The Per­fu­me of the New World

Habanos - - Summary - BY / EN­RI­QUE MI­LA­NÉS PHO­TOS / RO­LAN­DO PU­JOL

SOIL, WEAT­HER, GOODQUALIT­Y TO­BAC­CO LEA­VES, AND CEN­TU­RIES-OLD WIS­DOM TO GRO­WING TO­BAC­CO AND RO­LLING CI­GARS HA­VE MA­DE THIS IS­LAND — LONG AND NA­RROW AS HA­BANO IT­SELF — THE FA­MILY CREST OF CI­GAR SMO­KERS AROUND THE WORLD. NO­NET­HE­LESS, THE ARO­MA OF THE PLANT AL­SO ENTH­RALLS OT­HER HU­MAN BEINGS FROM A DIF­FE­RENT AP­PROACH: PERFUMES

Per­haps if ex­haus­tion, stress af­ter a long jour­ney, be­dazz­le­ment be­fo­re such lush­ness and na­tu­ral mis­trust would ha­ve allo­wed him, Ch­ris­top­her Co­lum­bus would ha­ve reali­zed, when he lan­ded in Cu­ba in 1492, that the Tai­nos who wel­co­med him not only used to light up bund­les of “Cohi­ba” lea­ves, but their bo­dies al­so sme­lled of to­bac­co scent.

Mo­re in­tui­ti­ve, Pa­dre Bar­to­lo­me de las Ca­sas des­cri­bed la­ter how Cu­ban na­ti­ves “puff on or slurp, or sniff that smo­ke, with which the flesh do­zes off to the point of get­ting drunk, and so they soot­he their wea­ri­ness,” but it seems the good Do­mi­ni­can Fat­her did not no­ti­ce the “fi­xa­ti­ve” of a leaf who­se scent has en­du­red for over 500 years.

The Ad­mi­ral of the Ocean Sea — who im­mor­ta­li­zed in his­tory a ph­ra­se all Cu­bans lo­ve — might well ha­ve sta­ted that he had arri­ved in “the most fra­grant land hu­man no­ses ha­ve ever sme­lled,” as for­tu­ne, so elu­si­ve at first, ma­de him land in the birth­pla­ce of to­bac­co.

In fact, soil, weat­her, good-qua­lity to­bac­co lea­ves, and cen­tu­rie­sold wis­dom to gro­wing to­bac­co and ro­lling ci­gars ha­ve ma­de this is­land — long and na­rrow as Ha­bano it­self — the fa­mily crest of ci­gar smo­kers around the world. No­net­he­less, the aro­ma of the plant al­so enth­ralls ot­her hu­man beings from a dif­fe­rent ap­proach: perfumes.

Top cos­me­tics com­pa­nies bet­ted im­me­dia­tely on the gold mi­ne pro­vi­ded by this So­la­na­ceae. The Be­lle d'Opium and Cue­ro No­ble, by Yves Saint Lau­rent; Guc­ci by Guc­ci pour hom­me, as well as Lueur d'Is­sey hom­me, by Is­sey Mi­ya­ke —all pre­pa­red from the blen­ding of to­bac­co and herbs, fra­gran­ce and spi­ce, which com­bi­ned, se­du­ce men and wo­men ali­ke—, are good ca­ses in point of perfumes de­sig­ned with to­bac­co no­tes for very sen­si­ti­ve skins.

Even though every Ha­bano is re­gar­ded as “one of a kind”, from the fu­rrows to the ci­gar fac­tory, each and every one de­mands hun­dreds of hand­ma­de pro­ce­du­res. The perfumes ins­pi­red by its lea­ves are cer­tainly top as they ur­ge —to la­ter re­ward tho­se who buy them— a very par­ti­cu­lar “lo­ving ca­re.”

