Cuba fragrance notes

  • Head

    • Lime, Bergamot, Peppermint, Rum
  • Heart

    • Rose, Clove, Bay, Tonka
  • Base

    • Tobacco, Frankincense, Cedarwood, Vetiver

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Latest Reviews of Cuba

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Cuba by Czech & Speake (2002) is a high-end take on what had been by then going 'round the designer perfume world since the late 1980's, presenting itself as the most-refined version of the idea that others like Claude Montana and Aramis had already covered on a more mass-market front. Czech & Speake themselves are somewhat latecomers to a long tradition of London-based English perfumers, slotting in with Penhaligon's, Geo F Trumper's, Floris, D.R, Harris, Truefitt & Hill, or Murdock's of London, where perfume as ab outgrowth of another business go hand-in-hand; in the case of Czech & Speake, that business was oddly luxury bathroom fittings. Cuba's marriage of bay rum, sour citrus, spices, floral notes, and tobacco will not seem new to the seasoned connoisseur of men's fragrances, but it will feel like a "proper cologne" in the sense that there is little wiggle-room for this to titillate the conventional feminine taste; ergo the masculinity here or the intent thereof is palpable in the design of Cuba, for better or worse. I liken this to a three-way tango with something similar to Houbigant Duc de Vervins (1985), Roger & Gallet Open (1985), and incense. Is this better than it's lower-class competitors? Eh, maybe... depending on what satisfies you.

I get a sour sort of almost urinous opening with Czech & Speake's take on the Cuban- tobbaco-meets-rum-and-coke-with-lime theme that Aramis put forth on the Aramis Hava (1994) release, which makes it feel a tad animalic. The lime and the mint help squelch this down some, although rose and galbanum keep things much greener than Havana or anything of its ilk, plus much more floral. There isn't a verbena note listed, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention smelling one, which is where I get associations with Duc de Vervins, although Cuba is not a fougère, not exactly. The bay leaf and tonka feel more hay-like than spicy or tobacco-laden, and the sharp olibanum notes dominate the base alongside patchouli and cedar, giving me vibes of Terre d'Hermès (2006) even if that was a few years away yet. Vetiver did not show its face much to me during the wear, although I kept smelling things that weren't supposed to be there, like a big linalool dose that usually denotes lavender, but again not listed. This wants so hard to be an 80's fougère such as Alain Delon Plus (1988) yet isn't, which is curious for a 2002 release. Overall, Cuba is good stuff, with performance that belies its "cologne" status, and a lot of versatility if this is your kinda thang.

For me, the finer points of note separation, slightly challenging opening notes, and weirdly non-committal near-fougère structure in the heart make Cuba feel perhaps like it tries a bit too hard to be a more-enlightened sort of fragrance for a that wants to show he has more largess than someone shopping at a basic drugstore for perfume, but doesn't want to go full-Harrod's-mode by plonking down on something from their sixth floor. In essence, the wealthy white-collar Londoner that is embarrassed he understands any Cockney rhymes at all, and likes to walk down Saville Row or Jermyn street (where Czech & Speake is located), window shopping about all the bespoke goodies he can't yet afford to commission from any of the shops. Oh well, at least he can afford a haircut, a shave, and a bottle of cologne right? For us Americans with UK ancestry living across the pond, there's something particularly cozy and inviting about brands like Czech & Speake, like reminding you of a home you never actually had (nor likely will), in the same way as a box of PG Tips from the local import shop. Problem here, is the PG Tips won't set you back $200. I already have plenty like this, so Cuba is a bit of a hard sell, even if I like it a lot. Thumbs up
24th April 2023
Cuba really does smell great. I don't get this fecal note everyone talks about but then again I don't get the piss note in Kouros that everyone mentions.

Basically from the off we have a lovely mint, lime and rum note. Smells grown up and mature. After about 20 minutes the dry tobacco note comes into play. This is where the similarities to Havana are quite noticeable. Although they are not identical.

