Portland General Store

Words by: Andrew Williams


As I made clear recently, I’m on something of a scented odyssey. It has turned out to be a rather interesting journey.

I received a tip off about a little known and sparsely available range of products and scents called Portland General Store.

Founded in 2007 all the products are handmade in the state of Maine. Entitled Whisky, Tobacco, and Palo Santo the product range features stripped down splash colognes, aftershaves, Eau de toilettes, bath scrubs, moisturisers and shaving jelly (which has a treacle like consistency). They provide a refreshing alternative to the many over complicated, over hyped and underwhelming products on the market.

And stripped down is absolutely the right term to apply to these products. My favourite scent was Tobacco; manly, faintly woody with top notes of cinnamon. It is unpretentious, base even, with enough going on not to be boring. It did remind me slightly of stepping into Davidoff’s humidor for the first time, which is what you want from something called tobacco. It doesn’t last as long as I would like, but this is one I’ll keep in my desk at work and apply before an evening out.

Even the labels and bottles have a folksy uncomplicated aesthetic, which make them look like a cross between illicit moonshine and some old quacks suspect embrocation. None of this is surprising given that the recipes date back to the 20’s and 30’s. Prices range from £12-£68 for fragrances depending on the form they take.

A little easier to come by in the US, the only European stockist is London’s Archer Adams – a charming American man who has just set up an independent menswear business in London, and is worthy of a post in his own right.

All of this appeals to my sense of inverse snobbery, which as an Englishman I am sometimes susceptible too.