St Johns Blog

Not Your Daddy’s Fragrance

Three Big Reasons Why Bay Rum Isn’t Old Spice

We’re not quite sure how the comparison started.

Yes, Bay Rum and Old Spice are two longtime popular scents for men. It’s highly likely that at some point, you found a bottle of one or the other or possibly both in your dad or grandfather’s medicine cabinet. Both Bay Rum and Old Spice have a distinctive bouquet and a long history, but they are NOT the same. 

While we are naturally partial to the Bay Rum fragrance, if you’re looking to swap one scent out for the other, please don’t expect the same outcome or fragrance. 

Here are a few reasons why Bay Rum and Old Spice are different.

Different Formulations Make For Different Scents

Put simply, they just don’t smell the same.

For those with a discerning nose, the formulation of Old Spice is very different from Bay Rum. 

For starters, the two main notes in typical Bay Rum fragrances - bay leaf (very noticeable and upfront), followed by the warm and sweet fragrance created and connected by the spices.

Specific to our St Johns Bay Rum scent, we take our formulation even more seriously. We actually don’t use rum and rather than Bay Leaf, we use the oil from the Bay Rum leaf (an entirely different plant), which distinguishes us even further from other Bay Rum fragrances AND Old Spice. Other top notes for our formulation include clove, Caribbean spices, and a smidge of cinnamon.  

The top notes for Old Spice are nutmeg, star anise, aldehydes, orange and lemon; middle notes are cinnamon, carnation, pimento, geranium, heliotrope and jasmine; base notes are benzoin, vanilla, musk, tonka bean, cedar and ambergris.

The main notes in Bay Rum fragrances do not match with those found in Old Spice. The essence of each formulation is unique and thus different from each other.

Put them side by side, and we think you’ll smell the difference! 

Bay Rum Is Actually Older Than Old Spice

The Bay Rum fragrance has a long history, with roots going back to the 1800s, well before the introduction of Old Spice, which launched in America in 1938.

For centuries, natives of the Virgin Islands were extracting bay leaf oil from bay rum trees and using it as a part of their health and beauty routines. A Danish chemist, AH Riise, made a breakthrough discovery when he found that mixing bay leaf oils with the finest Virgin Island rums created an extraordinary fragrance. This encounter would revolutionize the entire fragrance industry!

News about the distinctive and superior qualities of bay leaf oils spread worldwide. In 1903, the Danish Plantation Company purchased 237 acres at Cinnamon Bay to cultivate St John bay trees. Others followed suit, and by the early 1920s, Bay Rum became an important Virgin Island export.

Perfumers noted that when Old Spice was created by Procter & Gamble, it was originally concocted as a perfume for women, who ultimately found it to be too masculine. Old Spice was then remarketed as a men’s cologne, as it bridged the gap between the Bay Rum fragrances and the Powdered Florals, which were both extremely popular at the time.  

Each scent is iconic, but if you wanted to score one for longevity, Bay Rum is a true classic. 

Bay Rum Is More Versatile

Although Old Spice boasts a wide variety of male grooming products that include deodorants and antiperspirants, Bay Rum has proven to be even more adaptable.

Widely used as an aftershave, Bay Rum has made a big comeback in the 2000s because more men have switched over to wet shaving. Its versatility is evident in the wide range of products and scents now available. From shaving products to soap and lotions, the possibilities with Bay Rum are endless!

The spicy and masculine nature of the classic Bay Rum fragrance makes it highly sought after because it naturally blends well with so many other tones. From citrus and sandalwood to eucalyptus and musk, the essence of Bay Rum mixes beautifully with so many scents to create a wide array of unique options for today’s modern man.

A Distinctive Style & Scent

By now, we hope it’s clear that Old Spice and Bay Room are unique in their own right and can’t be interchanged.

While we’re partial to Bay Rum - especially St Johns Bay Rum - we encourage you to take the test for yourself. 

We’re confident that our authentic and timeless Bay Rum fragrance, which has been a part of the grooming routine for generations of men, will leave you feeling and smelling like a classic gentleman… and not like your grandfather's Old Spice!


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