If you’re looking around for the best spicy colognes, it’s probably because you want a scent that won’t leave you blending into the background. In this olfactory neck of the woods, the headlining notes—cardamom, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg—pull people in by channeling delicious warmth. But where each perfumer goes from there is what makes things special. The right spicy scent may be sexy, or playful, or mysterious. But it always gets attention, for the right reason.
Technically, spicy fragrances aren’t even one of the official fragrance categories—they’re a subset of the “amber” family, and generally considered to be cold-weather fragrances, along with leather-based colognes and tobacco scents. But we’re not in a lab, and just like so-called fashion rules, some perfume taxonomy isn’t going to get in the way of you wearing what you like, when you like. Especially since a spice note can add depth to an otherwise-refreshing spring and summer scent, or team up with lighter floral notes for dimension.
And once you get into our favorites of the genre down below, you might notice that most of the best spicy colognes are “eau de parfum.” That means they’re more potent than the average eau de toilette, and they’ll last longer through the day. Keep that in mind the first time you spray one on. Like in cooking, spice is good—but too much can ruin a dish.
Okay, enough with the amuse-bouche chatter: here, now, are the best spicy scents for men. And if you’re looking for more options, you can always visit our favorite scents overall for men.
Best Spicy Scent Overall: Comme des Garçons “Blackpepper”
You’ll never forget your first whiff of Blackpepper—and if you play your moves right, they won’t either. This one is equal parts approachable, mysterious, and sophisticated. While top billing goes to the namesake ingredient, Comme des Garçons stacked the lineup with elegant sexiness in the form of incense, leather, licorice, and musk.
Best for Spring and Summer: Valentino “Born in Roma Yellow Dream”
Ginger headlines this sweet-but-spicy blend, which also subtly blends in pineapple, cedar, and mandarin. It’s a love letter to Valentino’s hometown, from the crispness of Italian mandarin to the golden color that evokes glowing lights.
Best for Fall and Winter: Parfums de Marly “Althaïr”
Althaïr could have just as easily landed on our best musk colognes list, too, but its deliciousness really steered it to the top of the spicy set. Along with musk, this one feels practically edible thanks to vanilla, praline, cardamom, and cinnamon. And it’s those last two that elevate it above most other vanilla scents. This one comforts like dessert, making it perfect for the colder months.
Best for Date Night: Guerlain “Epices Exquises”
This scent is like an espresso shot for the senses. It kicks off with the warmth of a spiced coffee, then layers on smoky musks like patchouli and sandalwood offset by fresh hints of green angelica. It adds up to some serious allure for a romantic night out.
Best for the Office: Acqua di Parma “Zafferano”
“Zafferano” translates to “saffron,” the subtle, sought-after note at the center of this eau de parfum. It makes the cologne a conversation starter that also wears light, so that it won’t dominate a room (or an elevator). It’s a terrific unisex option, and a great his-and-hers scent for anyone who likes to share with their partner.
Best Floral Spicy Scent: Etat Libre d’Orange “Spice Must Flow”
Men should wear floral scents more often, particularly the ones—like Etat Libre’s—that incorporate heftier notes, like spice. This one brings a trio—ginger, cardamom, and incense—that orbit a Turkish rose core. And despite the floral expression, this one is really better suited for cold weather. (And no, you don’t need to get the movie reference to wear it.)
Best Classic Spicy Scent: Calvin Klein “Obsession for Men”
Obsession is a legend in the scents game because it somehow gets a complex group of notes— from cinnamon, coriander, myrrh, and nutmeg to vanilla, musk, and amber—to sing in harmony. Call this one sultry but safe—it’s got the zeal of a date-night scent, but won’t make anyone at the co-working space feel weird.
Most Powerful Spicy Scent: Aesop “Marrakech Intense”
If you’re looking for a signature scent that won’t get lost in the bar—let us introduce you to Aesop’s spicy potion. True to the name, Marrakech Intense evokes the stunning sensory overload of a Moroccan spice market. Cardamom, clove, and sandalwood aren’t shy, but they’re evened out by a supporting cast of floral and citrus notes. What you get is a scent that skews toward the cold weather months, but still wears handsomely year-round.
Best Black Tie Spicy Scent: Kilian “Intoxicated”
Despite what the headlining ingredients may lead you to think, Kilian’s beloved coffee-cardamom creation is less “drinking a cappuccino by the fire” and more “sipping martinis at the penthouse soiree.” It’s debonair and sumptuous—a velvet dinner jacket in a bottle. Which means it’s terrific for date nights where the restaurant has a dress code, VIP buttoned-up affairs, and moments when date nights turn into unbuttoned affairs.