Tabacco d’Autore is an homage to the complexity of tobacco from an ancient Italian house known for its rich, intense soliflores. It’s a new fragrance that explores tobacco’s many innate facets through a dark landscape that is embellished with dry woods, spicy patchouli, smoke, amber, and artemisia’s dual sides of bitter herbal greenness and oud-ish woodiness.
Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561 (hereinafter simply called “Farmacia SS Annunziata” or “Farmacia”) is an Italian house whose history goes back centuries. It’s a completely unpretentious, good quality, moderately priced brand whose fragrances are often more like extraits in their concentration, and they typically focus on one main note whose every characteristic or feature is then explored in great depth. I’ve never really understood why the brand gets so little attention; some of its soliflores are impressively hardcore treatments of their subject (like Patchouly Indonesiano), richly beautiful (like the gorgeous Ambra Nera), or just very easy-to-wear, versatile fragrances. The new Tabacco d’Autore very much bears the Farmacia SS Annunziata aesthetic. It may not my personal cup of tea, for reasons I’ll explain shortly, but, like every Farmacia soliflore, it takes the main note and runs with it.
Tabacco d’Autore is a concentrated eau de parfum that appears to have been released around April of this year, although it’s not very widely available even now. Its official description follows the Farmacia’s driving principle of straightforward, streamlined simplicity; there are no elaborate or gothic stories, no marketing hyperbole or fuss, just the basics:
A bitter and dry scent. A noble fragrance, a ritual of sweet lifestyle. Leisure time, a perception of serenity and tranquillity.
Top notes: BERGAMOT, ARTEMISIA [wormwood], FLOUVE, LABDAN CISTUS [labdanum];
Heart notes: TOBACCO, LEATHER;
Base notes: PATCHOULY, CASHMERAN, VIRGINIA CEDAR WOOD, GUAYACAN WOOD, AMBER, MUSK.
Tabacco d’Autore opens on my skin with dry tobacco layered with woody, spicy patchouli and dry woods in a warm, ambered cocoon. The titular note is very dark but it also has something almost like a green floralcy to it, like tobacco flowers that are slowly unfurling and are still a bit youthfully green. Yet, at the same time, there are the dry, musky, gingerbread qualities of the sweetened leaves drying in the sun, reminding me of the drydown of La Via del Profumo‘s beautiful Tabac, a scent which got a Five Star rating from Luca Turin.
Other elements are just as noticeable in the opening minutes. In the base is the dark earthiness of flouve, imbued with the faint suggestion of dried grasses. For those of you unfamiliar with flouve, it is a complex note that can smell like hay, grass, earth, and much more. According to Hermitage Oils, the essential oil version smells “dry, buttery sweet, vegetative, with a raw, earthy vetivert and cola nuance,” and is often used in conjunction with chamomile, galbanum, artemisia, and other green materials to create chypres or fougères. Here, in Tabacco d’Autore, it smells like damp, loamy soil with dried grassy greenness. Growing out of that soil is brown patchouli that skews very woody and a little bit spicy, accompanied by woods that bear twinges of amber-woody aromachemicals. The backdrop to all this is filled with an ambered haze that fluctuates between being airy and amorphous, and being chewy like toffee’d labdanum.
Additional nuances or undertones quickly appear. The first hints of artemisia (or wormwood) pop up after 10 minutes, initially smelling of bitter dried herbs, then slowly taking on the oud-ish quality so typical of the note. Artemisia is a plant used in vermouth and absinthe, the latter known as “The Green Fairy,” a hallucinogenic and psychotropic hard alcohol beloved by 19th century artists like Toulouse-Lautrec and later banned in many parts of the world. If you’re unfamiliar with artemisia, it might help you to place its aroma by thinking of Amouage’s Fate Man, Aramis, and Unum’s Rosa Nigra, three fragrances where the wormwood was extremely prominent.
It’s one more layer of the very dry, wood-centric interpretation of tobacco that ends up being Tabacco d’Autore main profile. It’s helped by a quiet smokiness that follows the artemisia 10 minutes later, and the twinges of the amber-woody aromachemical odor that begin to grow stronger. Together, they cut through some of the tobacco’s quiet floralcy and gingerbread qualities, as well as the warmth and sweetness of the patchouli and amber. In essence, Tabacco d’Autore features two competing strains in its first 15 to 25 minutes where the dryness of the chemical, synthetic, and natural woody accords is juxtaposed next to warmer, sweeter, earthier, and spicier elements like the tobacco, patchouli, and amber.
