test it. The other Mr. Dunckley quickly appears to enquire as to what I am wearing. “It’s so and so”, I say “do you like it”. “It’s ok”, he says. Cut to a few days later and the bottle is missing. Some scented sleuthing will unearth the fact that the crime was committed by Mr. Dunckley in the living room, with 10 sprays to the chest.
I give you this back story because this was exactly the case with Gruhme No.14, which landed on my doorstep recently and was quickly snapped away by Nigel, who wore the heck out of it for a good week. I let him get away with his crimes for two reasons; 1) he puts up with me, so a degree of leniency with light fingered endeavours is only fair; and 2) it gives me the chance to smell a scent on someone else, which usually gives me a good idea of the sillage and signature. So, in short, in the case of Gruhme No.14 (or The People vs Nigel Dunckley), the fragrance receives approval from Messrs Dunckley in unison.
The Gruhme brand is the passion project of corporate lawyer, Rob Hallmark who, after spending a number of years working in law, decided to build his own business of men’s products having not been able to find a “strong male brand” to identify with. Gruhme is the result and they now have two fragrances, the second of which, the aforementioned (and Beauty Shortlist Award Winner for ‘Best Masculine Fragrance’) No.14 is a more highly concentrated version (14% as opposed to 10%) of their debut scent. Gruhme describes No.14 as an “evening variant” of their “sensual and aromatic” flagship fragrance. It’s passed the ‘Nigel Test’, but let’s see how it fairs in the ‘Smell Test’.
Top: Juniper Berry, Black Peppercorn, Bergamot, Lemon and Lavender
Heart: Patchouli and Cedar
Base: Oakwood, Amber, Musks, Cumin, Celery Seed and Petitgrain
How Does it Smell?
In the top notes, Gruhme No.14 unleashes a wave of lime and mint, spraying juicy mojito-like zestiness into the air. It really feels as if you could drink it (not advised though). The citrus accord is accented by petitgrain which softens things slightly and injects a floral and honey-like facet to give a golden sheen. Things quickly become a bit more herbaceous and warm, with spicy black peppercorn and vibrant lavender adding a classic edge. To amplify that initial cocktail vibe, a piquant undercurrent of juniper berry brings sharpness, making one feel as if this scent, whilst lively and fresh, is one heck of a smart fellow. In the base, No.14 dries down to a musk-heavy blend of woods and translucent amber.
Gruhme No.14 strikes me as an incredibly versatile fragrance. It’s zesty and clean enough to keep a bro smelling fresh during a workout at the gym, but also juicy and citrus-filled enough to feel perfectly on point on the beach. What’s more, No.14 is super smart, making for a suave boardroom fragrance that paints the wearer as a refined and tasteful chap. This is not a fragrance that intends to be groundbreaking, challenging or unique, but what it does offer is remarkable quality and elegance. I really like it. Now I just need to retrieve my bottle…
Gruhme No.14 is available in 100ml Eau de Toilette for £45.
Sample, image two and quotes via Gruhme. Image one is my own. Notes via Roullier White.