There’s a song in my head as I start this post: “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…” which should’ve called for a post heading like The Smell of Samples, but it’s hard to change the words to The Sound of Music and still have the original title referenced. Besides, Andy Tauer is the Lord of Perfumes (you know, if Sauron was a sweet, uber-talented Swiss chemist with two eyeballs).
My very first foray into online samples was Mr. Tauer. Not bad for a newbie, eh? And hoo boy, was his stuff a revelation after all my trips to the local Shopper’s Drug Mart to try mainstream fragrances. I think I got the last or second-last of his old-style perfume samplers, before he released them in those neat little tin containers to go with the gorgeous new bottles. Which means I’ve got a little cardboard box upstairs with a handwritten note and 8 2ml vials; I am never getting rid of that box. It smells amazing, plus I’m reminded whenever I pull it out how exciting it was to get it. I mean, c’mon…mail from Switzerland? How cool is that?
Five of the original 8 work very nicely on my skin, and it was a pleasure to revisit them.
- Maroc pour Elle: The night my mail from Andy arrived, I carefully uncorked each vial to have a sniff; as this got recorked a couple of drops fell on my shirt. A couple of drops, that’s all. Within 15 minutes I was revisiting each vial to discover what heavenly thing was wafting up to me. Now I can recognize what that smell was: jasmine, lots of jasmine, with rose and amber and incense. It’s heady stuff, and very sweet, almost too much of a muchness; I’ve got to be feeling va-va-va-voom to wear it now. I can’t imagine the strength of this sprayed, as a tiny dab on the wrist is powerful stuff.
- Incense Rosé: There’s a lot more citrus in here than I remember, which means my nose has actually gotten better these last two years at parsing out notes. The combo of incense and citrus at the top makes the beginning quite cold; it warms a bit when the rose and hint of spice kicks in but not much. Somehow this manages to pull off rich and austere at the same time.
- Une Rose Chyprée: There’s a sparkliness in the beginning, almost an aldehydic feel, and again there’s citrus with the rose, but this time the combo goes greener. It’s a higher-pitched rose than Incense Rosé, but still rich compared to other citrus-y roses I’ve tried. An hour in the rose darkens and vanilla and labdanum sweeten the mix. This has a lovely, old-fashioned feel to it that I enjoy now more than I first tried it. I guess that means my taste has also changed in the last two years.
- Incense Extrême: For some reason I thought this had citrus in the top, and nope, it doesn’t. I don’t know how Andy pulls it off, but this smells crisp and refreshing without any discernible green or citrus. This is full-on INCENSE. Not as full-bodied as Incense Rosé, but calmer. I did a wrist-to-wrist of this and IR a year ago, and at that time IR won. Now, IE is pulling ahead.
- L’Air du Désert Marocain: I had heard so much about this it was a bit of a letdown when I first tried it. Spicy and dry, I found it more interesting than wearable. It turns out LADDM is a bit like Bach, not immediately likeable but if you put some work into it, the intricacy of it starts to shimmer; some beauty you just have to earn. When I tried LADDM today, it amazed me how different facets would pop out if I only concentrated on them. Herby and sage-like, and then all of a sudden labdanum reared its head, and then lemon, and then cedar and then… This thing is fractal. And despite how much is going on in here, it’s very airy. I finally understand what Tania was talking about when she spoke of desert sky.
When I sat down to write today, my mood was lighthearted, thinking this would be a fun little thing replete with pop culture references. Imagine my surprise to find T.S. Eliot here at the end demanding some attention:We shall not cease from exploration And the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive when we started And know the place for the first time.
Mr. Tauer, I salute you.