the mountain moonlight, and roses…..TAUER PERFUMES’ INCENSE ROSE (2008) + UNE ROSE DE KANDAHAR (2013)






















The very existence of an innovative and imaginative independent perfumer such as Zurich based Andy Tauer, an alchemist who produces strange and unique perfumes within his own apartment and boxes them, packages them, and sends them to his eager recipients all over the world, is quite gratifying in this overly compromised and commercialized world of vacuous, olfactory pap. Tauer’s releases regularly get the fragrant stratosphere all lathered up; stark, strong, and very contemporary blends that defy the usual gender-seductive expectations and take perfumery into interesting, and unidentified, zones.


They are not to be taken lightly, however. For me personally, Tauer scents are never an easy wear. Rather than just an immediately pleasing smell to apply, to fuse with and merely enhance my own physical aura and persona, these very complex (very male, actually) perfumes feel more like miniature, fully realized tableaux or skin-inhabiting theatrical productions; dramatic plays or ballets taking part on my skin, curious circumstances where all I can do is stand back and watch. Creations such as Reverie Au Jardin, a lavender-based, iridescent soap bubble fantasy that could easily have been directed by Peter Jackson; or the bizarre orchestrations of the fantastical, compellingly vivacious Vetiver Dance, these are scents from which I feel disembodied but simultaneously magnetized.


I did in fact once buy a full bottle of a Tauer, though, in London at Les Senteurs: the fabled, and much lauded, L’Air Du Désert Marocain, thinking it would be good for Duncan. How mistaken I was. We both loathed how it smelled on him, in its undiminishing, almost acrid intensity (and I would never even consider for a second wearing a stark, woody arid: probably the last category in the world I would wear – give me unscented instead, I just can’t do it). There was a relentlessness there, and, ironically, a total absence of air in that perfume that made for quite an unpleasant experience. So off was sent the bottle to my brother, who apparently wore it so well, and so naturally, that he was constantly followed about and complimented wherever he went, all the time, by strangers, by both women and men, trails of spices and resins surrounding the air perfectly matched to his skin chemistry (drier, more top-note centric than my own base-note enslaving canvas). He always wears fragrance, but has never had quite this reaction before or since. I would have really loved to have experienced how it smelled on Greg, actually, but by the time I got to England, the bottle had long been drained and he was asking for another (at that price, fat chance, mate).




Which brings me to today’s focus: two vehement, opulent, East-inspired roses. Before we begin, though, I must ask the question: am I even qualified to review these perfumes knowing full well in advance that they are very likely to be too fortified for me; that there is something in Andy Tauer’s perfumes that, quite honestly, usually just make me shudder?  (Am I alone in this, incidentally?)
















But let’s see. Let’s go closer. Let’s smell them anyway. Just because we want to, and because we love incense, and we love roses, and because one simply cannot ignore a perfume which has the name Une Rose De Kandahar.



































First, to Incense Rose. I have had several samples of this scent, which in my view has an effortless integration of freshness (cardamom, clementine, bergamot, Texan cedarwood and a light Bulgarian rose), and a subtle, insidious mysticism, melded cleverly as it is with a fervent, long-lasting oriental bedding of labdanum, myrrh, patchouli, and ambergris that supports the starring ingredient in this perfume; a deep, smouldering frankincense. A spiced, lingering tapestry, quite beautiful in its linear night sky; a wise agelessness of orientalist, expanded canvas in the base; an incense scent (if you love incense scents) that you can trust; that just lasts and lasts and lasts (and lasts) throughout the day. I do rather rate this perfume, actually, and have used it to scent the house (it smells great on curtains in winter), but these parched, ascetic scents, I have to say, ultimately, just aren’t me.





Une Rose De Kandahar, a new, (kind of) limited edition perfume, is founded upon a rare and special rose essence produced in the prime rose growing region in Afghanistan of Nangarhar, and consequently, (and beautifully, for me, ) constant availability of this perfume cannot be guaranteed. I am a real sucker for this kind of story; I love the idea of terroir-specific natural essences (especialy somewhere as poignantly fierce and unyielding as this fascinating country) and in fact, compared to the drier, more masculine Incense Rose, Une Rose De Kandahar is really much more about the rose flower itself; plush, rounded, feminine, bolstered with gentle, almost gourmandish notes of almond and apricot; a pleasingly sweetish blend of tobacco leaf and cinnamon-touched Nangahar and Bulgarian roses, over warm, almost ambery, notes of patchouli, vetiver, vanilla, tonka bean and musk.



