Strictly speaking, Mäurer & Wirtz acquired 4711 in 2006 from Procter & Gamble. They themselves bought it from Wella AG who had taken over the Mülhens family company in 1994.
Therefore, it’s somewhat misleading to suggest that Tabac Original was cut from the exact same cloth. However, both share not only Mäurer & Wirtz’s guiding hand today but enormous popularity in Germany that has lasted generations.
Furthermore, Tabac was was born in Stolberg rather than Cologne itself. Nevertheless, Stolberg is a nearby town in the same North Rhine-Westphalia German state.
To celebrate its 55th anniversary, Mäurer & Wirtz updated Tabac Original’s look and formulation. This was accompanied by an intense advertising campaign with the slogan “Du bist das Original” (You are the original).
Tabac Original is widely celebrated eau de cologne both domestically and internationally. It enjoys considerable popularity not only in continental Europe but also in the USA.
Tabac Original is a somewhat unique and unexpected specimen from classic fragrances. Unlike its contemporaries that often came from the Aromatic and Oriental families, it’s a striking Floral Aldehyde. Although there is an aromatic and woody presence, they offer an extension to the notable floral bouquet.
Tabac Original opens on a characteristically eau de cologne citrus burst that is indeed reminiscent of Mäurer & Witrz’s 4711. Sharp bergamot and lime notes are given a fatty bitterness by the presence of petitgrain. As they evaporate, rich and fatty jasmine notes lead us to the fragrance’s heart.
The jasmine brings us to an overtly floral heart, which features a rich bouquet of lavender, chamomile and carnations. Depth is created by warm notes of peppers that maintain a sense of conventional masculinity to this overly feminine heart.
Faint oak notes reach out from the floral bouquet to draw us to the fragrance’s base. Here we experience an accord of sandalwood and vetiver with a long amber finish, which features hints of rose-scented tallow soap.
By the very name “Tabac”, you would expect a woody, leathery tobacco blend. However, instead we experience and extremely floral and soapy fragrance. The aldehydic properties create this soapy and waxy body that linges in the nostrils with rounded floral notes.
It’s quite uncharacteristic of masculine fragrances. By the time the base notes begin to dry down, only faint hints of amber or sandalwood remind you that you’re wearing a men’s fragrance.
The Life-Cycle Of Tabac Original
The fragrance’s opening is unfortunately very brief, which is quite typical of a citrus headed eau de cologne. The sharpness is fleeting and quickly overtaken by the heart’s fatty floral notes.
Unfortunately, many may struggle with the heart’s extremely heady bouquet. It lasts for longer than the average fragrance and leaves a viscous sweet trail.
By the time, this evaporates and the wearer experiences the base, the amber and sandalwood quickly weaken to leave a soapy rose finish.
Wake & Strength
The remnants of the base have a resilient longevity and the wearer can find themselves with a long-lasting fragrance.
However, the projection and sillage are both relatively weak. In order for the wearer’s entourage to catch a whiff of Tabac Original some time after application, they have to get in intimately close.
Unfortunately, this means that Tabac doesn’t provide much of a statement. The fragrances doesn’t give off any teasers at a distance. By the time anyone does get it close, they risk being overwhelmed by the soapy rose.
Tabac Original receives very mixed reactions. A few enjoyed the surprisingly floral properties that have been combined with an eau de cologne head. Furthermore, the rounded bitterness was not without its success.
However, a significant portion found the fragrance far too floral and fatty. Some went as far as comparing the base with a particular women’s fragrance, Yves Saint Laurent Paris. Negative comments went even further than that and likened it to the fragrance of a funeral parlour.
Despite the progressive floral bouquet, Tabac is a mellow fragrance that has aged somewhat since its release. Contextually, this is quite paradoxical given that the 1950s was a period of particularly macho fragrances such as Old Spice or Skin Bracer.
Nevertheless, this has caused it to become a fragrance that is best worn by mature men well over the age of 30.
During the year, the fragrance does well throughout save summer where it may come across as too stuffy. Its floral properties excel during the spring to coincide with the seasonal pattern.
Tabac is best worn in casual environments as its fattiness lacks the refinement required for more formal gatherings. However, it’s wearable at the office at a push.
Finally, its masculinity is remarkably faint especially once the base notes have been reached. However, this is not particularly appropriate as an alternative conventional women’s fragrance.
From the peppered heart to the sandalwood base, there’s always a slight reminder that this is a man’s fragrance.
Presentation and Value For Money
Although Tabac’s design has gone through a few minor changes since 1959. However, the bottle’s style and appearance remains relatively the same.
The fragrance comes in a minimalist curved white glass bottle. The stencil-style Tabac logo is centred with the establishing year above and “Original” in red below. It’s decidedly 1950s and its retro vibe looks great on a bathroom shelf.
The cardboard packaging is generally well-made. The white section at the sprawls over the top has a great embossed finish with gold lettering, which all looks fantastic.
However, the red waves across the rest of the cardboard, which are either lava or water, feel out of place. They come across as too recent to coincide with a 1950s feel yet too retro to be modern, which leaves us with something oddly 1990s.
The bottle can come as a splash or atomiser. A splash bottle was chosen for the review and it works exceedingly well. Fragrance comes out drop at a time with decisive shakes, which is easy to control. Unlike most splash bottles, it doesn’t pour liberally.
Pricing is usually very good and the fragrance is overall inexpensive. The RRP lies around $16 per 3.4 Oz (100ml) but can be picked up for less online in larger quantities. For example, Amazon currently sell 10.1 Oz (300ml) for $25, which equates to just under $9 per 100 ml.
Tabac Original is caught somewhere between a traditional eau de cologne and classically woody aromatic fragrance. However, the soapy floral notes are what sets it apart.
This is both a blessing and a curse as it receives very divided reactions. Some may indeed relish the unique floral aldehyde blend, which was head of its time in 1959. However, others may find this quite an off-putting experience.
Liked this review? You can watch our video review below to discover more about Tabac Original:
Charles-Philippe's work has covered a broad range of subjects from cigars and fragrances to wine and spirits. Fascinated by how history and culture together form the unique contemporary identities of alcoholic beverages, his articles follow an in-depth exploration of their development through a combination of tradition and innovation.