The problem for me is that Cuba just doesn't last long on my skin. Coupled with the price point it Isn't something I feel I need to own. Although this opinion may change once I try the EDP.
14th February 2022

Man, I really like Cuba a lot, and decided that I need to get some more than just my sample. Then I finally figured it out. I already have Frank 2 Los Angeles....they basically smell the same.
18th March 2021
Czech & Speake Cuba (sample / current version) -

Disclaimer: Aramis Havana is in my Top 3 all-time deserted on a desert island frags.

“Cuba” has a beautiful opening where you get a very unique mint, lime and rum blend with no synthetic noise at all. This one is well made for sure!

After around 20 minutes, the mids start kicking - rose, bay leaf and clove. This blend to me hints at poolside “chlorine” but it's still palatable. Maybe drinks poolside is the intent?

Finally, the dry down is where the similarities to Havana come in to play. In terms of strength and projection they are also in the same ballpark.

“Cuba” really is a wonderful fragrance, although for me, Havana remains my preferred choice for 2 big reasons -

It is undeniably a bit rough around the edges and clearly masculine where “Cuba” leans unisex...

Value - For 100ml, “Cuba” goes for $160 and Havana goes for $20.

3 stars.
20th October 2020
Czech & Speake's Cuba is the sort of scent that you are never going to get again if the current tides of civilisation and progress (read: mass culture) persist. Here is a proper 'cologne'. I refrain from using the word 'perfume' as it is quite explicit who the target audience is; and, women, if they wear this, they'd perhaps be the ones who prefer colognes over perfumes. Here is a cologne done in the best traditions of the old school, but with some nuances and flourishes that render a suave, fresh appeal rather than something dusty or dated.

Cuba is a simple yet complex affair; beginning with a burst of lime and mint paired with a note of rum. The mint is underplayed and expertly handled so that the concoction smells closer to an abstract cocktail, rather than any toothpaste association. That isn't all; there is a deft touch of clove, and a very prominent note of bay. The aromatics are further shaped by a rapidly developing warm, humid note of tobacco that hints at leafy cigars, together with cedar and vetiver. I don't really get any incense from it, and it smells perfect. The development is brisk, then slowed out as the fresh-aromatic nature encounters a plot twist to reveal a warm, glowing scent. I'm not surprised that warm weather brings out the best in this scent. Luckily I don't get any note of faeces, but then, I never really had a way of life compliant with contemporary North American (specifically: Toronto) standards of sterilisation and sanitisation. Cuba exhibits discreet to average projection and moderate longevity based on an abundant application.

Cuba is far removed from contemporary perfume trends in 2019, and I'm thankful for that. It's 'niche' at designer prices, at least when I bought it a couple of years back; more importantly, its style is very different. There is minimal emphasis on synthetics though I'm sure it employs quite a bit, and it reminds me of the earlier/vintage Creeds like Baie de Genievre. Cuba exhibits excellent separation of notes, is airy, and lingers on in memory space for long after it fades away from skin.

If you're curious about how it relates Havana, they are largely different scents with Cuba being fresh-spicy, whereas Havana is warm-spicy; however, there is an uncanny link in the 'personalities' of the two scents, somehow they feel connected, even after accounting for the tobacco and bay/rum notes. They sort of go hand in hand, and I can say this about both: here there is style, here there is substance. This is a scent for discerning gents who understand and value respect and appreciation; wet shavers, hat wearers, and tango dancers.


Note: Review is of the EdT. I just realised I have never tried the aftershave, and now I feel stupid.
18th March 2019
Wearing Cuba for the second time today. I've been hand wringing for a while trying to decide if I wanted to purchase this one because of all the "fecal" note comments that have been made. Getting a sample of Cuba has proven difficult, so I finally bit the bullet and ordered a bottle. I'm relieved to report that there is no fecal note on my skin at all, and I'm slightly annoyed that I waited so long to enjoy this excellent fragrance. If those who think this smells like fecal actually excrete something that smells like this fragrance does, then by "Grabthar's Hammer, what a blessing!"

Seriously, this smells no more like excrement than neroli does to my nose. Cuba is very complex and there are some notes that are almost competing, but that I feel work wonderfully well, almost like a musical composition that is pushing the boundaries of dissonance but doesn't quite go off the rails and ends up being more interesting becoming a favorite in time.

Cuba has been a pleasant surprise. Another that I'm enjoying so much from Czech & Speake!
9th February 2019
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