My older brother is the most inconsistent fragrance user I've ever met. Wearing a roaring powerhouse in the morning and a syrupy bubblegummy squealer in the evening is something he finds perfectly normal and no contradicting at all. Thus, I was rather surprised the other day by smelling something quite intriguing and unusual on him. Something I didn't recognise and didn't have a clue about what it might be.
So I asked him: "What's this strange juice you're wearing bro?"
He replied: "Are you kidding me? It's Tabac for chrissakes!"
I took me less than a second to tell him: "This ain't Tabac!"
If any of you remembers an old Jim Beam commercial where Kevin Sorbo (before messing with Greek mythology) stepped into a bar in the middle of nowhere and asked for a shot of the said bourbon, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
What my brother was wearing was an exceptional masculine fragrance, but definitely not Tabac. It carried a very vibrant coriander note, which was peculiar to say the least since Tabac doesn't contain any. But since I dig coriander, I gave it two thumbs up and continued pestering him about having been cheated by bying a knockoff. However, the fact that the stuff was so good is one thing and pretending it was Tabac is another.
For some strange reason, the idea that Tabac might have been reformulated beyond recognition didn't cross my mind. So, in case it was some sort of misconception created by some strange happenstance, next morning I paid a visit to the family owned cosmetics shop where I usually delve for holy relics and asked if they had a Tabac sample. They did. But having just returned from a partial sweeping of their stockroom, they had also unearthed a 50ml splash bottle with "Made in West Germany" printed on its box. For people who dont't dig History or are simply too young to know what this means, it means the bottle predated 1990. Needless to say it landed in my bag in a heartbeat and, what's more, for a song. Paying a tribute to German perfumery, I kept happily whistling "Schwarzbraun ist die Haselnuss" all the way home.
Now, I parted ways with Tabac some time in the mid 90's, cause I (stupidly) thought it was time for me to move on and leave my coming of age scents behind. I've done the same thing with quite a few fragrances, and although we have become best buddies with most of them again, I'll never stop feel ashamed for that idiotic and traitorous decision of mine. All the more that some of them can't be found anymore for less than a fortnight's paycheck.
After a thorough wrist by wrist comparison, my initial take of the current Tabac version proved to be no wrong at all. It's a different fragrance. A very good one, but standing no chance to occupy a place in the front row of the shelf right under the "legendary" label where Tabac has been for so many years. The funny thing is that despite being a far cry from vintage Tabac, it's also a far cry from nearly everything else in the market today. An one of a kind reformulation of an one of a kind benchmark scent. And this deserves some credit, if nothing else. On the other hand (literally), vintage Tabac was exactly as I remembered it. Moving, comforting and spectacular. And I was more than happy for reintroducing ourselves anew.
I can't understand why Maurer & Wirtz had to launch a new version of Tabac in 2014 and make a fuss about it, since the version that was on the shelves till then had nothing to do with the one I remembered from the '80s. All the more that the newly launched version doesn't even feature a tobacco note if we're to believe its pyramid. I don't know about you, but if I ever bought a fragrance called "Rose" only to discover there's no damn rose in its composition, I'd certainly feel kinda ripped off.
Tabac was always a heroic scent to me. Something to be worn in the face of danger and turn its wearer invulnerable. Something like an assuaging smile, carrying the aura of a gallantry only found in tales anymore, since its defenders and champions are long gone from this world. Fortunately their scent is still lingering in hidden, dusty, scorned and unfashionable corners of our reality, reassuring us that our gone heroes will never ignore our distress calls and they will always be there in our time of need.