Today we are going to discover a contrasting ingredient with a bad reputation: tobacco. If its name does not evoke us anything good at first glance, it is however a very interesting note for perfumers. Often used in men’s fragrances, the perfume of tobacco bewitches the compositions. Far from the cold ashtray not very inspiring, inhale the sweet and waxy aromas of this note full of character.
Short history of tobacco
An intoxicating plant
Before being used to make cigarettes or cigars, tobacco finds its source in nature. Native to South America, Nicotinia is a genus of plant of which tobacco is the most representative variety. It consists of a long fibrous stem that can reach up to 1.5 meters high. It carries pretty white, yellow or pink flowers as well as large pointed and hairy leaves. They are the ones that interest the pickers. They harvest them leaf by leaf 3 months after planting the tobacco. These are then hung on a rope to dry and change from a pale green color to a more or less dark brown, which it’s called havana. The drying process can take between 4 and 10 weeks depending on the variety and the desired result. These leaves will then be used to make cigarettes in particular.
From discovery to industry
Tobacco was not known to Europeans in Antiquity. However, already in those times, people burned plants to create smoke that allowed to heal or to communicate with the deities. The first contact of Europeans with tobacco took place in 1492 when Christopher Columbus landed in America. He saw for the first time the Indians smoking a plant called “petum”. The Indians considered it a precious, even magical plant. The explorer mentions in his writings several ways of “consuming” this plant. Some burn it with pieces of coal to inhale the smoke. Others fill hollowed out sticks with chopped leaves to smoke it. He still sees some who chew it or who breathe it in the form of dried leaf powder.
It is in 1520 that the first tobacco seeds are imported in Europe. It was cultivated in Portugal a few years later for therapeutic purposes. The French ambassador to Portugal, Jean Nicot, had dried leaves delivered to Catherine de Medici to relieve her migraines. Very quickly, the fashion for this new “Queen’s herb” reached the entire Court. Some saw tobacco as a plant devoted to witchcraft, but this did not prevent its popularization. This craze spread in Europe but also in the rest of the world. By the end of the 16th century, tobacco was known by almost everyone. The very first cigarettes were manufactured in the 1850s. Smoking will then spread much more massively after the Second World War to “conquer” all social classes.
The perfume of tobacco
How to get tobacco notes?
The use of tobacco in perfumery is fairly recent and has grown even more with the rise of niche perfumery. To add tobacco notes to a formula, perfumers have several options. The first is to extract tobacco leaves with volatile solvents. This process produces a tobacco absolute that is very dark in color, quite rich smelling and very aromatic. This material can be delivered by combining several varieties of the plant to accentuate the aromatic complexity of the fragrance. Because of the presence of nicotine, the use of this absolute is regulated and therefore quite limited.
The nose then often chooses to recreate the perfume of tobacco using other natural raw materials. And this is when coumarin comes into play. This odorant compound is naturally very present in the tonka bean, but also in the sage or lavender. This organic substance evokes a smell of dried straw and tobacco. Finally, the tobacco notes can also be reproduced through synthesis directly in the laboratory.
The olfactory profile of tobacco
The perfume of tobacco has won the hearts of noses in recent years. Indeed, this so particular ingredient presents a rather singular olfactory identity. At first, the tobacco notes are warm and quite soft. They gradually diffuse more sweet aromas, in which we distinguish shades of honey, caramel or even wax. In parallel, the smell of tobacco is also very aromatic, with vegetal, dry and resinous tones. Its scent also emanates leathery, almost animal notes. The tobacco notes bring to the fragrances a new spicy facet, between sweetness and bitterness.
The fragrant associations of tobacco
Thanks to its multi-faceted profile, the perfume of tobacco is a perfect match for a multitude of notes and olfactory families. It perfumes orientals notes with its warm scent and adds an even deeper dimension to woody compositions. It is used as a base note to diffuse a lasting wake, or as a middle one to enrich the fragrance with its aromas. Tobacco perfume also integrates perfectly with fern accords and chypre formulas. Its notes are regularly associated with men’s perfumery because of their strength of character. Synonymous with elegance and mystery, it is however becoming more and more important in feminine compositions. It will then tickle floral notes… Or will meet with other spices and even fruits. In short, the perfume of tobacco is both modern, sensual and refined.
Our perfumes with tobacco notes
In our collection of scents, the perfume of tobacco has its place! It has also been invited in some of our creations…
Tender and spicy vanille
Vanille has succumbed to the mysterious charms of tobacco. This gourmand eau de parfum unveils a vanilla top note that is then enveloped in a flowing heart of caramelized almonds. To bring more depth and relief to this scent, we have infused it with warm nuances of powdery spices and tobacco notes. Here, the waxy and warm perfume of tobacco is invited thanks to the presence of coumarin. Combined with orchid and powdery heliotrope, vanille will wrap your skin in a deliciously sensual wake!
The walk of alfred kafé
Do you know that the most masculine of our fragrances has also decided to venture into the side of tobacco notes? The eau de parfum alfred kafé evokes a singular contrast of lavender and coffee. Here, the tobacco perfume reveals both its aromatic nuances to accompany a green and lavender middle note. It also spreads its powerful and warm aromas in the duration, by mixing with woody and balsamic nuances.
Do you like the scent of tobacco in fragrances?
Discover the fragrances mentioned in the article