One of my friends from basenotes.net once commented in a discussion about tobacco fragrances, "Compared to Acqua di Cuba, other tobacco fragrances merely hint at tobacco". He was right. When it comes to a pure, unadulterated tobacco scent, Acqua di Cuba is the benchmark.
Before I started wearing AdC, tobacco was one of the most difficult smells for me to identify in a perfume. That's because in most perfumes the tobacco is embellished or simply flattened by the weight of heavy, spicy, aromatic notes like cedar, leather, patchouli, anise, pepper or amber. All that extra flab can obscure the tobacco in a scent.
In AdC, nothing hides the smooth, beautiful golden scent of tobacco leaf. There are other things blended in there like honey and leather, but they support and enhance the tobacco smell, rather than suppress it. The tobacco here smells silky and wet. It is not smoky or dark smelling, but rather clean, rich and warm. This is not the smell of pipe tobacco - this is the smell of tobacco leaves without any additives or flavorings. As for balance, a quality I treasure in a great perfume, do I really need to go into detail about how perfectly blended this fragrance is? I didn't think so.
If you're accustomed to strong aromatic tobacco perfumes like Feuilles de Tabac (Miller Harris) or Cigar (Remy Latour), you might sniff AdC and not even recognize it as a tobacco fragrance. I know I didn't when I first tried it. I didn't realize until a couple of wearings of AdC that what I had previously considered to be a tobacco note was not that at all, but rather all the other notes used to embellish it, like cedar and patchouli. On the other hand, AdC has helped me to be able to pick out the tobacco note in other fragrances. For example, I can now distinguish the tobacco notes very clearly in drydowns of perfumes like Feuilles de Tabac and Tabac Aurea.
Aqua di Cuba is expensive, yet it represents outstanding value for your dollar. Even though a 100 ml. bottle costs $120 US, a little bit truly does go a long way. This fragrance is very strong and long lasting, and deceptively so, since it smells so smooth. Whether or not you apply five drops or 25 drops will make no difference in your ability to smell it on yourself, so don't waste it. Trust me, I've tried that experiment, and less is definitely more with Acqua di Cuba. Seriously, I simply splash five little drops into my palm, slap it on my neck and wrists, and I can smell this all day. I can't imagine actually using the screw-on atomizer that comes with the bottle. This will remain a splash bottle for me. Considering how much bang you get for your buck with this, my 100 ml. bottle should last me the rest of my life.
Acqua di Cuba is not only the most hardcore representation of tobacco in a perfume. It's also the best tobacco perfume money can buy. I give it a perfect score without reservation.
MY RATING: 10/10
Fragrance House: Santa Maria Novella