I've had a mini of McGraw by Tim McGraw for over a year and have put off sampling it. Its squat bottle with the plastic, faux-pebbled leather collar and vague cowboy motif didn't allure me. And, frankly, before I looked Tim McGraw up for this post, I couldn't have told you a single song he'd recorded.
When this review posts, I'll be in Billings, Montana, visiting my father, a horseshoer. Maybe we'll be at the Muzzleloader for breakfast, where my dad wears his summer work cowboy hat (dirty white straw, smashed on the top from the ceiling of the truck's cab, distinctly different from his pristine summer dress hat.) My teenaged niece, a rabid George Strait fan, might be with us. I can manage a two-step, used to be an o.k. shot with a rifle, and even go on rare Merle Haggard jags. But for decades my life has been more about the city. I don't have a clue about country western culture today.
One spritz of McGraw tells me if McGraw is the smell representation of country now, then life is pretty easy. No horses, tumbleweed, axle grease, holster leather, or firewood here. If McGraw and Tauer Perfumes Lonestar Memories duked it out, McGraw would crumble before Lonestar Memories had time to creak to standing in his leather chaps. In fact, McGraw is closer in spirit to the haute bourgeois Parfums MDCI Invasion Barbare than it is to anything John Wayne might wear.
Coty Beauty launched McGraw by Tim McGraw in 2008. McGraw is a solid, amber-laden fougère with sandalwood and musk. It opens with what smells like a hint of bergamot and rosy lime before amber, "manly" lavender, and sweet wood give the fragrance heft and sillage. The amber is salty and pungent right through McGraw's impressive wear time. McGraw is not at all original, but for what it is, it's nice — a lot nicer than I'd expected. Anyone looking for an entry level ambery fougère built square and rich would do well with McGraw.
Probably McGraw smells like Tim McGraw's life: polished but comfortable furniture, a gigantic flat screen TV in the den, pedigreed Labrador retrievers on plaid-covered beds, and boots that have never seen the inside of a stable. McGraw is a friendly, predictable, and reliable fragrance with warmth, body, and non-threatening masculinity at an astonishing low price. McGraw can tell you what cut of beef to order in a restaurant, but if you're looking for someone to wrangle that beef for you, keep looking. You won't find it here.
McGraw by Tim McGraw is available in 15, 30 and 50 ml Eau de Toilette ($18-31).