The Best Woody Fragrances For Men

Woody Fragrances

What makes a woody fragrance? If you said ‘wood’, you’re off to a good start. And in this article, we consider the diversity of what is oftentimes the most conventionally masculine fragrance category. We’ve broken down the woody category into a helpful taxonomy of styles, detailing our choices, and suggesting the best occasions to wear them. Which is to say, even a fragrant wardrobe exclusively consisting of woods can feature great and eclectic variety.

True Woods

True woods are your workhorses: pure and direct fragrances that emphasise the natural form of the woody note in question. These are great for a variety of occasions, but they're at their very best for those occasions when you’re unsure what to wear. Always appropriate, and always good.

Case in point: Histoires de Parfums’ 1828 is a delightful meditation upon the dry and textural intensity of cedar, evoking a forest landscape of conifer woods against the ocean shore. Lush nutmeg, sparkling pepper, clean eucalyptus, and tendrils of incense smoke add an emphatically spicy top, lending brilliant realism to the fragrance. 

With Orange x Santal (Essential Parfums), one enters a woody heaven of perfectly placed materials. The devil might be in the details, but so are the angels, who exist in harmony. The mesmerising length of creamy and sturdy sandalwood finds its complement in the ascending rise of bitter orange. This is paired with basil to add variations of colour, texture, and sensation, with the umbrous impact of oakmoss and the cooling charge of cypress down below. Orange x Santal has a mesmerising woody silhouette.

Finally, you can’t not mention a fragrance named Woody Perfecto (Parle Moi de Parfum), which makes use of beguiling vetiver roots. And whilst not technically a ‘wood’, vetiver has a profound earthiness and inky depth that mingles smokiness, saltiness, and a tempting dryness altogether. A note with complexity upon itself, this is lengthened with roasted coffee and leather. This is what you wear when you need something to cover all the bases.

Spiced Woods

Save the spiced woods for when impressions matter most, adding flair to an otherwise solid base. Perfect for the evening, special events, or simply a boost in confidence - expect bold evocations of the exotic, inflections of warm ambery spices, earthy patchouli, and perhaps even a dash of charming sweetness. 

L’Air du Desert Marocain by Tauer Perfumes always finds its place on lists about woods and spice - and for good reason. This cult classic sizzles with energy, with its genius assortment of coriander seed and cumin: the former pushing upwards towards cloudless skies of infinite length, and the former back down to a Maghrebi desert - of soft dunes and whirling sandstorms. This tension creates excitement and character, and the rich base of cedar, vetiver, labdanum, ambergris, and birch gives this fragrance a tremendous base.

Traverse to the Silk Road with the dense and bounteous Epic Man by Amouage, which takes supreme quality agarwood: raw, smoky, virile, and deep - and augments it with a sumptuous swirl of pink peppercorn, mace, saffron, leather, and incense. The result is a sure-fire confidence only attainable from woods, but with a nod to the rare and the luxurious with its profusion of spices. 

Fresh Woods

When there’s a need for amiable freshness without heaviness, many woods can be transformed in the right hands into works that lift as opposed to ground. Fresh woods are excellent for the warmer weather: like a cooling fluid that refreshes the wearer as opposed to stifling them. 

You’d be forgiven for treating Creed’s Original Vetiver as a citrus fragrance as opposed to a woods, which is a testament to the versatility of the woody vetiver note, harnessing its steamy clean, green, and soapy facets - turning what is usually heavy and smoky into a pleasantly transparent work. With a clever dose of effervescent ginger and sunny mandarin orange, this is a woody fragrance destined for warm weather wearing. 

Targhee Forest from Rogue Perfumery is technically an Aromatic Fougère, but there's no denying that this fragrance leans against a sturdy woody spine of pine, fir, and cedar with a heart of amber. Its very inspiration is a forest of woods, where morning sun warms the trees, filling the air with a resinous, sweet, and musk-like fragrance. This mingles with the scent of soil - a carpet of sloughed bark, berries, leaves, and mosses. This scent is air filled, stirring the earth so it blends with the sky.

Bogue's 10 draws its freshness from floral materials. As noted by the perfumer, it has an "unexpected floral theme", and one realises this as they imagine themselves resting underneath the shaded canopy of a mighty tree. An "arboreal protection", perfumer Antonio Gardoni adds, in which marigold flowers and lavender grows around the base of a fig tree, flecked with jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, ylang-ylang, rose, and geranium. A base of sandalwood, oud, vanilla, amber, and civet - amongst so much more - complete the work. 10 is a slow and gradual work, unfolding in time. 

Smoky Woods

Go for bold with an injection of perfumed smoke. Notes such as incense, birch tar, leather, and labdanum add an unmistakable gravity to the woods category.

For the pure serenity of a liturgical sort of smoke, Papyrus Oud (Parle Moi de Parfum) is unrivalled. Breathe in, and find yourself surrounded in a forest of agarwood trees - with a temple in the near-distance, where incense, olibanum, pine resin and oud burn in tribute. Papyrus Oud is an event, all at once exotic yet familiar. For a scent that beckons others to inquire - this may be the one. 

In contrast, Naomi Goodsir’s Bois d'Ascese builds a picture of wildfire and smoke. To achieve this, the scent calls upon peaty smoky Scotch for that certain je ne sais quoi. Captivating and dramatic, and as poetic as smouldering cade wood, traditional wood notes are set alight in an intense fury of pipe tobacco, cinnamon, amber, and incense. A fragrance for the connoisseurs.