The 11 Manliest Smells, Ranked By Manliness

Men. Kind of...gross, right? Yeah.

Once men leave their teen years and the canned body spray scent dissipates, they start a spirit journey accumulating some of the oddest, weirdest, yet...most wonderful smells this earth has to offer. It's one of those things. Men smell. They smell well, they smell terrible...they just always smell, one way or another. So we said to ourselves, "You know what? Let's rank all the smells that men accumulate over the years, from least manly to most manly." Why? Um, why not? Mmm-hmm.

Below, the 11 manliest smells, ranked. You're welcome. 

11. Coffee

Remember waking up on Saturday to the sound of a coffee grinder, followed by the satisfying drip-drop of a percolator? Then your dad would come into the room where you were watching TV, stare at you with his belly hanging out of his robe, holding a cup? Yeah. Dads and coffee.

10. Books

You know what smells good? A worldly man. How do you get worldly? Read an ass-ton of literature. Always aspire to smell like an old library, but—more importantly—always try to spend some quality time in a library. To guide you along the way, try to remember the ageless wisdom of Mr. John Waters on the topic of reading: "If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books, don't f*ck 'em!" 

9. Sweat

Sweat means you've spent the entire day fighting bears with your hands. There's a sense of accomplishment when you come home with a soaked t-shirt and it's your body's way of telling you you're doing a bang-up job. It's especially helpful at the gym, because sweat is just fat crying.  

8. Wood

If you read any Gary Paulsen as a child—which you did—you know that the ultimate journey from boyhood to manhood is chopping down a tree with a small hatchet alone in the woods, with the huge threat of death looming because you have no iPhone. The scent of fallen wood is manly, because it's the culmination of life and death. You're alive, but a tree is dead...most importantly, you're alive.

For the next few days, anyway.

7. Shaving Cream

You know what shaving cream meant? It meant you were old enough to make conscious decisions about your appearance; it meant you weren't afraid to put a sharp blade up to the most sensitive parts of your body; it meant you were old enough to grow a beard.

You know what's manlier than having a beard? Having an even longer beard. 

6. Leather

True, leather jackets don't have the same connotations now than they did in the past. Back in the '60s, it was a sign of rebellion and adventure. James Dean wore leather, smoked cigarettes, slept with beautiful women (men too?), and raced cars—once.

Nowadays, leather is overpriced and procured in an admittedly cruel way—but every once in a while you'll come upon an old leather jacket in a thrift shop and breathe in the scent of intrigue. 

5. Gunpowder 

Why is it that so many manly scents center around the forceful taking of a life? Eh, f*ck it—those ducks deserved it. Gunpowder is, perhaps, one of the manliest scents because of the sheer sense of power one gets from holding a gun.

The scent of fresh gunpowder on your hands holds a powerful connotation. You just did something few people have the guts to do.* You are becoming a real man.

(*County Buffet dinner does not count.)

4. Motor Oil/Gasoline

Remember those Sundays you'd spend with your old man in the garage, working on that ancient Chevy that would just never start? Remember when you were in a Home Improvement episode? You'd try your hardest to rid yourself of the lingering smell of gasoline and motor oil but, after a while, you couldn't stop smelling your hands and smiling. 

3. Steak

Think back on those balmy summer nights when your father would fire up the grill and throw on a couple of t-bones. The combination of charcoal, lighter fluid, burnt newspaper, and dead bloody meat meant you'd end your night with a greasy face and a full stomach. Hell, I'm poppin' a chubster just thinking about that hearty dinner. 

2. Tobacco

Whether it was the smell of your grandfather's pipe or your pop's morning smoke, tobacco is a vice that a huge percentage of men subscribe to. It's dangerous, irresponsible, expensive, corrosive...but damn is it satisfying.

Not only is smoking tobacco manly, but it also exemplifies what it means to be an American: the idea of practicing freedom even if that freedom kills you with lung cancer. 

1. Whiskey

Scotch, bourbon, malt, peat—who the hell cares—it's all good.

Whiskey is the manliest smell, because it is the manliest drink. Unlike vodka, it has depth and color. Unlike tequila, you don't wince after you drink it. Unlike gin, it doesn't taste like a goddamn Canadian forest, and unlike beer, it won't make you (too) fat.

One sniff of the good stuff and you're sent back to a dive bar in the '40s where hormones ran low and inhibitions ran high. Other way around I mean. High-low. Hormones high, inhibitions low. Okay.

Jeremy Glass is the Vice editor for Supercompressor and almost added Harrison Ford as #12, because well, duh.