Italian niche brand Xerjoff is known for big, bold, and luxurious fragrances.
Perfumes like Lira and Italica, rich gourmands, Nio, a modern take on a classic Italian cologne, and Richwood, a decadent blend of patchouli, rose, and authentic Mysore sandalwood, have become staples in the fragrance world.
Naxos, first released in 2015, is Xerjoff’s take on a tobacco perfume. It has developed a reputation as being one of the best tobacco fragrances on the market today, and remains one of Xerjoff’s most popular offerings. But how does Naxos stack up against other titans of tobacco?
Xerjoff’s Naxos is a classy take on tobacco that will please both connoisseurs and novices alike. While it isn’t the most original scent profile, the same scent has rarely been executed with such quality and skill as in Naxos. Though expensive, its depth and performance makes it worth the money.
Want to know more? Let’s take a closer look at Xerjoff Naxos.
Top Notes: lavender, bergamot, lemon
Middle Notes: honey, cinnamon, cashmeran, jasmine sambac
Base Notes: tobacco leaf, tonka beans, vanilla
Inspiration Behind The Scent
Naxos is one of four perfumes from Xerjoff’s 1861 collection, first launched in 2011 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy. XJ 1861 Renaissance, a fresh and zingy summer perfume, evokes the vibrant spirit of the period of unification; XJ 1861 Zefiro, a luminous incense fragrance, represents Rome; XJ 1861 Decas, the most recent addition to the collection, is a sweet and resinous floral fragrance inspired by Italy’s aristocratic heritage.
Naxos, however, is inspired by Sicily.
The name was rather confusing to me for a time, because I’ve always known “Naxos” as the name of a Greek island, and none of the promotional materials for Naxos describe the inspiration behind the name.
However, after a little digging, I found that Naxos was the name of the most ancient of the Greek colonies on Sicily (originally founded by colonists from the Greek island of Naxos). Today, it lends its name to the town of Giardini Naxos, a tourist resort town near Taormina famous for its beaches and the archaeological site of the ancient city of Naxos.
The perfume Naxos is meant to evoke the sights, smells, and heritage of Sicily – the heady fragrance of its citrus groves, the rich earthiness of its tobacco plantations, and the smell of fougères emanating off of impeccably groomed Italian gentlemen in freshly pressed linen suits, and the “deep and sensual heart” of Sicily, represented by vanilla and tonka beans.
While I appreciate the marketing and inspiration behind the scent, Naxos doesn’t smell particularly Mediterranean to me – if you’re looking for that, stick to Acqua di Parma or L’Occitane en Provence.
As someone who lived near and traveled around the Mediterranean pretty extensively, tobacco is not the first scent that comes to mind when thinking of the region, though it’s true that many Spainiards and Italians smoke like chimneys.
The opening is surprisingly fresh, with a zingy burst of citruses and an aromatic, even slightly astringent brace of lavender that hints at a fougère accord. However, this brightness is soon subsumed by the principal notes of the fragrance: rich, smoky tobacco, gooey honey, and a yummy chord of vanilla, tonka bean, and cashmeran. I get almost no jasmine, but I believe it might be playing second fiddle here, adding texture and structure to the mid.
The aromatic opening lingers for some time, but the longer the fragrance wears, the deeper and more delicious it becomes. The opening and the mid are a bit rough, and even somewhat harsh to my nose with herbal lavender, smoky tobacco, and sharp citruses. For the first thirty minutes or so there is also a peculiar lipsticky/chapsticky vibe which I can’t quite place and don’t quite like.
However, after about an hour or two of wearing, everything comes together beautifully. The star player here, I think, is cashmeran, a synthetic molecule known for the silky texture it imparts to fragrances. Combined with the vanilla, cinnamon, tonka, and honey, it has the effect of smoothing out the rough edges in Naxos, creating a lush, creamy, almost gourmand drydown that lasts for hours and hours on end.
This is the best part of the fragrance, and thankfully the most dominant and longest-lasting. Though the opening is a bit harsh, your persistence will be rewarded with an elegant scent that lasts for ages on skin. Naxos is also easily one of my most complimented scents.
Overall, I’d describe Naxos with these adjectives: smooth, creamy, luxurious, smoky, and delicious.
