New Perfume Review Tauer Sundowner- A Holiday Perfume for the Rest of Us

As I begin to sort through the new perfume, I receive at the end of the year there is a category that ties to the Holidays. Many of those which fall into this are designed to be so. They are limited editions carrying Holiday themes on their sleeves. There are always a couple that aren’t meant to be seasonal releases, yet they fall ideally into the themes of this time of year. I think of them as Festivus scents. Festivus is an alternative to the commercialism of Christmas popularized in a Seinfeld episode. It also doesn’t want to be part of the season while still being part of the season. Tauer Sundowner is in this category.

Andy Tauer

Independent perfumer Andy Tauer wants Sundowner to represent a sunset cocktail on the Nile River. If I received this perfume in June I could easily have been transported there. Receiving my sample in the middle of November this had me in a Holiday mindset from the first spray. Even though a tobacco centered scent is not necessarily seasonal, Sundowner is full of those type of accents around the focal point.

Right away the tobacco is present. It is a nice leafy slightly narcotic version. No sooner do you experience it then some carolers show up in the presence of orange peel and cinnamon. These are Holiday stalwarts which Hr. Tauer gives a significant presence. The orange peel is an especially intense version of the citrus carrying a bitterness to tamp down the inherent brightness usually present. The song these three notes sing is pleasant. Made even better when rose adds a floral harmony to it.

As it develops the tobacco begins to be steered in a slightly gourmand direction. He used cacao and patchouli to add a chocolate complement to the tobacco. This is not a gooey chocolate it is subtler. He finds those inherent candy facets in the tobacco and picks out those strands delicately with the cacao and patchouli. It never really turns fully gourmand. Which has me thinking there must have been a preliminary version where it was more chocolaty which was dialed back to what is in Sundowner.

It finishes on an accord of cypriol and sandalwood forming an oud-like woodiness. It is sweetened with tonka bean and vanilla. Again, there is the hint of a gourmand buried deep but Sundowner never takes that path.

Sundowner has 12-14 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Sundowner is not meant to be a seasonal fragrance. Which doesn’t mean it isn’t. I know I’ll be wearing this a lot over the next weeks. It’s a Holiday perfume for the rest of us.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauer Phtaloblue- Andy’s Aquatic

I wonder if every successful independent perfumer has a checklist of styles they want to make. I often deride the commercial brands for checking boxes. The difference with independent perfumers doing it is there is more chance of a different spin. It seems as if Tauer Phtaloblue is Andy Tauer’s take on the aquatic genre.

Andy Tauer

Hr. Tauer has been one of the most influential indies because he has always managed to find something different in the most generic of styles. I have commented that I think there must be a set of new materials within this genre. Prior to a couple years ago an aquatic almost always was constructed around the aromachemical Calone. Recently a different breed of aquatic has sprung up eschewing Calone. It has helped reinvigorate the imaginations of perfumers. I have begun to look forward to new iterations because an artist like Hr. Tauer has something to show me. Phtaloblue kind of follows the classic eau de cologne recipe but instead of an Alpine meadow we get a rocky Mediterranean strand.

The early moments of lavender and lemon will make you think “cologne”. It is that sunny high-altitude accord associated with it. Then he gives it a twist with fennel. The fennel through its licorice tinted herbal-ness acts as a simulacrum for a rocky tide pool. The salty accord arrives at the same time as it. A floral transition of orange blossom and geranium adds a freshness. The base takes a fascinating turn towards a toasted nuttiness. One part of it is tonka bean the other seems like a praline accord. It is a sweet nutty scent arising from the briny pool. A bit of clean cedar completes it.

