Vintage Tabarome: A Creed we can all believe in?

First of all, this one has nothing to do with Tabarome Millesime, IMO, though if you read online reviews it appears that at least a few people have confused these two. In any case, I wanted to write about Vintage Tabarome for a few reasons. For those of you who don’t know, this one sells for outrageous prices, at least on ebay, so an obvious question is, does this warrant those prices, or even a quarter of those prices? If you don’t know, I’m not a huge fan of vintage Patou Pour Homme (I say vintage here because a new release/formulation of it is coming soon, and a small number of people have already been able to sample it). I think PPH is a solid vintage scent, but not one that justifies more than perhaps $30 per 50 ml, relative to what I’m used to paying for ones of similar quality.

Of course, I can’t tell you how to spend your money, if you can afford this one, but it does possess some qualities that are rare. For one thing, it’s quite dry, yet not harsh. There are plenty of recent wood-dominant scents that are dry and woody, yet harsh and unremitting. VT possesses a kind of particulate texture that softens it up without compromising the “structure,” which includes strong wood and tobacco notes. In a sense, it is on one end of the “synthetic” spectrum, with scents that come across as “chemical,” metallic, or “sticky”/blob-like on the other. This is not a rich scent, in that it’s not sweet or spicy, but as Ive found with some other scents, the quality of ingredients seem to generate a kind of subtle richness, so I’m guessing this perception is due to comparing it to considerably more synthetic scents.

One interesting question is, can you buy some essential oils and aroma chemicals if you want to create something very similar at perhaps one tenth the price? My one “experiment” was to buy tobacco absolute (which was very inexpensive; from Bulgaria) and mix it with some scents (ones with clear vanillic qualities) that smelled natural. The absolute was a thick black substance and difficult to work with, but I kept shaking the vials and eventually it seemed to be mixed well enough to apply. The tobacco element was quite interesting, but unexpected. It had more of an animalic, hay-like quality than what I think most people perceive as a tobacco note. I liked it but that element didn’t last very long, so I lost interest in it and put the vials aside. More than a year later, when I was rummaging around other samples, I detected a really nice odor (with soft but strong tobacco and no animalic or hay-like qualities) emanating from somewhere among the samples.

Eventually, I determined that it was coming from the samples I created with the tobacco absolute, and decided to try them again. So, I sampled it again and sure enough, it did change a bit, and it was more wearable. However, the tobacco type element still had limited longevity, but it was different, with a kind of candy-like quality and much less of an animalic one. Also interesting is that the composition seems crowded but it doesn’t smell like a synthetic “blob” either. And no, it doesn’t smell like VT, as it’s not as dry there’s no wood element, but it is a touch vanillic. However, if a niche company marketed it as “Tobacco Royale Imperiale” (or some other overblown appellation) at $200 for 50 ml, I would not be surprised! Of course, a reasonable claim is that since “time equals money,” many people would prefer to simply spend more on a niche scent, especially if they can sample it first and the cost doesn’t mean much to them. Moreover, there is concern about the scent being unwearable when all is said and done.

One question I have is why VT seems to be unique. I read that a hundred years or so ago there were tobacco scents marketed to me (can’t remember where I read it), and I wonder if they were anything like VT. It’s a rather simple, straightforward composition. Longevity isn’t especially good and projection (“sillage”) is unexceptional. It’s also not the kind of scent a non-aficionado would likely consider special, if he or she even liked it! I remember sampling a Lorenzo Villoresi scent a few years back, possibly Sandalo, that had similar qualities, but was harsh and unbalanced by comparison (it also didn’t have the mild tobacco note in VT). Another idea is vintage Worth Pour Homme, which may be thought of as the fougere version of VT. It’s got a leather note but no tobacco.

And this brings me to the idea of a niche scent on a basic level. With VT, it’s almost like the perfumer’s thought was, “I’m going to skip the distractions and get right to the ‘good stuff’ here.” Just enough amber is used to keep it from being bone dry and harsh, and like Green Irish Tweed, everything seems just right, despite the relative simplicity (for example, comparing GIT to Cool Water, which I view as needlessly complex/muddled compositionally). And while other niche companies seem to attempt such “economical” compositions, I haven’t experienced any other scents (niche or otherwise) that are as simple and enjoyable as these two. I wish I could say more about why there aren’t more scent like this marketed to the public, to my knowledge, but I’m not “in the know.” If any perfumer cares to comment about this, it would be appreciated !

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