Leather & Tobacco Week (May 11-15)

Once in about four years, I run my Leather & Tobacco Week. This is an advanced course, and therefore only select few students are eligible to apply for it. This course covers studying the raw materials, the history of the Leather and Tobacco perfume genre, as well as concepts such as perfume structure, how to blend an alcohol based perfume, how to write a formula, building leathery and tobacco accords, as well two representative formulas of each Leathery and Tobacco perfumes, both in an alcohol base. Feature workshop: Scenting leather The fee includes book, materials and supplies as well as tea and refreshments.
Dates: May 11-15, 2015.

Designed for students who want to excel in their studies of natural perfumery, this week-long intensive course runs Mon-Thu from 9:30am-4pm, and Friday from 9am-1:30pm and offers theoretical and practical guidance alongside hands-on lab exercises and experiments. Friday is dedicated for feedback, summary and one-on-one sessions with Ayala for each participant.

Please note: This course is suitable only for advanced students who have completed 3 courses or more with Ayala Moriel Parfums. Prerequisites: must have completed successfully the Chypre, Fougere and Oriental week-long courses. Working perfumers may also apply to this course by sending a CV, cover letter and a sample of one perfume which they consider to be the best representative of their skill and style.

How 2 Make Perfume

How to make perfume? 
My niece's nightgown teaches us to use the following ingrnedients: Petals, water, and a the magic ingredient - little bit of glitter...
Alternatively, you can sign up for my Citrus Week (May 4-8) and learn the ins and outs of the craft and the trade. Advanced students are also qualified to attend the Leather & Tobacco Week (May 11-15)
Registration is now open. Email me with your CV and a coverletter, and arrange for a phone/Skype interview. There are only limited spaces in each (6 students maximum). 

Feuilles de Tabac - Review + Weekly Giveaway

Feuilles de Tabac is one of those strange scents that I love yet have a difficult time writing about. I’ve been smitten with it ever since I came across it, sometime in 2003 after meeting with a perfumista client who kindly bombarded me with tens of samples from European niche perfumeries. I immediately fell for it, and when the vial ran out, begged my friend who lived in London to get out of her merry ways and fetch me a bottle.

Whatever it was that caught me in the Feuilles de Tabac trap, I can’t describe. It was the sense of familiarity in it that was intriguing to me. Something that happened to me before with Habanita (which reminded me of my grandfather’s Old Spice). But Feuilles de Tabac had something else, and was certainly more dry at first, and later on became sweeter, though not nearly as sweet as Old Spice.

Feuilles de Tabac dances between astringent and woody finesse and rustic herbal medicine.

The opening is dry, a little medicinal even, with the cascarilla bark dominating. Cascarilla is a bark used for flavouring tobacco, and has a scent that is both woody, musky and a little spicy-warm. There are also citrus and coniferous notes, though no particular one stands out, and allspice (pimento), a spice that has a dry-woody character. The other important note is sage, which is bitter and astringent at first, and than becomes velvety and warm, especially with the slight touch of rose at the heart.

Dry tobacco and vetiver peak in, but quickly, Feuilles de Tabac is cured into a very warm and sweet concoction, similar to pipe tobacco, with the tonka bean giving it a significant soft sweetness, as well as an amber accord with a muted labdanum. Only patchouli saves it from becoming powdery, adding a bold, animalic undertone and depth.

Feuilles de Tabac exudes such confidence that wearing it is akin to gulping some bravery potion, or just having a courageous powerful man on your side (unless you happen to be one).

It's interesting to compare sometimes notes from time past with the current impression of the same scent. In 2005, I described it as follows: "What starts as a medicinal, somewhat harsh drink – reminiscent of Absinthe – extremely masculine and sharp-edged – dries down to a seductive earthy sweetness. Warm, enveloping and sophisticated, Feuilles de Tabac is the emblem of what leathery-tobacco scents should be: Daring, sensitive, and seductive in a reassuring confident manner". Cascarilla has a certain liquor-like aroma to it; and sage is very similar to artemisia (absinthe). Perhaps this is where the courage comes from...

