Reviews

Reviews of Havana by Aramis

Until I had kids, I had a long, on again-off again love affair with tobacco. (Nicotine is the mind altering drug I remember most fondly.) I still can instantly conjure up the smell of a fresh can of matured Virginia pipe tobacco. I was once given a magnificent pre-embargo Vuelta Abajo Cuban cigar, covered with Havana spots, which at that time had been hidden behind modern cigars for more than twenty-five years in the truly mystical humidor of the downtown shop where I bought my cigars. It was absolutely the best cigar I ever smoked, perfumey and vegetal, moldy and bright. An unforgettable masterpiece.

So I've got to say with regret that I don't find any recollection of that cigar in Aramis Havana. Neither do I find any rum. I get tradewinds spices and sun-bleached cedar, and maybe a hint of tropical mold. I do get a leather which is uplifting, fresh and rough textured. This is a relief to me because there are so many smooth, deep "Stentorian" (Thanks Luca T.) leathers and Havana's take on the subject gave me a good wake-up. Havana is a fine perfume with a hint of smoke which makes it modern, but thankfully stops far short of the forest fire niches of today.

Estée herself was still around when Havana was released. I don't know whether she had anything to do with it, but I'd like to guess she must have loved and understood men because she gave us so many top-notch, interesting, unique and reasonably priced perfumes.
27th May, 2015
I do not have any idea hoe the vintage smelled like, but i had a new bottle recently. Actually i think it does what it claims to be, an exact answer to the question, what if Aramis tries to make a sweet-tobacco cologne.

It is a gourmand for +40, try it for yourself, very interesting fragrance.
03rd April, 2015
Weird, nobody has done this before, so: “say hello to my lil’ friend!”

Havana does come with a reputation as The Last of the Powerhouses. It came late in the game, which probably led to its early demise. But it’s back. Of course it is different than you’d imagine after reading the reviews. Havana is one of the more difficult scents to get a handle on. I don’t think it as overwhelming as its reputation suggests. Good sillage, good power, but nothing really out there. Havana for me is a post-powerhouse. It has all the right moves (and ingredients, lots of them) but already you sense a 1990s influence. There is one note, sort of boozy and fresh, which can also be found in Egoiste (Platinum?) that turns Havana into a hybrid.

The overall impression is somehow equatorial, wet and spicy. Cinnamon to me plays a very strong part -echoes of Obsession- perhaps at times too strong. As with many powerhouses (Jules, Van Cleef, Pour Lui) the base is soft and uplifting. Havana probably is a versatile scent, the number of ingredients will make it smell different in different weather/seasons. It does remind me a lot of Oscar de la Renta Pour Lui, a more brash and streetwise sibling without the European noblesse. Although the real bad dude scents remain Yatagan en Trussardi. Great quality and complexity but not as good as the original powerhouses.
20th December, 2014
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Recently purchased at a great price. Reminds me slightly of Aura by Jacomo (which I don't like) but that only lasts about 10 minutess... The punch to the nose on the initial spray is very 80's powerhouse of spice, tobacco and woods which lasts for about an hour... then dries down to a very close to the skin scent (at least on myself) slightly spicy and woody. I do like the scent... but dont love it... it is good... so I do give it a thumbs up.
12th December, 2014
I really wanted to love this one...but I simply can't....Bought it blind based on the reviews of some of the 'professors of scent' on this site (hat's off to you gents!!). For some reason, it's a dud for me...I saw it compared to Polo which for me, after 2 sprays in the morning, takes it's scent into the following week! Not the case with this juice..After spraying on both sides of my neck, 2 on my chest, 10 minutes later = nothing! Nothing! Not the powerhouse I thought it would be although it's very nice to steal a 'whiff' off of my forearm during the day and I really have to inhale to get anything....still, it might work for you! Fortunately it didn't break the bank.
27th November, 2014
Amazing and affordable tobacco frag! Here is a brief description of the fragrance:

Opening - Strong, stiff backhand to the jaw BOOM!
Middle - A tango with a beautiful woman YES!
Finale - Relaxing with your bro's, confident NICE!