The presentation of Naxos is opulent, as is to be expected from Xerjoff.
The packaging for Naxos is in the same vein as the rest of the 1861 line – in short, luxurious and well worth keeping.
The outer box is done up in red, green, and white, the colors of the flag of Italy. In the center is a map of Sicily over which the Trinacria – the symbol of Sicily, consisting of the head of gorgon, some sheaves of wheat, a pair of wings, and three legs bent at the knee in a classic triskeles, triple spiral, formation – and the name of the house are superimposed.
The inner box is made of deep purple/burgundy pleather, with gold stitching and the characteristic Xerjoff “X”.
Inside is a little niche into which the bottle fits snugly, along with some velvety pieces of cloth embroidered with golden X’s that gently covers the bottle like some blanket that Burt Lancaster might’ve swaddled himself in in Il Gattopardo.
Overall, the packaging for Naxos feels rather haute luxe and it will certainly make you exclaim, “Mama mia!” in your best Italian accent if it’s your first Xerjoff.
The 3.4 oz (100 ml) bottle, like the box, is similarly regal.
There is something about frosted glass that just shivers me timbers, and so it’s no surprise that Naxos’ bottle makes me go gaga. This thing is one hefty bottle – thick, weighty glass, so solidly built that it could double as a bludgeoning weapon in a pinch.
Adding to its potential for self-defense is Xerjoff’s characteristic sharp, pointed metal cap, in my mind representative of a 19th century fusilier’s mitre. Though not magnetic, the cap slides into place very solidly, and you can pick up the bottle by the cap (though I don’t know why you would).
On the front side of the bottle is a metal plate etched with the Xerjoff “X”, under which you’ll find what I can only guess is some kind of an Italian emblem with a noble escutcheon, crown, and red and green ribbons.
Note that this is for the newer presentation. At its release in 2015, Naxos was housed in a different, squat square bottle; I believe it also came in both 1.7 oz (50 ml) and 3.4 oz (100 ml) sizes, but I can’t find much information to confirm that. Nowadays, Naxos is only available in a 100 ml bottle size.
Performance, as is to be expected (or rather hoped) for the price point, is excellent. There has been some talk on Fragrantica and Basenotes of reformulation, but my 2020 bottle of Naxos performs beautifully.
Longevity is very much above average on my skin, even exceptional.
Three sprays net me nine to ten hours of solid longevity on my skin, possibly even more. It is very strong, so I would recommend dialing down the sprays for this one. However, if you’d like even more longevity, four to five sprays or more could potentially give you twelve to fourteen hours of longevity on skin, and longer on fabric.
That’s more than enough longevity for me.
Projection & Sillage
Projection and sillage are similarly excellent. And while this is not some kind of miasmatic clubbing fragrance à la Jean Paul Gaultier’s Ultra Male or Dior’s Sauvage, it is nevertheless quite strong.
Three sprays give me three to four hours of consistent projection and a little bit less than arm’s length sillage. This is one of those fragrances that I can easily smell through my mask, even as I’m driving my motorcycle.
It might not fill up a room, but it will create a delicious bubble of scent around you, without doubt. Someone who comes close to you won’t fail to pick it up. Once, when I wore this to a play, a friend who was sitting two seats away from me said that she was consistently picking up whiffs of Naxos. This was probably around four or five hours after my initial application.
So, this is a strong puppy. I’d recommend that you keep it to two to three sprays.
Value For Money
Now a contentious point: value for money.
Naxos is a niche fragrance. If you’d like to know more about niche fragrances, feel free to take a quick gander here to find out what differentiates them from your Diors and Chanels. And if you’d read that article, you’ll know that niche fragrances tend to be more expensive than designer fragrances.
A 3.4 oz (100 ml) bottle of Naxos retails for €180, which is around $202 USD. That’s $2.02/ml. If you order online from Xerjoff Universe, you’ll have to factor in shipping outside of the EU, which, if I recall, is around $15; however, online orders of full bottles include a Xerjoff sample set. In stores, you might have to pay some additional tax as well.
So, does Naxos have good value for money? Well, first you have to ask yourself: are you the kind of person who’s willing to drop more than $100 on a perfume?
