Some of you might remember earlier this year in July when I profiled perfumer Maya Njie. In that article, I promised a review for some of her work, and lo and behold, that first review is finally here!
As mentioned, Njie “aims to capture the memories of her childhood by creating those memories through scent, combining Scandinavian idyll with her Gambian heritage” with her work. This angle fascinates me because smell is one of the strong senses to memory recall we have. And indeed, I do have an immediate olfactory memory when smelling Tobak (launched in 2016). When I spoke with Amina and Manahil (also previously profiled here) for an upcoming episode of Sartorial Splendor, we spoke at length about olfactory recall, and how it can make a fragrance so incredibly personal from one individual to the next.
But, before I launch into what memory lane, in particular, Tobak took me down, you know I have to take a look at the notes in this fragrance first.
Tobacco leaf, Vetiver, Cinnamon, Tonka, Musk, Leather
As its name suggests, tobacco is obviously an element in this spicy scent. But Njie has worked in the spices to create a blend that pairs wonderfully with a nostalgic leather note, as well as the sweetness from the tonka bean.
So that sounds promising, yeah? Let’s look at the overall.
Njie, who I’ve said I regard as one of the rising stars in the fragrance community, definitely accomplishes her goal of creating a scent that inspires memory. For me, I had immediate flashbacks of family visits to my uncle’s home for the holidays when I was a child. At the time, my uncle was a smoker, and his house was also heavily scented with festive holiday notes like cinnamon that soaked into all of his leather couches.
Tobak is definitely one of Njie’s more unisex scents. It’s not as light as some of her other offerings, but by no means would I call this definitively masculine. I would, however, suggest wearing this during the cooler seasons, as the spices in Tobak could definitely become cloying during the summer.
As a fragrance and not a memory vehicle, I found Tobak to be a slightly rugged, but highly palatable blend that went on assertively, but wasn’t overpowering during the dry down. Projection is moderate, which is fine (considering the cinnamon notes, this is actually a little easier to wear around sensitive folks than other scents), and the sillage cloud is divine.
With regards to longevity, Tobak has some staying power. I got a good 6-7 hours out of this, though it will definitely be a skin scent once you round into hour two.
Now let’s talk cost. Njie is a niche perfumer and a growing name. Her work doesn’t come cheap. If you want a 50 mL bottle of Tobak, be ready to pay out $145 from it. Let’s also talk availability. Njie is a European perfumer, so if you DO live in Europe you’ll have easier access to her work. If you live in the United States, however, she has exactly one stockist you can order from, and that’s MUSE Experiences out of NYC. If they’re out of stock, you’re out of luck. Tobak can currently be ordered, but as of this publishing date, some options are unavailable such as Nordic Cedar, Tropica, and Les Fleurs.
More unfortunately though, the more economically viable 7.5 mL travel size atomizer options for Njie’s scents (priced at $30) are also out of stock. There’s just not a good way to sample her work at the moment, so if you do want to give Tobak or other Njie fragrances a trial run, check back with MUSE every so often to see when supplies are back in stock.
Personally, I think the quality is definitely here to make Tobak worth checking out. But it is on the pricier side, and it’s got the added hurdle of being harder to get a hold of, so just keep that in mind if you want to add this to a “to eventually get” list.
*Update: An hour after this article was published it was announced by Washington DC stockist, Arielle Shoshana, that they are now carrying Maya Njie fragrances. While they do not currently offer the travel atomizers, they do have her full 50 mL line of fragrances available for purchase. Thanks to deb.day.perfume on Instagram for giving us this tip!
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