Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Cuba by Czech & Speake

Total Reviews: 60
Czech & Speake's Cuba is the sort of scent that you are never going to get again if the current tides of civilisation and progress (read: mass culture) persist. Here is a proper 'cologne'. I refrain from using the word 'perfume' as it is quite explicit who the target audience is; and, women, if they wear this, they'd perhaps be the ones who prefer colognes over perfumes. Here is a cologne done in the best traditions of the old school, but with some nuances and flourishes that render a suave, fresh appeal rather than something dusty or dated.

Cuba is a simple yet complex affair; beginning with a burst of lime and mint paired with a note of rum. The mint is underplayed and expertly handled so that the concoction smells closer to an abstract cocktail, rather than any toothpaste association. That isn't all; there is a deft touch of clove, and a very prominent note of bay. The aromatics are further shaped by a rapidly developing warm, humid note of tobacco that hints at leafy cigars, together with cedar and vetiver. I don't really get any incense from it, and it smells perfect. The development is brisk, then slowed out as the fresh-aromatic nature encounters a plot twist to reveal a warm, glowing scent. I'm not surprised that warm weather brings out the best in this scent. Luckily I don't get any note of faeces, but then, I never really had a way of life compliant with contemporary North American (specifically: Toronto) standards of sterilisation and sanitisation. Cuba exhibits discreet to average projection and moderate longevity based on an abundant application.

Cuba is far removed from contemporary perfume trends in 2019, and I'm thankful for that. It's 'niche' at designer prices, at least when I bought it a couple of years back; more importantly, its style is very different. There is minimal emphasis on synthetics though I'm sure it employs quite a bit, and it reminds me of the earlier/vintage Creeds like Baie de Genievre. Cuba exhibits excellent separation of notes, is airy, and lingers on in memory space for long after it fades away from skin.

If you're curious about how it relates Havana, they are largely different scents with Cuba being fresh-spicy, whereas Havana is warm-spicy; however, there is an uncanny link in the 'personalities' of the two scents, somehow they feel connected, even after accounting for the tobacco and bay/rum notes. They sort of go hand in hand, and I can say this about both: here there is style, here there is substance. This is a scent for discerning gents who understand and value respect and appreciation; wet shavers, hat wearers, and tango dancers.


Note: Review is of the EdT. I just realised I have never tried the aftershave, and now I feel stupid.
18th March, 2019
Wearing Cuba for the second time today. I've been hand wringing for a while trying to decide if I wanted to purchase this one because of all the "fecal" note comments that have been made. Getting a sample of Cuba has proven difficult, so I finally bit the bullet and ordered a bottle. I'm relieved to report that there is no fecal note on my skin at all, and I'm slightly annoyed that I waited so long to enjoy this excellent fragrance. If those who think this smells like fecal actually excrete something that smells like this fragrance does, then by "Grabthar's Hammer, what a blessing!"

Seriously, this smells no more like excrement than neroli does to my nose. Cuba is very complex and there are some notes that are almost competing, but that I feel work wonderfully well, almost like a musical composition that is pushing the boundaries of dissonance but doesn't quite go off the rails and ends up being more interesting becoming a favorite in time.

Cuba has been a pleasant surprise. Another that I'm enjoying so much from Czech & Speake!
09th February, 2019
Now that I've worked my way through the Czeck & Speake line, I feel like their perfumes often start out a bit awkward, with occasional questionable topnotes, but they tend to melt together after about an hour into something quite well put together. Cuba is a perfect example of this. It goes on with burst of toothpaste mint that awkwardly smothers a weirdly meaty and medicinal fougere fern. But somehow, given time, it melts into that leathery sweaty old man smell that Le Labo uses a lot, but with a dash of pie spices for warmth and a rather nice sweet musk drydown that quietly hints at Musc Ravageur.