If so, I would argue that, yes, Naxos is pretty good value for money. It is high quality, long-lasting, strong, and comes with a beautiful presentation. Most niche fragrance go for around $150 for 1.7 oz (50 ml) of juice. Naxos, on the other hand, is $200 for 3.4 oz (100 ml) of juice. Compared to brands like Le Labo or Byredo, that’s a pretty good value.
However, of course, if you think that paying $200 for a bottle of smelly water is exorbitant (which, honestly speaking, it kind of is), then Naxos probably won’t have much value for money for you.
This is a luxury product with a luxury price tag, so you’ll have to make your own determination.
Who Would Like It
Naxos is a very appealing smell, and I doubt very much that there is anyone out there who would be repulsed by it. Though the fougère accord in the opening and smoky tobacco skews it a little toward the masculine end of the spectrum, the smooth, creamy drydown makes it perfectly wearable for both sexes. I have a female friend who asked me the name of it and wanted to buy it for herself, so I think that Naxos could be a-ok for men or women who enjoy unisex fragrances.
Naxos will appeal to people who like tobacco fragrances, as well as to people who like sweet, creamy, and gourmand fragrances. Men who favor fresh, zingy, shower-gelesque fragrances like Versace Dylan Blue might not be too keen on it due to its smoky and spicy nuances.
Therefore, I’d recommend Xerjoff Naxos to more mature wearers, 25 and up, who have an appreciation for sweet, spicy, and smoky fragrances.
When To Wear It
Because of its heaviness, I would say that Naxos is best suited for fall and winter wear, though the freshness of the opening makes it wearable on spring and summer nights in cooler climates.
Though it is rich and elegant, Naxos remains a fairly versatile fragrance that would not be out of place either at the bar with the boys (or girls) or at a black-tie affair. You can wear this to casual or formal occasions, to the office (go easy on the trigger), or on date nights.
Though you could rock this with a t-shirt and jeans, I would recommend at least a button-up for maximum effect.
As I mentioned before, Naxos is not the most original fragrance on the market, despite its quality and craftsmanship. There are a number of other fragrances that can give you a similar experience for a lower price.
Perhaps the most notable example would be Thierry Mugler’s Pure Havane (Amazon) from the A*Men line. Some have even gone so far to say that Naxos is a niche version of Pure Havane, though I wouldn’t say so.
I can confirm that they are quite similar, but Pure Havane is more synthetic, more focused on gourmand notes, less balanced, and doesn’t have the citrus and aromatics of Naxos. Still, it’s a very nice fragrance in its own right, and well worth owning.
Other similar fragrances include Penhaligon’s Roaring Radcliffe and Bon Parfumeur’s 902 armagnac, blond tobacco, cinnamon (Amazon).
Again, Naxos is a luxury fragrance with high quality ingredients, so these perfumes will not give you the exact same experience; the closest in terms of quality will be Roaring Radcliffe and Pure Havane. However, they will all give you a little taste of what Naxos has to offer. For those looking for the, shall we say, platonic ideal of the sweet spicy tobacco DNA, Naxos is a pretty good contender.
Pros & Cons
- Rich and opulent scent with high quality ingredients.
- Luxurious packaging.
- Powerful performance.
- Not the most original scent; has many alternatives.
- Expensive for most people.
- The opening can be abrasive.
The Final Word
In short, Xerjoff’s Naxos is a fantastic tobacco fragrance for fall and winter wear that should satisfy most anyone looking for a sweet ‘n’ spicy. Sure, it might not be the most original fragrance in the world, and it is indeed rather expensive, but its high quality, strong performance, and beautiful packaging make Naxos a great choice for those looking for a fall and winter signature.
It is rich, creamy, opulent, and quite likeable, being one of my most highly complimented fragrances. And it lasts and projects all day and then some.
Is it the best tobacco fragrance on the market? In my book, no. I myself prefer Ormonde Jayne’s Montabaco Intensivo, Amouage’s Journey Man, Lorenzo Villoresi’s Atman Xaman, and Serge Luten’s Chergui as tobacco experiences.
Nevertheless, in fall and winter, Naxos is one of my most worn fragrances, and I am more than happy to have it in my collection.
★★★★☆ 4 stars out of 5