Tabacca (Costamor)

For days now, despite the dizzying array of bottles, decants, sprayers, and samples twinkling at me from within the Cabinet of Scent, I've reached again and again for a particular fragrance. What I want from that fragrance is a feeling. No, not even a feeling; a sensation-- the top-speed elevator rush of nicotine infiltrating the old blood-brain barrier on that very first inhale.

That's right. I keep putting on perfume when what I really want is a cigarette.

Don't you judge me.

I stopped smoking three and a half, almost four years ago. It wasn't difficult, as I'd only been a smoker for about a year, and a lightweight at that. By all logic, the habit should not be too deeply ingrained in my psyche. But when I'm feeling stressed out or hemmed in, and I walk past a stranger about to take their first nice deep drag off a newly lit cigarette, I experience a sympathetic shiver -- Oooohhhh, that is going to HIT THE SPOT! -- that's almost as satisfying as actual inhalation.

But I keep walking, because I've discovered an even better antidote to those hard-to-answer cravings: Tabacca by Costamor.

California perfumer Elizabeth Wright drew her inspiration for Tabacca from youthful memories of Costa Rica, where Nicotiana destined for the finest cigars is cultivated in fertile volcanic soil. If it's pipe-weed you want, Tabacca serves up a raw dose of it straight from the get-go-- full-bodied, direct and sweet, with depth and complexity provided by hints of rose hips and harvest apple. This thrilling opener quiets (if you can call it that) into a rich gourmand amber similar to Parfums d'Empire's Ambre Russe-- and just as addictive.

Now here's the clincher. Just like cigars and cigarettes, perfumes differ widely in quality, price, and exclusivity. Unless you are a jillionaire, the higher the product rating, the more self-limiting your habit must needs be. I actually utilized this principle to control my own smoking habit, resolving ONLY to smoke a certain expensive, high-quality, hard-to-find brand whose purchase involved travel and inconvenience. But with 1ml. samples costing a comparative pittance, there's no reason to economize quite so harshly with perfume. Sure, you can go cheap and get the equivalent of gas station Swisher Sweets (Mäurer & Wirtz Tabac, anyone?). But if it's affordable, why not indulge sparingly on a higher plane? Tabacca retails at a cost ($75/50 ml) that places it comfortably in the affordable range, and it makes up the weight with undeniable quality of design.

Consider it ideal for your next daily "nic fix".

Scent Elements: Aromatic spices, apple peel, jasmine, rose tea, raw and dried tobacco leaves, rare woods, amber

According to medical studies, smoking gradually deadens one's sense of smell at the level of the olfactory nerve. Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to experience significantly impaired ability to differentiate one odor from another. I probably didn't smoke long enough to find out, but oddly, I've heard that many well-known perfumers smoke like chimneys. Then they go and make divine fragrances that smell like a tobacconist's shop in Shangri-La and which ought to be a routine therapeutic element in nicotine addiction recovery, just like the Patch or the eCigarette. (One of my friends recently worked his way down to the nicotine-free stage using the latter... and looked way cool doing it. I should totally lay some Costamor samples on him by way of celebration.)