Not all gardenia scents are soliflores; some can be general floral bouquets. The latest release from Tauer Perfumes is neither one of those things on my skin. It is, however, one of the most disappointing fragrances that I’ve tried this year. The reason has nothing to do with expectations of a soliflore, either. I would have been perfectly happy with a rich floral scent, or even a nice perfume of a completely different nature. Unfortunately, on me, Sotto La Luna Gardenia is simply a terrible fragrance, period.
Welcome to summer. Would you care for some lemonade? That is one facet of Cologne du Maghreb, a fragrance from Tauer Perfumes that begins as a brisk, chilled draught of citruses before turning much warmer and woodier.
As the name makes clear, Cologne du Maghreb is an eau de cologne. It originally debuted in 2011, and has just been re-released, primarily for the U.S. market, though it is also available at some European retailers. The fragrance is centered on botanical, natural, and absolute oils, but it also seeks to put a twist on the traditional, often European model for colognes by introducing some oriental elements as well. As the press release sent to me explains:
The Cologne du Maghreb is hand crafted and created in the traditional way of cologne making: With all natural and all botanical raw materials only. Essential oils, absolutes and resins find their way into this Cologne. Not more, not less. […][¶]
With this Cologne, Andy reaches out to the origins of perfume making in Europe, with an oriental twist, adding a storyline that goes beyond classical cologne splashes. The Cologne du Maghreb is a light fragrance that bridges occident and orient, and is evidence that the lands of the orient sun bring us more tones than just oudh and dark woods.
Contrasting a bright citrus chord, cistus and ambreine add depth and a natural amber gris shade. An exotic melody with cedarwood from the Moroccan High Atlas and hints of Java vetiver oil lingers in its base and lasts longer than the classical cologne citrus chord.
Like all colognes, the Cologne du Maghreb is a refreshing joy for the moment, and its herbaceous citrus accord is composed to last a short while, bright and fresh like the morning sun rising over a citrus garden in Morocco. The Cologne du Maghreb builds on the finest grade of Bergamot and lemon essential oils, combined with other carefully selected citrus treasures, such as luxurious neroli oil, the steam distilled essential oil of orange blossoms.
Lavender and rosemary essential oils build a herbaceous contrast to the fresh airy citrus choir and join rose absolute, rose essential oil and clary sage, bringing in a green ambery floral line and adding depth and character.
Notes: Citrus accord, cistus [labdanum amber], ambreine, cedarwood, java vetiver oil, bergamot, lemon, neroli, orange blossom, lavender, rosemary, rose absolute, rose essential oil, clary sage.
Cologne du Maghreb opens on my skin with crisp lemon and lime, resembling a very tart, chilled lemonade. It is lightly infused with vetiver which always manifests a peppermint aspect on my skin. While that’s rather common for me with vetiver, it isn’t the norm for a lot of people. Still, you should expect some definite greenness to accompany the cool citrus notes.
For a brief moment, Cologne du Maghreb’s opening bouquet calls to mind Dior‘s famous Eau Sauvage in vintage form. Both fragrances have sparkling freshness, vetiver, and citruses, but there are also differences. Cologne du Maghreb’s opening is much more heavily citric in focus, with less woodiness and vetiver. Also, to my memory, Eau Sauvage did not have any lime which is a sharper, more bitter element than bergamot and lemon. In any event, the similarity is fleeting, and soon passes.
Other elements lurk in Cologne du Maghreb’s background. There are hints of ambered sweetness, woodiness and herbaceousness, creating a blend that is largely fresh and crisp, but also with peeks of warmth. The herbal elements are mostly abstract. I never detect lavender or rosemary on my skin, though a muted, quiet touch of soapy clary sage is noticeable for brief moments in the opening 10 minutes.
As it fades, it makes way for the cedar which generally smells very green and fresh. The odd thing is that there is a definite whiff of muskiness to the note. In fact, in the opening few minutes, I had detected a sweatiness that had a strange woody character. It didn’t last for long, but I’m pretty sure it is the cedar which is responsible. There is something else, too: pencil shavings. Once in a while, the cedar smells like lemon-drenched pencil shavings as well. All of this is brief, though, as the wood note recedes to the periphery 30 minutes into Cologne du Maghreb’s development. When it returns, it is largely an abstract woodiness on my skin, without any strong or clearly delineated cedar tonalities.
For the most part, Cologne du Maghreb’s opening bouquet in the first hour is primarily that of sparkling, very zesty, chilled lemonade made up of lemons and limes, with peppermint vetiver, a dash of the oils from the fruits’ bitter peel, and the occasional suggestion of woodiness in the background. The herbaceousness soon fades away, as does the clary sage’s brief, muted touch of soapiness. At no time did I experience any orange blossom, though the rose appeared later for a short period.
To my surprise, the scent doesn’t feel like a thin cologne at all. Initially, it falls midway between a strong eau de toilette and a very airy, light, sheer eau de parfum. Botanicals can be very concentrated and potent, and it feels as though Mr. Tauer used very rich ones here. I have to say, I’m relieved, as I was rather dreading a Jo Malone-style of scent or a watery cologne. I have intense loathing and contempt for both.
