Dunhill Icon Elite: A Scent For The Modern Gentleman
by Martin Green
Dunhill is difficult to nail down as a luxury brand.
When Alfred Dunhill took over the saddlery business from his father in 1893, the expanding automobile industry inspired him to transform his company into one that specialized in automobile accessories.
The leather overcoats, goggles, horns, and even lamps he made – cars at the time didn’t come with these accessories as standard options –would inspire many Dunhill collections for decades to come, and he rapidly expanded operations in a wide variety of fields.
Tobacco was one, and in 1910 the Dunhill began making a name with the excellent pipes made in its own factory. Dunhill was also the first to develop a lighter that could be operated using just one hand. These lighters even garnered the approval of James Bond, who used one in his first cinematic adventure, the 1962’s Dr. No.
Dunhill has also been producing fragrances since 1934. And, as in the various other fields it established itself in, the brand soon gained quite a reputation. Aimed at the higher end of the mass market, this is also where we find Icon Elite cologne.
While not a niche product, the composition of the fragrance is more like what I would expect from an independent scent brand rather than a global player in the luxury field usually targeting a wider customer base.
It was this aspect that caught me by surprise as I usually skip large commercial brands in favor of hidden gems. And Icon Elite turned out to be a hidden gem, one hiding in plain sight.
What makes Icon Elite so exciting is that it is a celebration of the rich past of Dunhill without dwelling on it. The base is bigarade (bitter orange) and sandalwood with just a hint of leather.
These are classic ingredients found in a wide variety of distinctly masculine scents, but Dunhill gives it a pleasant twist. Vetiver makes Icon Elite fresher while sweet cardamom gives it an unexpected twist without making it too eccentric, resulting in a versatile scent that is suitable for every season and occasion.
Icon Elite is also a true gentleman with moderate sillage, but quite a bit of staying power, so it easily has the strength to stay all day without being overbearing.
Well played, Mr. Dunhill
Especially in the mass market, bottles play an essential role in marketing. And here Icon Elite also moves ahead of the rest.
I am not easily impressed by bottles, but the Dunhill example has attractive knurling in a dark finish, a subtle nod to the interior of British limousines crafted by Bentley, Jaguar, and Rolls-Royce.
When you hold the bottle, it feels quality and looks high end. Closing very firmly, the cap takes some getting used to. The dark finish of the bottle also has a practical use as no sunlight can penetrate to deteriorate the quality of the scent.
The downside is that you cannot see how much is left, and as it is such a pleasant scent you might go through it faster than you think.
Icon Elite launched in 2016 and is the third scent in Dunhill’s Icon collection, which started with Icon and was followed Icon Absolute.
The fourth member of the family is Icon Racing, which is an equally well blended fresh citrus scent. It comes in the same attractive bottle but in different colors and should pleasantly surprise even the snobbiest scent connoisseur.
Well played, Mr. Dunhill!
For more information, please visit www.dunhill.com/us/icon.
* This post is not sponsored, nor has Dunhill, its importers, or resellers compensated the author in any way or been informed of this review before publication. The author bought this bottle with his own money at full retail.