Phtaloblue has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is a version of aquatic as only a perfumer like Hr. Tauer could come up with. At turns cologne-like to end on a gentle gourmand nutty phase. It is Andy’s Aquatic.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample from Tauer Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauer L’Air des Alpes Suisses- High-Altitude Meadow

It has been almost fifteen years since independent perfumer Andy Tauer burst onto the scene with L’Air du Desert Marocain. He has become one of the longest lasting independent perfumers in the business. When I read in his newsletter that his newest was also going to be a “L’Air” I was looking forward to it. It turned out Hr. Tauer was going to take us from the desert of Morocco to the slopes of the Swiss Alps with Tauer L’Air des Alpes Suisses.

Andy Tauer

It is easy to conjure up snowy slopes when you read Swiss Alps. That is not what Hr. Tauer is going for. If you need a visual to get you in the right frame of mind think of the opening shot of “The Sound of Music” as Maria sings while she wanders through an Alpine meadow. That is the “L’Air” Hr. Tauer wants to turn into a perfume. As one who has done my share of hiking at altitude in the American mountains there is a scent to the summer slopes which is what L’Air des Alpes Suisses captures.

This begins with that green of mountain foliage growing out of the stone beneath. The top accord forms a sharp green over a subtle stoniness with a set of lung-filling ozonic notes. The green softens while also turning slightly spicy while we walk through a field of wildflowers perfuming the air in the sunlight. It creates a floral accord contrasted with the green. The green continues into a set of woody notes to capture the scraggly trunks of the trees which grow on the escarpment.

L’Air des Alpes Suisses has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

In so many ways Hr. Tauer has been a breath of fresh air to the world of perfumery. L’Air des Alpes Suisses is a perfume of fresh floral greens and woods. It is the contentment of a high-altitude walk through a meadow.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

Independent Perfumery 2018

When I was really starting my descent into perfumed obsession in the early years of the 2000’s it started with the discovery of niche perfumes. What that meant to me were small brands with distinctive artistic aesthetics. Those early years of this century saw the rapid expansion of this style of perfume. Presenting themselves as an alternative to what was available at the mall. It was, and remains, part of the reason I enjoy perfume.

Then in 2006 on the blogs I follow there was mention of this new perfume from Switzerland. A young artist by the name of Andy Tauer had released a perfume called L’Air du Desert Marocain. My perfume world changed again. I discovered there was another world of fragrance makers who worked on their own; independent perfumers. It would be the acclaim for L’Air du Desert Marocain that pointed those who love perfume to a new place.

Every year I am struck by how vital this community is. What spurred me to write this column was my editorial calendar for the next week. One of many important lessons I learned from my Editor-in-Chief at CaFleureBon, Michelyn Camen, is the importance of keeping an editorial calendar. That means I have all the different days subjects planned out in advance. Sometime when I look at my white board I can see patterns which arise out of the list. Looking over next week’s list I saw six wonderful perfumes from six different established independent perfumers. It made me think about where we are now.

One of the things I write about a lot is the concept of a brand aesthetic. It should be easier when an independent perfumer is the only voice in the room. From experience I can tell you it is not. I try a dozen or so new independent brands a year. I provide private feedback which is just between the perfumer and I. One of the more common sentences I write is, “What are you trying to achieve besides smelling good?” The brands which have succeeded have almost always had a personal answer to that. The ones who ask me “What do you mean?” is probably a reason why they don’t succeed.

Proof this has succeeded is there is a part of Hr. Tauer’s perfumes which has been dubbed a “Tauer-ade”. There is a scented fingerprint which says where this perfume came from. The same can be said for Charna Ethier of Providence Perfume Co. or Maria McElroy of Aroma M. I feel if I was handed any of these, and others, perfumes they are identifiable because of this. Independent perfumers can refine a personal vision over every release.

Mandy Aftel

Another more fractious aspect of independent perfumery is very few of them have any formal training. Like all artistic efforts there are the precocious few who are blessed with innate talent. For those the years spent making their perfumes provides its own kind of training; learning through trial and error. That same effort is also rewarded for those who learn entirely from that. Time can be a great leveler. Some of the early founders have become the teachers for those who are drawn to make their own perfume. Mandy Aftel has produced great perfume, under he Aftelier Perfumes label, and a wave of students from her California studio. AbdesSalaam Attar does the same in Europe.

