Alvarez Gomez is a Madrid-based, family-owned business that dates back to 1899, and Agua de Colonia Concentrada is its signature product. This traditional cologne is reportedly an easy item to find in shops throughout Spain, but it was virtually unknown in the United States until MiN New York began importing the Alvarez Gomez line last year. According to the company, Agua de Colonia Concentrada is "a very fresh, clean and natural-smelling cologne enhanced with carefully chosen essences of Mediterranean plants, flowers and fruit"; its official notes are Spanish lavender, lemon, geranium, eucalyptus, rosemary, thyme, English lavender and bergamot.
Agua de Colonia Concentrada was created in 1912, and Alvarez Gomez claims that its formula remains unchanged. I don't know whether that's entirely possible, but in any case, this fragrance does smell timeless, as a classic cologne should. It's a strongly citrus-based interpretation of Eau de Cologne, with a tart, bright lemon note that evokes the peel as well as the pulp of the fruit. The lemon is almost brilliant for the first few minutes on skin; when you smell it, you'll understand why Alvarez Gomez has chosen such a vibrant yellow for its packaging. The lemon does calm down after a short while and lets the bergamot and the geranium make an appearance. The secondary notes of lavender and rosemary gradually bring a hint of greenish spice to the scent. The whole thing ends up feeling clean, but in a sunny way rather than a soapy way, if that makes sense.
Agua de Colonia Concentrada is meant to be splashed on liberally, like any Eau de Cologne or toilet water. If you end up enjoying the scent, you can explore a full line of products including (but not limited to) fragranced body lotion, shower gel, deodorant, and luxuriously hefty bars of soap. I'm particularly fond of the individually packaged "Refreshing Perfumed Towelettes," which are perfect for touching up on the go; just a few swipes on my arms and neck make me feel cooler and crisper.
I'm not an expert on every classic Eau de Cologne on the market, but I did enjoy a brief Acqua di Parma Colonia phase a few years ago and I'm still loyal to Murray & Lanman Florida Water (which helped me survive Summer 2010, the hottest on record for my part of the world). I'd say that Alvarez Gomez's Agua de Colonia Concentrada is simpler than either of those, with fewer noticeable herbal and floral notes (not to mention a much lower price) than Acqua di Parma and less spice than Murray & Lanman. This simplicity is not a bad thing at all. Agua de Colonia Concentrada's directness makes it an uplifting variation on a classic theme and an affordable basic for any fragrance wardrobe.
Alvarez Gomez Agua de Colonia Concentrada is sold in various sizes, including 100 ml ($30), 150 ($38), and 220 ml ($44). For purchasing information, see the listing for Alvarez Gomez under Perfume Houses.
Note: you can view an enjoyable 2-minute video compilation of vintage Alvarez Gomez advertisements (by "Vintage Lady") here.