Viva Aramis...
07th September, 2014
Genre: Fougère

Havana has one of the most cacophonous openings of any scent I’ve worn. Spray it on and you’re greeted by a raucous blast of alcohol, citrus, tobacco, leather, camphoraceous notes, lavender, and lord knows what else. For sheer volume and shock value, these top notes are hard to beat, and if Havana’s early withdrawal was tied to poor sales, it could well be because few customers managed to wait out its clumsy first five minutes. It’s a terrible pity, since for those intrepid enough to stick with it, Havana offers a real treat.

Make no mistake – Havana remains a busy, complex composition, but once it comes into focus the heart of tobacco, spiced rum, smoke, leather, patchouli, and lavender is as stimulating as it is rich, and perfectly balanced, to boot. The intricate olfactory structure at Havana’s center vibrates over a classic fougère base of coumarin and bergamot with oak moss (real – god bless Aramis’s parent firm Estée Lauder), that provides a cooling counterpoint to all the intense warmth. The juxtaposition of smoky, spicy heat and cool, forest-y fougère accord may be why Havana, for all its depth, never feels ponderous. On the contrary, Havana is surprisingly light-footed and nimble for its bulk. Wearing it is a bit like discovering that your gruff, hairy, 250 pound uncle Lou dances an exquisite waltz.

In overall demeanor, Havana is what I’ve come to think of as a BFFF (Big, Fat, F#!@king Fougère), to which class also belong Jules, Kouros, and Pascal Morabito’s gargantuan but elusive Or Black. Havana has a more staid and stolid older brother, too, in Estée Lauder’s own Lauder for Men, which shares Havana’s tobacco, aromatics, and bold fougère base, though not its booze or its jazzy anisic bounce. I think Havana is the most buoyant of this lot, inasmuch as “buoyant” can apply to a fragrance of such density. Despite the challenge posed by its top notes, Havana is also one of the most often complemented scents I wear.

As you might expect from my description so far, Havana is a potent, long-lasting fragrance that projects well off the skin and leaves behind plenty of sillage. It’s surely one of those scents that will elicit disapproval if over-applied. Used wisely, I believe Havana deserves its reputation as one of the great scents of its decade.

15th June, 2014
A "dark blue cone of frosted glass"??? No, mis amigos --- the bottle is a conga drum like the ones used by Desi Arnaz in the 50's, which gives it both a vintage vibe and an association with Afro-Cuban music, which evolved into what we now know as Salsa.

Havana conjures up tropical heat and foliage, sultry nights, the warm Caribbean sea, rum drinks, and the sophisticated polyrhythms of congas, bongos and timbales. The citrus and spice notes harmonize beautifully with the tobacco, woods and patchouli (and a fragrance named Havana HAS to have tobacco in it, no?).

Put on some Irakere, Mongo Santamaria, Armando Peraza or Celia Cruz (or even the Buena Vista Social Club), a dash of Havana and your dancing shoes and you'll be ready to heat up the night. Sabor!
26th May, 2014
Havana is so complex and layered that it's almost impossible to give a detailed description of what it smells like. Suffice it to say that it's a masculine woody chypre, so it's got that 80's powerhouse vibe, and that it starts off with all sorts of sweet pie spices and ends up more woody with time. There's tobacco in there, but realistically, I think most people smell the very forward mace note and think that smells sort of like pipe tobacco or coffee and that's where the tobacco descriptives are actually coming from.

One of the more clever things it does (although it ends up being the reason I like Havana less than others of the same ilk) is to smother everything in a sort of waxy oily smell that keeps the individual notes from really standing out. Instead, there's a sort of musky hot candle smell that forces everything else to form more of a cohesive whole. I don't really like the waxy oily smell, honestly, and think Havana would be better if the notes were given more room to breathe, but it's still a pretty amazing scent, just not one that I enjoy that much.
02nd February, 2014
This is a scent with the power to evoke ideas and pictures and places.

