1/23/16

Cigarillo (Rémy Latour)



"Cigarillo by Rémy Latour is an invitation to explore the
World of precious wood essences from the tropics."


The above statement quotes the text imprinted on the inner side of the paper band surrounding the bottle for Cigarillo. It's translated into six other languages, Creed style, and oh yeah, the rest of the packaging for this strange little fragrance is extraordinarily beautiful, at least by Rémy Latour standards.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so I offer the above photo as a visual description of the outside of the box. I didn't take a picture of the back of the box, but there isn't much to see. There's just a small white sticker with a super short ingredients list and a barcode. Below is a photo of what you see when you open the box.




And here is a photo of the side of the bottle, which is sealed with a sticker that matches the one on the outside of the package.




And here is the bottle itself, heavy glass moulded into the shape of cigarillos, the trademark Rémy Latour style. It's really well made, with "Eau de Toilette" and "Cigarillo" embossed on the bottom (not shown).




Cigarillo was released in 1996 alongside Cigar, and that's all I know about it. I guess it was intended to be a promotional product. It's been discontinued, and I seriously doubt there are more than a hundred bottles in existence today. Packages like this aren't made on a large scale. There is absolutely no information about it on the internet, aside from one rather uninformed "review" on an otherwise bare basenotes page.

I can't say I'm very familiar with Rémy Latour's fragrances, but this is a cool place to start. I happened across it on the discount shelf of a local shop for a very good price. The place makes me laugh because its priorities are plainly askew - its owner prices weird trash like Cathy Carden's Space at $50, but asks about half as much for a more extravagant item like this. Go figure.

Anyway, on to the scent: Cigarillo is a misleading name for this EDT. Its composition isn't really about tobacco, although it does have a teeny tobacco note. More prominent in the pyramid are dried fruit notes, and musky, nondescript aromatics, with smooth wood tones, mainly cedar. Conspicuously absent from the formula are any and all floral notes, as I detect nary a single petal in the entire evolution of this scent, on both skin and fabric.

I certainly wouldn't say this fragrance is sweet. Its only edible section resides at the top, which smells of a dessicated, prune-like, ambiguously "perfumey" fruit. Perhaps it's a musky citrus combed into the sugary rind of dehydrated pineapple? Hard to say, as there's no butyric element, but whatever it is, it borders on candy without crossing the line. These qualities are offset by a transparent bay note. It's a strange accord, unlike anything I've smelled before, and it lasts about fifteen minutes. Its dusky delectables draw me in; the grizzle of semi-animalic musks and sour bay hold me there.

Eventually this unique top segues into a ghost of treated snuff, wedded to a very dusty cedar and musk base. The "tobacco" effect is representative of an artificial flavoring, rather than actual tobacco leaf. Fragrances like Cigarillo and Vermeil for Men, which Latour's scent resembles for roughly an hour or so, are priced to mimic the synthetic aromatics of processed tobacco, not the burly radiance of the real stuff. With that in mind, the perfumer hit a homerun. Cigarillo smells like a cheap cigarillo. As a former cigar smoker, I can attest to this firsthand.

This all eventually becomes a relatively simple cedar fragrance. It isn't pencil shaving cedar, or woody amber. It's just a sooty cigar box smell. There's something "niche" about it. They were going for a concept: a perfume that smells of cheap tobacco aromatics at the start, with a little steer sweat baked into the middle, all resting in an Old World wooden container. And it actually comes in that very same container. Well done, Latour. Well done.

The packaging was obviously handmade, probably by a single craftsman, or maybe a very small team. The lettering on the box is a dead giveaway. When I caught sight of this fragrance, it resurrected dormant creative juices from my graphic design days.

I'm friends with a retired designer who was commissioned, thirty some-odd years ago, by Anheuser-Busch. They needed him to create a promotional line of wooden crates, to be filled with beer bottles and sold at company events. Each crate was constructed with plywood. Each had the company logo etched into it. All were hand packed with straw.

The order was overwhelmingly enormous for one person to manage, at ten thousand units. At the time, it wasn't cost effective to outsource, nor practical to fill within the U.S., but that didn't stop him from trying.

The same happened with Cigarillo. Someone at corporate headquarters was riding high on a Clintonian dotcom bubble, and decided to throw a little surplus pocket change at some small time commercial artist, either in Europe or North America. Three thousand man hours and several gallons of blood, sweat, and tears later, this magnificent faux cigar box with its colorful stickers and waxed parchment rolled off a basement assembly line and was shipped to Latour. Now, twenty years later, I'm enjoying it. Ain't life grand?



7 comments:

  1. Cigar by Remy is one of the greatest tobacco scents I've ever smelled,with Cuba Red a close second. I realize that they're probably not of your high-end,sophisticated pricy lot, but that doesn't really bother me a bit, it's the sheer pleasure of wearing them that does it for me.

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    1. It's hugely respected and admired by many respectable and admirable people in our community. Cigar, Vermeil, and a few of the Cuba scents all hit the spot for basic tobacco. Cigarillo is more for wood lovers, and its strange, waxy, fruity top is very nice, and quite unique. If you're expecting straightforward tobacco from cigarillo, you'll be disappointed. If you like how the inside of a freshly emptied cigar box smells, then this scent is holy grail material.

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  2. Thanks for the great review. I'm a fan of Cigar and Cigar Commander, yet I've never heard of Cigarillo. I think I'll stick with Cigar and Commander.

    Glad to see you're still going strong with the blog and keeping up the faith!

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    1. Was worried this place would never receive another comment from you, Shamu! Welcome back. From what I know about your taste, I'd say you'd appreciate owning and occasionally wearing this, but probably not as much as the Cigar frags by Latour. If you see it for under $40 in the 2 oz or 3 oz sizes, it's a good deal. The packaging alone is worth it. Looking forward to reading more on Pour Monsieur.

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  3. I'm not familiar with Remy Latour's fragrances, although I've seen them around quite a bit in Miami.
    I collect old & new pharmacy & perfume bottles. Jeanne D'Arthes is a cheapie brand that occasionally puts quite a bit of design into their bottles & packaging. For a mere $7 I bought JD'Arthes' Guipure Silk & Les Lions d'Arthes for women. Guipure Silk came with a die cut black lace cardboard insert holding the bottle which was overlaid in a very substantial Gothic black guipure lace made of matte plastic.
    LLd'Arthes for women came in a beautiful box embossed with a pattern reminiscent of a Versace scarf. The bottle is gorgeously broad shouldered with frosted glass lion heads on each side.
    JD'Arthes must have a really bored but extremely talented commercial artists on it's team. To bad they don't put some of that effort into their fragrances.

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    1. I'm only familiar with Cotton Club from that brand, which is a decent wetshaver fern after Skin Bracer by Mennen. I feel it's been surpassed in quality and wearability by Playboy's VIP, but agree its packaging is nice, with a very attractive bottle. Latour's brand seems a bit more downmarket with their approach - cigar shaped bottles are super tacky - but Cigarillo is rather artistic in presentation, its mixed materials and realism seeming utterly crafted. The fragrance itself is not as memorable, but it smells good.

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  4. I just bought one today from a local store in Greece and there is another one waiting in the shelf but with out the box

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