Scent is a subjective sense. Need evidence? Half of people don't like lavender's aroma; some folks can stand the smell of woodsy incense; others abhor the odor of hard-boiled eggs. After all, if scent wasn't subjective, we'd all like (and wear) the same colognes, and we'd never know which was truly the best.
The Fragrance Foundation, which was founded in 1949, hosts an annual award show fittingly called The Fragrance Foundation Awards to crown the year's best scents. Held at New York City's Lincoln Center, they're essentially the Oscar's of cologne — better smelling and with less celebs. Each category, of which there are 20, receives four or five finalists and a winner is voted on by Fragrance Foundation members, industry experts and, in some cases, like for the Consumer's Choice award, the general public. There are over 100 member companies, consisting of fragrance brands (like Byredo and Boy Smells) fragrance houses (like LVMH and Puig) and retailers (like Nordstrom and Macy's).
Since the awards show's inception in 1973, many categories have been added — like Most Popular, which crowns a scent based on the breadth of its appeal, or Packaging of the Year, which rewards bottle and box designs — however the upper echelon of awards remain: the Indie, Luxury and Prestige Fragrances of the Year. This year, Hermes H24 took the top spot for Prestige, Dior Sauvage Elixir won in the Luxury category, The Maker Hotel's Stag Eau de Parfum won best Indie Fragrance and Burberry Hero was the Consumer's Choice.
With millions of colognes out there to choose from, these award-winners are solid starting points. Even if they aren't your cup of tea, they've earned their titles because of votes from the industry's best noses — none of these are bad.