Best Sandalwood Cologne

Best Sandalwood Cologne Guide: An Olfactory Scent for You

Men who smell like woodsy adventures are as classically masculine as they come. This best sandalwood cologne guide will show you the impressive nature of the ingredient, the best picks based on feedback and descending accords, and how you can wear it with the best complimentary notes.

Many modern cologne ingredients are becoming widely popular, but sandalwood remains at the base of most colognes you find today. There’s nothing quite like the emphasis of the woody or leathery undertone to make a cologne smell masculine, traditional, and alluring. Moreover, sandalwood enhances many modern notes.

You’ll find it challenging to source cologne without this top-notch ingredient, and that means something. It’s an ingredient that works with most other notes, and you can easily wear it as a man with a passion or a soft-spoken gentleman. I love smelling Drakkar Noir on my partner, and it’s an affordable option.

Let’s help you find your favorite sandalwood cologne.

sandalwood perfume

The Awesomeness of Sandalwood

Sandalwood smells woody with touches of earthy, milky, and rich accents, and some people get hints of sweetness. It’s a phenomenal perfume or essential oil derived from the heart of Santalum trees, using a steam distillation process, and you’ll commonly see one of these three tree extracts in your cologne:

Sandalwood essential oil is quite pricy because the trees take a minimum of 15 years to mature, and that’s if the suppliers use special irrigation and fertigation to grow the trees faster. It would take 30 years otherwise. The oil is so precious that they remove the entire tree before extracting something called santalol.

Various sandalwood trees provide different percentages of santalol, too. The percentage of santalol from Australian sandalwood trees ranges from 35 to 39%, but Indian sandalwood trees can produce between 70 and 90% Santalol. The Mysore extract has a whopping 90% or more Santalol.

The higher the concentration of this key perfuming ingredient, the longer the cologne lasts. It also smells creamier with a rich woody undertone. Mysore santalol is so rare today that it’s one of the most expensive cologne ingredients. The trees are on the verge of extinction, but that explains the price of some colognes.

Sandalwood cologne is a calming, soothing, and comforting signature scent with precious roots, pun intended. It’s a gentle woody fragrance with masculine undertones and a hint of innocence. It remains so popular that perfumers use synthetic ingredients like sandranol, javanol, and polysantol in cheaper colognes.

Don’t be fooled, though. Some sandalwood colognes are no match for the best ones on the market.

sandalwood cologne

Sandalwood Cologne Rating System

The problem with countless sandalwood colognes on the market, or at least colognes with a sandalwood note, is that it becomes challenging to choose the best one. Therefore, I’ve created a rating system to help you find your favorite sandalwood cologne.

I don’t use it as part of my rating system, but I try to stick to known brands because they’re less likely to use synthetic sandalwood. The pricier colognes will more likely contain a higher percentage of santalol. Keep that in mind when choosing your favorite. However, my rating system is simple.

I rated each cologne on two factors. The first factor is whether the cologne has sandalwood in the first two accords. If it does, it earns two points. If the woody accord peaks in the first three to five smells, it deserves a single point. The accords unfold as you’ll see them under each cologne.

The second factor I use in my rating system is dependent on how many people approve of the cologne on Amazon. Customers review colognes on Amazon, and I’ve used their valuable feedback to score each one. I only relied on colognes with more than 100 reviews, or it would seem fair. This is how the second part works:

  • Approval ratings below 75% will earn a single point
  • Approval ratings between 75% and 85% will earn a double point
  • Approval ratings above 85% will earn the cologne a well-deserved triple point

After I consider both rating factors, each cologne will end with a score out of five. This system helps me use available data to make accurate choices before you choose your favorite sandalwood cologne.

12 Best Sandalwood Cologne Guide: From the Absolute Best to Good Scents

Using the rating system, I’ll share my top picks for sandalwood colognes that will deliver on the promises of such an excellent ingredient. Additionally, I’ll add two alternatives to each cologne to help you experience them because the other options will smell the same and have similar notes.

Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir

Drakkar Noir

Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir is an aromatic fougere fragrance created by Pierre Wargnye in 1982. It’s the only sandalwood cologne that meets a perfect score on my rating system. It’s also one of the more affordable sandalwood colognes, but the long-running reputation of Guy Laroche won’t be drawn in by synthetic oils.

Key Features:

Main Accords: Aromatic, woody, citrus, lavender, fresh spicy, green, earthy, and mossy

First Notes: Mint, lemon, lavender, rosemary, bergamot, basil, artemisia, and lemon verbena

Second Notes: Juniper, cinnamon coriander, angelica, carnation, jasmine, and wormwood

Third Notes: Pine tree needles, fir, sandalwood, leather, oakmoss, amber, resins, cedar, patchouli, and vetiver

Stay: Around 8 hours

Wake: Medium

Smells Like: The first notes strike a balancing act between aromatic and woody, an intense tango for the senses. It takes a while for this masculine blend of spiciness and exotic woodsy accents to dry down to a fresher, earthier undertone, all while the gentle floral notes tease you.

Similar Colognes: Taxi by Cofinluxe and Sauvage by Christian Dior

Approval Percentage: 87%

My Rating: 5/5!

Cons:

  • It’s classically masculine, not modern
  • It smells traditional enough to suit mature men better

Kenneth Cole Vintage Black

Kenneth Cole Vintage Black

Kenneth Cole Vintage Black is a woody, aromatic fragrance they launched in 2009. It’s more fresh and modern than the first pick, but it falls short in where the woody accord releases. Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful ode to the natural ingredient so promising, and it might be your favorite choice.

Key Features:

Main Accords: Aromatic, citrus, woody, fresh spicy, lavender, and green

First Notes: Grapefruit, lime, and green notes

Second Notes: Lavender, tequila, and pepper

Third Notes: Sandalwood and oak

Stay: About 6 hours

Wake: Intimate to medium

Smells Like: The initial blend of aromatic and citrus accents are refreshing and bold, but they slowly dry down to the beautifully expressive sandalwood undertone combined with oak, an unusual base for cologne. The tequila and lavender notes also promote a second freshness toward the end of the wear.

Similar Colognes: Set Sail St. Barts by Tommy Bahama and Virgin Island Water by Creed

Approval Percentage: 87%

My Rating: 4/5

Cons:

  • It’s contemporary masculine and not classical (the latter being typical with woody colognes)
  • It’s an excellent fragrance for young guys but not much for mature men

Burberry for Men

Burberry Men's Classic Eau de Toilette

Burberry for Men is an aromatic, woody fragrance created by Michel Almairac and Creations Aromatiques in 1995. It’s a step back into classical woody scents but with a modern twist. It’s what you get when you blend both timelines, and it smells like an Englishman, something of an addiction for women.

Key Features:

Main Accords: Aromatic, woody, green, fresh spicy, lavender, powdery, citrus, musky, and herbal

First Notes: Thyme, lavender, mint, and bergamot

Second Notes: Geranium, jasmine, sandalwood, oakmoss, and cedar

Third Notes: Amber, musk, and vanilla

Stay: Around 8 hours

Wake: Medium

Smells Like: 

Similar Colognes: Forever by Moschino and Burberry Brit for Him by Burberry

Approval Percentage: 84%

My Rating: 4/5

Cons:

  • Some men are confused by the modern and classic blends
  • Not every man wants to smell like an Englishman (sorry, ladies)

Calvin Klein Obsession for Men

Calvin Klein Obsession for Men Eau de Toilette

Calvin Klein Obsession for Men is a woody, amber fragrance created by Robert Slatter in 1986. The name is perfect because it’s great for men who obsess over this natural ingredient, especially after learning about its wonders. It’s a modern take on traditional smells, and it expresses masculinity, confidence, and a little wildness.

