In My Grandfather’s Den – Review: Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea

I have an ambivalent relationship with the tobacco note.

Real tobacco makes me sick. My grandfather used to smoke a lot, cigarettes as well as a pipe. I loved him dearly and miss him to this day, but the aura of smoke that permanently surrounded him, was always something I did not like.  I tried to get him to stop smoking for as long as I can remember. He never did. He died of lung cancer at only 62 years old, the summer I was 12.

Tabac Aurea includes notes of cedar, sandalwood, tobacco, leather, vetiver, patchouli, clove, labdanum absolute, tonka bean, amber, vanilla and musk. Released in 2009.

Tabac Aurea opens with leather and smoky wood, before slowly but surely sailing into a warm and sweet vanilla-tinged amber accord. Over it all lies the blond (golden = aurea, lat.) tobacco, sweet and reminiscent of hay and horses, though men and Marlboros.

Tabac Aurea begs to be compared to other tobacco scents like By Kilian Back To Black or Serge Lutens Chergui, although for me the tobacco note is most prominent here.

The smell of tobacco is closely linked to my grandfather in my memories. When I smelled Tabac Aurea for the first time, I was instantly transported back to my grandparent’s kitchen, where he always sat and smoked up a storm, while painting. He was an artist, never professionally, but he had passion and talent too.

Jackson Pollock

Tabac Aurea opens a window in my mind down the years: leather, tobacco, smoke, and underneath it all lies sweetness.

A perfect olfactory portrait of my beloved Opa.

Other SSS reviews: To Dream :: Champagne de Bois

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33 Responses to In My Grandfather’s Den – Review: Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea

  1. Undina says:

    For me most tobacco perfumes aren’t associated with the smoking or the scent of the burning tobacco leaves (I strongly dislike that smell) but rather with the material itself in its original, not touched by fire form which I always enjoyed.
    Sweetness on Tabac Aurea is probably of the type that I smell less than other people do (remember – Satal 33 smells sweet to yoo and it’s a completely dry scent for my nose?), but other than that my impressions from Tabac Aurea is similar to yours.
    Thank you for sharing your memories.

  2. masha7 says:

    My Opa smoked a pipe with sweet tobacco at his ranch, and until recently I made my own room spray (for the library) with a litttle blond tobacco absolute and some spices and vanilla. But it’s impossible to find blond tobacco absolute, now, as it’s quite toxic on its own, apparently. I’ve tried a few synthetics but they’re not very good. I may have to buy a bottle of Laurie’s wonderful brew!

  3. masha7 says:

    PS: I’m so sorry your Opa died so young, Birgit, mine did, too.

  4. Tara says:

    That’s such a tragic and touching tale about your dear Opa, B. At least Tabac Aurea brings back the sweet, happy memories you have of him.

  5. vanessa says:

    Lovely story – glad you have this olfactory link with your late Opa! I barely remember my own Opa-equivalent, as I was about 6 when he died – he, however, was a great age(!), and also smoked a pipe, and wore a hat indoors to prevent him bumping his head on lintels (that word again… : – ) ).

    I haven’t tried this particular SSS scent and don’t go out of my way to try tobacco scents, to be honest. I do like Chergui, though, which is unexpected.

  6. deeHowe says:

    Tabac Aurea is a favorite of mine: to me it smells of hayfields, hot summer sun, and sexy cowboys. Or at least the idealized version of how a sexy cowboy would smell, lol! It’s also very sweet to me–my favorite sweet musk note–and I get no smoke from it at all.

    I love that TA transports you back to your grandfather’s den; even if you didn’t get enough time with him, he gets to live forever in your memories 🙂

  7. This is a very lovely story and I’m sorry that your Grandpa died so young.

    Like you I can take or leave tobacco in a fragrance but a chance encounter with a small free bottle of Tabac Aurea changed my mind, it really is a lovely perfume, and it has a bit of a gourmand touch to it which is of course right up my street.

  8. Thank you for sharing about your grandfather, Birgit. My maternal grandfather and several uncles smoked cigarettes. I get along with pipes better and often wish they would smoke pipes instead, but anyway. . .

    I have loved every tobacco-dominant fragrance I have smelled. From Tabac Original to Ralph Lauren Polo and everything in between, it is a favorite note of mine.

  9. anotherperfumeblog says:

    Thank you for sharing these bittersweet memories of your grandfather. Tabac Aurea is one I have not really explored very much, but I love scents with a hint (or sometimes more) of tobacco in them. So this may be a winner for me or it may be too much for my personal taste. Either way, I’m sure it will be an interesting scented adventure!

  10. JoanElaine says:

    Wonderful post, B. My late grandfather (also lung cancer) smoked a pipe for years and I hated the smell. It wasn’t until this past summer, when the scent just wafted out of nowhere at an antique store that I discovered it’s richness and beauty.
    However, I prefer the note (especially if it’s a pronounced “cherry vanilla” tobacco) blended well with other notes. I really enjoy Tabac Aurea because it doesn’t hit me over the head with a pipe.

  11. Laurie E says:

    Hi Birgit! Thanks so much for your review of Tabac Aurea! We lost my grandfather at too young an age to cancer too, so I can relate to your loss. My grandpa didn’t smoke, but he was a wood carver so I associate wood chip smells with him. He made really neat carvings of people, and he made a horse carving for me when I was a kid. It’s amazing how certain scents will put you right back in a time or place or with a person from the past. 🙂

  12. My mother is currently battling stage IV lung cancer, she never smoked a day in her life! One of the annoying questions people ask is “did she smoke?” like she deserved it if she did. The stigma to smoking and lung cancer is hard to shake off which is probably why it has the least research funding as other cancers despite it being the #1 cancer killer. Anyways just had to throw it out there. Anyone can get lung cancer not just smokers. (November happens to be Lung Cancer Awareness Month which not many people are aware of.)

    Your memory of our grandfather is lovely and it’s a plus that you have that memory in a bottle. Your review makes me want to rush out and try Tabac Aurea. I love tobacco notes. My favorite at the moment is Miel et Sauvage by an indie perfumer. The tobacco is center stage and it’s a bright one, there’s a bit of a tang and sweetness. It’s sharp, clean, and dry with not hint of smoke at all. A cross between dry tobacco leaves and the tobacco flower. It’s lovely!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hi olfactoryobsessed,
      I’m very sorry to hear about your Mom’s illness. It is of course true that not only smokers get lung cancer, I’m sure it is hard having to battle an underlaying accusation of guiltiness in addition to all the stress and aggravation such an illness brings.
      I used to work with cancer patients with oral and facial tumors, something also statistically more often found in smokers and drinkers, so I’m aware that there are many patients who suffer from being stigmatized, simply because they were unfortunate enough to become a victim of that type of cancer.
      I wish you and your Mom all the best.

      Let me know what you think of Tabac Aurea, should you try it!
      Miel et Sauvage sounds lovely indeed, who is the perfumer or the brand who makes it?

  13. civava says:

    I like to smel cigars, cigarillos and cigarettes in box, just not when they burn.

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