On the plus side, Cologne Intense is modern and refreshing, it's not so heavy on the synthetic woods, and Ambroxan. On the negative.. it's not very interesting, and smells nothing like Polo, or Modern Reserve.
To me, the opening smells a lot like Polo Black. Peachy, if I say so. drying down into a creamy slightly spicy peachy/mandarin accord. The base brings in a lot of cinnamon to me.
Basenotes, and more so Fragrantica have a lot of reviews comparing it to the original Polo, I don't get it at all. I thought maybe I bought a dud? Then a few others agreed with my comparison to Polo Black. I'm still not sure quite honestly. I may seek after another bottle, to see if it differs. As for now.. I could take or leave it.
Absolutely love this. Very fresh and clean with a wonderful dry down. Excellent nod to original.
Scent lasts for a long time on me.
Opens with a blast of grapefruit and basil, slighty minty. Great heart to this. The clary sage is excellent with slight violet notes. Then the dry down awesome patchouli old school with the earthy vetiver playing off each other like soulmates. The ambroxan is very well done.
This is a fantastic addition to the legendary Polo.
First came the fabulous Modern Reserve back in 2008 and now this.
It is bright, blue-green, electric, slightly sweet.
The original DNA is in there (patchouli basil combo) but restrained and subdued, I pick up some bits of Modern Reserve in there as well.
It is true to the cologne moniker, but not to the intense part of the name.
If you are a die hard fan of the original, you may not like this because this is almost opposite in character.
For me, it is a must have, and considering how much Modern Reserve rose in value due to discontinuation, I will stock up on this just in case.
This stinker doesn't merit a full review with note breakdown, and since I threw out my sample months ago (as there was no review page up for it back then) I refuse to buy another, subjecting my nose to suffer through wearing Polo Cologne Intense again.
My mini-review instead follows:
I ended up buying a large sample to at least try (if anything swayed by the gorgeous classically styled bottle), and sadly this has none of the Polo DNA I wanted, instead I found it a closer acquaintance to more modern (bad) synthetic smelling perfumes like the godawful Sauvage by Dior. As time passes, it gets more and more synthetic smelling, crescendoing at levels bordering on the unbearable. While I certainly respect those that feel otherwise, I would have to say this smells horrible to me, yielding it a poor to very poor rating of 1.5 to 2 stars out of 5 and a strong avoid recommendation to lovers of vintage original Polo (Green) and others of its ilk, except if you solely want to collect its fine looking bottle.
Can you create an aromatic fougère without oakmoss? Designers have removed it from several prominent examples in subsequent reformulations that seem to go mostly praised with longtime wearers, so yes. Can you build an aromatic fougère around the all-too-common base note of ambroxan typically powering most modern "blue" fragrances in the 21st century? Evidently, Ralph Lauren has supplied that answer in Polo Cologne Intense (2021), which is also yes, but with a bit of trickery. There's no mistaking that some people will just never be happy unless they have things the way they were, like the people who will disdainfully compare this to the original Polo by Ralph Lauren (1977) and say that the brand is a shadow of its former self, that perfumery is dead, long live perfumery, all that myopic hogwash. We're going to ignore them though, because they can sit in their own little world where fragrance stopped being good after 1995, and all they do is troll eBay for restocking on their deep vintage bottles of this or that 70's and 80's powerhouse fragrance, because they're really not hurting anyone actually interested in this fragrance (or my review on it for that matter). There's a bit of undeniable soapiness with what's going on here, but Polo Cologne Intense is in no way an ethyl acetate/ethyl maltol fruity sweetness bomb like we've come to expect anymore from modern mainstream fragrances.
What you get here in Polo Cologne Intense by Ralph Lauren is a lean and green fragrance that stretches and plays with the definition of an aromatic fougère, as it doesn't have any lavender either, but smells quite green and properly Polo-like, while not trying to be a replacement for the inimitable original "Polo green". The opening comes out of the gate with grapefruit and orange love it or hate it, but tempers that with some spearmint and basil. I get bits of some other soapy green notes, acetates and a bit of some hedione woosh to let you know this is a modern fragrance, but things stay fairly square in the fougère department. Clary sage plays the role that lavender and geranium play here, a move similar to what Hermès did with H24 (2021). The clary sage isn't super-dosed like it is in H24, and pairs up instead with thyme and pleasant violet ionones, so think more like a Creed Green Irish Tweed (1985) vibe minus the aquatic elements. The ambroxan provides background fuzziness but the patchouli does the heavy lifting in the base, much like Amouage Bracken Man (2016).Vetiver rounds things out alongside some Iso E Super and performance is moderate in all ways that count. Polo Cologne Intense feels like a lighter and more casual hot weather-friendly take the original Polo deserved back in the 70's but never really got. You can wear this just about any time of year and it seems to be pretty tenacious on skin to boot, giving me about 10 hours. Mostly, I can see Polo Cologne Intense being an outdoor spring through early fall kind of fragrance, or worn in the office to break up the monotony of blue and citrus-focused fragrances that live there.
If you're going to do something like this with modern aromachemicals and change the paradigm for aromatic fougères away from lavender as a staple note, and furthermore away from oakmoss as a staple base accord whether real or simulated with evernyl, this right here is the way to do it. For as much as I love H24, it's not because it does a good job of being a newfangled fougère because it really honestly doesn't, but it has enough quirks and creativity behind it that it at least comes out smelling like a version of Dior Eau Sauvage (1966) for the modern man. Here with Polo Cologne Intense, we see something a bit different and more rooted in subversion of tradition going on, which makes me a bit sad that I can't credit the perfumer because they did a bang up job in the process. Now I'm not saying this is some end-all be-all experience, but what I am saying is Polo Cologne Intense is a modern green fragrance that checks the boxes for being aromatic and woody but also checks the boxes for being fresh in a contemporary way that woodier and muskier fougères just can't be, meaning there's something here for everyone who likes green aromatic masculines. Polo Cologne Intense isn't a catch-all kind of scent profile like the Polo Blue (2002) or Polo Red (2013) lines, and doesn't seem like it will replace the original, so I gather it's poised to compete in the same kind of buyer segment that is still interested in things like Terre d'Hermès (2006). Thumbs up