Courvoisier L’Edition Impériale (2006) was issued in two forms which have notable differences. There is a more-common eau de toilette in a silver box with clear liquid and a semi-related rarer eau de parfum in a red box with orange liquid, and the latter has a richer, deeper base that moves it almost into another fragrance genre altogether. This is primarily a review of the eau de toilette as that’s what I have at hand, but honestly after doing some research, they share enough DNA that disliking one may preclude interest in the other, unless it is the difference in dry down that makes or breaks your opinion. If I get to sample the eau de parfum, I’ll come back and revise if notable differences are found. The skinny of the matter is this: Courvoisier wanted to celebrate an anniversary, so they turned to Kraft International Marketing (of all brands) to help them devise a fragrance, and since men were the primary drinkers of their product, a men’s fragrance it was to be. Alexis Dadier composed this, and his name is all over a lot of Oriflame fragrances, so that’s the kind of budget you can expect here despite the fancy packaging. This was originally a “straight to discounters” kind of marketing exercise, but they seem to have mostly dried up on the EdP (hence its mild rarity), while the EdT is still reasonably attainable outside eBay.
Courvoisier in EdT form feels lighter and woodsier than the eau de parfum (which gets far more talk) is claimed to be. Both have an opening of mandarin orange and heaps of coriander spice mixed with cardamom for smoothness and a speck of something powdery and floral. L’Edition Impériale seems like it wants to be a citric floral chypre like Creed Millésime Impérial (1995) but also a woody-amber too, since it moves into tones of cedar and vetiver smoke into the heart where the spices of the top start to gradually overwhelm the citrus and floral start. Eventually the powderiness of the opening is replaced by a scratchy amber in the base, with a bit of dry violet moving to make it more masculine. After about 30 minutes, all I smell in the eau de toilette is the spice, the woody-amber combo, and a bit of the smoke over the violet accord, very proper and inoffensive with moderate tenacity and projection. If you own the eau de parfum, promises of rich leather, benzoins and balsams, plus something a bit boozy to call back to the main drinkable Courvoisier itself are made, but in the Edt, the dry down stops at the woody amber. If I get to sniff the difference, I’ll expand my findings if deemed necessary. The EdT is as office safe as woody-ambers go, while the EdP appears to be more for romantic or formal evening use.
I can see why this has its fans, especially if you own both and use them as alternating day and night versions of the same scent, with the EdT as office wear and EdP as drinks after hours, so I completely get it. The quality is floating right around what was acceptable for a mid-tier designer a la Kenneth Cole or a budget mail-order perfumer like Oriflame, so Alexis Dadier is the right man for the job, delivering something that smells more expensive than it really is, but ultimately shows its real value in the somewhat pedestrian-but-acceptable drydown. If you don’t care for the lightness and dryness of the EdT, the EdP may be more your speed but the whole thing was a limited edition commemorative kind of dealio so it may not be the best daily driver range unless you want to stock up on bottles that slowly rise in price every year since it starting drying up. I like this scent because citrus floral is my jam, and a little oriental spice mixed in keeps it interesting, but the woody-amber curbs my enthusiasm somewhat. Courvoisier L’Edition Impériale is a serviceable-smelling anecdote in modern perfume history and worth picking up if you collect oddities, but is not a true hidden gem. Gotta love those bottles though! Thumbs up.