Eric “Your Boy” Bandholz is back for another video today, and this time he’s going to talk to us about the origin of our Gold Line fragrances. The Gold Line fragrances started with our Four Vices blend. A year later, we launched Temple Smoke, and then Old Money. We aimed to use what we learned in developing the Silver Line fragrances to formulate more nuanced scent profiles that feel elevated, complex, and luxe.
As with the Silver Line, there are stories and history behind these decadent fragrances that we’d love to tell you. Sit back, make yourself a drink, and get ready for Beardbrand History 102: The Story of the Gold Line
Four Vices was the very first fragrance offering in the Gold Line. Eric was ruminating over the “vice” elements of his own life, and wondered which four vices would most accurately capture what it means to be an Urban Beardsman. As with Tree Ranger, the name struck a chord with him *before* the fragrance was formulated.
We aimed to find exotic scents that could elevate a grooming product into a unique, complex experience. After some research, soul searching on the meaning of the term Urban Beardsman, and some product testing, the team came up with the combination of Cannabis, Hops, Tobacco, and Coffee.
Hemp is the lesser known (and quite frankly, less respected and less popular) variation of the cannabis plant. It’s used in a grip of different ways, and it actually can’t get you high. This plant is in the same family as the recreational and medicinal plant we all know and love, but it has none of the THC or psychoactive effects.
Hemp is grown as a renewable source for raw materials that range from hemp oil (which is where Four Vices started its fragrance formulation) to hemp-based clothing and construction materials. Similar to our Utility Balm, hemp can be used for almost anything with the right treatment!
Additionally, hemp is a mega sustainable crop. It requires little water and no pesticides to cultivate successfully, so it’s more environmentally friendly than other versatile crops. It’s also a great rotation crop - meaning that when the crop is harvested, the leftovers break down into amazing nutrients to reboot the soil for its next growing season.
Here are all the awesome things that can be made out of hemp:
Granola and Cereal
Body Care and Wellness Products
Clothing and Textiles
Bags and Accessories
Paper and Stationary
Hemp is currently an imported crop in the U.S. due to all cannabis plants being outlawed in 1937, even though it has no drug-like or psychoactive properties like the other plants of the same family. Hopefully, one day we can get this amazing crop back in the states, as it is eco-friendly and extremely versatile for multiple industries.
Temple Smoke was formulated because we started receiving specific requests from our fans and customers in the Middle East! Our bearded brothers out there wanted a fragrance inspired by agarwood, or oud wood - a well known resource with a unique, powerful fragrance. This single material started as the foundation for the fragrance, rather than Four Vices and Tree Ranger, whose names inspired the fragrances.
Agarwood has a very distinct fragrance profile that has made it prominent in religious ceremonies, incense, and symbolic art in cultures all over the world. It’s also a rare resource, which makes it even more desirable. Once we nailed down the fragrance blend, we wanted its name evoke imagery of this resource’s spiritual significance and cross-cultural history. Boom - Temple Smoke was created.
What is Agarwood?
Agarwood is a heavily fragrant wood that is formed in aquilaria trees when they’re infected with a specific kind of mold. Weird, right? Before the mold grows in this tree, they’re actually pale and odorless - just another tree. Once the mold takes root and the infection spreads, the tree reacts by producing the dark, pungent resin called agar that embeds itself throughout the wood. When the tree is saturated with this kind of resin, the wood sourced from it is called agarwood.
This dark, rich wood is used in incense, perfume, and ceremonial art pieces. It’s an extremely rare material – raw, unadulterated agarwood is expensive (costing up to thousands of dollars per kilogram). Even its closest imitations are upwards of five bucks a gram.
Historically, agarwood has been deemed by many major religions as a precious material. Buddhists, Taoists, Hindus, Muslims, and Christians have used the material in religious ceremonies and the construction of carved artifacts. In the 16th century, incense masters identified several distinct varieties of agarwood that each have slight variations in their chemical makeups, which accounts for their subtly unique scents.
Today, agarwood is farmed rather than harvested in forests. Young trees are exposed to the mold that incites the resin reaction, and that tree is then farmed after the resin saturates it. Due to the rarity of this resource and its depleting stock in nature, we've create a fragrance that uses palo santo as a base fragrance. It's another ingredient that has been used historically in religious ceremonies, but in South America. We've blended it with several other notes to evoke the mysticism and experience of a pure agarwood.
This is another example of a fragrance that was developed long before its name. Eric developed a specific concept of emulating the experience of The Biltmore Estate. He had visited the estate as a child and vividly remembers the game room (what some now would call a “man cave”) – a library full of old books, whiskey glasses on fine oak desks, billiards tables, and fine leather lounge furniture. He remembered the floor to ceiling curtains above all. They were classic, stately, and carried a specific smell that he’s associated with decadence ever since.
In putting together a full fragrance experience, we called on the peppery, musky smell of beautiful old curtains. From there, we married the elements of oak barrels (to bring in the stateliness of Bourbon), as well as handmade leather furniture most often associated with wealth at the turn of the century.
When naming the fragrance, we thought about our vision and mission: to change the way society views beardsmen. Why can’t beardsmen be decadent, grandiose, and stately? Why can’t they be elevated to the elite experience of the Biltmore Estate?
Boom - Old Money was named.
The Vanderbilt Family
The Biltmore Estate that inspired the Old Money fragrance was owned by the legendarily lavish Vanderbilt family - a Dutch-American family that achieved major wealth in the shipping and railroad industries of the late 19th century. They went on to build some of the most extravagant estates and mansions in American history, located in New York City, Newport, Rhode Island, The Biltmore House in North Carolina, and many others.
The Vanderbilts held the title of ‘Richest Family in America’ for many years. Cornelius Vanderbilt (the most historically prominent of the family) was in charge of the railroad and corporation sides of the family operation. His efforts were also a major reason that the Vanderbilts are remembered for their philanthropic donations to the arts and higher education. They donated to universities, museums, high-profile charities, and hold the namesake to Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University. They were known for their decadent taste and over-the-top parties that became associated with the family name (Having trouble picturing it? Think The Great Gatsby, sans Kanye West and CGI - see below)
As time pressed on and Cornelius Vanderbilt passed away, the wealth that he grew into a historical fortune lost its footing. The wealth was distributed through many family members, most of whom mismanaged the money. They did this by donating it to high-profile charities, living lavishly, building unnecessary estates, and throwing decadent parties to keep up appearances.
Within just a couple generations, the family had a fraction of the notoriety, wealth, fame, and reputation it once held. They went from being the wealthiest family in the country to a faded memory of the opulent standard they set in their social circles.
Today, the Vanderbilt family lives on in name and by blood, but the original enterprises founded by the family are no longer owned by it. CNN’s Anderson Cooper is one of the remaining prominent Vanderbilt family members. Just a few years ago, he appeared on the Howard Stern Show, and explained that there is no trust fund waiting for him, and that he thinks “inheriting money… is a curse”. His mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, is the heiress of the Vanderbilt railroad fortune and her inheritance into a successful fashion franchise.
We hope you learned something new today! There's a ton of culture and history to be learned when diving into the origins of our Gold Line fragrances. As always - don't hesitate to reach out if you need some help or guidance. Keep on growing!