One of the things that I like most about Varvatos's colognes is the shape of the bottles and the admirable covers. In contrast, one of the things that I dislike most is the performance, as you should know, most of the Varvatos's cologne suffer from a weak sillage and longevity, although the overall redolence is gorgeous. Artisan Acqua is a flanker to JV Artisan, yet a bit of a different take on the original, and to tell you the truth, I was not charmed the very first time I tested it. The sharp barbershop, shaving cream, old school cologne, and aftershaves resemblance put me off quite a bit. But, when that powerful opening calmed down after a while, what I could not stop doing was to smell my hand, and the cologne positively captured my senses.
To begin with, Artisan Acqua comes with an excellent presentation of all handmade and hands knitted rope, with a metal aged cap and medallion. The opening is just fantastic as I aforementioned, bright but bitter citrus blend, you definitely get the mandarin and other herbal notes, a few sweetness from the pomelo, and the aromatic lavender, something more than a usual aromatic and citrus opening. There is a lot of citrus and spicy in there, mandarin, unnatural paradisamide molecule, and angelica create a lemon-minty accord.
After a bit, slowing emerging from the citrus aromas is a slight wood note reminiscent of bleached wood baking in the sun on the seashore. This bright, bracing, and somewhat salty heart note takes over Artisan Acqua for several minutes before it is overtaken by something I'll describe as floral, light, and semi-creamy jasmine and orange blossom white floral accord. The floral effect is fleeting and leads to hints of fir, soft moss, and subtle wood notes. Yes, it settles down into a greener fragrance, more old-school accord, rather than the citrusy accord that was first introduced to my nostrils. In my opinion, there is more greenness that comes down due to the fir resin, which adds depth to it. And yeah, there is something aquatic but not like Acqua di Giò, Nautica Voyage, or D&G Light Blue, just to mention a few.
The dry down is balsamic and resinous, thanks to the lentiscus and fir balsam, ... It is freaking amazing, more than just what you aspect, not totally generic. I recommend for a casual as well as a business day, with a blazer, daytime. Definitely, for warm spring months or lazy days at the beach, by the pool during summertime. The performance could be weak from time to time, which a cons most of the times, but it could be a pro if you wear it in the morning and have no time to take a shower before dinner or night out, so you will safely apply a night cologne without any dangerous mix. Although it does not last nearly as long as I would like it, it's the scent. It is unique: it is citrusy and spicy and has a great bite to it.
My overall take on JV Artisan Acqua is not the typical aqua fragrance! This is one hell of a scent, but I do understand where all the hate comes from. Not meant for the younger mass population crazy for Dior Sauvage or Bleu de Chanel crowd-pleaser lovers, and for that reason, I love this fragrance. This is a modernized gentleman's scent, the same school as Cerruti 1881 I would dare. Very intriguing. One would expect something fresh, tropical, and aquatic after looking at the bottle and ads. Artisan Aqua, however, is a clean, slightly soapy gem of a fragrance. It has a barbershop, shave cream vibe that is straight-up addicting.