Nonetheless, Cologne du Maghreb is not a potent scent when taken as a whole over the span of its entire development. The sillage is initially 2 inches with the use of 2 good sprays from a small vial. The number was pushed up by a fraction when I applied more, amounting to 2 large sprays from an actual perfume bottle, but Cologne du Maghreb is generally a soft fragrance. The projection dropped roughly 40 minutes into the perfume’s development to an inch. By the 90 minute mark, Cologne du Maghreb hovered just above the skin. It became a true skin scent on me at the end of the 2nd hour, and required me putting my nose actually on the skin to detect it.
At the start of the 2nd hour, Cologne du Maghreb begins to shift. A sweet, sherbet powder aroma takes over that smells exactly like Country Time yellow lemonade in its powdered form inside the box. I suspect those of you who are Americans with children know the precise scent in question. That does not mean that Cologne du Maghreb is powdery; it is not. But it smells like Country Time lemonade before you’ve added in the water. In addition, there is almost a fizzy quality to the scent as well. Cologne du Maghreb no longer feels as chilled or as brisk. Its bouquet is becoming deeper, warmer, and sweeter, even as the fragrance itself turns thinner, sheerer, and lighter. The lime and its slight bitterness has faded away. So has the cedar in any clear, distinct form.
Slowly, very slowly, Cologne du Maghreb turns deeper as a faint suggestion of something golden hovers at the edges. It is too nebulous on my skin to translate to actual labdanum, but it is clearly working indirectly to turn the fragrance warmer, darker, and more rounded now. By the middle of the 2nd hour, the citruses feel sun-sweetened and ripe, instead of sparkling, cool, or tart. The woodiness has returned, but it is largely abstract now instead of fresh, green, or musky cedar. Accompanying it is the subtle suggestion of something earthy. It does not smell of actual dirt or soil, and is extremely muted, but there is a sweet earthiness. I suspect it may stem from the labdanum amber this time, not the cedar.
The note made me realise that Cologne du Maghreb is slowly transitioning away from lemonade powder and into something else: the scent of a full citrus tree. The main element continues to be the ripe lemons hanging heavily from the branch, but there is now also the vague sense of the wood and of the earth in which the tree is planted. There are even tiny splotches of greenness, like the leaves, from the lingering traces of vetiver in the background. It’s a symbolic, olfactory representation of a lemon tree in summer, from its fruits all the way down.
Cologne du Maghreb doesn’t change enormously after this point. The rose suddenly arrives on the scene about 3.25 hours into the perfume’s development. It is quite strong for about 15 minutes, before it retreats and joins the secondary elements that trail behind the lemon. For a short time, Cologne du Maghreb is a soft, sweet, lemon fragrance lightly flecked with roses, abstract woodiness, warmth, and a touch of minty vetiver. It’s all very gauzy and discreet on the skin.
Over the next hour, the other elements slowly fade away, until only the lemon is left standing in a cocoon of golden warmth with a hint of woodiness. In its final hour, the fragrance is a mere wisp of something warm and citrusy. All in all, Cologne du Maghreb lasted between 5 and 6.5 hours, depending on the quantity that I applied.
In the press materials that I was sent by Tauer Perfume’s U.S. distributor, Jeffrey Dame of Hypoluxe emphasized that true colognes are intended to be something refreshing and light for a hot, steamy day, and are meant to have intimate sillage. He also argues that true European colognes don’t last.
I disagree with him on that last issue, but, to be frank, I don’t understand the point of colognes as a general rule. My baseline for fragrances stemming back to my childhood is such that the scents considered to be powerhouses today are my “norm,” while eau de toilettes are my equivalent of a “cologne.” Actual colognes simply don’t register or compute for me with their 3-5 hours in average duration, watery thinness, intimate sillage, and need for endless reapplication. The point of spending money on such things eludes me entirely.
In all fairness, and to be as clear as possible, a number of those problems are not an issue here. Cologne du Maghreb is not like one of Jo Malone’s watery, ephemeral, banal, and utterly lifeless exercises in futility, but I’m still the wrong person to make any objective assessment of Cologne du Maghreb except in terms of how it smells. And it smells nice for a citrus fragrance. I can see how it may be very appealing on a hot summer’s day to go along with a cold glass of lemonade. I don’t wear citrus fragrances, but I appreciated how this one had a surprising woodiness and depth to it. In short, it wasn’t a squirt of thin lemon, and nothing else. It also lasted longer than I had expected.
There are already some reviews available for Cologne du Maghreb, and you may find them interesting as a comparative assessment. On Indiescents, one of Tauer’s Canadian retailers, the three comments range from “surprisingly pleasant” to “surprisingly woodsy.” All are positive:
- From the description, I was bracing myself for a face full of citrus, but I think the cedar note is the real star here, the central pillar that the dry botanicals and the bright citrus dance around. It smells ancient, sacred, dry, but alive, like a secret oasis in the desert or a temple on a mountaintop with offerings of fruit and dried flowers arranged on the altar. […]
- … Although nothing “sticks out” to me about this fragrance, it is definitely a true citrus, and one who has a trained nose can tell it is authentic in quality. Well done!