Funnily enough, I do not receive cigars, or tobacco in this. I speak as a man who grows tobacco every year (including some Cuban varieties) and who fills the humidor with his own cigars. I know what my poly-tunnel smells like at every stage during the seasoning process, and I don't recognise any of those many aromas in this fragrance.

However, I do smell Havana.

Hemingway begins his classic "To Have and Have Not" with the line:

"You know how it is there early in the morning in Havana with the bums still asleep against the walls of the buildings; before even the ice wagons come by with ice for the bars?"

Well, this is how it is. I get a picture of the Numaticos (the boys who fish in the bay using only ('pneumatic') inner-tubes as boats, coming in with their catch. I see the city beginning to wake up, car horns beginning to blare.

It is vibrant. Not yet hectic. At the centre of things maybe not yet happening, but about to happen. Businessmen and patrons, dressed in linen and alpaca. Panama hats.

I hear the poems of Jose Marti sung as songs." Mi versa es de verde claro, y de un carmin encendido."

The light green is there, in the top, almost like faint angostura bitters. It is ciircumspective; philosophical. The burning red is also there. A threat, not born of foolish passion, but of sagacious fatalism.

The richness of the rum, patchouli, and the ambery basket of (labdanum/vannila/tonka) never emerge too precociously. They sit quietly at one of the back tables, playing cards. Next morning, the top registers are still surprisingly prominent, especially on clothing.

The Special Period.
15th January, 2014
Cuba in a bottle

The new version:

A grapefruit and orange citrus opening is paired with tarry and storing peppery notes and sweetened a touch with anise - a fruity pepperiness pervades this great opening. The drydown parades a superb bay rum aroma, a good rum with still more pepper and spice. The base is where eventually the cigar tobacco note develops, not the best of all tobaccos mores but a very nich one and never into your face. Myrrh and tonka guarante that a spice components remain very present right until the end. A very complex, well balanced and blended fragrance with great silage and projection and five hours of longevity. One of Aramis's best and a great classic.

30th August, 2013
A splash of bay rum, a pinch of herbs/spices, a hint of tobacco. The blending is smooth, the vibe decidedly relaxed yet assertive. Forget the laundry list of notes, HAVANA works simply because it doesn't try too hard to impress. Some might find it a little 'old school' but THIS is exactly how masculine fragrances should be done: not so much about in-your-face braggadocio but more of a cool confident swagger. A virile classic that would sit proudly in any man's wardrobe.
13th May, 2013
A gentle touch of spicy tobacco and grapefruit.
IMO this is the 3rd hit from this house - afler the good old Aramis (1st) and Tuscanny (2nd).
Ageless and classic, for all the seasons you can imagine for yourself.
A well deserved 8,7/10.
27th January, 2013
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I remember trying this back in the mid 90's because I loved most everything from Aramis. I didn't buy a bottle then, but I just recently purchased a mini and am enjoying it quite a bit.

All of the notes listed are overwhelming, but to me the scent is much simpler than that. There is a nice warm cinnamon and spice opening with some booze/bay rum as well. It is heady yet comforting which is really nice on a brisk January morning.

As it goes along, the booze subsides into spice, woods, smoky vanilla, maybe hints of leather and a bit of pepper. The cinnamon stick also seems to last which I like. This would be a big hit at a Christmas or New Years Eve party. It definitely has a winter vibe, but I bet it would be just as great on a warm summer evening where the booze and bay rum would give it a tropical feel.

