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Cuir Cuba Intense


I was thrilled when Patricia de Nicolaï launched her new fragrance, Cuir Cuba Intense in late October last year and I couldn’t wait to try it. It was part of the re-launch of her brand as Nicolaï, formerly Parfums de Nicolaï, to celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary.  The Nicolaï website describes Cuir Cuba Intense as a tobacco-leather combination, which dries down into a warm and sensual fragrance. After wearing it for several days I can state that this is totally true on both counts, but I can also say that it is much more, as well as very different from any idea I held as to how Cuban leather – cuir Cuba – should smell.
The first spritz on my arm is an aromatic cloud of sweet lemon and mint layered on top of black licorice, a really stunning accord, like a cool gulp of a mojito splashed with 12 year old dark rum. I love licorice so I’m happy sniffing this accord, detecting bits of burnt caramel, and then it begins to change, the sweet decreasing, the herbal aspect building with the addition of lavender and sage and cedar, and the unfolding of green tobacco leaves. The scent is gorgeous, filled with natural essences, almost smoky and musky, more vegetal and herbal, underscored with cedar and geranium and the barest hint of gourmand notes from the opening accord. I can feel the effect of tropical heat and  humidity, as the scent takes on a dampness, becoming creamy and rich.
And then it changes, going in a direction I could never predict. A floral heart blooms – magnolia, ylang-ylang and iris are listed – a soft floral accord of gentle white flowers that floats above the aromatics and wraps itself around the tobacco note, which now includes tobacco absolue, lifting Cuir Cuba Intense out of the damp shade as it moves into the dry down. The florals waft softly, magnolia dominating the bouquet and blending so sublimely with the aromatic tobacco.
And the leather? In truth it’s a suggestion, a sensation, a vision of soft pale suede conveyed through an accord of patchouli, hay, liatris (deer’s tongue or wild vanilla), musk and civet, that emerges and remains just under the floral heart until the final dry-down, when the magnolia has faded and the leather is a smooth, warm, and sensual waft from my arm. 
Patricia de Nicolaï designed Cuir Cuba Intense to be worn by everyone. It has perfect sillage, enough to be enjoyed by others but never intrusive, and lasts for many hours on skin. These two accords of floral tobacco and sueded leather are so perfectly matched in their complexity and restrained sophistication, each is so elegant on its own, and yet I can’t imagine one without the other.
It's a simply gorgeous fragrance.
Notes: Sicilian Lime Essence, Anise, Liquorices mint, Lavender essence, Geranium Essence, Magnolia Essence, Coriander essence, Patchouli essence, Cedar, Ylang Ylang, Tobacco absolute, hay essence, Liatrix (known as deer's tongue)  essence, Iris, sage, musk and civet
Type: EdP
Parfumeur: Patricia de Nicolaï

Price: $5.00