- I LOVE realistic citrus fragrances,with a good herbal twist..NO mens aftershave here,or lemon pledge aroma! This cologne is not very long lived..but its not made to be. It is the best new fragrance from this line I have tried so far:) […]
On Fragrantica, the one comment posted thus far is a rave review that talks about the “breathtaking” quality of the materials used in Cologne du Maghreb, and says it is one of the best colognes the poster has ever tried. I found the comment interesting because of a reference to “fetid” woodiness that echoes what I experienced with the cedar as well. “Karlovonamesti” writes:
A beautifully assembled cologne that dwells strongly on the fetid woodiness of cedar, lending it a duskier quality than your average EDC. There are complex top notes of orange, lemon, lime, bergamot, and neroli, with a significant labdanum heart, and plenty of wood in the base, which actually goes on for a while despite its cologne strength. Expect at least three hours out of this one, with a decent throw. Andy offers us the rarity of a complex cologne, and the experience of wearing it is unremittingly pleasurable. I admit that I’m not a fan of cedar in general, but the quality of materials and compositional skill on display here is breathtaking. This is one of the best colognes I’ve ever worn.
Luckyscent also has only one review listed thus far, and it is from someone who says Cologne du Maghreb is the first Tauer that they have ever fallen for:
The first of Tauer’s frangrances I have fallen deeply in love with. Many of his fragrances have a creosote note in them, which I recognized because I live in the desert and creosote bushes give off the smell before rain. Great for a preview of rain, not great for fragrance. But this one doesn’t have that creosote base. It is a perfect summer splash for hot summers. The blending is lovely, I get lime peel and then the herbaceous, cooling, dry (but not scratchy), refreshing scent. Not long lasting on me, but priced well enough to refresh during the day, which I like doing. Perfect if you work closely with people, it’s no sillage monster, or even aggressive. Lovely.
Speaking of pricing, Cologne du Maghreb costs $85 or €56 for a 50 ml bottle. As for availability, this is technically not a limited-issue fragrance. According to Hypoluxe, vendors will simply stock less of the cologne in winter, but it seems that its release this summer is largely aimed at the American market. As a side note, Cologne du Maghreb is the exact same formula as the original scent issued back in 2011.
Finally, Mr. Tauer has apparently decided to release a new cologne every summer, and the packaging will change as well. This year, Cologne du Maghreb came out in its original bottle which was a rectangular glass flacon, but the upcoming 2015 cologne (a woody vetiver scent) will be in the traditional Tauer pentagonal bottle. Cologne du Maghreb will change over to that packaging, too, next year. So, if you’re reading this review in a year from now and worry that Cologne du Maghreb may have been reformulated due to the differences in bottle, you have no cause for concern. It will be the same scent.
All in all, if you are looking for a refreshing fragrance for the summer that is more than mere citrus, give Cologne du Maghreb a sniff.
Disclosure: Perfume courtesy of Hypoluxe, the U.S. distributor for Tauer Perfumes. That did not influence this review, I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.
Cost & Availability: Cologne du Maghreb only comes in 50 ml bottle and costs $85 or €56. At the time of this post, it is not available on the Tauer website. In the U.S.: Cologne du Maghreb is available at Luckyscent, MinNY, Twisted Lily, The Perfume Shoppe, Tiger Lily in San Francisco, Cleveland’s Indigo Perfumery, and Portland’s Perfume House. Outside the U.S.: In Canada, you can find Cologne du Maghreb at Indiescents, and The Perfume Shoppe. In Europe, it is available at First in Fragrance and Essenza Nobile. Both ship worldwide. In the U.K., Scent & Sensibility is the exclusive retailer for Tauer Perfumes, but they do not have Cologne du Maghreb on their website and I don’t know if they will be getting it in the future. Samples: Most of the sites listed above offer samples for sale. You can also try The Perfumed Court which sells Cologne du Maghreb starting at $4.96 for a 1 ml vial.
An ode to orange blossom, done the Tauer way: dusted with spices, smoked with frankincense, turned black and rubbery with elevated indoles, sweetened with candy, and infused with amber. That’s Eau d’Epices (sometimes called L’Eau d’Epices or No. 12 – L’Eau d’Épices) an eau de parfum from Tauer Perfumes.
Eau d’Epices was originally released in 2010 and has just been re-released. I’ve sought specific clarification on the timeline of events, and whether the sample I received was from a new batch or formula. I’ve been repeatedly assured that it is not. According to Hypoluxe, Tauer’s American distributor, Andy Tauer created one batch of Eau d’Epices in 2010 which sold out by 2012. He held off on creating more to see how customers responded to the scent, and only recently decided to create more. So, again, the formula is said to be identical, and there should be no question of batch variations.
The press release for Eau d’Epices describes the perfume as follows:
One of Tauer’s favorite naturals, orange blossoms absolute, plays a central role in this scent that is unique and original. Natural oils from spices orchestrate an opening that is vibrant, and warm. Red mandarin softens the spices and prepare for the orange blossoms that bloom in l’eau d’épices together with another white flower: Jasmin. Frankincense essential oil leads over to a classical Tauer base chord featuring ambergris, tonka, hints of vetiver and the woody warm perfume of cistus ladaniferus resin, resembling a walk in a pineta.