One of the most important aspects of the current state of independent perfumery is the ability of the perfumers to use small batches of amazing ingredients. Particularly over the last few years there have been releases which are made from materials that have been gone from mainstream and niche perfumery due to the difficulty of sourcing enough to produce hundreds of bottles. The independent perfumer can produce tens of bottles if they desire. A good example are the perfumes of Russian Adam under his Areej Le Dore brand. He can source actual musk from the animal through a license he has. Other independent perfumers create their own tinctures, botanical hydrosols, co-distillates, or enfleurage. Each of these create magic. The botanicals sourced by Yasuyuki Shinohara from his home island of Hokkaido, Japan for his Di Ser line are what makes those perfumes unique.

The final thing which has made independent perfumery so important is it lives outside the geography of France, the US, Italy or Great Britain. For over 100 years that was where the perfume we knew came from. Independent perfumery takes place everywhere with the influences of location finding its way into the bottle. All four of the countries where modern perfume was born have their share of independent perfumers who have things to say about that history in their new perfumes. The perspective that comes from elsewhere is invaluable.

If you need the best argument for the importance of independent perfumer in 2018 follow along next week as the perfumes speak for themselves.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauer Les Annees 25- Where Did the Retro Go?


Press releases are cursed things; at least for me. When I read them, it causes me to anticipate what I will eventually experience. They can be particularly troublesome when it comes to fragrance. I can imagine what a list of ingredients might smell like given the inspiration. Which is why Tauer Les Annees 25 threw me with what was in the bottle.

Independent perfumer Andy Tauer wrote that Les Annees 25 was inspired by the “Golden Age of Humanity” represented by the 1920’s. That decade was also a time where the real foundations of modern perfumery were beginning to aspire to artistry. When I read that I thought to myself, “Oh goody! A Retro Nouveau perfume from Andy Tauer.” Then I found out it was a limited edition which means Hr. Tauer tends to employ higher quality and harder to source versions of the ingredients. I was expecting something amazing capturing the past and the present. Most of that sentence came true but for one part. This supposed Retro Nouveau perfume was all Nouveau.

Andy Tauer

I should’ve focused on the things which Hr. Tauer had separated from that era which inspired him; “the fundamental change towards liberalism” and the “optimism of an era”. Which means Les Annees 25 is one of our best independent perfumers creating his own path full of optimism.

The contemporary aspects appear right away with a combination of petitgrain, orange oil, and ginger. The citrus components are focused into a narrow beam of sunlight. The ginger provides energy. Ginger is spoken of as this kind of kinetic ingredient within perfumery. It most often is not. Not here. The ginger provides a near manic level of energy to the brilliant citrus. A swift floral intermezzo of rose and iris softly powders the overall effect. This leads to a mixture of benzoin and sandalwood. The benzoin pulls out the sweet facets of a modern sandalwood source. Oakmoss and ambergris provide contrast at the high and the low. It all ends on a comfort accord of vanilla, tonka, and patchouli.

Les Annees 25 has 10-12 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

I may have thought I wanted a Tauer Retro Nouveau creation except I came to realize the Nouveau was all I needed in Les Annees 25.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauer L’Oudh- Blunt Object

Independent perfumer Andy Tauer has been one of the more communicative artists out there. Right from the beginning he has written in his blog. A little over a year ago that evolved to a published magazine, Tauer Mag. Hr. Tauer is one of the few who has the ability to communicate complex perfumery concepts in easy to understand posts/stories. One of the early threads through his blog was his disdain for perfumes which claimed they contained “oud” but were actually accords of the genuine costly material. As he would receive requests for a Tauer oud perfume he resisted because he had decided he wouldn’t go the way of using an accord instead of the real thing.

