Quick review of a vintage Aqua Velva four flavor set

Discussion in 'Preshave and Aftershave' started by gorgo2, Jan 25, 2019.

  1. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Received today, the set is as mint as the seller described. But the juice tells the tale, so on to the juice. I expected a bit of age fading of the scents on all of these but can't say for sure that there's been any since there's nothing of their era to compare them against except themselves. I will be typing these as I open and sample the bottles with a few minutes in between. I should probably sniff raw coffee in between to cleanse the palate.

    ICE BLUE: The Ice Blue is about 90% identical to what you'd buy today except that there's a sharper but pleasant note that leaps out past the menthol. I don't know what it is. Either it's something just not included in current production, or other components have faded allowing this one to stand out. Whichever, I'm not at all crazy about current blue aftershaves but I do like this stuff. It's not high end cologne but it's good...less linear, a little more well-rounded than current production. If what I'm smelling is like it originally was, I now can see why the blue was popular. In fact, it's not very far off from Cool Water if that gives you a general idea. Yeah...imagine Cool Water doing an aftershave and this is about right. Surprisingly nice.

    MENTHOL MIST: Hm. Tough one. Sharper and a bit darker in tone, but with more going on than the Ice Blue. I can't put my finger on what's the deal with this one. All I can say is, it does not resemble anything current (or vintage) that I can remember sampling. It's slightly medicinal, wintergreen-ish, but not at all off-putting. Faded faster on my skin than the I.B. did, too. Pity. I like it a lot. Also a pleasant surprise. EDIT: my eight year old, who's got a pretty good nose on her, with no coaching from me says this one's her favorite because "it's the most interesting." I see what she means.

    One of the two I was waiting for. A crisp but soft and slightly sweet (but not cloying or candy-like) lime, with almost a hint of sweetish musk (?) underlying it. The menthol cooling is more pronounced here than with the first two, oddly. Not as straight up limey as Avon's Island Lime but without the heavy musky foundation underlying a lot of what Avon did with their aftershaves. The lime fades quickly into a fairly neutral, synthetic citrusy fragrance. Not bad at all...will add a few drops of lime EO just because it can't hurt.

    REDWOOD: This is the one I have long wanted to try, and the most worth the wait.

    Yeah. Heh, oh yeah.

    I've always been a sucker for anything piney or cedary and this stuff is it. A healthy blast of cedar, not pine, almost like freshly opened cedar mulch (saw that description elsewhere and it's 100% correct) but very nicely done. Not much else going on with it but it doesn't need much else. Yeah, it's one note but it is what it says on the label and if that's what you want, it delivers. It's what you'd expect the guy from the Brawny towel label to smell like. I really, REALLY dig this stuff. Pity it's extinct.

    Pity they're all extinct because there's not a dud in the bunch (and IF these are faded, the originals make some current colognes pale). These all will be sparsely used, but used they shall be. :)


    Sorry if it was boring. Thanks for reading.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2019
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  2. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    About 10 minutes later and the lime has lingered the longest, both the fragrance and the cooling. Wow.
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  3. ordinaryshaver

    ordinaryshaver Well-Known Member

    I love a citrus scent especially limes.
    Good review thanks.
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  4. Weasel640

    Weasel640 Well-Known Member

    I love all of these. These are the early 79-83 bottles, you haven't shown the back but I believe they are still the Nabisco set. The Ice Blue was changed under Beecham, and was way better back then, prior to the change. I really like the Menthol Mist as well, and with me, later in the day I'll still get a citrus scent from it.

    If you like the Cedar smell in it; Have you tried the Castle Forbes Cedarwood and Sandalwood Soap and/or Aftershave? When I first opened the soap my wife said it smelled just like her grand fathers mill. Just a went cedar smell in their stuff.
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  5. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    I haven't used a shave soap in a long time but that sounds very interesting, thank you, I will look into it.
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  6. Primotenore

    Primotenore missed opera tunity

    That's a set I have always wanted. Nice find.
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  7. Chuck Naill

    Chuck Naill Well-Known Member

    Love AV. Congratulations!!
  8. Paul Turner

    Paul Turner outside the quote(s) now

    Nicely done. What's the Skin-Bracer doing there, did you try that to compare with the others for overall skin feeling?
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  9. Enrico

    Enrico Popcorn

    :happy096: Great review; I almost picked up the poker set a year ago, now I wish I had. :sad024:
  10. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    I think it's a vending machine version.
  11. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    The back of each says J.B. Williams Co., Cranford, NJ. No date was on the box either.
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  12. Weasel640

    Weasel640 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, then those are bottles from when Nabisco owned Williams and Aqua Velva. The shiny background like this, was used by them from 1979-1983. The text is a give away for Nabisco if paired with the bottle style, but the most telling is the symbol that you left out right before "THE J.B. WILLIAMS..." It looks like a 'W' with a Round Chemist Flask in the middle. Like in this pic from a bottle of Aqua Velva Musk below. These were all still the original(ish) formulas. I say original(ish) because I'm unsure if the formula had changes from the 40s-60s.

    Did you get the box that should have come with this set at all? I think that the Box for this set should have been dark (navy) blue, with a cut through showing the bottles. Above the cut through big print saying Aqua Velva, and under saying After Shave Collection. They called this set number 8390. It varied year to year, but for the time frame it was more common to have Musk instead of Redwood, and/or Surf instead of Menthol Mist.

    Also regarding the Castle Forbes Cedarwood and Sandalwood, they do have an aftershave. I know that Maggard's has samples. It could be worth checking out if you like that Cedar smell. If the Aftershave is anything like the Soap, I think you'll really like it. The Soap that I had gotten was just a sample as well, but smelled outstanding and lathered great. Smelled better than and paired with the Aqua Velva Redwood very well.
  13. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    It is the dark blue box with big white letters. Can you use it for anything?
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  14. Weasel640

    Weasel640 Well-Known Member

    If you wanted to narrow down the exact year they were made you could search advertisements for the set. They were posted in magazines and local newspapers of the time. The Bottles alone won't get you the exact year. But the Boxes changed year to year so you could match it to advertisements for a specific year. Plus I think it is cool to keep the Box for the history of it.
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  15. brit

    brit Well-Known Member

    very cool set..shame they are no longer available .is the lime anything like the current original green sport scent? the redwood would be awesome to have as well..
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  16. Weasel640

    Weasel640 Well-Known Member

    I couldn't say for sure (because the original green sport scent is not available in the U.S.). But based on scent descriptions I've seen, I'd have to very strongly say NO, they are nothing alike. I really don't think there are any Aqua Velva offerings (past or present) that are like the original green sport scent other than it's self.
  17. brit

    brit Well-Known Member

    ok thank you ..
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  18. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    If you'd like it, I'll send it to you. I have no use for it
  19. Paul Turner

    Paul Turner outside the quote(s) now

    Oh, I see that now, lol.
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  20. gorgo2

    gorgo2 geezerhood

    Pine is fairly common as a cologne but I had never considered cedar before. Seems it'd be a like or hate scent for anyone smelling it. Not sure I'd want to wear it every day...often though.
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