I see a full bottle purchase in my future!
08th January, 2013
Saw how overwhelming the positive reviews were for this cologne and was very excited to be ordering this blindly. Couldnt have been much more disappointed in it. gave it 2 sprays and now I'm stuck at work smelling like an ashtray. Positive reviewers, youve dropped the ball on this one.
03rd January, 2013
Contains a ridiculous amount of ingredients, and there's no way they could sing in harmony for a long time. Havana does not unfold so much as unravel. This is not a a major problem since most of the notes are pleasant and the scent has a lot of surprises as it finally dries down to this salty ashtray/brown sugar finale I am unable to make up my mind about.
31st May, 2012
drseid Show all reviews
United States
Oh yeah, now we are talking! Aramis Havana is an incredible scent indeed. It has so much going on I could not even begin to properly describe it effectively. That said, the best way I can think of to give a relatively good impression of what it smells like, is fresh rolled tobacco leaf used to wrap cigars mixed with bay rum and a hint of smoke. This is über masculine, and quite powerful. Quite frankly, Havana represents just about everything I love about wearing powerhouse scents. Definitely belongs in every man's collection and it is quite reasonably priced to boot. I love it so much, I just bought another bottle. 4.5 stars out of 5.
10th February, 2012 (last edited: 22nd December, 2012)
There is nothing like Havana. Spicy, warm yet invigorating, complex, refined, yet it has a bad-ass edge to it. There are so many facets to this fragrance. This cologne is not for the clean sweet and fruity or powdery-vanilla crowd. Havana is super masculine. The aroma is powerful and assertive, yet sophisticated and classy.

I get cinnamon, bay rum, an ever-present spiciness, a light grassy vetiver at the end along with many other notes I cannot describe. In addition, I get that perfumer's tobacco note you catch in Guerlain Vetiver (ribbed bottle).

For those who like to leave the house crisp, confident and "boldly spiced". Can be worn year round too. Check me into the clinic, I'm addicted to it. Also worth mentioning: I'm highly sensitive to chemicals used in most modern fragrances and I do not detect synthetic chemicals in this. To me it is extremely natural and niche quality.

Definitely sample this one first though.
30th January, 2012
Njtnjt Show all reviews
United States
My new everyday scent. Layered and fabulous - I have been looking for something that is spicy but not real sweet smelling and found it here. I don't want to smell like a powdered doughnut or a flower. This juice has too many notes to describe. I'd say get a sample and try it for a couple weeks if you like scents that are spicy with lots of layers.
28th January, 2012
Great scent! But I like the Tuscany more.
09th December, 2011 (last edited: 24th February, 2012)
bFlay Show all reviews
United States
I obtained a tester bottle of Havana on-line and so have tried it a dozen times over a few months. I love peppery, leather, tobacco, and patchouli. This was not as described, at least not really. Havana is predominantly soapy and waxy, rather candle-like with vague synthetic spice notes that come out slowly and breakdown within a few hours. Longevity is hard to fully judge as it disintegrates so quickly within it's fragrance profile which, again, is vague and synthetic. I never know what I'm supposed to be smelling when synthetics are mismatched and thrown together. Havana is ultimately an inoffensive fragrance if not extremely bland or bold. I'd suspect it would suit those who are themselves neither extremely bland or bold...
04th December, 2011
Note that this review for the newer version. I just don't get all the positive and superlative reviews for Havana. First of all, I don't smell any tobacco whatsoever. None, no pipe, no leaf nor any smoke. I love tobacco and have many scents in my wardrobe to prove it. What I do smell is an acrid and bitter pimento/red pepper note that dominates into submission. Unlike the divine pimento note in PdN NY, the pimento feels like the chef put too much spice into the mole sauce. I can't smell anything else as Havana feels one dimensional and just plain boring. I can't help but feel let down after all the hype. This may be Aramis' poorest offering. Avoid unless you're into a nosefull of pimento and red pepper.
22nd October, 2011

A spicy tobacco scent that does not fall into the trap of been to sweet. A fragrance I wish was more readily available.
27th September, 2011
Absolutely perfect. Amazing.. words cannot describe how fantastic Havana is. I was a little skeptical in trying this one, because I find many of the overhyped fragrances on BN are just that.. overhyped.

Havana is well worth the hype though. It's spicy, subtly sweet, slightly soapy and very masculine. Few times do I find myself not being able to describe a scent with notes.. and this is one of those times. In a good way, it is so well balanced, that it's hard to say what I smell, when I smell it. All of the notes take centerstage and create one amazing accord.

