Fall has fallen upon us in New England, but the last couple of days have brought the warmer temperatures back and I’ve been clinging on to them by keeping my window open, inhaling the scent of faded mulch and moisture on the pavement, listening to the chorus of crickets—a sound I always find so peaceful and reassuring, and which I miss during the winter. I wish we had the kind of large windows that open all the way, like they have in some places in Europe… alas, mosquitoes and safety regulations mean that we can’t fully enjoy the outside without going outside.
The changing of the seasons always makes me nostalgic somehow. Especially the shift from summer to autumn, which probably is linked to memories of starting school again—a new chapter in a life story written around friends. Possibility and potential wafted in the air.
Now, as a worker bee, the days all run into each other, and my friends live far away. Yet, the reflexive habit of anticipating change remains intact.
Last year, I was fortunate to be able to see several of my friends, including my oldest friend with whom I’m still in contact. On this occasion, we met up in London. It was about 6 months into my perfume journey, and we hadn’t seen each other since a few years before that, but somehow with her attentiveness she figured out that I liked certain tobacco fragrances and kindly gifted me a bottle of Molton Brown Tobacco Absolute. I was thrilled, and she was relieved, because as she told me, the sales associate seemed skeptical when my friend (who doesn’t wear perfume) asked her whether a woman would like this fragrance. “Well… some women might like it,” was the reply.
I probably excitedly gave her the schpiel about “men’s” and “women’s” perfumes being marketing nonsense and all perfumes being for whomever likes them, and then excitedly moved on to other topics, before both of us being entertained watching her other half demonstrate to my other half the “proper” way to eat Peking duck. Our friend who completes our decades-long “trio” was with us as well—it was a lovely evening indeed.
I waited until I had gotten back to the United States to unbox and try Tobacco Absolute. At first I thought it transported me into a library filled with old books, and that made me smile. I wore it on a walk on a relatively hot day during the summer, and soon it started smelling a bit sweaty. After wearing it on cooler days, and getting to know it a little better, it’s grown on me. I’ve had some trouble finding the words to describe it, because my nose can’t pick out the individual notes, but I can use a musical analogy (as a non-musician)—it stays in a higher octave the entire time. This is counterintuitive to what I would expect from a tobacco perfume—it’s the opposite of the dark, rich, narcotic scent of its corresponding raw material. Instead, it’s bright, fresh, like a modern-art interpretation of a classic theme.
In the top notes, after the initial burst of “masculine” freshness, I could swear I smell ginger. Lots of ginger.
Ginger is not listed at all. Instead, it’s elemi, bergamot, and grapefruit. I can convince myself of the elemi, but it’s been raised to a higher pitch.
In the middle: cedar, nutmeg, and palisander rosewood are listed. The nutmeg must be strong at the top, as well. The woods are fine and polished. The brand’s website emphasizes the cedarwood, which I find diffusing outward from the core of the structure.
At the base: tobacco, leather, and Peru balsam. I get the tobacco and leather in a faint impression, as though they are still covered in layers of sheer, shimmering, cool spiciness. I can’t detect Peru balsam on its own, but it’s a note that blends well with these others.
To me, Tobacco Absolute is a sunny fragrance—a spicy-citrus-leather with hints of tobacco, not the other way around.
It’ll be good company for the transition to autumn.