I´ve been toying with Andy Tauer´s incense mods, Incense Extreme and Incense Rosé. I wrote him months ago, after Orris stole my heart, that I wished he´d do an incense fragrance. He said to me via email recently: “I remembered your earlier mail, about the frankincense, and basically you, together with the CO2 extract quality that I got my hands on, kick-started me on this. Now, I do not know whether you will like these two fragrances built around frankincense. But I will be delighted to send you a sample each. I will not touch the formula any more, I consider them finished.” He also gave me permission to blog on them.
Opening my international envelope of Incense Extreme and Incense Rosé, I caught a very Tauer-esque aroma – a ghost of his beloved limited run, Orris, which contained frankincense and orris. Andy´s fragrances tend to be strong – some stronger than others, but I can´t recall any particularly shrinking violets among them.
Anyway, the notes for Incense Extreme are coriander, orange leaves, orris, Texan cedarwood, frankincense, ambergris. Andy says: “I wanted to create an incense that is intense and clear. The result: a minimalist, copped interpretation of incense, a touch of spices, powdery orris, dry cedar wood and ambergris support the frankincense, that is rich, crisp, red and intense.” Savvy sniffers will note a slight resemblance to Orris (which had more orris and less frankincense, along with a much longer list of other notes). Lovers of Orris will be pleased to hear that Incense Extreme contains the same soaring, faintly sweet heart. The sweet-tart citrus of the orange leaves is prominent in the opening, and combined with the coriander it´s a dense, almost masculine scent. There´s a moment when the orange note fades and the coriander jumps forward. Then the frankincense opens up and begins to dominate. The cedar is quite mild to me, more of a general woodsy note, and I´m assuming the ambergris and coriander contribute to the faintly musky drydown. I´m going to quibble with Andy´s idea of “minimalist” – the list of notes is short, but the smell is quite complex. Yes, it´s clearly and absolutely about incense, but it doesn´t feel like an incense “soliflore” the way some other niche incense fragrances do. The orris, cedar and ambergris provide a strong, woods-metallic platform for the rest of the mechanics. The longevity (as with other Tauers) is excellent. Rich, crisp, red and intense – yeah, I´ll buy that. If Orris were the femme version, this somewhat related scent could be its masculine counterpart, although both of them are easily unisex, in my opinion.
I was less excited about sniffing and reviewing Incense Rosé, because as many of you know, I´m not a world-class rose fan. I´m nervous reviewing it, because … well … I like it so much I keep thinking there must be something wrong with it, frankly. The notes are clementine, bergamot, castor, Bulgarian rose absolute, orris, Texas cedarwood, frankincense, labdanum, myrrh, patchouli and ambergris. Andy says: “This rich and intense fragrance is at its base inspired by smoking frankincense, oriental woods and rich rose absolutes. I wanted to create a fragrance that breathes in the tradition of perfumery, and I wanted to capture the floral beauty that hides in frankincense.” Well, amen. Incense Rosé opens on a juicy clementine/bergamot, with the rest of the notes rushing in close behind, and the combination is a rich, macerated smell – you want to describe it with the same sort of adjectives you´d use for some smooth, aged cabernet. At this point it’s clear Andy hit the mark in his oenophile’s description — without smelling like wine, it has that liquid, nuanced depth, fragrance as palate-pleaser. The myrrh, patch and ambergris provide a medicinal, bitter counterpoint to the rose and orris, and it´s perfect – I keep coming back to the word smooth. Anyone looking for a soft rose soliflore, something sparkly and sunny, shouldn´t stop here (they´d be looking at the wrong perfumer, anyway.) This is an audacious, virile scent, practically striding through the woods in a brown velvet cloak. And yet … just about the time I applaud, I realize the scent´s changed into its red flamenco dress, a tart candied note lingering all around me. By the time I´d taken stock of that shift, we´d climbed back in the saddle and ridden off again. I love the duality — watching the masculine and feminine aspects of this fragrance tango together.
So, Andy – once again, I tip my hat to you. You are full of surprises. As much as I admire the Incense Extreme, I have to admit … to my amazement, I prefer the Rosé.
I thought that he wouldn´t be releasing these as part of his line, but I believe I´m wrong and they´re coming out in January. I´m sure their release will be all over the blogs, so keep your eyes peeled.
Also … Andy lost his mom recently. He asked for prayers rather than emails. I whisper mine to the bees in the garden; maybe you could send some his way, too. If you visit his blog, his godchild drew a picture of his mother and sent it to him. His mom is an angel. Of course.