Monday, November 23, 2009

Incense Rose (Andy Tauer)

I'd read a lot--and heard even more--about Tauer perfumes before ever smelling any. People seem particularly fond, if not outright gaga, over L'air du Desert Marocain and Lonestar Memories, for instance, and the blogosphere is a'twitter with praise and testimonials about them. Vetiver Dance, one of the more recent Tauer releases, was greeted by the kind of anxiety you normally see associated with the next installment of the Twilight "saga". Even Luca Turin sang Tauer's praises, giving the majority of his work high marks, exempting the perfumer himself from the Guide's famously scathing wit.

During a trip to Los Angeles, I stopped in at the LuckyScent scent bar to see what all the fuss was about--but there was such a cacophony of smells competing for my attention that Tauer's fragrances didn't get the time they deserved. Stupidly, I decided that they must not be my thing. They hadn't knocked my socks off, so how could they be all that, I figured. This is a bit like saying Shalimar is inferior to Britney Midnight Fantasy because the latter sticks with you like blueberry gum, drowning out the former, along with memory, desire, hunger, and sex drive.

Dissolve. Months later, I received a little sample atomizer of Incense Rose in the mail. I think every perfume lover has those moments where he realizes how very little he knows, despite relentless exposure to everything from Guerlain to Lutens to Parfum D'Empire to Axe Body Spray. We smell so many things so often that we can sometimes mistake overkill for sophistication. Sometimes, we can discern what the average consumer can't--the finer points of Jicky, maybe, seeing past the civet. Other times, we're too jaded or distracted to recognize the quiet voice of greatness.

By itself, Incense Rose stood out. It rang out, really, and I was inspired to revisit all things Tauer, realizing that, in my rush to smell the trees, I'd missed the forest altogether. Incense Rose is pretty straightforwardly lovely, and truly unisex, a rich, calming blend of rose, frankincense, cardamom, coriander, and cedar, among other things. classifies it as "Chypre - Floral". There's certainly a bit of an old school feel about it, a textured resonance associated with vintage classics, right down to the patchouli and ambergris in its base. But Incense Rose is unmistakably about frankincense.

Castor and labdanum add touches of honeyed leather, a subliminal undercurrent of the animalic. Orris bridges the distance between the more medicinal and astringent aspects of the incense, spices, and cedar and the buttery floral warmth of bergamot and Bulgarian rose. Incense Rose is so well done, so perfectly constructed, that you don't realize how complex it is, how adeptly all these materials have been selected, measured, and applied. Frankincense is treated in such a way that the overall radiance feels fairly straightforward, sort of inevitable, as if simply characteristic of the note. It's only when you compare it to other frankincense-based scents that you really see how epic Incense Rose is, how heightened and dynamic a fragrance, how advanced Tauer's artistry has become. None of this gets at the weird balsamic heft of the construction, mind you.

Incense Rose uses high quality ingredients. One smell of any Tauer perfume and you won't need me or anyone else to tell you that. Next to Lonestar Memories (another personal favorite) Incense Rose seems to last better than anything else in the Tauer arsenal on my skin. It sticks with me all day, fluctuating with my moods. There are only a handful of fragrances I'd never be without. Incense Rose has a firm place among them.


Flora said...

...and another Andy Tauer fan is born! You are right about one thing in particular - the first sniff of any Tauer scent reveals without a doubt that only the best materials have been employed. It's almost shocking to come face-to-face with such immediacy and earthiness in a perfume, yet such refinement at the same time.

I have yet to try this one for some reason, it's on my to-do-soon list. I worship L'Air du Desert Marocain completely and I have very high hopes for Incense Rose.

How do you rate Incense Extreme? I think it's fantastic as well.

Elizabeth said...

This was my gateway fragrance. :-) It's also still one of my favorites; even though I don't wear it often, I fall in love with it all over again each time.

Unknown said...

I was looking for the perfect Incense perfume this fall, and I tried every sample I could order, including all the Comme des Garcons, Annick Goutals, Amouages etc. but Incense Rose is the one I fell for. It is such a lovely frankincense I sniff my wrist all day. I am ordering a full bottle and also the Rose Chypree, which I didn't expect to love but I do.

Mals86 said...

Another one I expected to love, but didn't. What I got from it was a back-of-the-throat burn - what I call the Tang Dust Effect. It's the TDE that makes me avoid the task of mixing up the stuff, and I usually put it off on one of the kids and leave the kitchen area because it bothers me so much.

Oddly, it seems to share the same tangerine note with Une Rose Chypree, which I like very much: I don't get any rasp from URC.

Anonymous said...

Incense Rose is one of my favourite Tauers; my very favourite though, is Maroc Pour Elle. I expected to love L'Air du Desert Marocain, but maybe the build-up was too much. However, Maroc Pour Elle smells more "me" than almost anything else I wear, and I am hopelessly in love with it. Surprising, as a read-though of the notes doesn't make me swoon. But when I wear it, I get tons of compliments, and wearing it just makes me feel great, and makes my day that much better.

The first time I smelled Lonestar was in August, and whether it was my body chemistry (I was anemic and vitamin D deficient at the time) or the heat of summer, but it smelled just like a Canadian Tire store (to non-Canadians, a store that sells tires, bikes and other sports equipment, cleaners and basic household products). I tried it a few weeks ago, and while I still got leather, it no longer smelled like bike seats and basketballs, but something very sexy.

Just goes to show you should never write a perfume off based on a single sniff, no matter how bad the first impression.

Tauer perfumes are amazing; just wish that he would use packaging equal to the juice; encasing a sublimely beautiful fragrance in the same sort of bottles as drugstore scents ("Charlie" always comes to mind) I think hinders his sales. I always ask at the shi-shi perfume counters here in Geneva, the places that stock Frederic Malle and Serge Lutens, why they don't have any Tauer (this being Switzerland!) and they just shrug. A real shame.

Carol said...

I have tried four of his fragrances and I would buy all four of them.