Cigars and Perfume

Enjoying cigars and perfume together is rather unusual and intriguing. After a passionate discussion in the Cigar Sense Facebook group, I have thought to share this wealth of inspiration with you all.

Fragrances have been an item of luxury and refinement forever. They originated in India and, as Arabs started to regularly barter trade them, they very soon flourished in Egypt, Persia, Greece and Rome. Prophet Mohamed said “Perfume is the nourishment that stimulates my thinking”.

Here are our Facebook group members’ insights.

The Key Contributors

Jasim Ahmed, Master of Habanos in UAE

This is a very interesting aspect of pairing, which is currently becoming popular in the cigar culture. From my experience, when it comes to cigars and perfume, the idea is to not over power but to balance as cigar smoking is a lifestyle and the aroma of it should be revolved around. However, when it comes to preference, it changes the whole experience of smoking if the perfume is subtle and strong. I have experienced it while sharing the company of Emirati friends: they wear strong fragrances which makes an entrance to the entire cigar bar, the strong perfume is really rewarding and it has a strong statement. However, when pairing a cigar with perfume, it is really a sophisticated game of understanding the strength of it.

A different body emits the lingering aroma differently. One thing I have noticed is that while using the perfume and holding a cigar, after a while the cigar absorbs the fragrance and starts to give you taste notes of amber, for instance, while smoking the cigar as your hand reaches your nose. That’s where, if it is a stronger perfume, the cigar aroma doesn’t exist, we have the power to sense a lot of aromas at the same time, but our brain gets confused unless we are getting used to it. This is one of the reasons for which our Emirati friends prefer to smoke stronger cigars and when we provide lighter cigars they don’t feel satisfied, even if the flavor profile is unique and more aromatic.

I believe harmony is more difficult to attain than contrast when it comes to perfume pairing. However the results of harmony are much more rewarding and enticing. I personally like contrast, I like to impress the people around me. What I also believe is really important is the smoke duration: a short smoke is tough for the understanding of the pairing but a longer smoke will make us dissolve in the aromas of both cigar and perfume. And there is where really harmony is attained in perfection.

Marco Ciccateri, Creator of the Montecristo Deleggend fragrances

I have always been a cigar and fragrance aficionado. When I heard that Habanos SA developed brand extensions and there was a possibility of developing perfumes under the name Montecristo Deleggend, I was very keen in getting the license in order to show my passion for fragrances and my love for the most iconic cigar brand, Montecristo.

Referring to the many characters of the “Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas, we felt the need to develop the alter egos of Edmond Dantes. The result was three fragrances compatible but still very different. (You can see them listed in the pairings table below).

Regarding pairing, I am more a kind of synergy person. I love to see and feel when different notes, tones, shades and tastes can coexist and, instead of taking over, help each other to accentuate their own particularities, properties and tastes. Sometimes, perhaps, even to blend them together and create something completely new.

For me, the perfume I wear or the cigar I smoke are all about which mood I’m in. Many times it also depends on which memories I would like to re- experience. A good perfume will bring you back to that experience just as great song does.

Lars R. K. Talwar Norberg, CEO of Perique Store based in Stockholm, Sweden

I remember an experiment we had to do at school, blindfolded: we smelled something while touching, with a finger, objects with different textures. It was sensational. The purpose of the experiment was to show that the brain synthesizes the signals from all senses into one experience, based on earlier experiences.

In Perique, the theme is the Essence of Every Moment. Therefore we sell cigars, perfume, spices and provide our customers the access to rum ratings, Flaviar club and Cigar Sense. We also organize tasting and pairing seminars through meetings with customers from all over the world to teach and share how to enjoy every moment by enhancing it with something even more special than “just the cigar”. One of the pairing and tasting seminars we do is the pairing of cigars & perfume.

From a starting idea to develop the nose while tasting a cigar, the concept of pairing cigars with perfume came up when I had listened to a couple of male friends in the Middle East discussing at length and in depth about what perfume to wear an evening out depending on the food and smoke they anticipated to enjoy. If this is done right both the smoke and the perfume will be elevated and amplified.

CH, Cigar Sense Panelist, Master’s of Science in Viticulture and Enology, Tasting and Sensory Seminar Instructor

This could be an overwhelming pairing for some people. My approach would be pairing mostly complementary flavors or, in some cases, trying to “lighten up” a “dark flavored” cigar with fresh notes.

Also, people very quickly don’t notice the perfume on themselves and I’d think the cigar would quickly overtake the overall impression.

Suggested Pairings of Cigars and Perfume

T: top notes, M: middle notes, B: base notes

How to “Consume” the Perfume

Lars explains: If the fragrance is applied on the skin, the sensation will be from the chemistry of the wearers’ skin, the fragrance and the cigar smoke. In this case the perfume is applied where blood come close to the skin: under the cheeks, on the wrists, plus sprayed on the clothes (the shirt). 5 sprays are usually applied.

An alternative is to place the fragrance in a waxed cone of paper (one of these used to drink water in public places). The scent will last for a long time, it will be more concentrated and pure. Then you smell it while smoking.

Designing pairings with Cigar Sense

Interestingly enough, Lars says, the classification of perfumes are similar to the Cigar Sense system.

With Cigar Sense it is, in fact, very easy to work on pairings: you go to your profile, you keep all the dislikes selected (red areas in the polar charts) and change the liked flavors and their intensities to reflect the same that you find in the product you are pairing (by harmony) or the ones you see in contrast with such product. Adjust the nicotine strength if you want to follow Jasim’s indications.

Set at dislike a little all those flavors that in any case would not pair well.

Take some notes so you remember how to set back your profile to where it was before this exercise.

It’s faster to do than to explain…

Reference Books on Perfumes

Valerie Bradshaw, Cigar Sense panelist, shared her collection of books on perfumes with the group This is definitely useful in case you wish to deepen your knowledge on fragrances:

– Perfumery Technology — all about the art science industry of perfume

– Perfume Handbook — Glossary of different fragrances. A little dated, but still good.

– Perfumery — The psychology & biology of Fragrance

– Perfumes — The Guide (easy reading)

… and the book that’s opened is called Perfume — The Art & Science of Scent.

She added I liked the photo because it showed Sephora’s “Perfume Organ” and the Maestro plays it like keys, but with fragrance wands.

I hope to have inspired you and that you will share with us your own experiments!

Article References :

  • Cigar Sense Member-Only Facebook Group
  • Dixit Sitaram and Ranade G. S., Sensory Evaluation of Fragrances. A Demonstration, Annual 2001 Soaps, Detergents & Toiletries Review

About the Author:

Franca Comparetto is the creator and co-founder of Cigar Sense Inc., the only independent, expert cigar recommendation engine which “learns” your personal preferences in fine cigars, then recommends new cigars which match them. Franca is a certified Catador (Italian Cigar Club Association) and Salesforce Tobacconist (USA Tobacconist University). She served as board advisor of one of the major cigar clubs in her home country, Italy, and collaborated with the national magazine “Sigari!”. Her articles have also been published by Cigar Journal, Live-In Style, Glass of Bubbly, AromaG, La Casa del Habano Malaysia and other prestigious lifestyle publishers.

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