I’m not keen on overly arid or aromachemical notes, but Tabacco d’Autore is actually quite nice from a distance. There, it is purely dark, rich tobacco with spicy patchouli and dry woods enveloped in an ambered haze that hints at labdanum. Up close, you can see how the main trio is threaded by the smoke, earth, and bitter herbal grasses, but they are subtle elements that aren’t immediately apparent when smelling the fragrance in the scent trail.
Tabacco d’Autore changes as the first hour draws to a close. The tobacco loses all its sweetness, gingerbread, and floral qualities, steadily turning drier, woodier, and darker. At the same time, the artemisia surges forward to become one of the main notes, its bitter, leafy greenness and oud-like woodiness weaving around the tobacco, patchouli, dark woods, and amber-woody aromachemicals.
At the start of the 3rd hour, everything seems to have fused into one, becoming a blur of woody, dry tobacco with bitter, herbal, green-laced woodiness and patchouli spiciness. At times, the balance of notes skews almost more to the woody side than to the tobacco, but it’s a constant tug-of-war between the two forces. The main thing throughout it all is dark dryness, too much so for my personal tastes. It’s also too aromachemical for me, and Tabacco d’Autore sometimes gives me a headache whenever I smell my arm up close for too long. That said, I’m far more sensitive to arid and woody synthetics than the average person, so keep that in mind.
As a soliflore devoted to showcasing one note, Tabacco d’Autore is quite a linear scent and doesn’t change substantially except for the order and prominence of its individual parts. There is nothing wrong with linearity if you like the notes in question, but I confess I was relieved when Tabacco d’Autore shifted gears about 5.5 hours in and its parts reassembled themselves into something less dry, dark, and wood-centric. In essence, the fragrance goes back to emphasizing tobacco infused with rich, spicy patchouli as its main accord. Even better, the amber backdrop is finally coming into focus, solidifying, and reaching center stage with a strong wave of warmth and golden sweetness that ends the reign of the artemisia and dry woods. Those notes sink into the base where they join a new tarry leatheriness that is redolent of smoky birch tar.
As a whole, Tabacco d’Autore is now an indivisible tobacco-patchouli accord above a base of blackened, smoky leather, laced with slightly leafy, bitter artemisia and dry woods, all enveloped in a dark, lightly sweetened labdanum amber warmth. It’s a robust bouquet up close, but so quiet that it glazes the skin. None of it is particularly unique or distinctive. However, it is a very solid, appealing tobacco scent with a nice mix of dry, sweet, spicy, dark, and smoky parts.
Tabacco d’Autore’s development from the start of the 6th hour onwards is essentially a constant tug-of-war between its warmer and woodier sides, with the tobacco as the prize in the center. The smoky, birch tar leather in the base waxes and wanes, but it’s never a major part of the scent. Neither is the amber really. It works indirectly to provide a counterbalance to the woody and smoky elements, to keep them in check, but it is never a solid, clearly delineated, powerful presence in its own right on my skin. The patchouli is far more significant, but even that loses sway to the woods which fight to regain the lead once more.
By the time the 9th hour rolls around, they make a comeback, wrapping themselves around the dry, dark tobacco, leaving the patchouli as a quiet touch on the sidelines, and silencing the amber. At the start of the 11th hour, Tabacco d’Autore is simply a woody tobacco that eventually fades into a wisp of dark dryness.
Tabacco d’Autore had excellent longevity, soft projection, and initially strong sillage that slowly turned moderate. Using several smears equal to 2 sprays from an actual bottle, the fragrance opened with about 2 to 3 inches of projection, and about 3 inches of scent trail that soon expanded to half an arm’s length. After 45 minutes, the sillage dropped to about 4 to 5 inches. The projection lessened to about 1.5 inches after 90 minutes, then hovered just above the skin at the 3-hour mark, though the fragrance was strong up close and not a skin scent by any means. Tabacco d’Autore only become a skin scent after 7 hours, but it was still easily detectable without any effort when I brought my nose to my arm until the 11th hour. In total, the fragrance lasted just under 16.5 hours. All the Farmacia fragrances have stellar longevity on my skin, so I expected that, but Tabacco d’Autore had greater sillage than some of the others that I have tried, like the intimate Vaniglia del Madagascar. For those of you familiar with the Patchouly Indonesiano, I’d say Tabacco d’Autore is very close but its sillage is a hair stronger, even if the scent itself is never as dense, chewy, or heavy. I think Tabacco d’Autore also has greater sillage than Ambra Nera.