All in all, I really wanted to like Cuba, and I enjoy the musky basenotes, but I think the mint is a mess, so I'm just going to vote neutral.
17th September, 2017
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

The 'fecal' note some of the reviewers are moaning about is the tonka. No need to elaborate on this further, because it's silly enough to mistake it for ass. I mean, I wish my ass smelled like this, but no.
Ok, back to the scent. It's manly, rummy, minty, a tad sweet, distinctive and animalic, in a good way. Good longevity and sillage, at least enough to enjoy it for a good couple of hours. If you don't overspray it (5 sprays is more than enough) you'll like it just as much as the people around you. Best worn on the chest, but that's my opinion.
30th May, 2017
gimpy Show all reviews
United States
Olfactory heroin. Completely intoxicating, while still being manly. Green, floral, and spices, with a huge minty bay rum undercurrent.
30th June, 2016
C&S's Cuba is one of my top-shelf favs. Unlike most, however, I think a rose or geranium floral adds a great deal to this mix. No doubt, the floral is tempered by a whole lot - vetiver, cedar, clove, a cooling mint, resin - making it one of the best warm-weather, handsome, masculine scents I know. A bit of 'gnarl' is present throughout the heart making it that much more interesting but in no way does it define the scent; rather, it's remindful of sun-baked skin.

Does all the above represent tobacco? Is it like Havana? Bay Rhum? Not to me, no... but that doesn't matter. Above average longevity. I wear a good 10+ sprays under clothing.

I'm 50+, for reference. 5/5

p.s. Apply to chest after a cold shower after getting your heart up for awhile on a 90-degree-day... and the camphor/mint will take your breath away. Summer standout.
15th February, 2016 (last edited: 18th March, 2019)
Genre: Leather

November 2008:
Juniper berries, bay leaf, and booze: that’s bay rhum, and that’s Czech and Speake’s Cuba. Some tobacco, leather, and a touch of smoke round out the structure until a somewhat abrasive woody drydown sets in. I like Cuba’s starting point better than its destination, so when I’m in the mood for booze and tobacco I’ll still turn to the richer, more complex Havana.

August 2009:
The more time I spend with Cuba, the more I like it. The drydown is indeed angular, but warm weather also brings out a stupendous fecal-animalic component (civet and castoreum I think,) that makes it paradoxically frightening and irresistible. Ideal for people who, like me, occasionally enjoy rolling in their own filth!
11th June, 2014 (last edited: 12th June, 2014)
A masculine majesty, austere, warm like a Cuban evening, with humid tobacco leaves, rhum, benzoin, amber, a fresh touch of zesty citrus and a few culinary herbs. A wet, shady floral heart emerges soon, notes of dry flowers left under the rain, bringing a slight camphor note as in classic masculine chypres. On the base, a stout, refined and cozy woody concoction. As minutes pass it emerges a beautiful rose note slightly fruity too, sensual and juicy, almost carnal, really aromatic and perfectly blended with the overall austere, elegant mood given by tobacco and herbal notes. Dry, almost gloomy, distinguished and exotic, powerful but noble, with a gentle side of more delicate and airy notes. Rose-ambery-woody-smoky drydown, silky and discreet, quite long-lasting and slightly balsamic too. A great, versatile gentlemanly scent.

24th January, 2014 (last edited: 27th June, 2014)
Turpentine, a ripe cigar, saddle leather and wild scrub on farout mesa – it’s hard not to reach for clichés of rugged cowpoke virility. (Personally, give me the silk-shirted damask rose variety any day – but that’s just taste.) The impression is confirmed by a musky crotch odour that develops over time, but somehow maddeningly sexy rather than outright rank. Maybe it’s the pristine frankincense that rings clear as a struck chime right through the evolution of this fragrance. One for those daring days...
02nd August, 2012
This is one of those fragrances that begs the question of why? Very putrid opening that does have some fecal properties. This fragrance isn't even worth trying to describe because it should never be worn. Hands down one of the worst.
28th June, 2012
I love this scent and wear it often. (I wear Havana more often). Both start off strong (in their own way) and finish with a bay rhum base.

Cuba serves as Havana's country cousin. Whereas Havana is walking into a pipe shop in the city, Cuba hails from the tobacco farm. Anyone who has been on a tobacco farm will recognize Cuba's fecal top note. It doesn't last long, and I feel sorry for those who can't get past it.

Because for me it sets the stage. It takes me to the Cuban (or in my case North Carolina) countryside before basking me in the incredible bay rhum finish.

One of my favorites.
10th June, 2012
Just received a Czech & Speake travel set and was eager to try the 4 fragrances. Unfortunately I am at work and the first one I applied was Cuba. Even more unfortunate was being informed by my two female employees that I smelt of shit. Not any old shit mind, dog shit! I agreed with them, I also get the bad breath vibe as well. How anyone would want to smell of this is beyond me. I didn't wait for the drydown, I couldn't, I may have been sick, or caused others to be. OK, so I don't understand this scent and don't "appreciate" the subtle nuances, but then, I don't want to if it means I smell like something that fell out of an animals bottom. Truly disgusting stuff!!!
17th February, 2012
Minty-bay rum. Cuba opens with a blast of aromatic and refreshing notes of mint, lime and bay-rum. The overall acidic and sort of balsamic effect brings to mind of Piper Nigrum and other Tiger Balm-inspired composition such as Esprit Du Tigre but where these two stay pretty linear in reproducing this effect, Cuba is joined in the middle phase by an animalic musky/rose accord that winks at classic perfumery. Simply amazing and original.

