Somers (Lili Bermuda)

Somers is a masculine fragrance named for Sir George Somers-- British naval titan, Bermuda's founding father, and the Chuck Norris of the Discovery Age. Forget Fabio squaring off against Old Spice Guy, or the Most Interesting Man In The World nattering on about manscaping. Sir George Somers would make all three of them cry like kindergarteners.

Caught in a hurricane during a transatlantic run in 1609, Somers ran his sinking ship aground in a valiant bid to save its passengers. He succeeded down to the last man-- heck, he even saved the ship's dog. In ten months' time, he and his fellow survivors founded a colony on the "Isle of Devils", built not one but two ships from the wreckage of the old, loaded them with wild hogs and other local victuals (including potatoes, figs, onions, and olives-- Mario Batali, eat your heart out!), and sailed to Virginia to liberate Jamestown from looming starvation.

How's that for heroism? More, you say? Only months after landing in Jamestown, Somers sailed back to Bermuda for more groceries. Falling gravely ill there, he directed his crew to remove his heart from his body and bury it on the island before shipping the rest back to England for a formal interment.

Tell me you're not a little bit in love with the man.

But after all this, who would expect a fragrance dedicated to his memory to be pretty? Not me; no, sir. Uncorking this vial, I honestly expected to be on the receiving end of a full-force haymaker to the jaw. Instead, I find myself perplexed -- charmed, but perplexed -- by a misty melange of woods and spices as delicate as an arabesque carven screen.

I'm not disparaging it, of course. Somers is a lovely thing shot through with the diffuse benevolence that guaiacwood brings to many a modern composition. It incorporates cedar and olive, two woods important to the Bermudan ecosystem as well as to Sir George Somers' personal mythos. Via notes of tea, exotic spices, a gorgeously sweet licorice-root accord and a full-on cigar-box cedar note, it even manages to weave the theme of global trade into the story. In summation, it has all the appropriate characters, scenery, and drama to make an epic of sweeping scope. Yet prepared as I am for hardtack, scurvy, and rope burns, I can't deny that I find Somers' softness curiously jarring-- like the ethereally lovely Orlando Bloom trying to come off as a salty dog in innumerable Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Ah, but so what? Sometimes you reach for a gritty adventure and grab a bodice-busting romance novel instead. All it takes is a slight shift in expectations, and in no time, you're in love.

Scent Elements: Bergamot, Bermuda cedar, cardamom, licorice, black tea, nutmeg, coriander, geranium, sage, guaiac wood, olivewood bark, incense, blonde suede notes, amber