An Indian basket of spices with cinnamon, cardamom, clove and corriander with red mandarines.
An opulent heart of orange blossom, jasmine, orris root and incense.
A woody cistus ladaniferus resin, softened with ambergris, tonka beans and vetiver.
I tested Eau d’Epices twice, using different quantities and experienced two very different opening phases. The perfume eventually ended up in the same place, but the focal point was quite different in each test, especially in the beginning.
The first time, I used 2 small sprays from my atomizer, and the dominant aroma on my skin was candy sweets. Specifically, Sweet Tarts (or SweeTarts) and Smarties, with a touch of the exploding, fizzy Pop Rocks. All the candies have a very sweet aroma that is powdered. Here, however, the Sweet Tarts of Eau d’Epices’ start was also accompanied by a brief lemony touch from the coriander and a hint of red fruits (more like berries). Hot on their heels was jasmine, sticky orange, flickers of vetiver, a whisper of orange blossom, and dark spices, all on an amber base.
The jasmine’s initial burst quickly receded, leaving a bouquet that was almost entirely Sweet Tarts with orange sherbet that had been dusted with cinnamon. There were tiny pinches of cardamom and cloves, but the cinnamon ruled them both on my skin. The orange blossom never really showed up as a floral note the way one normally encounters it, and the frankincense was barely perceptible. The whole thing was extremely sweet, but also playful and whimsical in a fun way.
For the first hour, the cinnamon orange sherbet and powdered Sweet Tarts ruled almost unimpeded by the other notes. Then, the spice bouquet became stronger, with the clove slowly creeping to the foreground. Much more significant was the vetiver which, on my skin, often manifests a minty freshness. It did so here with Eau d’Epices, too. As the vetiver swirled into the syrupy sweetness of the fruity sherbet, it felt almost candied in a way that was quite enjoyable.
About 2.5 hours in, Eau d’Epices starts to shift more dramatically. My skin often amplified or clings onto vetiver, and Eau d’Epices was no exception. The vetiver begins to take over the dominant position, trailed by the spice-dusted orange sherbet, the candied notes and the amber. The candy feels almost more like Cinnamon Red Hots now, instead of Sweet Tarts but there is still a powdered quality to the note. (It’s undoubtedly from the orris.) Slowly, slowly, the amber rises to the surface, and Eau d’Epices begins to turn into a scent that is labdanum amber with minty vetiver. The perfume feels simultaneously resinous, candied, sweet, and dusted with spices.
At the start of the 5th hour, Eau d’Epices is a highly blended scent that is largely dominated by the “Tauerade” signature base. That particular accord is quite identifiable, as it always features a darkly resinous amber which is simultaneously somewhat woody, sharp, smoky, and sweet.
Here, it is infused with vetiver and cinnamon candies. Again, my skin has a tendency to bring out vetiver to an unusual degree, and to cling onto it like mad, especially if it is Haitian vetiver with its minty undertones. You may not necessarily experience the same thing. At Eau d’Epices’ edges are lingering whispers of orange sherbet, but they fade away entirely as the hours pass. By the end of the 7th hour, Eau d’Epices is a whisper of resinous Tauerade with vetiver and a light sprinkling of tonka powder. In its final moments, the perfume is merely a blur of Tauerade amber.
All in all, Eau d’Epices lasted just short of 10.75 hours on me during the first test with 2 small sprays from my atomizer. The perfume was always incredibly concentrated in feel and potent, especially up close. Eau d’Epices only turned into a skin scent on me at the start of the 4th hour, but it was still easily detectable without much effort until the 8th hour.
The second time I tested Eau d’Epices, I applied 4 sprays from my atomizer, amounting to 2 proper sprays from an actual bottle. The result was something that I think was much more true to what Eau d’Epices is meant to be, as it was a scent that was fully dominated by orange blossoms.
My second test of Eau d’Epices opened with orange blossoms and orange, followed by sticky resins, loads of cinnamon, sweetened powder, and hints of both cloves and lemony coriander. The perfume again smelled of Sweet Tarts and candy, but the orange blossom was only inches away this time and soon took over completely. It was very sharp, fresh, and indolic with a blackened heart of sticky resins and smoky leather. Frankincense swirled all around, and it too had a sharp bite that contrasted quite deeply with the candied feel.
This version of Eau d’Epices was powerfully indolic. Indoles are put out by white flowers like orange blossom as a signal to bees and, in their most undiluted form, can smell either rubbery, mentholated, fecal, a little urinous, plasticky, or like mothballs. Here, with Eau d’Epices, the indoles smell exactly like mothballs — something I’ve only experienced once before with a scent that used a lot of absolutes and that barely diluted the indolic element. At the same time, there is a very mentholated tonality to Eau d’Epices that almost fizzes. Something about the perfume’s opening feels as if actual menthol was used in the way that it was with YSL‘s vintage Champagne (Yvresse), though the fizziness here tickles the nose far more than in that fruity floriental.
