I love tobacco notes but wearability is sometimes an issue. I have smelled a good number and own only Diptyque Volutes EDT. Tabac Surea, however, outshines the others for me. It is a smooth, intense honey/ambered tobacco leaf. I get little to no smokiness and smells like a good quality slightly cherried unlit pipe tobacco ala Nat Sherman's. This is my ultimate comfort scent and I find myself reaching for it often. More of a cool weather scent but since I like it so much I'd probably try it on warmer evenings as well. Will probably end up with a full bottle at some point.
26th April, 2015 (last edited: 29th April, 2015)
Having recently gotten more into tobacco scents, the forum here at basenotes led me this way. My closest comparison here is Tobacco Oud by TF. While I enjoy Tobacco Oud, to me it is more of a novelty fragrance; It's not something I find wearable based on my tastes. I came to Tabac Aurea while looking for something similar to Tobacco Vanille. If you are looking for a Tobacco Vanille or Tobacco Oud substitute, look elsewhere. If you like the two but can't decide, read on.
Tabac Aurea takes the dry, authentic tobacco of Tobacco Oud and creates a much more wearable scent. It's a well-blended fragrance that never feels dominated by any one note, unlike Tobacco Oud. Tobacco is obviously at the forefront, but it is well-blended by some wood a la Tom Ford Extreme (I think cedar, but maybe sandalwood too?), leather, and the slightest bit of incense-y sweetness. Really well-rounded and can probably be appreciated by people that don't like tobacco fragrances.
Sonoma has chosen to give up gourmand deliciousness in favor of mystery and sexiness. Is it better than Tobacco Vanille and Tobacco Oud? Tough to say, but it does seem to bring the two together in a package that highlights some of what works in each of those fragrances.
Straight to the point: a fantastic contemporary tobacco scent, if not the best modern revisiting of this ingredient, fairly deserving its place next to “all-times” classics like Havana. Powerful and martial, a well-engineered blend capturing and enhancing all nuances of tobacco, from humid to sweet and from earthy to smoky. The opening shows a bold resinous-spicy and slightly candied feel like in some Lutens (but also Norma Kamali incense, in a way), with silky notes of honey and labdanum, which then progressively get darker and drier making Tabac Aurea reach a sort of “zen” of pure smell of tobacco. All smells thick and dense, incredibly harmonic and solid, a modern symphony ranging from the darkest smokiness of cigarettes to the “wet” richness of freshly-cut tobacco leaves. Almost like a comprehensive “essay” of all the facets of this fantastic material. All wrapped in a warm, sweet, subtle aura of vanillin and resins providing a thin frame of mellow elegance. Rich, thick and linear (three features quite common in contemporary US niche), bold and refined, and also totally versatile. Great persistence, practically immortal on clothes. A must for all tobacco lovers, or more generally, of any fan of “contemporary dark” scents.
What I love about Tabac Aurea is that the perfumer – Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studio – has had the confidence to showcase all the wonderful complexities of the material itself without clogging it up with other notes. And tobacco is one lily that doesn't need to be gilded. The textures of the tobacco leaf range from leathery to wet mulch, and the notes can comprise dried fruits, leather, wood, clove, cinnamon, apples, plums, paper, and gingerbread. Tabac Aurea showcases all of these different textures and notes, and the total effect is as if the perfumer held a dried tobacco leaf up against the sunlight, slowly turned it around in her hands, and captured each of its changing colors and smells in one small bottle.
Tobacco is a deeply evocative smell for me. I live in the Balkans, where there is a century’s long tradition of smallholders growing tobacco and curing it in the sun before selling it to the local tobacco company, NDKP. The collapse of Yugoslavia in the nineties, coupled with NATO sanctions and the rise of cigarette smuggling meant that local farmers switched to other crops. But now, farmers are once again growing tobacco in Montenegro. They grow a kind called Oriental Tobacco, a small-leaved, hardy type of tobacco that is cured in the hot Balkan sun for up to a month. Intensely aromatic, the smell of the leaves curing in the sun spills out from the fields and into the air around you. There is one such field near a shopping center, and when I walk there, I love watching people get hit with the aroma – inevitably they stop, inhale deeply, and stagger away as if high.
