I don’t really do tobacco, except for the occasional Kretek Indonesian clove cigarette. Having said that, I do rather enjoy the experience of tobacco-leaf fragrances on others, and Semma, a pimento-laced, fresh, but very suave scent by New York based Odin, is one of the better ones I have smelled.
While it may lack the scathing, wet-haired, wolverine pangs of Miller Harris’ Feuilles De Tabac ( a scent bolstered with tanged, wet spices and dark ripe earth, like being chased through the forests by a beast who you ache for but who you know might kill you), and it does not have the true-to-life, real, tobacco-tin aura that is L’Artisan Parfumeur’s beautiful Tea For Two (which smells exactly like the moment that my grandad would open his roll-leaf Virginia in that tightly sealed, aluminium tin when we went to their house on Sundays), it also does not – for me, thankfully, at least- possess the stomach churning sweetness that is inherent in Tom Ford’s popular Tobacco Vanille: that apple-pied tobacco, cinnamonic, nause-fest that even for this spectacular sweet tooth is just one step of creamed sugar-mama too far.
Semma does have the nose-tingling depth of tobacco however ; its brusque, masculine integrity that I like in more simple scents like Tea Tobacco by Retroverso – fresh, undemanding, yet pleasing – as well as in another recent addition to the pantheon of nicotania (and a scent beloved of The Perfume Dandy,) the more ironically reserved Wild Tobacco by Illuminum. Semma, though rather old school ( a touch too much I would say to make it truly essential ), nevertheless has a beautifully constructed classic framework around which myrrh, frankincense, cinnamon and fresh aromatics surround a prominent, and beautifully rendered, tobacco leaf.
The notes in this perfume ply round each other like stars in a constellation: each held; knowing its place. It is a stern, gentlemanly accord (and thus in all honesty, more intriguing on a woman), but there is enough sillage – it is quite strong – to announce the perfume’s presence in a room without booming it obnoxiously. And, with its tweedish, Jermyn Street tailoring, and its initial, colognish citrus top notes, the perfume, over its duration on the skin, maintains a classy, and at times, even rakish, vibe.
While ultimately perhaps a touch too staid, the held-in, well made classicism is also what I like about Semma. The lithe piquancy of the pimiento peppers, the cool affability of the frankincense and myrrh; and the men’s-club, drifting, furnitured ambience of roiled, soft-leaf tobacco, make Semma an attractive, and appealingly well-crafted, tobacco fragrance that feels something like a safe, and solid, bet.