It’s been about a year now that I have been drawn to tobacco scents. Discovering In Fiore’s Maia, which is now called Jasmin Supérieur, sent me down this road due to its subtle yet intoxicating tobacco quality. I had always assumed tobacco in perfume would have to be an acquired taste for me. Turns out, I love it and it loves me.
The quest for my tobacco perfume has lead me to not one, but three fragrances that have fulfilled my aromatic leafy needs. Ayala Moriel Parfums Espionage was the first to capture my heart. Its opening is pure tobacco. Smoky, dry tobacco, that’s sultry and brings out my don’t-mess-with-me-side. After 10-20 minutes, in comes the leather to add to this tough-girl feel. Not too intensely though, Espionage is a tough girl wrapped in supple leather. And at the moment you might get too cocky with the tobacco and leather attitude, jasmine and rose begin to bloom, smoothing out the edges of the initial tobacco hit.
The smoky tones merge with the floral voluptuousness, giving this tobacco fragrance a sensual ambience that is deep and alluring. There’s a touch of vanilla to soften the scent another notch, but this is not a sweet tobacco, and I recommend Espionage if you’re wanting a tobacco scent that leans subtly floral, rather than sweet.
A requisite for anyone on a tobacco quest, Caron’s Tabac Blond has to be experienced. Unfortunately, Tabac Blond was too sharp at the beginning with a rough, cracked leather note and finished with a floral melange that turned into a violet/iris musty mess on my skin. I so wanted to love this classic tobacco fragrance that was released in 1919 and manages to still be around, albeit with reformulations. Loving Espionage instead is no small consolation. Ayala Sender, the creator of Ayala Moriel Parfums, is a beautiful olfactory artist inside and out, and I am thrilled to support her independent, all natural perfumery.
Liz Zorn of Soivohlé is another master at the art of creating gorgeous natural perfumes. Her Vanillaville is my answer to Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille which I thought might be a worthy contender. It was not. Tobacco Vanille took me back to my 80’s youth when I sneaked clove cigarettes in high school. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I love the smell of clove cigarettes. But something in Tobacco Vanille went haywire on my skin, and it turned into a toothachingly sweet tobacco. I much prefer Vanillaville as it’s smoother and the vanilla note doesn’t strangle the earthiness out of its sublime tobacco presence.
Vanillaville’s opening definitely speaks of tobacco, but not as intensely as Espionage. Vanillaville is no less intriguing or decadent, it’s just softer from the get go. Vanilla provides this perfume with a harmonious balance between its sweetness and the edginess of tobacco. Vanillaville is a tasteful gourmand, not only with its vanilla, but with subtle coffee notes as well. Full bodied and slightly sweet, it’s a mellow pipe tobacco gently rubbed with leather. I’d choose this if you want your tobacco perfume sweet like a pipe, but in a tempered and artful manner.
Parfum de Luxe, by DSH Perfumes, is made with 96.5% botanical ingredients and is a fantastic go-to fragrance when you want a classic, vintage feel. The opening is graced by the beautiful duality of violet and bergamot, violet being pretty and powdery, and bergamot lending its uplifting spirit. The notes are listed as Bergamot, Clary Sage, Neroli, Petitgrain, Violet, Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Chinese Geranium, Honey, Orris, Tuberosa, Ylang-Ylang, Amber, Benzoin, Brown Oakmoss, Labdanum, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Tobacco Absolute, and Vanilla. Each one is given equal weight in the heart and progression to the drydown. Tobacco emerges more prominently in the last hours of wear, but more subtly than Espionage or Vanillaville. Parfum de Luxe is an ideal scent for someone who wants a rich, traditional perfume with a delicate tobacco.
Espionage is available at Ayala Moriel Parfums. Its notes are: Ambrette (Musk) Seed , Bergamot , Jasmine Grandiflorum, Leather Notes, Orris Root, Rose Otto (Turkey), Tabac Blond, Vanilla Absolute, and Virginia Cedarwood.
Vanillaville is available at Soivohlé. Its notes are: Almond, Tonka, Tarragon, Leather and Coffee.
Parfum de Luxe is available at DSH Perfumes. The notes are listed within the review.
Illustration by Commando Group