One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gutted: Eau d'Epices by Andy Tauer

I'm sure there are reviewers who are so confident in their mastery of their subject and so sure of their taste that they can unhesitatingly proclaim something to be excellent or dreadful, but I am not one of those people.

When something is undeniably good, or when I just plain love it despite any flaws, I'm fine: I can rave about it to the point of exhaustion. But here are a few of the questions I ask myself when I'm on the fence or I actively dislike something:

• Is it actually good and I just can't tell?
• Do I dislike this because I dislike one specific element of it?
• Have I just smelled this kind of thing so many times that I'm jaded?
• Is it me? Is it my nose or something?

I do have the courage of my convictions, but I also want to be fair.

Andy Tauer's Eau d'Epices has a gorgeous top: effusively spicy, mostly cinnamon and cardamom, brightened with a citrus sparkle; it makes you think of Christmas orange-and-clove pomanders and mulled wine. It also has a gorgeous base that calls to mind a Christmas tree, woody and resinous, but slightly sweetened with tonka bean. It's the middle that's the problem: a soapy orange blossom that yanks me right out of my cozy winter's reverie and plonks me down in a barber shop.

I am not a big fan of orange-flower, but even if I were, I think I would be bothered by the middle, because it just doesn't seem to go with the rest of the scent. There is nothing of Christmas or winter about the orange blossom, so why paste that in the middle of an undeniably wintry fragrance? If it's to have a floral core, why not a Christmassy "Es ist ein Ros entsprungen" rose, or a fantasy red-and-green floral accord meant to suggest poinsettias?

I honestly can't tell if it's the scent or just me, but to my mind and my nose the disconnect between the middle and its bookends is just too great. I wanted to like this — it has elements of the discontinued and lamented Aqua Allegoria Winter Delice — but I cannot get past that incongruous middle. Maybe it makes sense to the perfumer, but it doesn't to me.

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Speaking of Andy Tauer, there are still four days left to try to win something in his annual Advent giveaway. He has a lot of great things to choose from, should you win. Good luck!

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Speaking of orange flower, over on Perfume Shrine there's a list of the supposed top 10 fragrance notes for the coming year. They are:

1. Ginger Orchid
2. Orange Flower
3. Tart Guava
4. Gold Amber
5. Green Pear
6. Spicy Bergamot
7. Root Beer
8. Pink Pepper
9. Leather
10. Tomato Leaf

Awful lot of low cards in that hand if you're me. Pink pepper has been all over the place for quite a while now, I'm completely done with tomato leaf if I ever liked it to begin with, and there are at least a few things in there that can't be anything but cheap synthetics ("tart guava" and "green pear" do not sound very promising) which will be heavily ladled into everything.

I like the idea of root beer, mind you (though that complex smell can't really be called a "note", can it?). And I approve of leather: you can never have enough leather scents. If only the perfume houses would buck against the IFRA and start using buckets of oakmoss again: then we might see a revival of the classic leather chypre, one of the old mainstays of men's perfumery (and women's, too), and perhaps the inescapable and ever more horrible fresh-aquatic-ozonic category would die a fitting death.

I can dream.

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2 Comments:

  • FWIW, I don't think of Eau d'Epices as particularly Xmas-y or even wintry. I also didn't like it much at first, but it's grown on me. I think of it as a resinous citrus, and I don't get a lot of spice or "floralcy" from it.

    Also: I think the drydown of Violet Blonde smells like root beer.

    By Blogger Elisa, at 12:17 PM  

  • I think it struck me as wintry because it reminded me so much of Winter Delice, at least the opening and closing. Or maybe I'm just programmed to think of warm spicy resinous scents as being appropriate for the cold months.

    I still haven't smelled Violet Blonde, but another root-beer scent is Boucheron Trouble.

    By Blogger pyramus, at 6:16 PM  

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