Tabac Aurea Reviews (and a note on scent individuality)

There’s a lovely review of Tabac Aurea posted today on I Smell Therefore I Am and the blog is giving away some Tabac samples if you are interested in adding your name to the hat. I’ve had feedback from more people on Tabac now as more samples get out, and it brings up the topic of scent variations from one person to the next.

Most of the feedback on Tabac so far has been wonderful, with people enjoying it very much. It appeals to people who want a tabac that’s not overly smoky or masculine but is still woodsy. People say it is an unsmoked pipe tobacco scent, which is how I intended it to be (I’ve not liked the cigarette vibe I get from a few tabac scents I’ve tried).

One variation in how people perceive Tabac Aurea is the sweetness level. To me, it is a woodsy gourmand with a gentle sweetness (not nearly as sweet as something like the scent Collection, but sweeter to me than the dry and woodsy Bell’ Antonio). The sweetness in Tabac Aurea comes from several ingredients: the tabac itself, some tonka, a sweet musk, and some amber/vanilla.

Many testers have found the scent to have a mild sweetness about the same as I do, but a few people have found it quite dry and I’m guessing some of them might be anosmic to the sweet musk in it. I couldn’t resist using this musk because it goes so beautifully with the tabac. The musk has a warm golden feeling to it and it has some soft subtle fruity notes that complement the tabac very well. This musk adds a lot to the yummy golden almost honeyed drydown of Tabac Aurea. Those who don’t smell the musk will miss out on some of that, though the tabac itself is yummy and the various amber ingredients add to that golden feeling too.

Another perception that varies is the amount of leather people get from Tabac Aurea. It has both tobacco and leather notes, and to me the leather opens stronger and softens as it goes, but to me the scent has more tabac overall than leather. Most of my testers found that to be true as well, but some people do get more leather than others, presumably because they are more sensitive to leather notes and pick them up at lower levels. So the leather to tabac ratio in Tabac Aurea will depend on whether you are relatively more sensitive to leather or tobacco. Sensitivity is different from liking vs not liking; people can sometimes very much like a note they are sensitive to as long as it is kept soft enough so as not to overwhelm the other notes for them.

Here’s another way to look at this. If you were to take the main ingredients of the tabac accord and put them in one vial and put the main constituents of the leather accord in another vial and let people sniff the accords in isolation, they’d probably mostly describe them in similar ways. Then if you asked the same people to mix a blend of the two accords that seemed to smell like it was balanced 50/50 leather/tabac, I bet the percents they’d use of each accord would vary a lot.

I hope I’ve not totally bored you with this topic, but it’s worth remembering that people will vary in their perception of scents depending not only on their preferences but also on what ingredients they are sensitive to and what ingredients they are anosmic to. Keeping that in mind will help you understand when you smell something and find it different than someone else does. Neither one of you is nuts, lol. πŸ™‚

About Laurie E

artisan perfumer and owner of Sonoma Scent Studio
This entry was posted in Perfume Making & Ingredients, Sonoma Scent Studio Updates. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Tabac Aurea Reviews (and a note on scent individuality)

  1. Tara says:

    I’m sampling Tabac Aurea right now, and THIS is what I had hoped Bell’Antonio would be. Bell’Antonio was too watery and weak on my skin, but Tabac Aurea is giving me a good hit of pipe tobacco without too much sweetness. Only a gentle hint of leather is present, along with a small undertone of musk. Very lovely!

  2. Laurie says:

    Hi Tara,
    That’s great to hear you’re enjoying Tabac Aurea! I just get soft leather too, with more tobacco. Glad you like it! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. mals86 says:

    Hi, Laurie –

    I’ve visited the site several times before, and have sampled some of your scents. I’ve been impressed with all of them – well, except Vintage Rose, which I had to scrub because it was so sweet on my skin as to be (forgive me!) nauseating. Most Estee Lauders do that to me as well; I haven’t found a single Lauder I can wear.

    In any case, a friend sent me a sample of Tabac Aurea, and I’m swooning. It reminds me very strongly of an old boyfriend, and I spent yesterday in an emotional whirlpool. It’s not often that I have such an emotional reaction to a scent, but this is one extreme case. (FWIW, I’m happily married and haven’t seen this guy for 20 years. Don’t want him back, either. But he did smell fabulous – and it was mostly his skin, too, because he didn’t wear cologne.)

