Violet Tobacco – Byredo Black Saffron Perfume Review

Byredo Black Saffron
Black Saffron by Byredo

Anyone who has been within an inch of this blog or my Twitter feed will know that my latest obsession is Byredo’s 1996. Never before has a perfume so quickly made its merry little way up to the very top of my wish list, leaving me drooling and lusting after it so badly that my long-suffering partner had no choice but to gift me a bottle for Christmas. For his sanity you understand?

So yes, I was very pleased with my bottle of 1996 and even more so when I found a little sample of a Byredo scent I’ve not smelled accompanying it – Black Saffron. Launched in 2012, this supposedly dark take on saffron, where the golden spice is merged with violet and leather to create something entirely unexpected, is a rather interesting scent indeed. Byredo describe the inspirations behind it as follows:

“Saffron is holy to all Hindus, is the colour of Buddhist robes and has become a symbol for India. It has always been a part of Byredo’s founders upbringing in both smell, taste and colour. Black Saffron is a fragrance inspired by this very idea of sublime unity.”

I've renamed Black Saffron as 'Violet Tobacco'
I’ve renamed Black Saffron as ‘Violet Tobacco’

The Notes

Top: Pomelo, Saffron and Juniper Berry
Heart: Black Violet, Accord Cuir and Cristal Rose
Base: Blond Woods, Raspberry and Vetiver

How Does it Smell?

The opening of Black Saffron is a melange of sweet, dewy fruit and spice. Cardamom and juniper merge with peach and raspberry water to make an effervescent accord that feels both translucent and spacious. The one disappointment however, is the saffron, which really does feel like it is absent without leave, but that’s not to say that this scent is a ‘miss’, in fact the truth is far from it – Black Saffron is incredibly likeable and really quite different.

Violet is one of the key ingredients and in Black Saffron it adds a milky texture along with the sweet, dusty smell of fresh violet petals. This contemporary take on violet also brings a touch of green to the foray – think of green, waxy green stems and you’re on the right track – providing a smooth transition to one of Black Saffron’s most surprising and key ingredients – tobacco.

Tobacco isn’t listed as one of Black Saffron’s notes (because let’s face it, the notes are never truly representative of what’s actually in a perfume) but it is absolutely most definitely present in the base (alongside woods and vetiver). This tobacco is cold and fruity, almost as if it emits thin plumes of violet coloured smoke into the air, much in keeping with the sleek, almost minimalist Byredo aesthetic. In my head I imagine a purple cigarette, freshly lit from the packet.

Black Saffron is an interesting scent, first and foremost because it is unfortunately misnamed, making for a surprising perfume all round. One won’t find a dark saffron based scent in this, instead what is presented in Byredo’s unassuming ink well bottle is a fruity tobacco scent that is much lighter in colour than the name would suggest. If I were given a chance to rename Black Saffron I would call it ‘Violet Tobacco’ (or ‘Tobacco Blush’, but I’m aware that’s a bit ‘Tom Ford’) because to my nose it really is more purple than black.


Byredo’s Black Saffron is available in 50ml (£88) and 100ml (£130) Eau de Parfum.

Sample was a gift with purchase. Image 1 via Image 2 via Notes and quotes via