The first stage of the perfume is a forbidden, sensualized kiss of this quite beautiful rose, quite intense and yearning : very emotional.  If you are a rose lover, and enjoy the scent of rose otto, of the natural essential oil, then I would definitely recommmend Une Rose De Kandahar. Unconscious perceptions of dusted cinnamon apricots over a soft, blouseful bloom of innocent, light pink roses, make for a scent I find somehow quite beautiful, if slightly too wide-eyed in sincerity. The scent is never overblown, but even so, rather than the soft, vanillic ending I would have been hoping for (because, obviously, I just would), instead, the usual Tauerade woodiness, some incense (some oudh? Some frankincense? ) rises up through the rosed, ambery pillow, eventually, and presents something….I don’t know. Unwanted. For me at least.



Is this incensey ending, as insistent as that central note in Incense Rose, even though it is imperceptible at the beginning, the natural ending for this perfume? Is it even warranted? I first put this perfume on about nine hours ago, and this sinewy incense is still going strong as I write this,  even though all traces of roses, of softness, of what the perfume was initially, have long disappeared.




Mmmm. Incense Rose and Une Rose De Kandahar. I couldn’t wear either of these personally, of that I am quite sure, in the same way that I would never wear yellow, russet, beige, or brown. I just never would. Some colours just don’t suit me. And yet, despite my own slight aversion to these scents on a certain plane of consciousness, to be sat somewhere next to a man or woman in Incense Rose, or Une Rose De Kandahar, both quite riveting and rapturous perfume in many ways, I can honestly imagine being almost hypnotized. What does this mean?













With thanks, as always, to the lovely Bethan for the samples. I never take it for granted. x









Filed under Flowers

16 responses to “the mountain moonlight, and roses…..TAUER PERFUMES’ INCENSE ROSE (2008) + UNE ROSE DE KANDAHAR (2013)

  1. Your term “Tauerade” defines my feeling toward these scents in general: I own some of the 15ml bottles, but will never buy a 50ml bottle because I am always left with the feeling that they boil down to the same scent. I like Desert Marocain and it can smell just right, both on my husband and on me, but I wonder (I’m serious about this) if it has something to do with living in a desert climate where the arid quality fits well into our ambient air scent. I used it once while visiting family in Louisiana, and while my mood may have had something to do with this, it smelled harsh and rather unpleasant there.
    I too am intrigued with the whole concept of terroir and sense of place in general, and think that it may apply to the wearing as well as the making of perfume.

    • And I am intrigued as to how Desert Marocain smells in your air. It is such a thoroughly raved about scent that I felt/feel that it was just me that somehow didn’t get it. All I know that in a muggy Japanese September it smelled horridly potent and unforgiving. I wanted that clear blue sky, the Tania Sanchez review in Perfumes, The Guide, but to me it was like a wooden nightmare of aridity.

      The terroir of where to WEAR perfume, though, not just where the ingredients came from, is a fascinating topic though. Thanks for bringing it up. There is no doubt that certain things smell better in particular seasons, and I am sure that it applies to place as well.

  2. batkitty

    I have to admit I’m a little reassured to hear that someone else has some difficulty wearing Tauer perfumes. I’ve tried several, they sounded so promising on paper, but they absolutely don’t work on my skin. And there is something uniform about them at the foundation that seems to be the problem, because floral, incense, citrus, whatever, they smell unfortunate on me…. My nose is not intelligent enough to figure out where the problem lies, so I have just moved on. Thanks for the review, these roses sound beautiful. I think I’d love to smell these in the air–or on someone else.

    • My nose is not intelligent either; I just try to trust it. But when so many people love something but I can’t ‘get’ it, it almost worries me, as though I am lacking something

      I do think both of these perfumes are good, though; balance, integrity, quality etc etc, but yesterday I literally couldn’t scrub them off. I washed my left hand with the Incense Rose about four times, and it was still going really strong in the evening. What is IN that perfume?!

  3. Dearest Ginza
    ‘Too fortified’ for you dear friend?
    Now that does set a slight alarm bell ringing, and yet, these sound so perfectly attuned to The Dandy’s tastes (ascetic and catholic in equal measure as they are) that I rather fancy I would like them.
    Of the two, I find myself longing for rose more at the moment as churches are so pretty at this time of year that I have had quite a fill of incense for the moment.
    As to the meaning of your delight in experiencing these with pleasure on others? Surely just a matter of polarity… opposites, after all, attract.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy
    (now returned from WordPress exile)

    • Thank GOD. It was starting to get vexing, seriously. BACK! BACK! BACK!