Key Features:

Main Accords: Warm spicy, woody, aromatic, amber, powdery, cinnamon, fresh spicy, citrus, balsamic, and vanilla

First Notes: Lavender, mandarin orange, grapefruit, lime, bergamot, coriander, and cinnamon

Second Notes: Brazilian rosewood, pine tree needles, sage, red berries, jasmine, nutmeg, carnation, and myrrh

Third Notes: Vanilla, amber, musk, sandalwood, vetiver, and patchouli

Stay: About 8 hours

Wake: Medium to large

Smells Like: The initial smell is like a dance between woody accents that warm the spicy and aromatic notes, which slowly dries down to an amber effect before your nose is captivated by hints of fruity sweetness that quickly evolve into a fresh sweetness. It’s an unusual smell, but one I love.

Similar Colognes: Venice by Yves Rocher and Azzaro Pour Homme Intense by Azzaro

Approval Percentage: 84%

My Rating: 4/5

Cons:

  • It has a surprising touch of wildness from the red berries and grapefruit
  • It smells better on mature men, even if it has a modern twist

Burberry Mr. Burberry

Mr. BURBERRY Eau de Parfum

Burberry Mr. Burberry is an aromatic, woody fragrance created by Francis Kurkdjian in 2016. It’s a later version from Burberry, intended to make young, vibrant, and modern men smell like the contemporary scents of Londoners. This cologne almost has a cheeky attitude, perfect for confident and eccentric men.

Key Features:

Main Accords: Woody, warm spicy, aromatic, citrus, fresh spicy, leather, smoky, green, and amber

First Notes: Mint, cardamom, tarragon, and grapefruit

Second Notes: Birch leaf, nutmeg, cedar, and lavender

Third Notes: Guaiac wood, amber wood, oakmoss, benzoin, vetiver, and sandalwood

Stay: About 6 hours

Wake: Medium

Smells Like: The initial woody burst of notes blends slowly with exotic but fresh spiciness before the leather accent pushes through to accompany the woody notes. The freshness doesn’t last too long before the fragrance turns earthy and green, while leather and woody undertones keep emphasizing the upper notes.

Similar Colognes: Guilty Black by Gucci and Pasha de Cartier by Cartier

Approval Percentage: 81%

My Rating: 4/5

Cons:

  • It doesn’t smell fresh for long (which is the modernity of the cologne)
  • It could last a little longer, especially if Burberry makes it

Tom Ford Oud Wood

Tom Ford Private Blend Oud Wood Eau De Parfum Spray

Tom Ford Oud Wood is an amber, woody fragrance created by Richard Herpin in 2007. It has one of the most solid woody foundations you can find in cologne, and it smells incredible! It makes me think of an opulent, sophisticated, mature, self-assured, and ambitious man who knows where he’s heading in life.

Key Features:

Main Accords: Woody, warm spicy, oud, aromatic, balsamic, vanilla, fresh spicy, powdery, amber, and sweet

First Notes: Sichuan pepper and cardamom

Second Notes: Tonka bean and Brazilian rosewood

Third Notes: Agarwood (oud), sandalwood, vetiver, amber, and vanilla

Stay: About 8 hours

Wake: Medium to large

Smells Like: At first, you have the initial woody accent supporting the exotic and spicy interchanges between pepper and cardamom. It creates a near-oriental vibe before it dries down to a sweeter, fresher exchange between vanilla and Tonka bean, but the woody undertones maintain a strong presence throughout the wear.

Similar Colognes: Icon Absolute by Alfred Dunhill and Oud Noir by Versace

Approval Percentage: 79%

My Rating: 4/5

Cons:

  • The level of woody masculinity feels super classical
  • It smells better on mature men and not young guys

Hugo Boss No. 1

BOSS NO. 1 Eau de Toilette

Hugo Boss No. 1 is an Aromatic Fougere fragrance created by Pierre Wargnye in 1985. This cologne is an innovative splash of modernity, even if it falls into the retro generation of fragrances. It’s a traditional foundation elevated by cheeky notes and bold moves, and it suits confident and seductive men.