Tabac Aurea captures this smell exactly. The smell of tobacco leaves curing in the sunshine is extraordinarily complex and multi-faceted. At first, it smells like a big, thick handful of shredded, wet tobacco leaves that have been steeped in booze of some sort. The effect is rich, but also tannic enough to suck the moisture out of your mouth. The confident spicing, along with a slight dried fruits and candied peel tone, creates an effect that is close to the taste of those medieval types of sweets and cakes, such as panforte, parkin, or gingerbread. These medieval treats would have had a touch of dry honey to them, otherwise, no sugar would have been used.
Throughout the day – and this is a serious, all-day fragrance – you begin to notice the tobacco smell dries out considerably, taking on a leathery and slightly grungy tone that I attribute to the labdanum resin that Laurie has used to round the fragrance out. However, the overall richness of the fragrance never abates – this is one thick, rich smell that stays dense and heavy all the way to the end. This makes it a fragrance one must commit to 100% before putting it on for the day, but if you love the smell of tobacco, then this one is a must. I put it on and it keeps me warm as I go off out into the autumnal sunshine to kick some leaves around.
This is a straight-up, dry, unsmoked tobacco, with a leathery undertone. After an hour or so, it's a little softer & smokier, but there's no sweetness at all until around four hours in. Even then, the sweetness is very slight, & not at all powdery. Overall, a fairly linear tobacco fragrance, recommended if you're looking for a non-sweet version, & it lasts a good eleven hours on me. For myself, l would prefer a little more sweetness. l haven't yet tried Tobacco Vanille, but perhaps that will deliver more of what l'm looking for.
This is a handsome tobacco scent in which, despite being a relatively complex composition, the focus is primarily on the tobacco. It opens very strong, and you’re hit with the semi-sweet labdanum that’s one of the line’s signature moves. It’s flanked by a somewhat tame and supple leather akin to that of Cuir Ottoman, and there are some notes that feel almost fruity at the outset. However, it’s never a cacophony, and the labdanum, leather, and supplementary components all serve a relatively equal function in exalting the tobacco note, which is clearly the star of this show.
The tobacco note is quite dry—similar to the tobacco notes recently featured in Puredistance Black and Tom Ford’s Tobacco Oud, but Tabac Aurea outdoes both of those scents by offering up a fragrance that’s more characterful and distinctive. The note leans toward leafy—more like the scent of tobacco before it’s packed into the chamber of a pipe. There is a vanilla aspect at work, but it’s so illusive that you’d risk pulling a muscle to detect it. Whereas a scent like Tobacco Vanille is comically inept in its attempts as subtlety, the sweet notes here are ethereal and suggestive rather than in-your-face. Furthermore, there’s a distinct woodiness to the blend, yet it doesn’t come across like a bad attempt of incorporating the pipe itself into the scent, rather, the wood is once more operating to exalt and uplift the tobacco. These subordinate notes are handled with such thoughtful vigilance, that they become virtually undetectable, yet they emerge over time, lending the scent an fully fleshed-out dimensionality.
While tobacco scents are not my genre, there are a handful that I’ll allow into the fold. Slumberhouse’s Jeke is one of them, but that’s quite a bit more taxing than this, nor is it a straightforward tobacco scent. This is a no frills affair, but frankly, it’s one of the best from the tobacco genre that I’ve ever smelled. The level of precision and attention to detail is jaw-dropping, yet it’s not a scent that’s going to bowl anyone over through a revolutionary or experimental approach. It’s simply one of the most focused, balanced, and nuanced tobacco scents available. If Jeke’s too much, and a picture-perfect pipe tobacco is what you seek, then this is the one to look toward. Not only is it one of the line’s greatest contributions, it’s simply one of the greatest tobacco scents available.
A quick note: Tabac Aurea and Fireside Intense seem like they’d have some real parallels, and they do, but Tabac Aurea is less about smoke, but instead, it mimics the slightly sweet dryness of tobacco. Fireside Intense is more about a smoldering leaves effect with a smokier approach. Both have a subtle sweetness (Tabac Aurea is slightly vanillic, Fireside Intense takes its sweetness from a strange combination of oud and guaiac. Despite parallels, their profiles are different enough to explore both, but if you prefer dryness, then Tabac Aurea would be the wiser choice, but Fireside Intense has a little more character to it.