A Won­der City, as it was de­cla­red, the city of Ha­va­na al­so sho­wers you with tho­se at­ten­tions. In the ol­dest si­de of its his­to­ric cen­ter, right on the cor­ner of Mer­ca­de­res and Obra­pia Streets, a small bu­si­ness hou­se de­di­ca­ted to lo­cal hand­craf­ted per­fu­me pro­duc­tion en­han­ces its ca­ta­log with the fra­gran­ce of to­bac­co.

The hou­se — Ha­ba­na 1791 — has been pro­du­cing a clas­sic co­log­ne na­med Ta­ba­co. Ho­we­ver, ai­med at ce­le­bra­ting the 500th an­ni­ver­sary of the city on No­vem­ber 16th, they be­gan ma­king the per­fu­me Ma­ra­vi­lla, bea­ring the crest of Pi­nar del Rio to­bac­co plan­ta­tions.

Spe­cia­list Ya­nel­da Men­do­za Lo­pez tells Ex­ce­len­cias how they choo­se the best lea­ves to grind them in an old mor­tar, and pestle and ma­ce­ra­te them for two months with al­cohol and dis­ti­lled wa­ter. Af­ter­wards, they only ha­ve to trail the scent un­til the perfumes and co­log­nes ba­se is ready.

She wor­ked as che­mi­cal analyst at the re­now­ned cos­me­tics and per­fu­me com­pany Su­chel. Ya­nel­da com­bi­nes aca­de­mic and na­tu­ral know­led­ge, which led her to com­men­cing this li­ne of to­bac­co per­fu­me at Ha­ba­na 1791. “The fra­gran­ce of the Cu­ban to­bac­co was al­ways a sort of hall­mark in co­lo­nial Ha­va­na. That's why I'm brin­ging it back up,” the spe­cia­list poin­ted out.

Af­ter a study ca­rried out on the fra­gran­ce of co­lo­nial Ha­va­na, Ha­ba­na 1791 show­ca­ses a do­zen main pro­ducts that re­crea­te tho­se days when Cu­ba and Spain we­re the talk of the town. La­ter on, perfumes with lo­cal na­mes such as No­che Ha­ba­ne­ra, Dul­ce Ha­ba­na, Ca­ba­lle­ro de Pa­ris, and Ha­ba­na Co­lo­nial — ma­king re­fe­ren­ce to Ha­va­na's pla­ces and ce­le­bri­ties — ca­me to light.

Ha­ba­na 1791 ma­kes and sells ot­her perfumes, such as Flor de amor, La ma­ri­po­sa cu­ba­na, and Ha­ba­na blues, but — li­ke Ex­ce­len­cias — the­se two to­bac­co fra­gran­ces ha­ve cap­ti­va­ted many. Tou­rists ho­ver around, smell the sam­ples and hand­pick the ones of their li­kes: vio­let, cho­co­la­te…

They usually say: “Oh, to­bac­co…!” and pick one bottle to ta­ke back ho­me. As cus­to­mers are at­ten­ded per­so­nally, many choo­se so­met­hing stron­ger to en­han­ce the aro­ma of the Cu­ban pro­duct that “has kis­sed” mo­re lips in the world. The­re are so many that no one knows for su­re how many coun­tries this ma­gi­cal li­quid has reached out to.

On that cor­ner of the Old, Won­der­ful Ha­va­na, small to­bac­coin­fu­sed soaps are equally ma­de. And for pres­ti­gious events li­ke the Ha­bano Fes­ti­val, the staff pre­pa­re pot­pou­rri bags with per­fu­med lea­ves.

The po­pu­la­rity of this leaf, from the lar­ge plan­ta­tions to the small fac­tory in the city, can be un­ders­tood with one smell as it is de­ligh­ted by both men and wo­men. It was so long ago that, if the Ad­mi­ral of the Ocean Sea would ha­ve ta­ken a clo­ser look to tho­se new hu­man beings, he would ha­ve cer­tainly no­ti­ced that this na­tu­ral aro­ma was one of the many at­tri­bu­tes dis­co­ve­red in the New World: to­bac­co.

Newspapers in Spanish

Newspapers from Spain

© PressReader. All rights reserved.