In parallel to this stance science was working on a way to create a sustainable version of oud. Finding a way to accelerate the decay process of new agarwood trees has allowed for this to happen. Once Hr. Tauer found a sustainable plantation in Laos he decided it was the time to produce Tauer L’Oudh.

Andy Tauer

I have a little treasure box of almost 40 real oud oils. I spend lots of time comparing and contrasting the different sources. So far, the sustainable versions feel like oud but compared to the other ouds I have they also feel immature. One of the most common aspects of the sustainable ouds is a prominent gasoline aspect. This Laotian oud Hr. Tauer uses brings that along. What I really liked about L’Oudh is Hr. Tauer adds a set of ingredients to provide an aged oud feel to the overall effect.

It is that gasoline quality which hits me in the first moments. I like odd smells, this is surely that. As the fumes clear away a more typical medicinal, often compared to Band-Aids, scent moves forward. Hr. Tauer uses a trio of ingredients, cistus, castoreum, and vetiver to accomplish what I mentioned above. The catoreum adds in the skanky animalic. The cistus adds a decaying rot but not as much as you find in other ouds. The vetiver sharpens the frame as it enhances the earthier qualities. This is a tried and true technique when creating a soliflore and it works similarly with oud. Sandalwood provides a less obstreperous wood as the base note.

L’Oudh has 12-14 hour longevity and minimal sillage; it is a skin scent.

People are often spoken of as being “blunt objects” when they speak unvarnished truths. L’Oudh feels like Hr. Tauer beoming a blunt object as it refers to the use of real oud in perfume. If you want to experience all the quirky aggressive quality to be found in real oud, then L’Oudh is a good choice.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauer Attar AT- Resolve Rewarded

I have mentioned what an innovator independent perfumer Andy Tauer has been. In many ways the template for doing business as an indie was pioneered by Hr. Tauer. His perfumes have been equally adept at pushing at the fringes of what an independent perfume business can successfully cover. I have also mentioned that perhaps my greatest perfume regret was missing out on his limited edition of Tauer Orris when he first released it. He very politely explained to me it would never return because he used materials in small quantities he wasn’t sure he could replicate. There was one resolution I made to myself that if Hr. Tauer ever released a limited edition again I would not dilly dally a second time. Just a few weeks ago the release of Tauer Attar AT tested my resolve.

I had indirectly been hearing about Attar AT ever since early in the year when Hr. Tauer went on tour with a traveling selection of perfumes only available during his appearances. I heard from many that there was an “oud attar” he was showing which might or might not be released. I wanted to try this ever since, believing Hr. Tauer could do something special with the concept of an indie attar. When I received my first notification of Attar AT along with the mention it was a small-batch limited edition; I ordered a bottle.

Andy Tauer

Hr. Tauer was inspired by a trip to the Saudi Arabian desert where he got into a discussion of oud attars indigenous to that region. By the time he returned home to Switzerland that seed had grown into a compulsion to create his version of an attar. He began to assemble a grouping of some of the most precious materials to create his “modest” attar. What he has accomplished is a very close to the skin perfume oil which is an indie perspective on a classic attar.

It isn’t listed as a note but in his blog Hr. Tauer mentioned that he was gifted an authentic oud oil while on his Saudi Arabian trip. I suspect that it is in here but in a tiny quantity. The reason I feel confident of that assessment is the very first moments when I dab Attar AT on. There is what I call a “dirty socks and cheese” smell which my collection of straight oud oils has. In Attar AT that ghosts across the early going before a pungent birch tar appears. It has the effect of providing a sticky matrix for this pinch of oud to reside in. As the birch tar arises it becomes intensely rubbery in effect before a lush jasmine provides a floral juxtaposition. Traditional attars use rose but Hr. Tauer’s use of the jasmine works better as the indoles in the jasmine fall right in line with the pungency already here. Hr. Tauer then alleviates it with Mysore sandalwood, vetiver, and cistus. It turns the latter phase into a creamy woody comfort.

Attar AT has 8-10 hour longevity and very little sillage as it is a perfume oil.