The drydown is more conventonally classic with the appearance of a woody-tobacco combo that drives the fragrance towards the barbershop type of stuff.

Nice concept - Well executed.
06th January, 2012
Advertisement — Reviews continue below

A sharp blast of limes and bergamot in the opening. Pretty intense for a few minutes, but slowly fades and rum with a hint of mint become apparent. This is actually my least favorite part of this fragrance as I love the opening and the dry down. The tobacco comes through after the rum/mint middle and is fantastic, but on me it doesn’t last long. I’ve given this one several wearings and every time come to the same conclusion about the longevity. If the middle contained no mint to my nose and the dry down lasted longer and was stronger, this would be one of my favorites. As is, I can’t give this one high notes because of this.
13th September, 2011
Compelling, dandy and exotic in a real sense. Dirty, sweaty, animalic, charming, art deco, manifestly boozy. A fragrance full of sultry romance, spiky moustaces and gentlemanly exoticism. Each time I smell this juice I feel as having dinner white clothed (despite the general olfactory darkness) in the Gran Caribe Hotel Habana, the aura I ideally exude is bold, daring and i'm as a globe-trotter brasilian (or spanish) business man full of energy, poetry and optimism. Cuba starts with a citrusy aromatic mentholated blast really important, fresh, dark and medicinal which is in a while followed by a mould of spicy tobacco (tonka) and bay rum able to reproduce a sort of caribbean enjoyable atmosphere full of chaotic dances, beautiful women, cruising ships, orchestras, sultry clubs, seaside resorts and beaches. I detect immediately the infamous fecal note (durable in a powerful way just for a short while before the spicy booziness succeedes) which is probably aroused by the animalic notes (the typical fecal civet mould I suppose. Black Musk, castoreum as well?) interaction with fresh/aromatic elements plus the spices/tobacco accord. The exoticism is created by the blend of the exotic-liquorous tobacco (detectable throughout the trip) and bay rum with the herbal-medicinal greeness enhanced by aromatic mint, bay, cedarwood and vetiver. Some mild floral notes (geranium/roses) in the middle link themselves perfectly with the herbal-medicinal presence, bringing out (by their addition of hints of resinous soapiness) a sort of laundry-barbershop touch. A leathery soothing note is settled in the dry down in order to link in a captivating way the animalic warmth with the previous herbal-smokey/spicy freshness while a cool frankincense soothens furtherly the dry spicy/liquorous kind of general hair-chested virility. I detect the association with a sort of  Antaeus (bay, mint, leather, animal notes, woodsy notes, a touch of incense etc) with bad breath (the final animalism from civet-castoreum?). The dry down, after many hours, is really virile, spicy, sharply floral, carnal (but in an elegant and balanced way) and vaguely (far in the wake) boozy/leathery/exotic. Original, persistent and bold. One of my ethernal favorite. I deeply love this concoction and i'm planning to buy a bottle in order to wear the juice for special occasions of feasts, hot summer nights, cruisings, latin excursions and parties on the swimming pool's side.
03rd September, 2011 (last edited: 23rd December, 2016)
bokaba Show all reviews
United States
Of the Cuba type scents available Czech and Speake's (especially the vintage) is by far the best in comparison to the likes of Acqua di Cuba and others. Cuba must be understood as more of a bay rum superimposed on top of a leathery cedar and tobacco base. I will not say that there are no animalic elements to Cuba, but I argue they aren't as profound as many have claimed. The cedar adds a certain type of graphite pencil note (covetous in wine I hear) that combined with civet smells somewhat of bad breath--but what great ones don't--Mouchoir de Monsieur, etc. I find the tobacco note quite profound and reminiscent of an unlit cigar though perhaps La Via del Profumo's Tabac does it better.
25th June, 2011
The opening 30 seconds is bending down to clean up after a dog. That's no problem. It's the mint, geranium, juniper berries, and rum in combination with these dirty animalics that I find nauseating. Florals and squalor work just fine (Jicky flirts with, but never succumbs to, the gourmand with its vanilla); whereas anything foody combined with shit smells like a grotesque before-and-after gag... and gag I do. Cuba's emerging vetiver note helps, but is too little too late. When people refer to fragrances as smelling like bad breath, it's usually nothing more than a cheap swipe. But Cuba unfortunately does have a whiff of halitosis – booze, cigars and dental neglect – that is fascinating and nasty. I wish this scent had an On/Off switch.
17th June, 2011
shamu1 Show all reviews
United States
Cuba is a daring fragrance, and that's what I like most about it. It's spicy and aromatic, with a prominent fecal smell underneath it all, and this is what separates Cuba from your average spicy scent.

