The Desert King: Tauer Perfumes Incense Extreme
I have always associated the smell of wood with pleasant things and happy memories.
Perhaps I should explain.
When I was growing up, my father had a little woodworking shop set up in our barn. I loved the smell of freshly cut and planed wood, which he would fashion into decorative art objects. At Christmas, we usually had a Balsam Fir, the best tree of all, and it was so aromatic that even the wood of the trunk smelled better than that of other, inferior trees. Its soft needles were blissfully delicious. I also think of horses when I smell sawdust or wood chips, as both are often used as bedding in their stalls. The hot, sweet smell of a horse’s skin is just about my favorite smell in the world, so naturally the connection is a pleasing one. And of course, since I spent my childhood in the country, I equate trees with the freedom of being able to run wild in the nearby forest all summer. I wish every child could have that experience.
So what has this got to do with perfume? Andy Tauer has once again created a memory fragrance that brings me to another place and time. The very first thing I thought of when I smelled it was a place I once visited when I was a child. We went to see a young couple that was building a brand new house. I grew up living in a drafty old house from Colonial times, and all our relatives and most of our friends lived in old houses too – this was New England, after all. I had never actually been inside a brand-new building before. It was a heady blend of sensations indeed – freshly sawn lumber, fresh paint and optimism. It was a happy day and the couple we were visiting was so nice, and so were their children, that we all hated to leave. I remember asking my father if we could go see them again someday, but we never did. I sometimes think of that day as one of those times that stands out in the memory for some reason, but I had not thought about it for a long time until I put Tauer Perfumes Incense Extrême on my skin. It zapped me right back there like a liquid time machine.
I am a big fan of Andy Tauer’s work, and I love both of his previous “masculine” scents, L’Air du Desert Marocain and Lonestar Memories. Both of them evoke desert landscapes; the first, a masterpiece in my opinion, is like an encapsulated day in the Arabian desert, from warm sunrise though the burning day and into the cool of the evening. The second is a meditation on the idea of the American West, redolent of campfire smoke and leather, and bringing to mind tumbleweeds and cowboys. Incense Extrême Eau de Parfum is incredibly dry and woody, even austere. It is an arid environment of another kind. I would say it is a petrified forest, an abstract idea of a desert, a painted landscape of frankincense and cedar colored with spices.
This is one of the driest perfumes I have ever smelled. Once it warms up and gets into the heart notes, a bit of orris provides just a touch of something soft, but it’s not really sweet – more like little spot of shade in the expanse of the sun-baked composition. It never gets to the point of being an orris fragrance; it’s just a constant, subtle undertone. The incense part has little to do with fire; this frankincense seems to still be on the tree, with the hardened resin oozing out and drying in the merciless Sirocco wind. The cedar accord is one of the finest I have ever smelled, stately and noble. As for the spice – what is it? I thought I detected a little saffron, some coriander seed, just a touch of cumin and something that smells like the dried sumac powder used to flavor Arabian cuisine, but it never gets anywhere close to smelling like actual food. The spice part is an elusive trail, enticing and wispy, and it keeps vanishing and reappearing in new ways. Trying to figure out the mix of spices kept my nose constantly pressed to my arm while I wore this scent. The fact that it is anchored by ambergris was another delight. This works seamlessly well with the orris to polish the fragrance into a serene and elegant whole.
Let me quote Andy, from the copy on the sample card: “I wanted to create an incense that is intense and clear. A minimalist, cubist interpretation of incense, a touch of spices, powdery orris, dry cedar wood and ambergris, supporting the frankincense, that is rich, crisp, red and intense.”
Well, I would say that he got exactly what he was aiming for. No one else does dry fragrances quite like Andy does, in my experience anyway. I suppose this could be a unisex scent, but I think of it (and the other two I mentioned ) as leaning more to the masculine side due to the nearly complete absence of sweetness or floral notes. It has taken me a while to really learn to appreciate non-floral perfumes in general, but when they are done this well, I can understand why so many people prefer this style of fragrance. I think I might just follow a man who wears this into the desert night without looking back.
Tauer Perfumes are available in the U.S.A. exclusively at Luckyscent. For another take on this one, please read Tom’s post from January.
Image credit: Frankincense tree from enfleurage.com