I haven’t found any reviews or discussion of Tabacco d’Autore to share with you. The fragrance is not listed on Fragrantica at the time of this review, though you can check their Farmacia SS Annunziata section later to see if it’s been added. It has an entry page on Basenotes, but no comments or reviews. A Basenotes discussion thread from March mentions the fragrance’s release and notes, but no-one had tried it. There are no blog reviews at all. So, you’re stuck with me for now.
Tabacco d’Autore wasn’t my personal cup of tea, but I think it’s a solid fragrance with some nice parts. There are different ways of presenting tobacco, and I prefer a much warmer, sweeter sort rather than the dry, woody variety featured here. For me, the darkly ambered, spicy, smoky, almost opium-like tobacco showcased in the addictive Ambre Loup (my favorite fragrance of the year) is hard to beat. I also really appreciate the spiced, dry, gingerbread, very authentic, Carolina tobacco plantation sort in Tabac. And I was recently blown away by the scent of fragrant, unlit Cohiba cigars drenched in rum and cognac over leather in David Jourquin‘s Cuir Altesse which will be the next review. But woody, dry, slightly bitter tobacco? That’s not my thing, even if it does come with a lovely heaping of spicy patchouli. Plus, I wasn’t keen on the aromachemical parts or the manner in which they accentuated the fragrance’s dryness. In fairness, I am more sensitive than most to synthetics, and dryness was Farmacia SS Annunziata’s explicit and intentional goal, so I can’t and I won’t fault them for that.
In short, this is a very particular sort of tobacco fragrance, one with a deliberately dry, woody profile, and it may well suit a lot of people whose prefer this type of scent to the over-done, common stylings of sweet, fruity, boozy, pipe tobacco in things like Tom Ford‘s Tobacco Vanille or Phaedon‘s Tabac Rouge. Woody tobacco fragrances aren’t a dime a dozen, so there is a definite place for Tabacco d’Autore and it may well appeal to someone who is looking for a change. Is it the most complex, twisting, or distinctive fragrance? No, but that is not Farmacia SS Annunziata’s goal or aesthetic. They create straightforward soliflores that are rich, often intensely bold, versatile, and easy to wear.
It’s worth mentioning Tabacco d’Autore’s size and price as well. The fragrance is most commonly available in a 100 ml bottle for around €95 or $140, though some retailers go a little higher and the fragrance will probably cost $160 when it hits Luckyscent. For me, the Farmacia’s 100 ml sizing is one of the company’s few drawbacks. Their fragrances are so intensely concentrated that I can’t imagine ever going through a full bottle. I wish they had smaller sizes and, in fact, a 30 ml bottle seems to be a brand new option but it is only available in 2 places that I’ve found, and both are in Italy. Still, €95/$140 is a very good deal for 100 ml of something that is essentially a pure parfum if you are looking for a dry, woody tobacco with a versatile character and great longevity. Plus, Tabacco d’Autore can be sampled via British, European, and American sites, so you can test it first to see if 100 mls would suit you.
In terms of general availability, Tabacco d’Autore has been out in Europe since the end of March or beginning of April, but it’s very difficult to find in North America. Luckyscent is one of Farmacia SS Annunziata’s main retailers and I’ve spoken to them about the scent, but they don’t know when they’ll get it. OsswaldNYC recently began carrying the line, but they don’t have Tabacco d’Autore, either. However, I did find one American and Canadian site that sells the fragrance (and for a lower price than Luckyscent usually charges for the brand), so it’s not completely inaccessible.
In short, if you’re looking for a dark, dry tobacco fragrance that has woody, spicy, green, herbal, smoky, leathery, and ambered facets, you should give Tabacco d’Autore a try.