If there is one thing I love about Orris it is the way Hr. Tauer altered the European tradition of perfumery by turning an indie eye upon it. By amplifying certain things while drawing back on others he created one of the best perfumes I have ever smelled. Attar AT is taking the Arabic tradition and filtering it through the same lens. I am still in my early days with Attar AT and I am not ready to say it is on the same level as Orris. What I am ready to say is Hr. Tauer has once again released an indie version of a classic architecture that only could have come from him.

Disclosure: This review was based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauerville Patch Flash- Earth Mother

One of the most exotic women I met as child was a young woman named Patrice. Near our house in Miami there was a kind of commune which sprang up in 1970. I hesitate to say full-fledged because in hindsight I realized it was more a place for the erstwhile hippies of South Florida to congregate. It was in bicycle riding distance and I spent many weeks riding by with my eyes on this collection of unusual adults. They sure didn’t act like any of the adults who populated the rest of my life.

Hippies in Coconut Grove in 1970

One day while having my eyes turned towards the mise-en-scene within the park my bicycle came to a sudden stop. When I looked forward Patrice had grabbed my handlebars to keep me from running into her. Before I could focus my eyes the scent of patchouli washed over me. She let go of the handlebars. Then with a laugh she hugged me and said, “I’m Patrice.” I am sure it took me a moment or two to answer, “I’m Mark.” She said she had seen me ride by previously and asked if I wanted to come meet the others. At eleven years old my mind was awash with whether it was “bad” to talk to them while my curiosity was driving me towards going with her.

Andy Tauer

Five minutes later I would meet the women Patrice shared a tepee with. Even today forty-plus years removed from it the visual cues are a jumble. The way I was spoken to not as a kid but as someone worth talking to was amazing; but I don’t distinctly remember the conversation. But the smell? That found indelible purchase in my memory. All the women wore patchouli oil. This is that accord often referred to as “head shop” patchouli. I’ve always associated it with the smell of discovery. I haven’t thought about this in years until I tried the new Tauerville Patch Flash.

Tauerville is the “simple” and/or “experimental” line of perfumes from independent perfumer Andy Tauer. It has been a year since the last release Tuberose Flash. Patch Flash falls into the “simple” side of the Tauerville equation.

Patch Flash is a mixture of 40% patchouli oil combined with a fraction of patchouli called patchoulol. The fractionating process as it exists with patchouli has produced some fascinating effects. Patchoulol is a huge sesquiterpene molecule found in the heart of patchouli. Through careful distillation it can be isolated. By itself it produces a hazy softer version of patchouli. Laid over a lot of patchouli oil it rises off it like heat shimmers off the tarmac in summer. The overall accord is patchouli but it is more like veiled memory then head shop. The patchouli is not all that is there Hr. Tauer mainly supports this with a lovely simple leather accord as hints of flowers and spices flit in and out like sprites.

Patch Flash has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I hadn’t thought about Patrice for years then with one spray of Patch Flash I was sitting on the ground listening to these women talk about things I barely understood. While their words didn’t make an impression the way they smelled clearly did. Patch Flash captures the patchouli, the flowers in their hair, and the leather of their moccasins. I didn’t know the term at the time but Patch Flash is the smell of an Earth Mother circa 1970.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Tauerville.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauer L’Eau- Swiss Veranda

When you do anything, there are foundational elements which are necessary to build upon. When it comes to perfume, cologne would be one of those cornerstones. It is why almost every perfumer eventually releases their version. Independent perfumer Andy Tauer had released an all-natural version three years ago called Cologne du Maghreb. That was a very traditional architecture what stood out was doing it with an all-natural set of ingredients. Hr. Tauer has decided to take a second look at cologne with the latest release Tauer L’Eau.

