POSTED BY MARK BEHNKE, Cafleurebon
Christi Meshell of House of Matriarch has released a new scent with the help of a Facebook friend, aligning stars and her own spiritual voice telling her to remember and celebrate the sacred nature of tobacco. Sacre Tabac “Sucre” is the result. Always having loved the scent of tobacco in all its forms, the perfumer read of a young man on Facebook who was looking desperately for a perfume that smelled like his father’s hookah tobacco. Being in Sweden and quite homesick for the scents of his homeland, Christi‘s heart went out to this young man as she felt “something” stir her to do something she has never done: freely offer to make someone a bespoke fragrance!
One of the things many of us do not know about tobacco is that it was always used sacredly and ceremonially by the Native Americans. Indigenous to the New World only and usually blended with sage and sweet grass, it was used to open one to the Great Spirit, to offer thanks and to celebrate new friendships. It was not until the plant was introduced to the European explorers that it was taken and overused overindulged in and made into the number one killer in the world. Anything taken to the extreme will become its opposite. This sacred and life-affirming herb once used reverently in moderation is now looked down upon by many as evil and deadly; when, in truth, it is just another gift from the Earth for us to use responsibly as medicine and for ritual. Hopefully the joyful nature of Sacre Tabac and the natural essences of the sacred leaves it contains will help us all to remember.
This perfume is just the first in a line of perfumes that will celebrate tobacco in all its forms and beauty. This is a wonderful place to start. The ideal was to reproduce the “starbuzz double apple” shisa blend in a fragrance. It was a sweet warm scent with the sour punch of green apple and hints of spices that resulted in clouds of warm and resinous smoke. Needless to say, the young man loves his perfume and, now that he has it, the House of Matriarch has made it available to everyone.
Available only in parfum extrait strength, Sacre Tabac Sucre is bottled with a lovely ornate label that reflects the style and flourish of the Middle Eastern areas that inspired it. This perfume billows from the skin with an aroma that is thick, sweet and full. Unlike many tobacco scents, this opens rather boozy, rich and full due to the addition of naturally derived wine ether and heady davana. Swirled into the sweet and tart green and red apples that flavor this particular blend is a high quality star anise. This adds a warm and woody spiciness to the mix as opposed to the usually drier powdery more synthetic forms of anise in perfumery. The warm spices remain throughout wearing this and curl around you along with a specially designed accord that adds the human factor into the realization of this special scent memory.
Many of us know the sweeter softer side of tobacco. The scent of the drying curing leaves is rather dank and earthy. Here the perfumer has smoothed the rougher edges with a bevy of beautiful notes. Violet leaves add a fresher greener edge and ylang ylang adds just a kiss of warm floral energy to the tobacco making it smell both more expensive and quite tasty. Copious amounts of sweet Tahitian vanilla were used along with an actual caramel accord made by the perfumer and dark molasses, which augments the spiciness of the whole blend. This thickens the sweetness also, without being nauseating or toothache-inducing.
All this dovetails perfectly with the unique and phenomenal dry down of costus root, sassafras and just a drop of oud wood. The last ingredient was added mainly because many Middle Eastern hookah dens usually burn some form of oud wood chips or incense. That tiny amount of smoky slightly medicinal woodiness gives a smoke-kissed finale to the tobacco, vanilla and spiced apples, making it linger and echoing the sacred smoke of the hookah and the end of its sacred journey as it rises to the heavens.
I have many tobacco-based scents, as I am sure many of you do also. Sacre Tabac Sucre is extremely well-crafted. It is obvious, at first sniff, that it was created with a lot of love. Those who like sweeter earthier spiced scents will adore this, as I do. This captures the experience (as much as I can osmgaine it) of opening the tobacco, loading it, lighting it while puffing it and captures not only the tobacco, but the warmth and sacred nature it once had, and still has in some countries. I look forward with much anticipation to the release of the next Tabac perfume sometime early next year. Sillage: very good. Longevity: all day.
-John Reasinger, Senior Editor