Key Features:

Main Accords: Aromatic, woody, honey, fresh spicy, tobacco, sweet, warm spicy, earthy, mossy, and herbal

First Notes: Grapefruit, caraway, basil, lemon, green apple, juniper, artemisia, and bergamot

Second Notes: Lavender, rose, honey, sage, geranium, jasmine, orris root, and lily of the valley

Third Notes: Tobacco, sandalwood, musk, amber, cinnamon, cedar, patchouli, and oakmoss

Stay: About 8 hours

Wake: Medium to large

Smells Like: 

Similar Colognes: Kouros by Yves Saint Laurent and Polo Crest by Ralph Lauren

Approval Percentage: 78%

My Rating: 4/5

Cons:

  • You might be surprised at how cheeky this cologne can be
  • It smells good on confident men but not soft-spoken guys

Antonio Puig Quorum

Quorum by Antonio Puig Eau de Toilette Spray

Antonio Puig Quorum is an aromatic, woody fragrance created by Carlos Benaim, Maz Gavarry, and Rosendo Mateu in 1981. It also begins as a classical dance between woody and aromatic accents before it surprises you with a gentle sweetness modern men love. It suits soft-spoken, kind, and calm men.

Key Features:

Main Accords: Woody, mossy, aromatic, citrus, tobacco, earthy, leather, warm spicy, fresh spicy, and sweet

First Notes: Bergamot, lemon, caraway, grapefruit, and artemisia

Second Notes: Carnation, jasmine, patchouli, cyclamen, sandalwood, and pine tree needles

Third Notes: Oakmoss, amber, tobacco, and leather

Stay: About 8 hours

Wake: Medium to large

Smells Like: The initial burst of woody accents comes through a mossy undertone before becoming an aromatic touch. The bergamot and lemon keep the fragrance fresh, while the woody undertone enhances each evolution from earthy to leather and ends in a subtle sweetness.

Similar Colognes: Polo by Ralph Lauren and Sung Homme by Alfred Sung

Approval Percentage: 77%

My Rating: 4/5

Cons:

  • The gentle drydown is best for soft-spoken men and not bold guys
  • It’s a soothing cologne, not for you to wear when you’re trying to focus

Chanel Egoïste Pour Homme

Egoiste by Chanel for Men

Chanel Egoïste Pour Homme is a spicy, woody fragrance created by Jacques Polge in 1990. It has a robust woody foundation that seeps through all the layers, but it’s a modern and innovative cologne for men. It would also smell amazing on men who feel desirable in social settings, especially young guys.

Key Features:

Main Accords: Woody, cinnamon, warm spicy, tobacco, rose, sweet, aromatic, powdery, floral, and balsamic

First Notes: Brazilian rosewood, Sicilian mandarin, mahogany, and coriander

Second Notes: Damask rose, cinnamon, and carnation

Third Notes: Vanilla, tobacco, sandalwood, amber, and leather

Stay: About 8 to 10 hours

Wake: Medium to large

Smells Like: 

Similar Colognes: Spicebomb by Viktor & Rolf and Royal Oud by Creed

Approval Percentage: 73%

My Rating: 4/5

Cons:

  • It seems sophisticated and rightfully so, but it’s also unusual
  • You’d think it’s for mature men, but it’s for young men

Tom Ford Black Orchid

New Item TOM FORD BLACK ORCHID EDP SPRAY

Tom Ford Black Orchid is an amber, floral fragrance created by Givaudan in 2006 as a unisex perfume. It’s not a cologne, but it’s one of the most famous unisex perfumes you can use. It has a strong earthy, oriental, and woody base, and it’s for the guys who want something eclectic. It suits bold, modern, and unique men.