I'd describe Cuba as the smell of earth, dry leaves, cloves and dog shit. Or maybe Antaeus with bad breath. My description might sound unappealing, but trust me, it smells a lot better than it sounds. The poopy smell adds a lot of character to this fragrance, which otherwise would have been sort of ho-hum without it.

My only criticism with Cuba is that I wish it were a bit grittier and more aggressive. A fragrance with such a strong fecal undertone needs heavy hitting smells to back it up, and I wish the tobacco, cedar and clove were a bit more prominent, which would have balanced the scent out better. Patchouli would have been a perfect addition to this fragrance and would have made it even more powerful.

As it is, Cuba is bold and unique, and should be sampled by anyone who likes wearing fragrances to make a statement.

MY RATING: 7.5/10
13th May, 2011
A real shame it just doesn't shake that fecal note on me after the top notes are supposed to die down. That fecal stuff just rubs me the wrong way. Sucks because underneath are nice spicy accords. Its unfortunate the fecals are stronger than the Spicy notes
22nd January, 2011
Cuba opens with a strong citrus / spicy / tobacco accord that makes itself known without equivocation. Quite unusual, it is dense for a citrus accord; it contains a heavy load of passion and romance. Actually, what I really get the first three minutes is a strong fecal note, which then turns into the excellent spice and tobacco accord. After several minutes of the opening, the fragrance takes an astounding turn: It becomes a substantial and compelling green / woody / floral / mild spice accord the like of which I’ve not experienced before: It is totally captivating but I really have a difficult time identifying it; It seems as if it could be patchouli based—such as the patchouli in Borneo 1834, but even Borneo couldn’t match this accord. Since there is no patchouli listed in the pyramid, probably the opoponax / incense combination that is responsible for that extraordinary luxuriousness. I have always been a fan of opoponax, but I have never before experienced it so rich and lusty as this. I can readily accept that the ginger and the geranium are major players in that accord, too, and the combination, with a mint, rose, bay, tobacco, clove (very little), and greens tossed in, is wonderfully fulfilling, satisfying and… compelling. No kidding, this is one of the most accomplished accords I’ve ever encountered—completely addictive. I just have to own this one!

Originally submitted 24 May 2007, Taiwan
07th December, 2010
Ahree Show all reviews
United States
Egad. The earthiest and most indolent, fecal-redolent opening I've yet experienced in a frragrance. It does settle down into a nice tobacco and high end boozy accord, but honestly, I can't get past the debut with a straight face.
14th October, 2010
Feces, feces, and more feces. There's some cigar, some balm and then comes some more feces.

I cannot believe this fragrance has so many positive reviews. It *could* be a skin thing, so PLEASE do yourself a favour and do not buy this before sampling it many times.

Did I mention? There's very strong feces note in this fragrance.

Thumbs down.
02nd August, 2010
Fantastic tobacco fragrance. One of the only "tobacco" fragrances I can think of with a tobacco note that smells like actual, cured, fermented, aging tobacco...sort of the smell you get when you open a desktop humidor that's been closed for a while: barnyard, almost fecal, pungent, potent. This describes only the tobacco portion of the fragrance, which is apparent from the start. This barnyard quality does fade a bit as it dries down. There is, however, so much more going on here. The top notes smell of rum, citrus, and spice. The heart notes of tobacco and rose. The base to my nose, is defined by the tobacco and incense.