    I found your comments on individual perception enlightening, especially after reading all the reviews you’ve linked to above. I found Tabac Aurea strikingly, deliciously masculine, but masculine in a way that I, with my girliest-of-the-girly taste, would wear, as opposed to the “shaving cream accord” I get from so many masculine scents. It’s become clear to me that I’m sensitive to amber and rose, which I like and can identify easily in various fragrances, and I’m hypersensitive to patchouli, which I don’t like much and which I often find overwhelming in scents, where other people barely notice it. For example, Shaal Nur, though full of roses, incense, and herbs, was a big ol’ patch-fest on me and therefore unwearable. And, oddly, cannot smell Nahema, Keiko Mecheri Peau de Peche, or Boucheron Jaipur at all; I can tell something is there on my skin, but I cannot smell it. Musk anosmia, I presume.

    I found the leather in Cuir de Russie unbearably barnyardy (and I live on a cattle farm, so you can imagine how clear my reference is for “barnyard”!), but enjoy the leather in Jolie Madame and in vintage Chanel No. 19. The leather in Tabac Aurea is very smooth, and I perceive it to be in balance with the tobacco, which does smell like drying leaf tobacco to me. I must be able to smell the musk in TA, however, or I’m sure I would not associate it with Old Boyfriend, who always smelled like clean male skin to me. The patchouli is the only note in the scent I don’t associate with him, and I’d prefer a little less of it for my own taste, although what you’re using is pleasantly grassy and earthy, and balances the amber nicely.

    Wow, I’ve written a screed! Please pardon my temerity in speaking so frankly – but from reading your blog today, I see that you’re very transparent about your creative process and sincerely interested in honest feedback. I admire that very much, and I did want to tell you how deeply Tabac Aurea affected me. Thanks for the opportunity to comment, and I’ll definitely visit again!

  4. Laurie says:

    Hi Mals!

    Glad you’re enjoying Tabac Aurea and found the blog to be interesting. I really enjoy discussing the perception of scents with people and have learned a lot from it, though there’s still much more to understand.

    Sounds like you do get the musk in Tabac; it’s common for people to be able to smell some musks but not all of them. Scientists think it is the large molecule size of musks that makes them hard to smell because they are about at the maximum size of our scent receptors.

    I’m starting to wonder if there’s more to it though because sometimes it seems like anosmia to one ingredient can wipe out the perception of other ingredients that the person would normally be able to smell. For example, if I pulled apart Nahema and gave you a bunch of the individual components to sniff, I’d bet you would smell most of them just fine — various synthetic rose ingredients, ambers, vanilla, maybe the peach, etc. But when they are all mixed something is doing you in. The same thing happens with my Sienna Musk for some people; they can smell the woods and spices fine until I put in the musk and then the whole thing disappears to them. It is fascinating and we don’t understand the complexities of scent perception enough to have all the explanations.

    The other complication besides anosmia is sensitivity, as you noted. When you’re more sensitive to something it’ll stand out and can really get in the way of enjoying the rest of the scent. There’s not a one-size-fits-all for perfume, but with so many fragrances out there people can find things that work for them.

    Glad you’re enjoying Tabac and that’s interesting about the memories it brings up. Scent can do that! πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by.

    Oh, there have been a couple more reviews of Tabac Aurea since this post. I put links to all four on the website page for Tabac Aurea here

    http://www.sonomascentstudio.com/tabac.shtml

  5. Laurie says:

    PS I forgot to say, if there’s a scent of mine like Tabac that you love but are bothered by the patchouli I could do a special request bottle without the patch, but I only squeeze special requests like that into the occasional free times between regular orders because it takes time to weigh out all the ingreds for a special little batch. It’s doable though. In the case of patch and Tabac, there is a little bit of patch essential oil plus a little bit of two other ingreds that are earthy and support the patch but are more woodsy and don’t have that same patch character. You might need to sniff those two things first to know if they contribute to the scent in a good way or not for you. They all three work together to add some earthy woodsy notes that offset sweetness.

  6. mals86 says:

    Laurie, thanks so much for your response – I appreciate your sharing your knowledge. Do wish I lived closer (I’m in VA) so I could drop by and just sniff to my heart’s content!

    I might be very interested in a special low-patchouli batch of Tabac Aurea, but not at this time. A friend is making me up a small decant of the standard formula, and I’m going to wear that for awhile. Wonder if I can train myself to block my perception of the patch? I don’t know; never tried it. It really is nice patchouli, though – very green and friendly. It seems relatively high-pitched to me, as though I were expecting Johnny Cash and got Dwight Yoakam instead. (You know, not a coloratura soprano, but a tenor. And I like Dwight.)

    I enjoyed Sienna Musk and Champagne de Bois very much as well.

  7. Laurie says:

    Hi Mals,

    Glad you’ve found a decant! I love decants too — they’re great when you want a collection of fragrances without things getting out of hand, lol. Glad you’re having fun with the scents. πŸ™‚

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