Tabac Tabou by Parfum d’Empire

A roll in the hay


Notes: Immortelle, Tobacco, Narcissus, Honey, Grass and Musk


Most tobacco perfumes take a “smoking jacket and gentlemen’s club” approach. However, last year’s Tabac Tabou sought to take tobacco right back to a time when it was used in primitive spiritual practices.

When reading this, I got visions of the Carlos Castaneda books I consumed as a teen. I don’t get a mystical vibe from Tabac Tabou, although it’s none the worse for that. It’s more about golden fields and horses’ manes than Native American pipe ceremonies and Shamanic rituals.


A few sprays on skin and I’m surrounded by giant heaps of hay. Not bone dry, neatly stacked bales of straw but moist, messy mounds of freshly cut hay with bits of green grass, wildflowers, clumps of earth and a touch of the barnyard hidden within.

I get lots of gorgeous narcissus, the proper stuff, which is more earthy than floral and redolent of cow pats.

In this initial stage, Tabac Tabou tips over into animalic but not quite enough to scare me off.  I’m easily spooked but even I am more than comfortable with this feral aspect, which feels right at home here in the countryside.


This fragrance is much more about narcissus and hay than pipes and tobacco. It’s the Great Outdoors rather than an air-sealed smoking den.

The immortelle is there but it’s not nearly as prominent as it usually is. It’s a difficult note for me because I usually find Its spiced maple syrup character too gelatinous and overwhelming. To start with, it’s surprisingly sheer and restrained, adding a slight honeyed sweetness but without any weight.

After the opening half an hour Tabac Tabou becomes less green and more honeyed as the animalic note fades away. It warms up and becomes a little humid, as if we’ve moved from the field into the barn.  It is Extrait de Parfum strength and though it doesn’t project far on me, it does feel like an extrait in terms of longevity.

I may not find it smoky or remisicent of tobacco leaves, but I love narcissus as a material and am happy to see it highlighted here by perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato. It’s so deep, complex and full of nature wild and free, I can see this one appealing to horse lovers as much as tobacco lovers.

I’ve been on the look-out for the perfect narcissus perfume since forever. However, on balance, even if the honeyed sweetness is low-key and slow to develop, I’d still need it to be drier in order to invest in a bottle.

All the same, Tabac Tabou is a fabulous fragrance.










Filed under Perfume Reviews

22 responses to “Tabac Tabou by Parfum d’Empire

  1. Lovely review, Tara. The ‘great outdoors’ aspect of this sounds interesting – I do think of hay as a dry note rather than wet and I enjoy narcissus. I’ll have to hunt down my sample when I’m home.

    xx Tina


    • I’m pretty sure we sprayed this at Les Senteurs but we tried so much that day. It’s a very nicely done composition and worth giving a proper test. Parfum d’Empire do a fab sample pack which is very good value if the postage is not prohibitive for you.


  2. Want that now. See what you did?
    Fantastic review, Tara.


  3. Sandra

    Hi Tara. Lovely to read your take on this. I thought it was beautiful. Lasted ages too. Sandra xo


  4. cookie queen

    A perfumista’s perfume. I have a large decant which is probably enough, although I would not like to run out. Hmmmmmm. 🌾


  5. It’s a beautiful description. I tried it quickly in Paris, but it didn’t quite have the ‘je ne sais quoi’ to capture me at the time. Perhaps because it reminded me of something else? I’m no longer sure 🙂 Perhaps it was just the fact that I instantly knew it wouldn’t be something I’d wear even if I liked it. I do like Parfum d’Empires as a brand though.


    • Maybe you picked up on the immortelle early on? It’s impossible to remember once some time has passed. I’ve also learnt to my cost that if a perfume isn’t my style it doesn’t matter how much I admire it, I won’t end up wearing it.

      I like the brand too. I must admit I don’t own anything at the moment but I think they have a really solid, wearable line-up which isn’t dull.


  6. I am with you on immortelle being a tricky note, though I wouldn’t have been able to tell you how it smelled! It’s like davana – I just know I don’t like it as a rule. That said, your beautiful bucolic review has made me yearn for narcissus and ‘non-gentlemen’s club’ tobacco. 😉 Moreover, I know I can take a bit of barnyard, what between my affection for Felanilla and Dzing! So all things considered I would be glad to give this a sniff.


    • I’m with you on both immortelle and davana, V! The former smells like curried maple syrup to me while the latter is boozy fruit.
      Have you read about the new Amouage Myth? I’m wondering if that’s the narcissus for me but we’ll see. Our mutual friend has a decant in the post.
      Oh yes, you would be fine with the skank factor here.


  7. Hey there Tara,
    How freaking dreamy is Marc-Antoine Corticchiato too? MMM MMM MMM
    I really like the Parfum d’Empire range but am slightly sad that they changed their bottles. It seems everyone needs to be modern now.
    As to Tabac Tabou, I’m sure I tried it but can’t remember. I’ll see if I can find my sample.
    Portia xxx


  8. Tara, I should probably make a rule not to read your reviews for perfumes that I haven’t tried: you paint such a wonderful picture that even with those that I’ve tried and didn’t find that interesting (like Tabac Tabou) I start doubting myself 🙂 I’ll be testing it again soon.


    • Haha! Many apologies, Undina 🙂
      You know what you like so I’m sure your first impression will stick. Although this one might be worth a double check if you don’t mind immortelle and like hay notes. It’s too honeyed for me in the drydown but it’s pretty great stuff.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.