In terms of comparisons.. I get a little bit of a Michael Kors for men vibe in there, as well as some of the original Aramis. I get all of the notes listed above except for the tangerine, grapefruit and orange. The star notes though, are without doubt the tobacco, birch tar, and spices. Although not listed, I also get quite a bit of dry cinnamon.

The result: One of the most masculine and unforgettable designer fragrances ever made. A must try! But, I recommend it for the more mature crowd.
11th September, 2011
I got this cologne because I heard that it was a good tobacco scent. This wasn't the tobacco that I expected. I have saw conflicting pyramids on Havana. Ones with tobacco and ones with vetiver. I think the notes on fragrantica describe this scent as to what I smell, opposed to the above pyramid. I get fresh vetiver with rich, deep spice. Not what I expected but I have to give it a thumbs up.
08th July, 2011
chet31 Show all reviews
United States
This is a tobacco fragrance, but I would call it "the usual scent that the industry calls tobacco." This is not unpleasant, but to me, it does not smell like pipe, cigar, or cigarette tobacco. The lavender and bay rum are more obvious. I would wear this as something different, but not sure I would purchase.
29th May, 2011
shamu1 Show all reviews
United States
Bartlebooth in his review below says to put on your party hat and enjoy Havana for what it is. I couldn't agree more. Havana is certainly dense, powerful and complex. It contains every note on the "Who's Who List of Powerhouse Smells", plus the kitchen sink. But you know what? Who cares! Forget about analyzing the notes in Havana and how they evolve over time. Havana is a rich, sexy, hot-blooded boozefest of a frag, with a disarming potency that few other fragrances have. The pounding tobacco, spice, rum and patchouli in this send the testosterone level into the stratosphere.

Some power fragrances need to be applied cautiously. Havana however is not one of those fragrances. This is definitely a powerhouse, but Havana is one scent that just BEGS to be sprayed on hard. How can anyone possibly wear this discreetly? Why would you want to? If you try to do that, you're totally missing the point of this. It would be like listening to a Motorhead album with the volume set to 2. Or going to a barbecue joint and ordering meat loaf.

If you're a "one spritz only" kind of guy, just stop reading this review and forget about it. Havana is going to be too much for you and will kick your ass. This is such a macho scent, you need to just let loose and let it all hang out when you wear it. Aramis certainly didn't try to hide Havana's masculinity, and neither should you.

MY RATING: 9/10
13th April, 2011 (last edited: 29th April, 2011)
Havana may not be the easiest fragrance to unravel, but the fun part is to don your party hat and just enjoy the shindig that Aramis have put on.

A quick snapshot of the opening reveals a dense, citric orange beginning, laced with a high energy tobacco note. It quickly becomes spicy and comforting, but also continues to make rapid and sizeable shifts well into the heart notes. The dry tobacco and bay rum combo at the heart of Havana is quite superb, and there is a real sense of fragrant adventure. It softens significantly in the drydown, but it seems like a natural progression from the earlier excitement. It also pulls off the remarkable feat of being very potent without being remotely excessive.