Eau d’Epices shifts after 5 minutes. Hints of jasmine appear, weaving throughout the top notes and adding even more sweetness to the bouquet. The cloves and cinnamon grow stronger, while the coriander and cardamom retreat to the sidelines. As a whole, the spices feel much less dominant in this version of Eau d’Epices, while the florals and frankincense are significantly more powerful. The impression of orange sherbet and Sweet Tarts is significantly less prominent this time around, as well.
As a whole, Eau d’Epices is a very sharp, smoky, blackened, candied and syrupy floral bouquet dominated by orange blossom. It is thoroughly infused by mothball-like indoles on the top, with smoky, rubbery, almost leathered, smoky nuances underneath. The smokiness is further amplified by the sharp frankincense, and then the whole thing is dusted with cloves and cinnamon. It’s a powerful, massive bouquet that initially projects 5-6 inches with the 4 atomizer sprays.
Eau d’Epices changes over the next few hours, but only incrementally. The vetiver becomes prominent at the end of the first hour, weaving its way throughout the orange blossom. The latter is so rich, it feels almost boozy at times. At the start of the second hour, Eau d’Epices turns noticeably warmer and deeper, as the amber slowly begins to rise from the base. The flowers lose that menthol fizziness, though much of their indolic blackness remains. As a whole, Eau d’Epices is more powerfully floral, with only a little sweet sherbet; the spices seem stronger; and the perfume feels more golden in hue.
By the end of the 4th hour, Eau d’Epices is a bouquet of vetiver and indolic, mentholated orange blossom, followed by sharp incense, sweet jasmine, hints of sweetened candy powder, and cinnamon over a sticky, woody amber base. The perfume feels sharp and rough, but also soft, and it hovers an inch above the skin.
Eau d’Epices’ core bouquet remains unchanged for hours and hours, shifting only in the prominence and order of its notes. The jasmine retreats to the sidelines; the spices turn nebulous and abstract; the frankincense feels stronger; and the vetiver takes over center stage with the orange blossom. The sharp, woody, smoky, Tauerade ambered base looks on from the wings, but it joins the two leading players at the end of the 8th hour. Eau d’Epices turns into a simple triptych of orange blossom, vetiver, and Tauerade.
It remains that way for hours, merely growing more nebulous and abstract, until it fades away entirely in a blur of woody-smoked-amber lightly flecked with vetiver. All in all, Eau d’Epices lasted 14.5 hours with the equivalent of 2 proper sprays from a bottle. As a side note, that quantity of Eau d’Epices created a bouquet that was so concentrated and strong, it was almost too much so for me — and I love potent scents. So you may want to go easy on the application.
ALL IN ALL:
I’ve read in a few places that Eau d’Epices is supposed to be a “love it/hate it” scent, but I don’t feel either emotion. I don’t like it, but I certainly don’t hate it. I simply got tired of Eau d’Epices’ indolic bombast and overall untrammelled intensity. I blame my own skin for much of that, as it always amplifies base notes. (It also seems to take vetiver to ridiculous extremes.)
For the most part, though, Eau d’Epices simply perplexes me. It’s really not what I expected. Given the name and the description of the notes, I had expected “a spice basket,” but ended up instead with Sweet Tarts and orange sherbet, or with mothball orange blossoms, sharp incense and minty vetiver. I really dislike the mothball aspect of the indoles, and that turned out to be my greatest issue, along with Eau d’Epices’ overall sharpness. Even the Tauerade base to both versions felt too sharp and raw for me, unlike that which I’ve experienced in other Tauer orientals. Jeffrey Dame of Hypoluxe tried to tell me that the sample I received had been freshly prepared 30 days ago, so the perfume may not have settled and continued to be very fresh. Perhaps.
On Fragrantica, reviews are mixed for Eau d’Epices. I was interested to read the most recent review from just a few days ago which says that the perfume smells “rough”:
Amouage Reflection Man meets Mrs. Dash. I’d say it’s a match made in Heaven, but it smells rough.
I have to agree, but another chap wrote a veritable paean to Eau d’Epices just a week before with which I also agree to some extent:
One of the most-brilliant compositions I have ever smelt! Definitely orange-blossom dominates (with a hint of tuberose?), but it is bent and molded into something quite-different and unexpected with an overlay of spices (Ceylon cinnamon is, to my nose, strongest, followed by cloves, and then coriander seed), while the lower, “wood-like” facets of the flower’s essential oil are entwined like loving roots into vetiver and frankincense- it is hard to find where orange-blossom begins and ends, it is that well-married… I also sense a hint of linden-blossom bonding quite well with the “green-grassiness” of vetiver, expanding, diluting the sweet nature of the white-floral heart.
The effect is striking, with a definite character of its own. It reminds me a little of ‘Poeme’, but is not so “round and soft”: there is a “masculine”, assertive edge to Eau d’Epices- despite it’s strong floral character- which makes it, in my opinion, fairly unisex… and, also, quite oriental. Anyone with a modest attar-collection would probably not be shocked so much by this fragrance, but I can see many women of mainstream-western taste being put off by the rich, resin-backed spiciness, and just as many men being put off by the bold use of a sweet white floral. It toys with gender. It is not a crowd-pleaser by any means; it retains its unapologetic integrity throughout its long evaporation, and could be a strong, unmistakeable signature for a self-assured person.
