Founded in 1893 by Alfred Dunhill when he took over his father’s saddlery business, the British brand made its fragrance debut more than four decades later in 1934 with Dunhill For Men.
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With its rich heritage in leather, motoring, tobacco goods, and, since the 1970s, menswear, fragrance has been a good fit for the London-based company.
We’ll say at the outset, Dunhill doesn’t do experimental fragrances. But if you’re looking for something dependably elegant and with heaps of British gentlemanliness, you can’t go wrong with it.
From recent releases such as Dunhill Driven EDP to modern classics such as Dunhill Icon EDT, we present the best of the brand’s distinguished style.
Where known, the name of the perfumer is included in brackets after the name of the fragrance.
Our Shortlist for Best Dunhill Fragrances
Dunhill Edition EDT (Alain Astori)
The 1980s were characterised by big and bold fragrances and this 1984 release has those qualities in abundance, albeit more stylishly than many of its contemporaries from that decade.
The opening features a distinctive combo of aromatics (lavender), spice (nutmeg), and citrus (lemon and bergamot).
They lead the way to a blend of florals, in which spicy carnation and rosy geranium are prominent.
The drydown sees the greenery of fir and vetiver notes mixed with bitter oakmoss and fresh cedar.
Old school in all the best ways, it’s well worth sniffing out online.
Dunhill Desire EDT (Michel Almairac)
Just like music, scents can take you back to a specific time. In the case of Dunhill Desire, we’re talking the start of the new millennium when this EDT was launched. Doesn’t that feel like several lifetimes ago?
More than 20 years and relatively few flankers later, it’s still selling well. And it’s not hard to figure out why.
The opening is invitingly fresh with a subtly sweet apple note that’s nicely balanced by a squeeze of lemon.
The rose that follows is also on the fresh side, but quite restrained for a fragrance with such a sexy name.
The drydown is mellow and warm, thanks to a combo of musk and vanilla.
Dunhill X-Centric EDT (Maurice Roucel & Frank Voelkl)
This 2001 release has aged well and gets extra points for its versatility and wearability (the name is a bit misleading).
It reveals its woody charms from the start with a large dose of cypress partnered with the spice of nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom. Green leaves add a fresh contrast.
Subtle florals (freesia, lotus, rose) support the resinous freshness of cedarwood.
There’s clean musk and creamy sandalwood aplenty in the drydown, with a whisp of smoky guaiac wood in the background adding a bit of intrigue.
Dunhill Desire Blue EDT (Philippe Romano)
Dunhill’s 2002 contribution to the ever-popular aquatic genre is quality stuff.
Fruity litchi and floral lotus create an aquatic vibe in the intro, while notes of mandarin orange and bergamot bring on the citrus freshness.
A sea water accord, with just the right amount of saltiness, is paired with a note of orange for extra freshness.
It settles with a warm amber accord, featuring pronounced notes of tonka bean and benzoin.
Although not as good as this one, the 2018 release Dunhill Desire Blue Ocean EDT is also worth a sniff or three.
Dunhill Icon EDP (Carlos Benaïm)
When Dunhill Icon was launched in 2015, it was very much part of the brand’s sophisticated gentleman approach and admirably so.
The opening features the freshness of neroli, bergamot and petitgrain, all citrus greenery.
It develops in complexity with an interplay between the spice of black pepper and cardamom and the clean aromatics of lavender. The drydown features crisp vetiver and a hint of earthy oakmoss.
There’s something elegantly soapy and sparkling about this EDP. It feels modern yet timeless at the same time.
And then there’s the award-winning bottle produced by South African industrial designer Mark Eisen. The metal and glass combo is a nod to the house’s motoring heritage.
From the fragrance to the packaging, it gets everything right.
Dunhill Icon Absolute EDP
Venturing into more opulent territory, this 2015 release is such an under-rated scent. It’s the Dunhill Icon take on oud, while not going the whole shebang.
It opens with a beautiful contrast of Sicilian bergamot and black pepper that’s complemented by hints of rose, jasmine and saffron.
But it’s the combination of leather, tobacco and oud that makes this one a smooth and refined package.
Talking of which, the gold-coloured metal-encased bottle is one of the smartest in years and just begs to be displayed.