Key Features:

Main Accords: Earthy, warm spicy, woody, amber, sweet, patchouli, chocolate, floral, fruity, and balsamic

First Notes: Truffle, blackcurrant, jasmine, bergamot, ylang-ylang, Amalfi lemon, mandarin orange, and gardenia

Second Notes: Ylang-ylang, jasmine, lotus, spices, orchid, fruity notes, and gardenia

Third Notes: White musk, vanilla, sandalwood, vetiver, incense, patchouli, and Mexican chocolate

Stay: About 10 hours

Wake: Large to enormous

Smells Like: The woody foundation comes gently through the blend of beautiful spicy and floral undertones, which comes again and again, being the base of two notes. The sweetness from chocolate and various fruits also become more notable after wearing it for a few hours, but it has a modern-masculine attitude.

Similar Colognes: Dark Orchid by Amouroud and Lady Million Prive by Paco Rabanne

Approval Percentage: 83%

My Rating: 3/5

Cons:

  • Not all men want that slight feminine touch in their colognes
  • The sweet and fruity undertones can be a little overwhelming when they surface

Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Homme

Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Homme

Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Homme is an amber, woody fragrance created by Alberto Morillas in 2017. It’s so masculine that it almost seems caveman. It has strong evolutions of woody, earthy, and animalistic foundations, and it wouldn’t suit just any man. It would smell amazing on highly ambitious, traditional, and bold men.

Key Features:

Main Accords: Woody, aromatic, leather, earthy, animalistic, smoky, and patchouli

First Notes: Leather

Second Notes: Patchouli and cypress

Third Notes: Vetiver, sandalwood, and woodsy notes

Stay: About 10 hours

Wake: Medium to large

Smells Like: Your nose will be overwhelmed with the exchange of leather and aromatic accents while woody or sandalwood notes hit you. It’s a strong aroma that tickles every masculine fantasy, and it slowly dries down to a gentler earthy undertone before ending on a floral note.

Similar Colognes: Dark Lord by Killian and Bronze Wood and Leather by Jo Malone

Approval Percentage: 63%

My Rating: 3/5

Cons:

  • It’s insanely masculine and traditional
  • It smells better on mature men and not young men

Geo F. Trumper Sandalwood Cologne

Geo. F. Trumper Sandalwood Cologne in Glass Atomiser Bottle

Geo F. Trumper Sandalwood Cologne is an aromatic, woody fragrance that takes my final spot on the best sandalwood cologne guide. It misses a few marks, but it does have a strong sandalwood foundation a few customers recommend it. It’s worth a shot, and it would suit traditional men with floral flair.

Key Features:

Main Accords: Warm spicy, aromatic, woody, powdery, citrus, fresh spicy, rose, vanilla, floral, and lavender

First Notes: Lemon, clary sage, lavender, bergamot, and spicy notes

Second Notes: Rose, carnation, jasmine, and geranium

Third Notes: Vanilla, patchouli, leather, sandalwood, and amber

Stay: About 6 to 8 hours

Wake: Medium to large

Smells Like: The initial aromatic accents are strong enough to burn your nose, but they quickly dry down to a balanced woody undertone with subtle and powdery notes. The cologne continues to evolve until the woody notes touch down on a floral and fresh base.

Similar Colognes: Musk by Lorenzo Villoresi and Oud by Armaf Niche

Approval Percentage: 58%

My Rating: 2/5

Cons:

  • Again, the spiciness can burn your nose at first
  • This cologne is better for mature men and not young men

How to Choose Your Sandalwood Cologne

You might disagree with my rating system, and that’s okay. You’re allowed to choose the one that grabs your attention. It’s the best way to determine which one will work on your skin. You can always visit a department store and try them all, but that could take time. I’ve broken down the notes and smells for you to simplify it.

Go through the finer details of each cologne, and decide how you want to smell. Determine which cologne suits you by age as well. Finally, each cologne has a unique personality. For example, some colognes are for bold men and others for soft-spoken guys. Choose your notes, age, and your type of personality, and you’ll have it.

