Friday, March 12, 2010

Feuilles de Tabac - Review + Weekly Giveaway

Feuilles de Tabac is one of those strange scents that I love yet have a difficult time writing about. I’ve been smitten with it ever since I came across it, sometime in 2003 after meeting with a perfumista client who kindly bombarded me with tens of samples from European niche perfumeries. I immediately fell for it, and when the vial ran out, begged my friend who lived in London to get out of her merry ways and fetch me a bottle.

Whatever it was that caught me in the Feuilles de Tabac trap, I can’t describe. It was the sense of familiarity in it that was intriguing to me. Something that happened to me before with Habanita (which reminded me of my grandfather’s Old Spice). But Feuilles de Tabac had something else, and was certainly more dry at first, and later on became sweeter, though not nearly as sweet as Old Spice.

Feuilles de Tabac dances between astringent and woody finesse and rustic herbal medicine.

The opening is dry, a little medicinal even, with the cascarilla bark dominating. Cascarilla is a bark used for flavouring tobacco, and has a scent that is both woody, musky and a little spicy-warm. There are also citrus and coniferous notes, though no particular one stands out, and allspice (pimento), a spice that has a dry-woody character. The other important note is sage, which is bitter and astringent at first, and than becomes velvety and warm, especially with the slight touch of rose at the heart.

Dry tobacco and vetiver peak in, but quickly, Feuilles de Tabac is cured into a very warm and sweet concoction, similar to pipe tobacco, with the tonka bean giving it a significant soft sweetness, as well as an amber accord with a muted labdanum. Only patchouli saves it from becoming powdery, adding a bold, animalic undertone and depth.

Feuilles de Tabac exudes such confidence that wearing it is akin to gulping some bravery potion, or just having a courageous powerful man on your side (unless you happen to be one).

It's interesting to compare sometimes notes from time past with the current impression of the same scent. In 2005, I described it as follows: "What starts as a medicinal, somewhat harsh drink – reminiscent of Absinthe – extremely masculine and sharp-edged – dries down to a seductive earthy sweetness. Warm, enveloping and sophisticated, Feuilles de Tabac is the emblem of what leathery-tobacco scents should be: Daring, sensitive, and seductive in a reassuring confident manner". Cascarilla has a certain liquor-like aroma to it; and sage is very similar to artemisia (absinthe). Perhaps this is where the courage comes from...

Top notes: Citrus notes, Coniferous notes, Cascarilla, Allspice
Heart notes: Sage, Rose, Vetiver
Base notes: Tobacco, Tonka Bean, Patchouli, Amber

*Weekly giveaway: Post a comment and win a 5ml decant of Feuilles de Tabac.*

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26 Comments:

At March 12, 2010 9:14 PM, Blogger tmp00 said...

I love tobacco in scents since I no longer enjoy actually smoking it. Thanks for the great review!

 
At March 12, 2010 9:40 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

tmp00,
Tobacco scents are so gorgeous, what a relief they're risk-free! I'm glad you're not smoking anymore... Although I must admit, I secretly enjoy passively smoking sometimes (just an olfactory side-effect from past relationship...).

 
At March 12, 2010 10:13 PM, Blogger Flora said...

I love tobacco notes in perfume, but I have never tried this one. It sounds just odd enough that I would love it!

 
At March 12, 2010 11:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have found some gems among the Miller Harris line, and would love to try this one: pine and sage? Count me in. Thanks!
Laura M

 
At March 12, 2010 11:40 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Floral,
Feuilles de Tabac is an unusual one. Long time ago I read it was inspired by St. Germain arrondissement of Paris. I can certainly see why. It has a rebellious, bohemian spirit...

 
At March 12, 2010 11:42 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

LauraM,
Feuilles de Tabac is my favourite of them all. I also like Noix de Tubereuse and Citron Citron. Fleur Oriental is nice too, but a little too sweet for me. Which ones are your favourites?

 
At March 13, 2010 3:15 AM, Blogger jill said...

I really love your Espionage, and am in fact wearing it right now. Is Feuilles de Tabac a natural perfume?

 
At March 13, 2010 3:56 AM, Blogger mark42 said...

Sounds wonderful. Count me in too!
I love the smell in tabacconists, though they are harder to come by nowadays.

 
At March 13, 2010 5:17 AM, Blogger James said...

Feuilles de Tabac sounds really good to me, too. Your review definitely makes me want to include my name in your giveaway!

 
At March 13, 2010 5:33 AM, Anonymous Mary Beth said...

You had me at warm pipe tobacco. Da was a pipe smoker and I adored the special blend he concocted. There's still half a tin in the book cabinet after all these years & I love letting the little guys sniff at it on occasion.

 
At March 13, 2010 6:14 AM, Anonymous Aparatchick said...

That sounds like a must-try. I've been wearing a number of scents with a tobacco note this winter; I find a wonderful antidote to the cold.

