I´m so stupefied by this fragrance that I´ve now written and deleted this entire post three times, so I´m going to give up and bloglift, with apologies, directly from Andy Tauer´s blog, in which he describes the ingredients for his non-released Orris fragrance experiment, which I was lucky enough to sample (he only made 40 samples.) My review follows his comments.
“In the body of the scent you find the notes: Ambergris, Sandalwood, Vetiver and Agarwood. In the formula this translates to: Ambroxan, Sandalore, Sandalwood from Australia, Sandalwood from Mysore, Vetiverol, Vetiver, Methylcedrylketon, Agarwood. The two qualities of Sandalwood are important, as the Australian Sandalwood adds to the spicyness and the Mysore quality brings in a flowery aspect. Sandalore allows to extend the note and lift it.
In the middle of the scent you find the notes: Frankincense, some smokeyness, and the extension of the Orris/rose from the head eventually with some cinnamon. In the formula this translates into: Birchtar (just a hint…) , a tiny winy little bit of cinnamon bark … just a touch because of Ifra and because it is very fast overpowering, Hydroxycinnamaldehye, and the best Frankincense on the market, which is from India…
In the head of the scent, extending into the middle you find the notes: Orris, rose, pepper, cinnamon (see above) and yellowish citrus. In the formula this translates into: Rose accord: Geraniol, Damascenone, Bulgarian Rose absolute, Phenylethylalcohol, Lemongrass, Linalool, Benzylsalicylate. With the Orris remaining a big mystery… the spicyness is black pepper and the citrus notes are grapefruit, white and Bergamot, of course with the lemongrass from the rose accord playing in, too. There are quite a few its and bits that rounden up the scent, brighten it a little bit, and a few mystery compounds…”
Okay, if you´re not drooling on your keyboard right now, you are dead, and thus there is no hope for you. From the stunning opening of Orris, with its spices and a mere hint of rose, through the smoky woods and incense, and into the dry, warm base of sandalwood, it never bores, and it never ceases to amaze me. Obviously, the orris itself is the star of this fragrance (and what an orris!), while the rose is a valued but minor player — a perfect foil for the almost medicinal aspect of the orris. I only get a hint of citrus, the effect being to magnify the pepper and spices rather than to assert itself. The agarwood arrives shortly thereafter and plays up the florals beautifully. But it is the sandalwood that is ultimately the source of a considerable amount of the fragrance’s magnetism. It gives Orris a more dry, meditative aspect. It is a “warm” orris fragrance, whereas (to me, anyway) Hermes Hiris is elegant but very cold, and Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist is rather cool. Orris is also quite tenacious, like Andy´s other fragrances, without ever becoming tiresome.
I tested it back-to-back with Iris Silver Mist – the gold standard of orris — and I am now going to commit Fragrance Heresy by declaring that, as stunning as ISM is, I prefer Andy´s creation. I have to be in exactly the right mood for ISM, or it´s just too much. Its bombast wears me out.
Orris has ISM´s potency, but it has a more buoyant, pellucid quality rather than ISM’s hazy density. While Orris shares a number of notes with ISM, to me ISM is a much earthier fragrance, with a cedar note that is omnipresent and (I admit it) can be a bit hard to take on the wrong day — as if I were standing in a cedar closet. There is only one ISM, but there is nothing else like Orris that I’m aware of, either. Certainly there is room for both in any fragrance-lover’s wardrobe. Can I mention the orris, agarwood, frankincense/sandalwood combo one more time? Ye gods, I could smell that every day.
Andy notes on his blog that Orris was tricky to produce and the ingredients were expensive, and he never intended to release it as part of his line. But he has heard all our begging on the fragrance boards, and he is planning to release it in a limited edition later this fall, in a smaller bottle to offset the expense of the ingredients (Andy – my apologies if I have misrepresented any of that). My little vial is almost empty, and I am looking forward with great anticipation to the release.