I think he’s right a lot of points, even if we feel differently about the overall effect. The orange blossom is indeed well-married and thoroughly blended into all the other notes, and Eau d’Epices is an unapologetically dark, spicy, very unisex blend that may appeal to those who love very concentrated fragrances.
For one woman on Fragrantica, the dark, resinous base was not the problem so much as the spices:
It sprayed on with promise, a number of sharp notes appeared initially and then it dried down to a yoga studio/head shop type scent on my skin. From there eau d’epices developed into a really cloying mix of overly sweet spices. I ultimately had to scrub it and spend some time outside in a cool breeze to clear my nose.
For The Non-Blonde, however, the spices in Eau d’Epices created a scent that was “gorgeous.” Her 2010 review begins by noting how there is no cumin in the scent, then states:
Now that we established that Eau d’Epices is not Tauer’s answer to Arabie and its back alleys of the Souk, let’s talk about what it is (other than gorgeous). This is a classic Tauer in the sense of offering the familiar Tauerade accord in the dry-down: a balsamic cistus, ambergris and a dry woody thing in the background, but the potent potion is less assertive at first and gives a lot of breathing room both to the spicy opening and to the incredibly sensual floral heart. Eau d”epices is breathtakingly complex and requires a lot of attention the first few times you smell it. The fragrance takes you on an exotic journey and fills your mind with all kinds of Arabian Nights imagery[….][¶]
The thing is that once you make friends with this colorful vision, Eau d’Epice becomes warm easy to wear. Yes, one must love incense and spice, not to mention the Tauer accord, but if you do, this masterfully crafted and blended perfume is a must-try for both men and women.
To that list of requirements, I would also add “very indolic white florals.” Yes, you have to love both the Tauerade signature base and a lot of spices, but the core of Eau d’Epices is the orange blossom absolute — in all of its manifestations. And that includes indoles. Even if you don’t experience the mothball note, you are likely to face one (or more) of its other characteristics.
So, give Eau d’Epices a try if you love orange blossoms, spices, incense, and dark resinous Orientals.
Disclosure: Perfume courtesy of Hypoluxe, the U.S. distributor for Tauer Perfumes. That did not influence this review, I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.
Cost & Availability: Eau d’Epices is an eau de parfum that only comes in 50 ml bottle and costs $135, £92, or around €105. At the time of this post, the Tauer website is currently under maintenance or updating for a week, so I can’t link you to his e-store. In the U.S.: Eau d’Epices is available for pre-order with April shipping from Luckyscent. At MinNY, the perfume should be in stock by 3/31, so the website listing will probably change soon from the current “special order” status. Another option is Portland’s The Perfume House which already has Eau d’Epices in stock. Outside the U.S.: The new Canadian carrier for Tauer Perfumes is Indiescents, though Eau d’Epices is not yet listed on their website. That should change at the beginning of April. For most of Europe, you can purchase Tauer fragrances directly from the company, along with samples, Discovery sets and the 15 ml 3-piece mini collection, but the website is down right now. Elsewhere, Essenza Nobile and First in Fragrance currently have Eau d’Epices for €105, though bottles are probably from the original release. In the U.K., Scent & Sensibility is the exclusive retailer for Tauer Perfumes, and offers Eau d’Epices for pre-order at £92 with delivery to follow at the end of April. Samples: Surrender to Chance had Eau d’Epices starting at $3.99 for a 1/2 ml vial, but a reader told me that they are sold out of their old bottle at this time.
Ingrid is a fragrance from Tableau de Parfums, the collaboration between the Swiss perfumer, Andy Tauer, and the American, Memphis-based, indie filmmaker, Brian Pera (who is also a perfume blogger at I Smell Therefore I Am).
There are three Tableau fragrances (Miriam, Loretta, and Ingrid) and, as the Tableau Parfums website at Evelyn Avenue explains, each one is an olfactory representation of a particular female character in Brian Pera’s film series, Woman’s Picture. According to the website, “Woman’s Picture is an anthology film inspired by classic women’s films of the thirties, forties, and fifties. The story is divided into three sections, each of which presents a portrait of a specific female character.” I’d previously reviewed the tuberose Loretta, but couldn’t wait to try Ingrid given its oriental notes.
Ingrid was released late in 2013, and is an eau de parfum in concentration. Tableau de Parfums describes the scent as follows:
A fragrant floral gem in an elegant oriental casket, Ingrid is a rich woody floral inspired by classical scents of the fifties, full of contrasts. Draperies of citrus and spices open the stage for sensual frangipani and roses, with hints of lily of the valley adding softness to the flower heart. These rich feminine notes are anchored by a chord of precious woods and resins in the base. Vanilla, tolu and sandalwood add an exotic twist, and underline with the contrasting lines of dark cistus and smoky balsamic styrax the feminine melody. […]
Andy Tauer on Ingrid: “Ingrid is unique, a strong character, yet soft and feminine. She is a beautiful woman, who developed her style, found herself, she is present and demanding, with a past full of questions, unanswered. Her flower is frangipani. I have no doubt.”
