Gentleman’s choice: 3 best sandalwood colognes
The famous sandalwood scent.
From pre-shaving oils to colognes or deodorants, it’s paved its way as the mark of the classy gentleman who wants to express his masculinity.
I’d say sandalwood is in my top 5 fragrances, especially when it’s blended well with other aromas. In this sense, Diptyque’s Tam Dao has always been the best sandalwood cologne for me.
The mix of Goa sandalwood with refreshing rosewood, marine ambergris notes and woody Italian cypress…It’s a masterpiece to experience both for you and the people around you.
However, it’s somewhat expensive. A more budget pick for you could be Taylor of Old Bond Street’s cologne. It’s a decent alternative, though it definitely airs out faster.
Sandalwood is what actually opened my way to testing other fragrances too. Right now I’m on a Calvin Klein wave (not sandalwood):
But I digress. Let’s take a look at 3 best sandalwood colognes for men, picked with your budget preferences in mind.
United by their base sandalwood notes, they do have some differences between them!
1. Definite best sandalwood cologne:
Diptyque Tam Dao
Pricey, but irresistibly elegant and long-lasting. That’s Tam Dao for you. The fragrance definitely stays around the longest out of all the sandalwood colognes I’ve tried yet.
It’s also the most complex one – but don’t read this as a negative remark. Tam Dao’s complexity is a carefully blended mix of aromas that exquisitely complement each other.
The base, as you can guess – is Goa sandalwood. A rich, profound, somewhat mellow core. It easily embraces the freshness built on top, with rosewood and ambergris.
I’d like to especially note the ambergris. This is a rather rare ingredient you won’t find in lower priced colognes. It brings forth marine notes which, blended with the Italian cypress’ woody notes, allow for an engulfing scent of earth and sea.
Don’t worry: this doesn’t drown out the cedarwood. Diptyque still give you the masculine, classic and woodsy fragrance of high quality sandalwood.
A slight hint of cedar adds a bit of dryness to the whole blend. The aroma is long-lasting, rich, delicate. It won’t go away after a few hours and it won’t be overpowering.
A balanced, refined, gentlemanly scent for those who value premium sandalwood colognes. Tam Dao is definitely my best recommendation if you can adjust your budget.
As a brand, Diptyque is definitely up there with Kent (my review of their combs) for those who value classy ways of graduating to a real gentleman.
2. Best affordable sandalwood fragrance:
Taylor of Old Bond Street
If you’re not yet sure whether sandalwood will fit your style, you can go for this cologne. It’s affordable price is a great gateway to the sandalwood world…without sacrificing on scent quality.
What’s a bit sacrificed here, however, is the longevity of the aroma. Taylor’s fragrance definitely falls in the airs-out-somewhat-fast group of colognes.
At the same time, it’s definitely in line with sandalwood traditions. A woodsy, slightly musky, quite masculine scent. Sophisticated, classic, a real old school take on what being a gentleman is.
There are no exquisite blends with other fragrances here. If you’re a fan of simple, straight-to-the-point aromas, you’ll love it. I know a few people who thought Tam Dao is just a bit too much.
Considering the price/ounce ratio (a whole 3.3 oz!), this is a crazy deal. As I mentioned, the Taylor is a good way to get to know sandalwood on a fundamental level.
Aside from the longevity of the aroma, there’s another small drawback to address. This is a pour bottle, so there’s no atomizer.
While it’s not a huge dealbreaker, you need to be careful not to pour too much cologne. A really, really small inconvenience that however needs mentioning.
3. Best balanced sandalwood scented cologne for men:
Art of Shaving Intense
Most of my fellow gentleman are acquainted with Art of Shaving’s products. Outstanding quality, amazing customer service and a real sense of community.
And just a liiitle bit of an overpriced element, in my humble opinion.
Their sandalwood & cypress cologne is no exception in terms of quality. It’s right in the middle between Tam Dao and the Taylor. Not as exquisite as Dyptique, but definitely more premium than the latter.
Once again you have a perfect blend between masculinity and woodsy tones. The additional Cypress amplifies the forest feeling, but doesn’t go overboard.
Art of Shaving want to complement the classic sandalwood, but they also want to make it delicately. No distractions from the aromatic core – just a slight hint to make it richer.
Longevity is quite good too. Definitely an upgrade on the Taylor, with a deeper diffusion of the fragrance. In most cases you won’t need reapplication.
If you’re into grooming (I’m sure you are), it’s worth noting that this cologne goes extremely well with the brand’s other sandalwood products. Especially their pre-shave oil with sandalwood scent is legendary!
Is sandalwood a good entry-level fragrance for the uninitiated?
In my opinion, yes.
On its own, sandalwood is a very basic (yet effective) scent. You can’t really go wrong with it, unlike other more tricky fragrances.
To add to this, the whole “good ol’ barber shop” style in line with vintage traditions has become quite trendy. Sandalwood is one of the most barber shop-style aromas you can have.
There’s another reason you can’t really go wrong with sandalwood. Even when it’s blended with other scents (like Tam Dao), the combinations aren’t too quirky/exotic.
I’ve seen quite a few people go for more exotic fragrances that really rely on the complementary tones. Very easy to get things completely wrong.
In other words, if you haven’t had your first cologne yet – or just want to expand your horizons, the sandalwood is a good pick.
In my Every Man Jack review I’ve pointed out that sandalwood is a good base for deodorants too!
For those who go past the gimmicky ads and focus on the cheap, effective spray: Axe has a sandalwood scent too.
Any other good sandalwood colognes for men?
The possibilities are endless.
OK, that was a hyperbole, but you definitely have a choice with sandalwood scents.
In my Creed colognes review, I’ve included the Creed Santal. It has strong sandalwood notes, but they’re blended with a more exotic/seductive ingredients. It might clash with your taste if you want to go for the classic, somewhat conservative sandalwood traditions.
Geo F. Trumper and Lucky You sandalwood scented colognes for men are also somewhat popular with the stylish gentlemen.
Especially the Trumper is great take on the traditional aroma. Quite a few people swear by it as their fragrance of choice. Worth your attention, though I think in the same price bracket, the Art of Shaving cologne stays around a bit longer – and that matters.
Looking for other gentleman’s styling recommendations?
If you have fine hair and want to suit your cologne scent with some extra style, check out my thin hair pomade picks.
Alternatively, if you’ve reached the point of follicle extinction (like me), I’ve also written a comprehensive guide on picking the right hat for your shaved head.