Enhancing Sandalwood With Other Notes

You’ll notice the most popular notes combined with sandalwood in colognes is aromatic blends. However, there are a few notes that work well with sandalwood. Use this guide to determine which cologne you want, depending on what notes match your foundation. Sandalwood oil smells like a dream with:

  • Aromatic notes like mint, lavender, peppermint, pepper, basil, sage, rosemary, and cumin
  • Floral notes like geranium, rose, gardenia, heliotrope, honeysuckle, jasmine, and hyacinth
  • Other woody notes like oak, amber, vetiver, Guaiac wood, cypress, patchouli, and pine
  • Earthy notes like balsam, oakmoss, and musk
  • Some sweet notes like chocolate, vanilla, and grapefruit
  • Fresh notes like citrus, lemon, bergamot, mandarin orange, and lime
  • Some fruity notes like blackcurrant, green apple, and cranberry, and red berries
  • Natural notes like tobacco and leather

As you can see, sandalwood is one of the most versatile cologne foundations, and you can look for your favorite, depending on how it’s blended with any of the above notes. Sandalwood also warms the upper notes, and it will come through stronger with some accents and weaker with others.

hugo boss cologne

Recommended Alternatives

Each cologne has two alternatives with similar notes and smells, but you might be looking for a different foundation in your fragrance. Sandalwood is a sure winner for many verified consumers and me, but there are three more base notes commonly used in male scents.

  • Vanilla is an excellent foundation if you want that touch of modern sweetness and femininity
  • Lavender is another fantastic base for men’s colognes (it’s one of the more popular ones)
  • Jasmine is also a floral foundation used in men’s colognes (it’s not purely feminine)

If you’re looking for brands that offer the same masculine ranges that match sandalwood oil, you have a few more options. These brands are also olfactory foundations, whether they’re luxury brands or not:

FAQs

Question: What Does Sandalwood Perfume Oil Smell Like?

Answer: Sandalwood is a gorgeous essential oil derived from the heart of the Santalum tree, and it smells like a journey through gentle and warm woody aromas wrapped in creamy accents with hints of sweetness. It also has a balsamic feel and leaves a rich, earthy wake behind you, and it’s captivating and classical to the last waft.

Question: Which Popular Colognes Have Sandalwood in Them?

Answer: All the incredible colognes in this guide contain strong hints of sandalwood, especially Drakkar Noir, Kenneth Cole Black Vintage, and Calvin Klein Obsession for Men. However, many colognes have a sandalwood foundation, including Cool Water by Davidoff, Molecule 04, and Floris Santal London, among others.

Question: How Attractive is Sandalwood as a Fragrance for Men?

Answer: Sandalwood has an earthy undertone with creamy and sweet accents supporting the woody notes warming your skin, and this turns you into an attractive choice for women. Women can even link sandalwood to a hormone called androsterone, which increases their desirable attraction for you, turning them jelly-like.

Best Sandalwood Cologne Guide: Final Thoughts

Sandalwood is a comforting smell for my senses. I love it when my partner uses any of his favorite colognes with this foundational ingredient, especially if they have Mysore sandalwood. It lasts for hours and hours, and it has such a seductive wake. Not to mention, the ingredient touches modern and classic.

Hence, I call sandalwood an olfactory ingredient for cologne. It has such versatile potentials, and it smells like heaven in the woods. I listed my favorites per the rating system I designed, which means I encourage you to try at least one (or more) of the five or four-score colognes. Drakkar Noir is a hands-down winner.

Amazon will always be the best place to find out how good cologne is because consumers aren’t afraid to be honest. However, this guide is about sandalwood, meaning I also chose the colognes with top accords befitting the precious ingredient. Choose your favorite, and smell like a sweet, woody, and creamy man today.

To read more about fabulous colognes:

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