Dunhill Century EDP (Carlos Benaïm)
Officially inspired by the notion of looking forward to a new century, this 2018 release is actually retro-ish in smell.
We’re immediately hooked by the slightly sweet treatment of the opening bergamot, mandarin and grapefruit notes.
This hint of sweetness continues through to the heart of the fragrance, where neroli, olibanum and cardamom notes announce their presence.
The sweetness tapers slightly, as the base notes of sandalwood and musk bring a touch of warmth.
Please note: The sweetness that’s present throughout this fragrance is the subtle kind. Relief for lovers of sophisticated men’s fragrances!
Dunhill Indian Sandalwood EDP (Carlos Benaïm)
A 2019 release that’s one of our favourites from the British company’s Signature Collection, with its focus on specific ingredients.
It was created by Carlos Benaïm, the award-winning perfume legend behind Antonio Puig Quorum, Calvin Klein Eternity For Men, Frédéric Malle Music For A While and Dunhill Icon. His expertise is clear in this EDP.
Opening with the fresh and sunny citrus hues of bergamot, it continues to warm up, in an earthy way, with the addition of green tree moss and patchouli notes.
Sandalwood comes through seamlessly in the drydown. Rich, without being overpowering, it has a creamy, almost coconut-y vibe.
We love how this scent conjures an Indian summer in semi-tropical style.
Dunhill British Leather EDP (Pierre Negrin)
With creation such as Amouage Interlude Man EDP, Ermenegildo Zegna Indonesian Oud EDP and Ralph Lauren Polo Black EDT, Pierre Negrin needs no introduction. The French perfumer was the perfect choice to give Dunhill’s leather heritage a contemporary spin.
The inherent bitterness of bergamot is amplified at the beginning of this 2019 release. Is that a hint of cardamom in the background?
The violet leaf that follows pushes it in a green direction. This bitter green aspect is brought to the fore by an infusion of mate tea, which lays the foundation for the leather accord in the drydown. It’s a distinctive leather full of character and creases.
Dunhill Arabian Desert EDP (Alexandra Monet)
No fragrance collection is complete without an oud, and Arabian Desert was placed in the capable hands of Alexandra Monet. She is known for her accomplished work for brands such as Berdoues, The Different Company and Kenzo.
Rosy pink peppercorns set the oriental mood in this 2019 release, with citrus bergamot and spicy saffron in support,
The heart features floral notes of rose and jasmine, which are treated most delicately.
Rose and oud is a popular combo, and Monet gives it plenty of sensual smoke in the drydown.
The result is a sweetish, but not too sweet, interpretation of oud that’s smoothly seductive.
Dunhill Century Blue EDP
This 2019 follow-up to Dunhill Century doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves.
There’s a fresh citrus intro, thanks to notes of bergamot and mandarin orange, which continues throughout the EDP’s progression.
It’s intermingled with a leathery orris note that’s perfectly powdery, with a large dose of spicy ginger in support.
The base warms up with the addition of amber, with a sprinkle of sea salt in the background.
A grown-up scent that strikes a careful balance between tradition and modernity.
Dunhill Driven EDP (David Apel)
Compared to other designer brands, Dunhill is relatively low key when it comes to new releases. That is, it’s not all over IG within days of launch. (We’re looking at you, Dior Sauvage Elixir.)
This 2021 launch opens in super-fresh mode, with citrus notes of lime and bergamot. Sweetish fruitiness develops in the background, thanks to plum and red apple.
It warms up after the initial coolness, with spicy notes of cardamom and cinnamon. We don’t pick up any of the listed florals.
The drydown is in ever-popular amber accord territory, with vanilla, musk and cedar discernible in the mix.
It’s a safe-ish but versatile start to a new range. Let’s see how it develops in the future.
We could have lots of fun suggesting names for the flankers to follow: Driven To Distraction, Driven To Drink, Driven To The Edge…
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Richard Goller is a fragrance and grooming blogger. His blog is called Fragroom. A senior editor with 20 years' experience, his blog allows him to combine two of his passions: engaging content and the always-intriguing world of fragrances. When he isn't blogging, you'll find Richard indulging in his newly found passion for balcony gardening.