While we consider ourselves pretty well-doused when it comes to the world of perfume, we realized a few months back that there was one scent in particular that had eluded our collective grasp: tobacco. As a group of non-smokers ourselves, the idea of smelling like something good enough to smoke felt mysterious, even derisive—but in a good way. The general feeling of mystique made the scents lauded by Brooke Wall, Alexandra Spencer, and Yashua Simmons all the more enticing, regardless of your feelings about walking in the wake of a burning cigarette (we’re split on this one). So after a bit of “research” (meaning we recklessly sprayed a lot of perfume on ourselves), here are a few of our newly christened favorites:
Coqui Coqui Tabaco
This is the one that started it all. After shooting Francesca Bonato's Top Shelf at her Tulum hotel/perfume house, her (and her husband's) long, lean bottles have popped up in bathrooms all over the place—particularly Tabaco. It's a good starter tobacco if you're just wading in; the base feels more beachy than woody, for an overall lighter finish. Along with the saltiness, there's still the spice you get with most tobacco strains. It keeps everything interesting.
Le Labo Santal 33
Ah yes, the cult favorite with 33 ingredients, which includes tobacco. What they say is true: Wear this and prepare to be stopped on the street, at restaurants, in cabs—literally anywhere. Something about the Le Labo mix-up drives most of the population with a working olfactory sense wild. This is another good starter tobacco, mostly because there's so much going on here—you can almost selectively smell whatever you want. There's cardamom, there's leather, there's sandalwood. While it warrants inclusion on just about any Best of Perfume list, even Le Labo admits to being inspired by the Marlboro Man in making this scent, so there you have it.
CB I Hate Perfume #0451 Smokey Tobacco
Capitalizing on the vaguely sweet aura that cigars leave in dark, atmospheric libraries, this unisex fragrance is sugary without being cloying (the citrus notes help with that). It's also highly reliable—this is not one of those scents that changes on the person. (“Just wait 'til you try it—it'll smell different!”) It is what it is, and that's a nice change of pace when it comes to perfumery.
Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb
It's a grenade, but that's a good thing. Unlike the other picks here, this one doesn't so much bring to mind warm feels as it does icy coolness, but that's just the grapefruit and balsam fir talking. In reality, this scent is chick magnet—but maybe because they want to wear it.
Demeter This Is Not A Pipe
Only one of Demeter's many tobacco-infused offerings, we were drawn to this one because of the name (obviously). While it may not actually be a pipe (silly rabbit, it's a spray bottle), it literally smells like the inside of the pipe. Novel, but sort of a love-or-hate situation.
Tom Ford Tobacco Oud
With all the light and starter options here, there needed to be one heavy hitter. That heavy hitter is Tom Ford Tobacco Oud. Darker and more masculine than Tobacco Vanille, spray this perfume with caution. This shit is strong. And woody. And leathery. Just about everything stereotypically masculine that you would expect when you walk up to the counter and say you want to smell like a hand-rolled cigarillo.
And the best thing about all of these? No Surgeon General's warning necessary.
Photographed by Tom Newton.