1776 Cologne by Elsha, a Throwback Cologne to Imperial Russia ©The Scented Salamander
1776 is the name of a Russian leather fragrance issued by Elsha which has a confidential yet certain cult following among fragrance aficionados. The information provided by the brand site Elsha.com is rather succint. They offer a background chronology for the cologne and the data provided is a bit fuzzy. One thing you can certainly retain is that it is a cologne "...steeped in history and romance..." with emphasis laid on the second term. According to Basenotes, Elsha also marketed two other perfumes called "Golden Eagle" and "Liberty Bell". There are rare and explicit mentions of "Elsha 1776 Russian Leather" in the press from the 1950s and 1960s...
The Elsha website's narrative stops short of providing a description of the notes for 1776 reinforcing the aura of mystery and confidentiality surrounding the juice; however, the brand does offer an explanation of its main leather accord writing,
"...Alexander the 1st was noted as a gallant and romantic cavalier. It so happened that during his reign the first large perfumery was established and word went out from the palace to the chemists to create a fragrance that would match the odor of the leather of the boots of the Royalty. These boots were made of special leather created from the skin of small animal named Hucht. This rare animal was found only in the constantly frozen regions of the extreme northern part of Russia where there is only three or four hours of daylight. Only members of the Royal hunting parties were allowed to hunt the animal. They made many lavish and exciting trips to the cold northern regions for this sport".
You can read the rest of the story here.
"Elsha the Aristocrat of Perfume and Cologne" - A tag line which is a reference to pre-Communist Russia
1776 is a warm, balsamic, and woodsy cologne reminiscent to me of perfumes of the late 1910s and 1920s like Caron Tabac Blond (1919) or Molinard Habanita (1921). In as much as Zibeline by Weil is an unadvertized Russian leather scent, 1776 resembles it too.
If you compare it to another Russian leather cologne like Kölnisch Juchten (the vintage version) they offer similarities but the latter is more floral - also soapier and drier - while 1776 is much more balsamic, woody, and sweet. They both smell of tar and smoke, but 1776 does not have the rubbery facet of Kölnisch Juchten.
The Elsha cologne also resembles Royal Secret by Germaine Monteil in its depth and warmth and in that a myrrh note is apparent and pronounced in both cases.
The nuances I thought I could discern are the following: clove; tarragon; citrus; perhaps orange; ambergris; sandalwood; a very dirty musk; cinnamon; orris; oakmoss; birch; myrrh; soft woods - perhaps rosewood.
The development starts with a smoky, tarry, and sweet balsamic impression. This is followed by some well-blended herbal and hesperidic notes adding lightness to the scent. There are spicy clovey and cinnamon facets.
The piscean, fishy smell and slightly metallic edge of ambergris are noticeable; sometimes a very dirty musk emerges suggesting some unwashed, sweaty and unmentionable parts of the body. The blend is spicy and becomes slightly hazy later on when the orris kicks in. All the while the resinous, balsamic character of the cologne appears quite marked. It is softly woodsy and generally smooth and enveloping. The long drydown has a caramel/burnt sugar facet to it.The lasting power is good, if not great.
If you like hard-to-find olfactory signatures with a retro feel and a fur-coat-scent personality about them, you can give it a try. The perfume itself is not that opulent but it gives that impression as much emphasis is laid upon rich base notes. Once it reaches that plane, the perfume stops evolving in any marked manner becoming simply a warm skin scent evocative of old-school leathers.
An 8 oz. bottle retails for $38 on Elsha. You can find a 4 oz. flacon for $19.99 on eBay.
Photos ©The Scented Salamander