The original cologne by Jean Marie Farina was the product of a walk in the mountains capturing the smells he encountered. For L’Eau Hr. Tauer didn’t go for a walk instead he sat on his Zurich veranda and breathed deep of the lemon tree in bloom. Just like M. Farina did in the beginning Hr. Tauer wanted L’Eau to be reflective of the moment in the morning where you step outside and inhale.

Andy Tauer

Unlike Cologne du Maghreb Hr. Tauer had his full arsenal of perfume ingredients to use for L’Eau. That allowed for him to make a Tauer-style cologne. What that becomes is the traditional citrus opening transitions through a richer floral into a unique, for cologne, ambergris-focused base accord.

L’Eau starts with a mixture of lemon, bergamot, and orange. It is a display of all the facets of citrus as all three ingredients harmonize in a reliable way. Then Hr. Tauer puts his imprint on the venerable form. It starts in the heart with lemon blossom bringing his tree next to the veranda to life. Then in a bit of inspiration he uses a powdery iris to go with that. The contrast of soft powder with transparent floral is compelling. The base accord is even more fascinating as ambergris is the core which Hr. Tauer surrounds with several white musks. This is another great choice as this forms an expansive version of ambergris which allows the lemon blossom and iris floral accord to float on the cloud it provides. Then very late on Hr. Tauer’s trademark Tauerade peeks out almost impishly.

L'Eau has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

I really enjoyed Hr. Tauer’s Cologne du Maghreb but after wearing L’Eau it almost feels like that earlier fragrance was a primer on cologne composition. If that was the case Hr. Tauer came away with an inspiration to make a Tauer cologne which is as imaginative as it is invigorating. Much like a spring morning on a Swiss veranda.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Tauer Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Tauerville Tuberose Flash- Magnifying Glass Tuberose

I have been an admirer of the Tauerville line ever since independent perfumer Andy Tauer started it two years ago. Hr. Tauer’s concept of simple “flash” fragrances highlighting a particular note or accord has been very successful through the first five releases. It has become something I look forward to because Hr. Tauer has used the opportunity of simpler architecture to take the titular notes to some different places. The newest release Tuberose Flash does this for one of the most boisterous ingredients in all of perfumery.

Tuberose is a raw material which can take over a composition. A perfumer must either let it have free rein or alternatively use other powerful notes to try and tame it. It is a tricky balance; too much freedom and things just become a miasmic haze. Leash it too much and domesticated tuberose can just lay flat. Hr. Tauer took a third approach which was to use specific notes to amplify and examine specific facets throughout the time Tuberose Flash spends on the skin. It reminded me of an investigator using a magnifying glass to look closely at a part of the flower before moving on.

andy tauer 1

Andy Tauer

The close-up examination begins right away as the tuberose is in place from the first moments. Hr. Tauer then uses citrus and mint as the first magnifiers. What these notes in tandem do is to tease out the mentholated underpinning that tuberose has. It is obvious when tuberose is in high quantity. For Tuberose Flash Hr. Tauer didn’t want the tuberose to be that loud early on. By using the citrus and mint it draws attention to the mentholated nature without going all flowery. That is saved for the heart where two other white flowers, jasmine and orange blossom, bring out the typical tuberose most are familiar with. This is a typical white flower bouquet with indolic grace notes and narcotic floralcy. The base returns to using a note to magnify an aspect. In the late going it is patchouli attracting the indoles. They combine to form a slightly dirty patchouli. Amber and benzoin are also in the base and they are there to balance the indoles with more typical sweetness; not allowing Tuberose Flash to go too far into the darkness.

Tuberose Flash has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Tuberose Flash is an interesting companion piece to the perfume he did last year for his Tauer line called Sotto La Luna Tuberose. It also shares a very distinctive progression through the phases. What I found particularly interesting is that Hr. Tauer found two different explorations of tuberose within a year. I like Tuberose Flash more because that opening where the mentholated character is displayed stands apart from most tuberose fragrances. With Tuberose Flash Tauerville and Hr. Tauer have created a six-pack of excellent “simple” perfumes.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Twisted Lily.

Mark Behnke