Comparisons to Havana are apt. That said, Havana is busier, noisier, and not as harmonious, in my opinion. Havana is sharper and higher pitched, while Cuba is rounder and mellower (though not "mellow"). Havana is a cacophony of sounds like you might hear on a busy city street, while Cuba is a latin-jazz band playing a hot, sweaty nightclub. Both are great, but I prefer Cuba for its realistic tobacco note and sophisticated blending of booze, citrus, spice, and incense. And, as Mario says, this also reminds of Idole in its booziness and spiciness, but Idole to my nose lacks the depth and earthy-funky quality that the tobacco note brings to Cuba.
13th July, 2010
MOONB Show all reviews
United States
This is just a dandified bay rum, spruced up with the mint in the top and the cedar wood in the middle. The cedar is pretty dominant to me, and kinda reminds me of a hamster cage. I don't get any vetiver, but maybe some frankincense. There's also a very light, blink-and-you-miss-it tobacco accord flitting around in the base, which seems to be an amalgamation of the persistent mint from the top co-mingling with the cedar, bay, cloves, and a really poor rendition of rum. As for there being a "fecal" note: no, there is no fecal note in Cuba. This hamster cage is clean.
04th June, 2010
Chino Show all reviews
United States
Thank goodness for fragrance samples!! My senses get a horrible scent from this fragrance. Some here describe it as "fecal" & they might be correct. I don't like it one bit; not the beginning, middle or end. I can't imagine someone my age wearing this. That being said, maybe this frag is marketed towards mature consumers since it's conceived that olfactory perception evolves with age. Thumbs way DOWN!!!
25th April, 2010
Animalic. I smelled like OSU's Benny.
20th April, 2010
True story:
Just a couple of weeks ago, I was in line at a Mexican grocery store behind an incredibly well-groomed, pomaded, elegant Mexican man wearing crisp jeans and a pressed, white linen shirt. He was forty-ish, very robust, supremely dignified... and he smelled so divine! I cannot emphasize enough what a profound impression experiencing the "right" fragrance, on the perfect "subject" made on me!
I did not recognize the specific cologne he wore, only that it was an old-style, rummy, soapy, tobacco-y affair, with loads of warmth and depth, and that it was not the "sort of thing" I had smelled on anyone in a long while. It occurred to me, of course, to ask him what he wore, but alas, I was too shy.

I mused that it might have been a totally south-of-the-"border" offering, something that still used natural oils, from some cottage, tradition-driven 'house', which hadn't succumbed to modern trends, as it somehow smelled so undeniably "Latin", that I doubted many American men would appreciate it.

Well, today I was blessed with the experience of discovering a scent that I had held in my mind without a name or possible source, as I smelled 'Cuba' for the first time. It is categorically the *same* smell, which that stunning man wore, though I doubt he was wearing Czech & Speake. Probably though, C&S modeled this scent after some actual offering, sold exclusively in Latin America.

It's funny, too, some reviews (and my imagination) led me to assume this was a modern 'novelty' scent, made to smell like cigars and 'mojitos', all "limey", woody, sweet and silly. But no! In fact, it's a perfectly credible, "real-life" scent, really suited for a dashing, mature, dark-haired man.

I am thinking of Anthony Quinn, wearing white linen, standing powerfully on a veranda, playing an illustrious, charismatic, possibly-crooked, cigar magnate.

Well worth the wait.
08th February, 2010
I've been very keen to try both Havana and Cuba since reading about them here. Fortunately I had samples of both arrive recently and have been trying them out.

I tried Cuba and found it to be the most repugnant scent I've ever encountered. I liked the first 30 seconds or so, then got a long lasting blast of swine fecal note that just wouldn't die down for over an hour and a half. It's now over 3-1/2 hours since I put it on and that nasty smell has finally given way to a really nice tobacco-leather scent. But I won't be wearing Cuba again due to the awful fecal middle note that occurred for me.
10th January, 2010
This is a remarkable scent in that it immediately brought me an image of a sweaty, dirty old man. He'd be smoking cigars and reading newspapers with the radio on full blast. He'd be that kind of eccentric old man. This even smells like old mans breathe. It captures that metallic dried blood and tobacco smoke scent that ripens on old gums. This is my least favorite smell of all time but I am truly in awe and amazed that it could be replicated. It's revolting yet humorous. How did they get eau de old guy in a bottle? You gotta wonder.

I've got to say. Why buy this? Just get sweaty, light up a phatty and don't brush your teeth for a couple days... and you'll smell like Cuba in no time.
02nd January, 2010
I have never been to Cuba. But if the country smells like a pile of dog crap with mint and cigars sprinkled over top, then this C & S fragrance is a perfect representation.

Plain awful. My nose picks up a rank fecal note. Seriously the worst fragrance I have ever experienced.
15th December, 2009