Top notes: Citrus notes, Coniferous notes, Cascarilla, Allspice
Heart notes: Sage, Rose, Vetiver
Base notes: Tobacco, Tonka Bean, Patchouli, Amber

*Weekly giveaway: Post a comment and win a 5ml decant of Feuilles de Tabac.*

Decoding Obscure Notes Part VIII-C: Perfuming Tobacco and Tobacco in Fragrance

curing tobacco, originally uploaded by bunky's pickle.

Here we further explore the relationship between perfume and smoke...

Perfuming Tobacco
Once the tobacco has been cured, many types of tobacco undergoes further processing by adding a scent. In some the perfume is more distinct than other, such as in cigars and pipe tobacco. Once the leaves have completed fermentation and curing and prizing, the may be sprayed with an appropriate perfume for their final use. There are different tobacco perfumes for cigars, cigarettes loose-leaf tobacco, snuff, shag, etc.

Some of the essences most popular for use in tobacco perfume are: vanilla, tonka bean tincture (as well as coumarin), vanilla (most popular in cigar perfumes), cedarwood, rose otto, sandalwood, patchouli, cascarilla, geranium, orris tincture, citrus oils, and even expensive flower oils such as orange blossom, tuberose and jasmie (in Turkish and Egyptian cigarettes), spices (such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) and spirits such as brandy.

In Middle Eastern tobacco for narguilla (aka shisha or hooka), tobacco is sweetened with molasses, honey and dried fruit and blended with flavours such as rose, mint, apple and other fruit.

The Scent of Tobacco
Tobacco absolute is solvent extracted from the cured tobacco leaves. Only a very small portion of the tobacco produced is extracted for perfumery uses though. The absolute is a thick dark brown (almost black) semi-solid mass which discolours perfume into a dark brownish green (posing a disadvantage right there and than to the perfumer). An incolour absolute is also available, reducing that disavtange to some extent. The scent of this absolute varies depending on the quality of the tobacco leaves extracted. Some can be more flat, dry and woody, with a certain tannin-like quality, reminiscent of black tea and mate absolute and with musky undertones. Other can be fuller, more animalic and rounded, with more body and nearly chocolate-like richness. Although potent and long lasting, tobacco is a scent that can easily get “lost” in a composition, and in a sense – less is more. It really needs to be diluted down to be fully appreciated as a raw material; and needs to be used in a small quantity with complementary essences in order to truly shine.

Perfumery Uses for Tobacco Absolute
Tobacco is obviously a key component in the tobacco and leathery families. With its tannin quality, it makes a perfect base for leathery scent, along with castoreum or hyraceum tinctures, and cade oil or birch tar. And of course for the tobacco families – all one needs to do is take sufficient amount of tobacco and tobacco-like essences and pair them with the essences used to flavour tobacco to create the impression of your choice (see above). Depending on what you choose, it will smell more like pipe tobacco, cigar, cigarette, etc.

But the uses for tobacco do not end at the leather and tobacco families. Tobacco is a beautiful and versatie material in masculine fragrances, from the woodsy type in particular. It blends beautifully with all woods – vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood, cedarwood, juniper etc. And it adds a polished, sophisticated feel to what otherwise would have been plain citrusy colognes. Tobacco works beautifully with florals, especially rose and orange blossom. And in the citrusy or fresh context, orange blossom, lime and tobacco are a match made in heaven.

Some tobacco perfume worth mentioning (and experiencing!) are:

Feuilles de Tabac
Tabac Blond
Field Notes from Paris
Ava Luxe’s Film Noir
Guerlain’s Vetiver and Heritage
Jasmine et Cigarette

If you missed the previous article about tobacco, click here and here.
Next in our tobacco series: case studies of using tobacco leaf absolute in natural perfumes.
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