Monday, January 7, 2008

Incense Extrême by Tauer: fragrance review

I breathe in the cool incense smoke from the metal brazier,
While thinking about a poem for my dear friend Lu Wa.

My sandalwood-hearted companion spits out plum blossoms of smoke,
Looking like the cloudy fog of the other world.

Perhaps it's the soul of my friend the old mountain man
in the smoke's dense patterns?

- Kan Po, in memoriam (undated)

Incense extrême is the new fragrance by swiss niche perfumer Andy Tauer, that reminds me of the smoke's dense patterns that go up in clouds like the souls of dead men.
Based on a natural CO2 extract of Boswellia serrata (this is Indian frankincense, for those who didn't know) it is only one of a duo of incense scents that Andy is launching in 2008. It is to be accompanied by yet another incense fragrance later on in early spring, March 30, this time named Incense Rosé.

According to Andy Tauer (from Tauerperfumes):

"This natural incense scent inspired me to create different perfumes, with "Incense extreme" being the most abstract, almost cubist and uncompromising interpretation.
It captures the roughness of the climate of the semi desert where Boswellia trees thrive. It is translucent like the first whiff of incense smoke from frankincense resin on red gleaming coal. Yet, it is crisp like a night in the desert.
The Boswellia serrata extract is the central cornerstone of the fragrance, at a concentration of 25%, rounded off with dry woods and ambergris in the background. Soft iris balances the incense in the heart of the fragrance. And coriander and the freshness of petitgrain set the accents in the opening. The richness of the natural incense enchants with an array of impressions, playing differently as it develops, a kaleidoscope of colors and shapes."

As I spray on my skin a somber and cool smoky incense hits the nostrils with all the gusto of an open air fire on which aromatic woods and resins are slowly being burnt. The overall impression is of a fragrance that uses a high percentage of natural ingredients. Elemental, austere and slightly bitter, it calls the wild expanse of dry lands by which it has been inspired. All the while the soft underpinning of a piquant, peppery and tangy note adds its own sharp, short and cool touch. There is no floral impression, no powder that I can discern, as the incense dries off in waxy dropelts, leaving in its wake the lingering impression of trails of smoke through steely skies with the merest hint of sweetness left caressing the skin, like the memento of pleasures abandoned. Myself I admire its cold, clear character that defies pleasanties.

If you were searching for a warm, sensuous, ambery incense you are going to be somewhat disappointed. And although those latter are not my style really, I have to admit that it is less complex or indeed sensual than most of Andy's other creations. Still, there is a sparseness of style that appeals to an intellectualised sensibility, asceticism of both body and mind and the depravasion of earthy delights or the vanity of spirit. This might appeal to our inner sinner longing to repent of self spending in taste, play and song by a stint in the desert. Or our inner Spartan who longs for the black broth of his homeland instead of a feast fit for Lucullus on a borrowed table.
Whether this warrants the extrême qualitative adjective is food for thought: I think not as much. It lacks the weirdness and pungency that one would expect from something tagged so.
But this is not to detract from its value or its worthiness of trying out for yourself.

Notes: coriander, petitgrain, spices, orris, frankincense, cedarwood and ambergris.

Tauer Perfumes Incense extrême comes in 50ml of Eau de Parfum concentration and will be available on 23rd of January.

Tomorrow a juicy post from an insider, a controversial player, that will instigate lots of discussion.
Please check again for it!

Poem found through scents of earth. Pic of incense cones courtesy of L'artisan site.


  1. Maria B.23:39

    Helg, you are right about the austere nature of this fragrance. It's a strong incense with a cool drydown. I got to sample it early, when there still was some heat in the air. There is something refreshing about its purity. I longed for it when the weather was too warm for other fragrances.

    I'm sure you'll have a different reaction to Incense Rose. :-)

  2. I'm awaiting a sample of this soon...
    Sometimes minimalism is refreshing- I agree.
    Loving the Kan Po !

  3. Thanks Maria for your comment. Yes, it's cool and that would make for a great option for warm weather.
    Incense Rose sounds like something completely different (and rose is making me slightly apprehensive...hmmm)

  4. Dear I,

    I am looking forward to your impressions when you do!
    Isn't this a lovely little poem?

  5. Malena18:13

    dear e.
    i´m no incense lover per se, mostly i admire those scents more from afar than actually wear them.
    exceptions are: juozas statkevicius, AG encens flamboyant & amouage XXV for man.
    in catholic churches incense is used quite a bit & people tend to faint because of the heavy smell.
    but being curious as always i´ll sample that one for sure (still haven´t ordered andy´s l´air - yes, i chose that one, you were absolutely right :) ! - but will do within the next days.

  6. Maria B.19:41

    Helg, there's no need to feel apprehensive about the rose in Incense Rose. Think of an incense fragrance that opens with a juicy burst of clementine. It's unlike anything else I've ever tried.

  7. Anonymous21:07

    I was lucky enough to get an Xmas sample of this- which was super generous. I love the way it starts out, but it ends up smelling like alcohol or ISO-E - or something I'm asnomic too (couldn't smell the Les Nez L'Animateur (sp) or Escentric Molecules). Wah!

  8. Dear C,

    I am very pleased you followed my rec on L'air du desert! (enjoy!)
    Myself I do love incense (it's used in orthodox churches too) and I am very excited about trying the AG Encens and Amouage, which I haven't yet.
    I am looking forward to your impressions when you do try the IE.

  9. Maria,

    OK, now you sold IR to me: I am looking forward to trying it!

  10. Anon,
    those samples are very generous and it's a welcome change, I think, compared to other lines.

    As to it drying down to alcohol: surely, that's not the case IMHO. But ISO-e? perhaps there is a point to this.
    In any case, I do not think AT went for great complexity on this one, which might account for the impression you get.

  11. Dear Helg, always with the great pleasure I read yours blog. Your review about Chypres lays in my archive. It is better than the review - I simply did not read. Your style isundoubtedly best. To transfer words - smells are a great art. I have samples Incense extrême and Incense rosé and I can not define a favorite for myself. Yes, certainly, it is a little not in Andy's style, but it will be remarkable pair! At the simplicity and minimalism Incense extrême - it is excellent! There can be it speaks my Orthodoxy?:) at us it is now very cold and Incense extrême sounds simply wonderfully.

  12. Dear Vladimir,
    thank you so much for such warmth in your comment. I am feeling honoured that you feel so. :-))

    I admit I haven't smelled the Incense rosé yet (looking forward to it), but the orthodoxy part was what spoke to me in the Extreme as well: the sparseness, the cold feeling, the smokiness. There is some common background, it seems, which we feel. I appreciate your impressions on this.

  13. dinazad14:44

    Yes, but ladies: isn't that JUST Andy's style? Surprising us with something completely different and unexpected every time we get our greedy little fingers around a bottle of his newest perfume?
    I agree, the IE has an austere note, but a wonderfully warm dry-down - we have done penance and all is forgiven.
    And there's something wonderfully opulent about the austerity of IE, a sort of baroque asceticism perhaps? Lavish simplicity? Richly varied linearity? It ingrigues me no end.

  14. You have a salient point there Z, dear: he likes to surprise us!
    Love your line about it: "we have done penance and all is forgiven".


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