Bergamot, orange, lemon, cinnamon, clove, Frangipani [or Plumeria], rose, lily of the valley [Muguet], sandalwood, tolu [balsam], cistus, vanilla, styrax
Ingrid opens on my skin with lily of the valley and dust, followed by an oddly stale, sharp, leathered, sweetness that smells like styrax resin that has gone a bit off or turned rancid. Seconds later, there is ISO E Super, more dust, a vanillic sweetness, and powdered rose. The lily of the valley tries to add some freshness but it is such a delicate aroma and cannot counter the other elements. My overall sense is of extremely musty, fusty, sweet dust with an odd edge. It’s hard to describe but, to me, it smells like the stale air in a dusty attic that hasn’t been opened in decades. The ISO E Super is a light touch, and isn’t responsible for any of this at all.
Yet, at the same time, there is an undercurrent that is sickly sweet. I suspect the latter stems from the frangipani or plumeria, a flower whose scent I find sickly and quite difficult in general unless it’s handled very lightly. Here, the plumeria isn’t individually distinct in Ingrid’s opening moments, but I’m pretty sure it’s responsible for that particular, nauseating, cloying touch. It injects its syrup from a distance into the faintly leathered, “off” dark notes and the arid dust, creating a combination that I find quite discordant and just plain odd.
Other elements are smoothly blended into the background. There are flickers of cloves with a touch of cinnamon. Much more pronounced is the old-fashioned floral soapiness that dances all around. A soft touch of sweetened citruses lurks in the shadows, alongside the rose. The primary bouquet, however, is of ancient, antique dust with lily of the valley, followed by a touch of fusty greenness and soapiness, all nestled within the strong embrace of stale, somewhat rancid, dark sweetness.
I’m finding it incredibly hard to convey precisely because I can’t explain why I’m smelling what I am, or the extent of the strange combination. It’s akin to the fustiest of mineralised oakmoss, infused with styrax resin gone rancid, cloying sweetness, prickly aromachemicals, vanilla, flowers that feel dried and pressed in an ancient book, soap, and some strange dark element, all doused with the dust of ages.
There is an oldness to the aroma that reminds me of an old lady’s clothes in a closet that she hasn’t opened in years, but the dusty fabrics still carry the lingering traces of her floral perfume and the soap on her skin. I almost never find fragrances to be “old lady,” and it is a pejorative term that I find offensive, but if ever I were to use it, it would be for Ingrid. Most people give that label to heavy orientals or powdery scents, like Shalimar or L’Heure Bleue. I’ve never agreed with that and if I’m using the term here, it’s for a very different reason: the fetid dustiness of accumulated years. I’ve tried Ingrid twice, and with different quantities each time, but on both occasions, I had enormous difficulty with the opening because of that one reason.
Twenty-five minutes in, Ingrid starts to change. The stale, sharp mustiness ceases to be the leading note, though it is still substantial and enormous. It now shares center stage with the soapiness and florals. The frangipani or plumeria makes its first appearance in a distinct way; the orange grows a whiff more noticeable; and the sweetened powder becomes more dominant. Then, the cloves rise up from the base, and… oh boy. I love cloves, passionately, but the note here takes on a medicinal undertone that strongly reminds me of American, clove-based, dentistry analgesics. At the same time, it’s pungent and, yes, dusty. In fact, it merely compounds Ingrid’s overall odd staleness, creating an aura of fusty antiques, florals with old-fashioned soap, strange sweetness, and spice.
Ingrid finally softens about 45 minutes in, and the sillage drops. From a moderately strong opening, it now hovers two inches above the skin as a blur of powdered, sweet florals with medicinal, pungent cloves and a strong dash of vanilla powder over a slightly warm base. Nothing in the latter translates to my nose as richly ambered or darkly resinous. This is not the labdanum of Dior’s Mitzah or Serge Lutens’ Ambre Sultan. It’s not the smoky, leathered styrax resin that I’ve encountered in other perfumes either. In fact, Ingrid’s colour visuals would be powdered pastels with ribbons of brownness from the cloves, and greyness from the dust.
To my relief, the fusty staleness slowly diffuses and weakens, making Ingrid a touch easier to bear. At the 90-minute mark, Ingrid merely smells like old-fashioned, 1930s-style, feminine, powdered florals, instead of being dominated by dust from that same era. The perfume remains largely the same for several more hours to come, though the plumeria or frangipani takes the lead as the main flower, followed by the rose. The always subtle muguet has faded away completely, while the soapiness retreats to the sidelines. However, the cloves continue to blast away, though, thankfully, they’ve lost their medicinal undertone. Lurking all about is an amorphous, indistinct, dry woodiness that has the tiniest hint of something smoky about it. It’s hard to detect though, given the sweetened powder that now infuses Ingrid from top to bottom.