 
At March 13, 2010 6:29 AM, Blogger Lucy said...

I had a Habanita moment a couple of years ago, and would like to find something new along those lines...

 
At March 13, 2010 7:07 AM, Anonymous Hilda Rosa said...

The tobacco note really appeals to me too. That's the note I love in Habanita and also in your Espionage. That tobacco note is one that I also associate with a leather note in perfume. When I was visiting the tobacco farms in Vinales, Cuba, last year, the tobacco note in the curing sheds was indistinguishable from a leather note. The vanilla just fits so well as a counterpoint.

 
At March 13, 2010 8:57 AM, Blogger ScentScelf said...

Have never smoked tobacco...well, okay, there was one shared pack among a gaggle of young teenage girls, and there was the year of "only at the club"...but I never liked it. Makes me headachy, queasy, blah blah blah.

But I tend to love it in perfume.

I don't know if it is nostalgia, or that all the bad "parts" are stripped away when you just deal with essential oil, or what. Maybe a relationship at a distance kind of thing? Anyway, have never had an opportunity to sniff Feuilles de Tabac, and am happy to join the names in the hat for this opportunity.

 
At March 13, 2010 5:41 PM, Anonymous Musette said...

this sounds so gorgeous and seductive! isn't it funny how so many of us who do not like smoking love tobacco?

 
At March 13, 2010 8:37 PM, Blogger Diana said...

I love tabacco scents! I'd love to enter.

 
At March 14, 2010 12:31 AM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Jill,

Feuilles de Tabac is not all-natural. Miller Harris seems to have higher content of naturals than some other houses, but they are certainly not 100% natural.

btw - I think you were the very first person to ever buy Espionage, and since than it has become my most popular scent!
You are a trend setter ;-)

 
At March 14, 2010 12:38 AM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Mark -
I agree about the smells at the tobacconist shop. Have you ever smelled tobacco blends for shisha/hooka?

James -
Glad you enjoyed the review and thank you for commenting :-)

Mary Beth -
I would love to take a whiff from your dad's pipe tobacco tin. What a great thing to keep memories alive...

Aparatchick -
Which tobacco scents have you been wearing this winter?

Lucy -
FdT is more dry than Habanita, although it does become sweet overtime. It also doesn't have the intimidating sillage that Habanita can have sometimes (when over-applied).

Hilda Rosa -
Tobacco and leather are considered the same fragrance family. They are very similar. I find tobacco absolute and castoreum quite similar too.
So glad you're enjoying Espionage :-)
Would love to visit in Cuba, someday soon!

 
At March 14, 2010 12:42 AM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

ScentScelf -

The main difference between real smoking and tobacco essences is, I believe, the lack of smoke in the latter.
The smoke also makes tobacco more toxic. Tobacco absolute is similar to the cured tobacco leaf. So it's a completely different quality than actively or passively smoking a cigar or cigarette. Tobacco perfumes also don't leave that dry, bitter, acrid taste in your mouth (unless you happen to lick your wrist...).
The only smoking I can actually do is narguilla (aka shisha/hooka). The tobacco is blended with honey, molasses, dried fruit and flavours (usually very fruity ones), and also it's diluted in the steam from the water vessel. But even still, a few puffs are enough and you must drink a lot of nana tea with it to keep your mouth from drying...

 
At March 14, 2010 12:27 PM, Anonymous Aparatchick said...

Ayala,
I've been wearing Tabac Blonde, Havana Vanille, Tokyo Milk Poe's Tobacco, and Sonoma Scent Studio's Tabac Aurea.

 
At March 14, 2010 4:02 PM, Blogger . said...

never tried this brand but would love to!

 
At March 14, 2010 7:13 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Musette and Diana,
Thanks for commenting and entering the draw!

Aparatchick,
Tabac Blond is amazing, being a timeless classic and at the same time remaining such an original and quirky scent.
I also like Tabac Aurea, warmly ambery and spicy, not as dry as Tabac Blond.
I haven't tried the other two yet.

 
At March 15, 2010 2:29 AM, Anonymous flannelman said...

Nice review :-) Tobacco leaf is a note I usually enjoy, and as I've never had the chance to try any Miller Harris I would gladly enter this draw...

 
At March 16, 2010 8:31 AM, Blogger Rasarocks said...

I can't wait to smell it!
Ps Will be there on 21 and bring tools to fix necklace on the spot.
hugs, Shelley

 
At March 19, 2010 9:06 AM, Blogger Lux Vivens said...

I would love to try!!!I always loved the way my grandfather's pipe smelled...sooo sweet and inviting. Excited to visit the cuban cigar factories next year!!!

 
At March 19, 2010 12:07 PM, Blogger Ayala Sender said...

Congratulations to ScentScelf, winner of last week's giveaway of Feuilles de Tabac!

 

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