Only The Brave Tattoo (Diesel)

In an age where smoking is all but criminalized, it's both predictable and sad to see tobacco marketed as a subversive note. Joop! Homme Wild did this with their tobacco flower approach, and Diesel does it in Tattoo, where a sweet pipe tobacco element dominates the drydown. This fragrance smells somewhat similar to the original OTB, emitting generous wafts of syrupy citrus, candied red apple, peppered amber, and an omnipresent synthetic patchouli note that I believe also snuck into the heart accord of the first release. Where it diverges is in its focus. Instead of fruity citrus sweetness, this time we get tobacco sweetness. Is it an improvement?

Yes and no. I appreciate tobacco in fragrances. Anything with a clear tobacco note gets a wink and a nod from me. Good on whoever threw this thing together for including that note, as it lends a little maturity and sophistication to a fragrance that is far from mature and sophisticated.

Still, the presence of tobacco alone can't make up for what's missing here. The main problem with OTB Tattoo is that it's too blended to be effective. Instead of presenting clear analogs of identifiable materials, everything is fused together in a big, overly sweet blob. Eventually a few impressions stand out, like black pepper, tobacco, and amber, but they lack punctuation, and it all just runs together.

In the plus column, the fragrance does smell generically "fresh," and therefore good in an objective sense, and I can't see anyone wrinkling their nose in disgust upon sniffing it, but with such a prominent tobacco note there should be more going on. Adding to the pain is the knowledge that for a third of the price I can enjoy a much better composition with a more realistic (and less sweet) tobacco note in Vermeil for Men. I'll be a little perverse here and also point out that a much better "soapy-fresh" fragrance with a far more realistic tobacco note in its base can be had in VC&A Pour Homme.

Maybe it's time for designers to explore other themes in the realm of tobacco notes. Instead of always relying on the same sugared pipe tobacco idea with its now played-out sweetness, perhaps we can get more renditions of bitter unflavored cigar tobacco, or maybe even someone's interpretation of menthol cigarettes. It's time to usher the age of A*Men's ethyl-maltol tobaccos out, and bring Winston Churchill's stogies back in.


  1. Good evening, Sir Bryan. Ah, how nice to read your reviews. Two fragrances I wouldn't wear in a million years, but through your lens, I was delighted to read about, nonetheless. Apologies for my poor behavior. Mea Culpa.

  2. Egads, this came out in 2012? The packaging & notes just seem so tired & dated. Guess that's what happens when you're trying so hard to be trendy.
    For a super cheapie candied red apple with citrus & praline over a vanilla & light tobacco base (the notes don't list tobacco but it's in there) try Boum Vanille Sa Pomme d'Amour by Jeanne Arthes.
    When is the age of ethyl maltol going to end?

    1. Probably never, Bibi. Probably never. Thanks for the suggestion though!

  3. Ed Hardy font and a bottle that looks like a teenager with his first copy of Penthouse........ah, Diesel. Don't ever change


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