The deployment of bay rum and tobacco brings up the obvious comparison to Cuba from Czech & Speake, but they perform slightly differently. The sharp mojito vibe that Cuba exudes works wonderfully well for me in warmer weather, and the slightly warmer and welcoming Havana fills my pipe in the cooler months.
27th March, 2011
Exotic and sultry charm, cigars, panamas, fiestas, rum, caribbean sensuality, fascinating gentlemen white clothed and more, all in a bottle. This is a wonderful, puzzling, exotic, spicy, humid concoction that will never be out of my collection. Its tornado of whirling elements is really able to project the caribbean atmosphere and the latin rhythms better than any other scent out there. I prefer it over Cuba C&S which is another great creation and which with Havana shares many elements as rum, tobacco, flowers, citrus (and may be a licorice-mint-anice subtle accord), cedarwood, spices and others. Havana is powerful and very masculine but it's overall "southern" and evocative with its strong link of tobacco-patchouli blended with spicy rum. The fragrance preserves the colonial spirit of the old Habana and evokes the images of white clothed men smoking cigars, engaged in their exotic productive enterprises or in the commodities trading, men full of charm in the sunny caribbean days along the Malecon, near massive spanish buildings or in front of Bodeguita del Medio while are engaged in talking with brown curvaceous women. The initial raucous blast is like a fist of dry fruits, sparkling hesperides, Camphoraceous-aromatic notes  (birch, juniper berries, coriander, basil and anise) and spices. The impression is devastating, is like to be broken off by a running train and as soon as you inhale the first spray you can immediately smell even bitter tobacco, pepper and earthy patchouli rising from the background. The random motion of dissonant elements nevertheless starts soon to take a previously determined (ideated) dimension as a puzzle that starts finally to reproduce a definite figure. The floral middle aroma of spicy liqueur starts to sweeten the herbaceous bitter and rooty initial whiff while a moderate cumin and other spices provide a touch of exoticism to the mix. The scent starts to get the outlook of a bitter digestive liquor with the tobacco aftertaste yet perceivable. The base notes "nail down" structure, texture and a bit of soapiness to a previously rough and exotic blend of elements. Perfumed woods and cedarwood set stableness and balance, tonka, tobacco and patchouli rise up impressive earthy boldness and evocative masculinity while balsams and resins as myrrh, vanilla, olibanum and labdanum infuse the right dosage of smoothness and mildness closing the round of a legendary (complicated) juice. The outcome, many hours later, is a surprisingly mellow (almost balmy) smell of crushed tobacco with a bold patchouli on one side and the spicy nuances of rum around. Longevity and sillage are impressive on my skin.
01st March, 2011 (last edited: 14th July, 2014)
Aiona Show all reviews
United States
The only reason I tried Havana by Aramis is because so many people on Basenotes' forums compared it Montana Parfum d'Homme (red box, not blue box). And they are right. They are very similar.

I haven't ever smelled "tobacco" note on its own, so I don't know if that's what they both have in common. I can only really name their differences.

Opening: Montana has a very distinct lemony opening (is that called hesperidic?). Havana definitely lacks that strong lemony opening. In fact it's Havana's opening notes that bother me -- heavy oily. Both have massive projection. Honestly, nearly nuclear!

About 4 hours later: They dry down very similarly. After the lemony top notes disappear, Montana virtually smells identical to Havana. But, see, I love to sniff my arm, and the steam I exhale reactivates the pine-y lemon-y smell of Montana, but it doesn't do that with Havana. Havana remains solid, oily, dark and whatever that is. Maybe it's the tobacco. Both have major sillage, but I would say Havana projects just a tad bit more. When I wear them both on separate arms, Havana shoves Montana out of the way!

12 hours later: Havana is still there. Montana is faint compared to him. This is where my love for both of them switches over. Havana becomes creamy in the evening. Creamy sandalwood and that other dark smell (tobacco??). It's just creamy cinnamon love. Montana remains a pine-y smell, but you know how sometimes strong pine resin has an almost urinous smell? When they're side by side, that's how it compares out. I do love this creamy drydown of Havana -- how can I say no to cinnamon? 'Just it takes so darn long to get there!

Longevity: Havana seems to outlive Montana. I have a suspicion that the nasty oily scent that it has in the beginning is the basenote that helps it last so long, and helps it to maintain that creaminess for over 14 hours and counting.

I really must put a comment here about Havana's bottle. I both hate it and love it. A beautiful matte blue glass! The top is matte black. It's just beautiful. And the matte glass feels almost like cool skin in your hand. But, it's shaped like a *bleep* *bleep* exclamation mark, meaning it's incredibly top heavy and unstable -- sorta like Omnia bottles by Bulgari. Pretty to look at, but not practical on your dresser!
04th February, 2011