Perfume Review: Iron Duke by Beaufort London

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I’ve learned to expect nothing but boldness from Beaufort London. As perfume brands go, they’re up there with the best of them when it comes to distinctiveness. In the politest possible terms, Beaufort fragrances are stinky – they have very distinct signatures and all fit the aesthetic of the brand, which is darkly historical with a modern twist. Imagine if Guy Ritchie did perfume, then that’s Beaufort London. Where so many niche brands get the look and concept right, but fall down at the juice, Beaufort London have never failed to make intriguing perfume (just see last year’s fascinating Fathom V for proof) and they’re not scared of the less than pleasant aspects of history, and olfaction either. Beaufort London fragrances may not be for everyone, but tell me, Dear Reader, what great things in life are?

Beaufort London launched with the ‘Come Hell or High Water’ collection, which took inspiration from Britain’s nautical heritage. This year the brand is adding a brand new collection called ‘Revenants’ which remembers historical figures through the art of olfaction. The first launch within the Revenants collection is Iron Duke and it is inspired by Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington (1769-1852), who is described as a “celebrated horseman, warrior politician and sartorial pioneer”. It’s a fully-worked out concept with a beautiful promo shot by Matthew Seed and a bottle inscribed with a horse motif designed by tattoo artist Robert Gisbourne-Ashby. Iron Duke the fragrance is billed as a “strikingly powerful fragrance with animalic depths”, which certainly piqued my interest. Shall we dive in and see if it really is as filthy as it sounds?

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The Notes

Metallic Notes, Animalic Notes and Woods

The Perfumer

Julie Dunkley (Phoenix Fragrances)

How Does it Smell?

Iron Duke opens with a bang. The opening is a full-on barrage of white hot leather and spices. In fact, it’s the spices here that add a lot of interest. Cinnamon and star anise melt into a intense richness that feels chocolate-like, without coming across as particularly gourmand or sweet. It’s thick and heavy, but given a luminous, pulsating quality by a showering of brown spices. There’s something almost blinding about these spices, almost as if their intensity replaces the usual bubble of citrus in a composition, creating an opening accord that is wonderfully distinct.

Smoke is Iron Duke’s second most prominent aspect and it’s the perfect contrast to that chocolate-esque spice in the opening. To my nose, it feels like the smoke comes from two elements: wood and leather. The wood brings the scent of black embers burning in a raging fire, whilst the leather adds a savoury touch, with salted hides warming by the fire. Yes, it’s really very smoky and if that’s not your thing, then this burning Duke is not for you. Please kindly step away from Iron Duke.

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Things soften slightly in the base, but only slightly – Iron Duke really is a solid a composition as its name would suggest. I get the impression of hard woods sweetened by tobacco and maybe a little bit of booze (definitely a nice bourbon – the Duke has taste) but the main impression is distinctly animalic in the base. There’s this a real, sour yet spicy funk to Iron Duke as it dries down and it really is rather glorious. I smell it and think of a biker’s leathers after a long ride. Which is pretty scandalous when you think about it.

Iron Duke is a stinky beast. Like all of Beaufort London’s fragrances, it’s not for the feint-hearted, nor is it for the timid or those uninitiated with the daring side of perfume. Is it something I’d wear? Probably not, but that’s because dry, smoky fragrances have always been a struggle for me. Do I think it’s exceptionally put together, eye-wateringly butch and so totally ‘Beaufort London’ in style? Why yes I do. It’s not only that though, Iron Duke is also officially well worth a sniff.


Iron Duke is part of Beaufort London’s Revenants Collection and is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum for £95.


Sample and quotes via Beaufort London. Notes via Basenotes. Images are my own.