Ingrid’s notes slowly grow hazy and abstract, with only the plumeria and cloves really standing out. If you smell really hard and up close, the rose pops up once in a while in the background to add a very muted, muffled hint of Damask-like richness, but it’s usually indistinct on my skin. The plumeria feels unctuous, while the cloves now remind me of a Christmas baked ham. And the sweetened, vanillic powder infused them both. Yet, even those notes become blurry and nebulous around the end of the 4th hour. Soon, Ingrid turns into a soft, generalized, vaguely frangipani-like, floral powder with vanillic sweetness and cloves.
What is interesting, however, is the base which turns increasingly warm and ambered. It’s a largely abstract amber, to my nose. It doesn’t feel distinct or individual enough to separate out into labdanum amber at all, but just feels like a warm, spiced, slightly leathered, dry goldenness. Call me crazy, but the Tauerade signature seems to take on some Caronade similarities. Or perhaps the cloves in Ingrid are so dominant that, in conjunction with the growing amber, it makes parts of Ingrid resemble Caron‘s clove-based Poivre in its foundational elements. The big difference here is the plumeria with its nauseatingly sickly sweetness.
By the end of the 7th hour, Ingrid turns into a sweetened, powdery, floral oriental with plumeria nestled in a spiced ambered nest. It’s also a skin scent at this point. Oddly, the ISO E Super suddenly becomes much stronger, adding a prickly, peppered, jangling bit of dryness to the base, though it’s not enough to cut through the plumeria’s syrup. The cloves fold into the Tauer base which is actually quite nice, and well-balanced between the dry and warm elements. As a whole, though, the perfume is largely a nebulous blur of powdered, very sweet florals atop a warm base with some dryness and abstract spiciness. Ingrid remains largely unchanged until its end when, 11.25 hours from the start, it fades away as a blur of warm sweetness.
Skin chemistry is a funny thing, and I blame my own for whatever vagaries occurred with the dust, and the “off,” almost rancid, dark-sweet accord. I also need to repeat what regular readers know all too well: I don’t like scents that are either powdered florals, sweetened powder, or soapy. Having all five things together — at the same time — made Ingrid extremely difficult for me. I tried to like it, I really did, but my skin simply wouldn’t comply. The first time I wore it, with just a small amount, I came within inches of scrubbing it off after only 20 minutes, and it takes a lot for me to get to that level. To my surprise, the ISO E Super was very powerful at the lower dosage, but that wasn’t the problem at all. The difficulty was the dryness and fustiness which, in the opening 25 minutes, is excessive on my skin, regardless of the quantity used.
In fact, the dry dustiness I experienced with Ingrid far surpassed anything in L’Air du Desert Marocain. Relatively speaking, that fragrance almost verges on the gourmand in comparison to Ingrid’s start on my skin. Plus, LDDM was never fusty or dated in feel. While Ingrid eventually loses its arid mustiness, it is simply replaced by old-fashioned floral powder and dusty cloves in a way that simply doesn’t work for my personal tastes. I kept imagining a woman from the 1930s or 1940s: older, relatively well-dressed, somewhat matronly in sensible clothing, and who had worn the same comfortingly powdered, floral scent since she was a young bride.
Others, however, seem to really like Ingrid, and had completely different perceptions or associations. The review on the blog, I Scent You A Day, reads, in part:
Ingrid is earthy and reminds me of birch or tar or dried bracken. There is winter spice too, but not in a chintzy Christmas way, you’ll be relieved to know. The Rose is prevalent, and as with other Tauer scents, no Rose is the same twice. In this case, the Rose reminds me of dried petals in a pot pourri- they have gone paper thin and their colour has faded but their scent has gone faintly peppery. Nevertheless it can still be recognised as Rose.
Ingrid is rich and spicy, but dry rather than sweet. It left me thinking I could smell the deep dark scent of Myrrh, but it may have been the resinous Styrax which is used so beautifully.
On my skin, the base notes of Ingrid are Clove, dried Roses, Resin and Frangipani. It’s rich, dark and mysterious yet the ingredients have been used lightly enough not to overwhelm.
If further proof were ever needed for how skin chemistry makes everything different from person to person, consider the experience of WAFT… What a Fragrance Fanatic Thinks:
Andy Tauer has created a fragrance that is all at once foody , pillowy , warm , comforting – in a word delicious . Ingrid just fits my mood and makes me want glue my nose to my wrist . Ingrid never frowns , never argues nor challenges .
This fragrance flows from sunshine and tart nectar and I loved it at first whiff . The frangipani note is so perfect…It lasts a good six hours on skin ( probably longer if you don’t cook or wash dishes – I do .) Ingrid reminds me of a fluffy whipped cream and rice confection called Glorified Rice , which has bits of tart mandarin slices in it .
If I had any complaint it would be the early drydown of Ingrid falls a little flat , but eventually smooths out .
On Fragrantica, there is only one review for Ingrid thus far:
The Cloves and Frangipani make this a great choice for Autumn and Winter. I didn’t get any Lily of The Valley: to me this is dark and full of shadows and mystery.
Ingrid wasn’t my cup of tea, but we’re all different and have different tastes, not to mention different skin chemistry. So, if Ingrid’s notes sound appealing to you, and if you enjoy either frangipani or some of Andy Tauer’s drier fragrances, then give her a sniff.