    • I reckon The Dandy would like these, actually. Am I correct in remembering you reviewing some Tauer perfumes? I can imagine you swooning over the initial burst of rose, as though Nahema had gone all edgy and Asian Underground, but I wonder what you would make about the UTTERLY SUPERFLUOUS, to my nose, addition of too taut incense that lives at the centre?

      I was not just paying lip service when I said that I think that he makes fascinating scents, though. There is just something in them that terrifies me. Smelly Thoughts gets him perfectly, though, is attuned to his palette. I kind of envy him in a way.

  4. Katy

    It is simply amazing to me that perfrumes smell so different on each of us and that, yes, we have nearly as many genes determining the nature of our individual olfactive nerve, as determine eye color. That quote about never the same river twice, could as easily be never the same fragrance twice. I am 50 years old. Extremely fair, freckled and a brunette with red tones, before all the gray took over. My skin sucks up fragrance. The only perfumes I do not have to do at least 6 sprays of are Alien, Angel and Womanity. The Lauders stick around for me as well. My beloved Bvlgari Black just is gone in the first hour. I extend it a bit with vanilla lotion. When my coworker Mykel wears this same fragrance, he is wafting that birch tar, powder and tea for hours. Jacomo Silences smells much better on my Husband than on me. It unfolds spectacularly on him, on me, it just stays bitchy. I have a full bottle of Lonestar Memories and some samples of other Tauer’s coming for Christmas. I will let you know if I like to wear them or enjoy them better on others! Beautiful, compelling writing as usual.

    • So is this! Strangely, I can picture how these scents smell on you and the kind of skin you have and what it drinks up and doesn’t (one thing in common: Silences smells bitchy and sour on me as well, but on others smells lighter and much more elegant. In fact I was stunned when my friend Marina came to stay.I have known that scent for years but it was like smelling it for the first time….).

      Black is all rubber and tea on me as well, and Angel goes on for days…

      I find this topic fascinating.

  5. Katy McReynolds

    So it has been about a year since last we mused on to Tauer or not to Tauer. I find myself firmly in the Tauer camp. Lonestar Memories is just about as perfect a winter jasmine as there could possibly be. Lest there be any mistake, to my nose this is most assuredly a jasmine perfume. It just chooses to explore the greener more mentholated aspects of the flower, in an arid manner. I have trouble with Serge Lutens. I should glory in them and I do not. There is something at the heart of everyone I have tried that is just repugnant on my skin. Secretly, I kinda love Borneo 1834, I layer it with Angel. One is so juicy, the other so dry, they are just fascinating together! I have sampled the Unicorn Shiseido Nombre Noir, both versions of Feminite Du Bois, Serge Noire and Borneo 1834. Except for the Borneo 1834, I am not very excited by any of these. Sigh, will there ever be a Serge pour moi?

    • Leave him. I am much more Serge than Andy, but at least we have open minds. Borneo is also my favourite (craving some, actually). They stopped selling it in Japan and it smells glorious on me.

      I love the idea of how you smell in the Lonestar. I think some scents just smell better on others, and can be enjoyed, immensely, as such.

  6. Tania

    The Tauerade definitely does not work for me. I have several samples of Andy’s scents, but the only full bottles are Le Maroc pour Elle (which I do like) and Orange Star (which I’m probably going to swap away because it wears ME.) I read all the glowing reviews of the latest Tauer, and then I get a sample, and it’s actively unpleasant on my skin. I had heard that he doesn’t try them on women’s skin, so I thought perhaps that was it? But obviously not, if you have the same problem….

  7. I won a sample of Phi and I got a bad burning smell the first 2 times I tried it. It got such rave reviews I thought I’d better retry it and on about the 4th attempt it’s like my head finally connected with what I was smelling and I loved it. I usually like Tauer’s straight off so it was not how it was meant to be. They are pretty dense usually – this one seems lighter to me.
    Incense Rose is one of the few perfumes I had a stranger ask me what I was wearing. I put this down to the fact that it does smell good but it has absolutely massive projection and one spray = 5 x sprays of practically anything else (non Tauer). I do love the whole Tauer story as well. I think if there’s some sort of story behind a brand I’m more drawn to it in general – actually only if it comes across as genuine and is not some BS ‘creative’ marketing spiel.

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