a journey of the senses by FLACONNEUR
4711 ECHT KÖLNISCH WASSER – 1792 – ♂♀
Classification: Citrus Aromatic
Top: Bergamot, Lemon, Orange
Heart: Lavender, Rosemary
Perfumer: Wilhelm Mülhens
Price: $45 for 400ml bottle
4711 has a grand and lengthy history that started more than 200 years through the generosity of a Carthusian monk. The monk gave a predominant Cologne entrepreneur Wilhelm Muelhens an unusual wedding present. The gift was “aqua mirabilis”, a formula for a miracle water. The miracle water was something to take internally and use externally. Wilhelm Muelhens was impressed by the miracle water and after some time, opened a small manufacturing plant to produce the product and a cologne was born.
A strange name 4711, isn’t it? The origins of the name of this cologne is just as interesting as the creation of its contents. During the French occupation of Cologne in 1794, a commander General Daurier wanted all building to be consecutively numbers as to eliminate the confusing street names and make the process of housing his troops easier. As the story goes, one French soldier, while passing by still mounted on this horse, painted number onto the front doors of each building as requested by his general. The particular house that Wilhelm Muelhens eventually lived in several years later, got the number 4711.
During the rule of Napoleon, Muelhens found himself subject to a decree under which any secret formulas that were intended for internal use be disclosed to the public domain. Muelhens had no intension of making the contents of his secret known and protected his precious “Kölnisch Wasser” by claiming it was for external use only. This began Muelhens journey into the perfume market.
Up until this time, “Kölnisch Wasser” could only be stored in a “rosily” bottle. These bottles could only be stored on their sides. This made the transportation of the product very limiting. In 1820, as part of a marketing strategy, Muelhens used a new invention by Peter Heinrich Molanus. Molanus’s bottle made the storing and handling of cologne easy. It also made the process of applying labels to the flat surface on the front of the bottle very easy. The bottles we see today are the exact same shape introduced by Muelhens in 1820. The name “Kölnisch Wasser” was dropped when the new name of 4711 was registered as a product brand by Muelhens in 1875.
The formula for 4711 has remained under wraps since its introduction. We are aware of the basic notes of this fragrance but not much more. Amazingly enough, 4711 is as relevant today as a fresh citrus cologne as in its beginning. The opening of 4711 is sparkling citrus, featuring bergamot, lemon and orange. Bright, refreshing pure and simple just as it should be. The complexity starts with heart notes in a classic combination of lavender and rosemary. Many colognes have this make-up of citrus top and herbal heart, so 4711 remains true to its Cologne heritage. The floral neroli base compliments the citrus notes once again, keeping 4711 fresh and simple. 4711 is not a complex niche cologne, and wasn’t intended to be. But, this is a great everyday leisure fragrance that does have a clean, fresh edge. 4711 is a great choice for wearing to indoor functions where you may be around many people who might take issue with heavy fragrances.
Longevity on 4711 is a bit deceiving. Some have complained that it is undetectable after 30 minutes but like many cologne type fragrances, they are composed of citrus and can be short on longevity. Citrus notes are fleeting on the skin and sometime all you are left with are some long-lasting heart notes and sturdy base notes. 4711 does have an herbal heart which does last but the neroli base is just about as short-lived as the citrus opening. 4711 turns into a great skin scent but be careful, if you find yourself in a situation where your body temperature rises due to either the room temperature or outside temperature. 4711 will definitely make a second appearance in a strong fashion. This experience with 4711 is completely unexpected and a bit of a pleasant surprise.
The large 400ml bottle is designed to be used as a splash and is best applied in that fashion. There are smaller sizes available and even one with a spray atomizer but to get the full effect, stick to the 1820 design splash bottle. 4711 also offers a host of other products under this name, check their website for more information.