Update: February 16, 2018
Creed Viking makes me feel like I’m being conned. Feelings of suspicion, incredulity and admiration overtake me all in one. My brain struggles to reconcile the sensory input as it struggles to answer a rhetorical question: are they really trying to sell me an Old Spice rendition for $500?
It may be just me but Creed Viking smells like the generic cologne a middle-aged aristocrat wears on a crisp spring morning at their chalet outside of Davos. The mention of aristocracy and Davos may draw associations with pedigree and luxury but I’d rather describe my fragrances as interesting, creative and challenging.
As you’ve gathered by now, I’m not a fan of Viking. It’s not because it is a bad fragrance. Just the opposite. Creed Viking smells good that falls short of being great. It is an Olympic athlete who won a medal based on technicality. She is not good enough to deserve it but exploiting the rules makes her a winner.
Similarly, Creed Viking meets all technical requirements for a good fragrance but it fails to inspire. Its composition is well-blended, the longevity is adequate and the projection is respectable. None of this matters, however, because you won’t like wearing it.
The character of Viking shouldn’t surprise anyone. It follows the trajectory of Creed’s previous releases: polite, fresh and restrained. They are the olfactory equivalent of a Brooks Brothers suit: all tradition and no creativity.
The genius of Creed, however, is not in its fragrances but in its ability to garner an unprecedented following. Batch discussions top the charts of forums and Facebook groups; new releases carry the intrepid anticipation rivaling the second coming of Christ; fanboys proclaim “Aventus is King” with the passion and zeal of spirit-possessed evangelicals.
Yet, each release is a first cousin of the one before. Creed Viking is not that different than Royal Water, Wood & Spice and Royal Mayfair. Once the fragrance is out, the pre-release enthusiasm is replaced with muffled disappointment and incredulity at the price-point.
“Hm, it’s not what I thought it would be.”
“They want $500 for it!?”
“It’s Creed, it must be good...it will grow on me.”
The release of Creed Viking followed the same pattern. Now that the passions have calmed, many of us are having a moment of reckoning. Like me, many others slowly accept the truth: Viking is just alright.
Dig Deeper: What Does It Smell Like?
Viking’s promo video will give you the wrong idea of what the fragrance smells like. So will the name. As many, I expected a threesome between a glacier accord, berries and mosses - smells native to Scandinavia. If Erwin Creed was the adventurous type, he could have played the viking angle. A composition of leather, sea accord and berries could have formed the basis of a true Viking journey.
Instead, Creed Viking opens with lavandin chilled by lemon and bergamot. The combo is fresh and pungent. The intended effect is cold air but somehow it reminds me more of Provence than the land of the vikings.
Viking proceeds with a fresh rose accord offset by dry vetiver and a touch of earthy patchouli. Creed has blended these three notes well and none of them stands out. Instead, they create an atmosphere of cool countryside air.
Several hours in, Viking dries down to the Creedesque mineralic ambergris (even though none is present).
Overall, Creed Viking is a well-blended gentleman’s affair. Just like its ideal wearer, it’s polite, respectable and not very exciting. If perfume is a functional article of which no pleasure is to be derived, Viking is a good choice.
How To Wear Creed Viking
Crisp and fresh describe Viking. Wherever these two qualities are in demand, the fragrance will work.
Spring and summer are the seasons for Creed Viking. Its dry and crisp character shines in warm weather. For me, colder weather calls for warmer notes but Viking can work in winter too.
Creed Viking is a good choice for daily wear. With its superior longevity and projection all it takes is two sprays in the morning to get you through the day and most of the night. There are better options for evening wear but if changing your scent is not an option, this one works too.
Most Creed perfumes require certain maturity. So does Viking. The lavender accord reminds me of a classic aftershave - a scent that works well on men in their middle age. For those much younger Viking will appear forced and dishonest.
The Experts Say...
Mark Behnke, Colognoisseur
“Let’s get the overarching question out of the way: is Viking as good as Aventus? No, but I think Aventus is one of the best perfumes Creed has ever made. Viking is not in that league. It is a Creed masculine in the same vein as their classic Green Irish Tweed.”
Star Rating: Not Given
Read Mark’s full review.
Dave Johnson & Pep, Fragrance Bros./The Scentinel
Dave: “There’s a fragrance out there by a house called Yosh...it’s called Konig, there are aspects of that this [Creed Viking] reminds me of but that one is a little bit more modern and more complex. It’s just better overall.”
Dave: “Overall, it’s okay, a little underwhelming...you know with a name Viking I was thinking it was going to be kind of dangerous and a little bit kind of raucous but it’s definitely not. It’s a little bit tamed and subdued and dull.
Pep: “...and almost when I’m smelling it, it smell like a salad dressing to me.”
Pep: “The one comment I did get was that it [Creed Viking] was not something they expected me to wear...it was a bit old fashioned.”
Star Rating: 3 out of 5
Thomas Dunckley, Candy Perfume Boy
“I actually quite like it. There’s some interesting stuff going on here in terms of the metallic, super-fresh spices against the backdrop of rose.”
Star Rating: None Given
Read Thomas’s full review.
Bergamot, Lemon, Pink Peppercorn
Peppercorn, Rose, Peppermint
Sandalwood, Vetiver, Patchouli, Lavandin
Bottle Size: 50ml, 100ml, 250ml, 500ml
Concentration: Eau de Parfum
Price: $350 - $970
Where to Buy: Creed Boutique