The Perfume That Brings All The Cows To The Yard

Portland General Store's unisex scents are American-made and cow-approved.
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Portland General Store's unisex scents are American-made and cow-approved.

Finally, a fragrance that's tested on animals that I can get behind: Portland General Store perfumer Lisa Brodar creates organic-vegan unisex fragrances that are pleasing to (wait for it...) cows. 

Why Cows, You Ask? 

portland general store lisa brodar

Brodar created PGS along with cofounder Troy Tyler in 2007. 

A homesteader herself, Brodar says she was inspired by a "story about a farmer whose wife washed some of his clothes in a fragrant detergent and the cows really went crazy and started acting up." But finding essential oils that are aromatherapeutic to cows was only half the battle. Says Brodar, "A lot of those scents are off-putting to humans; they’re very strong tree-type essential oils."

How The Unisex Scents Are Made 

portland general store lisa brodar making fragrance

Ingredients in Brodar's fragrances and skin care are natural, organic, and local whenever possible. 

"As a natural perfumer of almost 10 years, I’ve discovered that women love what might be a 'masculine' scent, and men are currently loving our first women’s perfume, Bee," says Brodar. "As a woman, I was never a fan of very sweet, floral perfumes. I gravitate toward richer, more complex notes such as labdanum and Japanese cedar wood. Adding a hint of rose or jasmine--more 'feminine' notes--gives the perfect amount of complexity that appeals to both sexes." 

All of PGS' scents, of which there are currently 10 (9 colognes, 1 perfume), are handcrafted in small batches using wild and organic ingredients. And a percentage of the company's profits benefit the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association and the Maine State Beekeepers Association. 

The Fragrances 

portland general store cologne

Portland General Store makes a whole suite of bath and body products, but I wanted to get a whiff of their wild-sourced fragrances. I was pretty intrigued by the names--Whiskey, Bootlegger, and Farmers’--and I was lucky enough to get my mitts on them.

Farmers’

This is my favorite of the trio, which makes me wonder if I’m just a little bit bovine. It starts with pungent notes of cedar, sandalwood, and musk, which I’m normally not crazy about, but it's rounded out quickly by leather, dry hay, sweet herbs, and grass. It has more staying power than most naturally-sourced, alcohol-based scents do, and it wears down to a musky, earthy smell that's sexy as hell on a Pendleton shirt. Bonus of all bonuses: it didn’t set off my allergies! My only gripe is that the screw-top is a pain to, well, screw with, and the bottle leaked a bit on it’s way to me. But it’s special enough that I might decant it into a diffuser bottle.

Bootlegger

I have to say, this one grew on me. At first it smells like hooch--sharp wood (oak, even?), oriental musk--but on my skin it softens to include notes of vanilla, sugar, citrus, and spice. Hours later, the spice and oak remained, with a hint of musk. I had some guys smell a lineup of fragrances and they picked this as their favorite, whatever that means.  

Whiskey

I would actually consider this scent the most feminine of the three. With a base of amber, evergreen, and hardwoods, its herbal and floral top notes surprised me. It wasn’t overly sweet, but the cleaner, almost fresh facets blended seamlessly with the darker base notes, making it delightfully dimensional. I sprayed some on a favorite wool sweater and the next day it smelled like a glass with just the barest hints of bourbon lingering.

Mainly, I’m really impressed with the complexity of these fragrances. I love a good unisex scent.

  • Do you care if a fragrance is labeled feminine or masculine? 
  • Have you ever considered what your pet thinks of your perfume? 
  • Am I the only one that wants to snuggle these cows? Look at their faces!