Saturday, 7 June 2014

The 'Careful Whispers' series: No 3 - Tauer Perfumes Cologne du Maghreb review

Before anyone mentions it, I am as surprised as the next person to be featuring a Tauer perfume in my 'Careful Whispers' series. As with 'first generation' Mona di Orios, I didn't really get on with the early releases from the line - or maybe, at that neophyte stage of my perfume j*****y, my nose was too easily overwhelmed by the robust style of scent Andy Tauer tended to favour then.  The stellar exception to that being L'Air du Désert Marocain, a haunting dusty-spicy-woody rose number I love so much I am prepared to go through the faff of giving it its proper accent.  And though LADDM is also potent, it is utterly mesmeric once it has worn on the skin for a while. But otherwise, back in those early days I continued to have issues with the bristly 'Tauerade' base, metallic notes generally (Zeta and the galvanised lily that is Carillon pour un Ange, which I do still like), and latterly also soap (Orange Star).

The release of Tableau de Parfums Miriam and Noontide Petals marked a definite turning point in my appreciation of Andy Tauer's work, most probably because these scents are in a quieter register.  The aldehydic notes in both were playful and ticklish, while the soapy aspect of Noontide Petals was eclipsed ultimately by the tang of ylang-ylang and the radiant glow of other white florals.  Now I know I haven't mentioned PHI Une Rose de Kandahar on Bonkers yet, but I made its acquaintance earlier this year thanks to a sample from Val the Cookie Queen, and was instantly smitten.  In PHI Une Rose de Kandahar the nuzzling fizz of the aldehydes is accompanied by a photorealistic rose note of such rarity that fans of the scent will have to wait till the autumn for production to be resumed when that particular material is available again. PHI might well be my first full bottle purchase of a Tauer Perfume, which is testament to how far my taste has come - or to how far Andy Tauer's work happens to have veered up my congenially wispy alley!

PHI Une Rose de Kandahar ~ Source:

And so to Cologne du Maghreb.  An email from Jeffrey Dame, CEO of Hypoluxe, who distributes Tauer Perfumes in the USA, landed in my inbox the other day.  He inquired whether I wished to sample Cologne du Maghreb, which - as I have just learnt - is a relaunch of a limited edition scent from 2011.  If so, he would arrange for Andy to mail it out directly.  Well, given the intensity of my attachment to PHI, I was indeed curious to try this unisex summer scent, and within what felt like a blink of an eye the package was here, accompanied by a handwritten card - thanks, both!

Well, off the bat I would like to say is how impressed I was with the thin flat box the sample came in - a perfect example of 'packaging commensurate to the size of its contents', which is what I like to see.  A complete absence of ostentatious boxes, plinths, huge slabs of foam or extravagantly padded envelopes.

Next up, I thought to google Maghreb, as I felt I should clarify the geographical frame of reference for this latest addition to the Tauer stable.  Well, it appears to be a region of North West Africa comprising Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Mauritania.  Mauritania?  Why, I thought that was a ship!  

So the first thing I should say about Cologne du Maghreb - or rather, I will let Andy Tauer say it - is that it is an 'all-natural, all-botanical fragrance, a traditional cologne, light and not made to last'.

A fulfilment operative at Tauer Towers

I completely concur with that - and it is such a startling aspect of a Tauer scent - yet it is a fact that Cologne du Maghreb is noticeably fleeting on me.  Or to be exact, after the stunningly bright, herbaceous opening - which reminds me very much of Guerlain Sous le Vent and also a little bit of the top notes of Mito EDP - Cologne du Maghreb quickly subsides into a very soft, ambery-vetivery hum covered in a light dusting of sherbet. There is rose in there I see, but I can't say I can pick it out, not that that means anything, for my nose is a blunt instrument at the best of times. Texturally, I'd describe the opening as granular - not in the bullshit bingo sense of 'granular', meaning 'detailed' or 'drilled down' (eep!) - but  in the sense of actual granules pinging off your nasal receptors, like finely crushed ice.

I tested Cologne du Maghreb before learning about its all-botanical composition, but I can well believe that now.   It was hyper-zesty, pleasantly tart without being acerbic.  The herbal facet was nicely under control, and didn't tip the composition into more fougere-y or other astringent male territory.  The citrus bouquet was sooo realistic that it was like sniffing a brace of neat aromatherapy oils simultaneously from the bottle. Or crushing the rinds of oranges and lemons in a pestle and releasing the sticky oil from the peel. (I used to work in the juice industry, would you believe, though even in 1985 we were a mite more automated in our juice extraction processes - on the one product not wholly made from concentrate, that is. ; -) ) Then conversely to the rose, I thought I picked up on petitgrain, but I see none listed.  No matter - it was a bracing, refreshing hit like nothing else I have tried in the cologne genre, quite possibly because of its all-natural provenance.


In terms of the rationale / inspiration for Cologne du Maghreb - I refuse to say backstory, not even as two words - Andy Tauer wished to combine traditional cologne-making techniques with an oriental twist. Though, as he is careful to point out on his blog, not the sort of twist that involves 'synthetic oudh and cheap metallic damascenone'.  No, we are talking lemon groves in Marrakech, cedar trees in Algeria's Atlas mountains, and rock roses in scrubby terrain pretty much anywhere in the region.

Notes: citrus accord, cistus, ambreine, cedarwood, Java vetiver oil, bergamot, lemon, neroli, orange blossom, lavender, rosemary, rose absolute, rose essential oil, clary sage

I really like Cologne due Maghreb, and the fact that you would have to reapply it quite often - not least to enjoy the revivifying rush of the opening again and again - would not bother me.  Hey, I am always looking for ways to use up more perfume, and extreme tenacity is not necessarily a virtue in my book.  Given how I struggled with the likes of Lonestar Memories, I feared it might be too butch, notwithstanding the unisex billing, but it really does sit smack in the middle of the gender divide (for anyone who believes there is such a thing, as I guess I still do).  And readers mourning the recently discontinued Sous le Vent might be reassured to know that there is a worthy - if whisper quiet - substitute on offer.

And and in case you are curious, and not already familiar with its topography, here is a photo of Mauritania!


And here is the ship in question, which has a slightly different spelling after all, as Wikipedia put me straight: 'The ship's name was taken from Mauretania, an ancient Roman province on the northwest African coast, not the Modern Mauritania which is now to the south.'

But best of all, this very ship was renamed HMS Tuberose for a year...  I don't make this stuff up, you know...!

RMS Mauretania ~ Source:


Unknown said...

I share your reluctance when it comes to early Tauers with the exception of LDDM and I have yet to try Phi. Despite your very nice review I doubt that this Cologne is for me. Fleetingness does bother me to the point that I fear my sense of smell is on it's way out when a scent is not lasting a few hours at least.

Anonymous said...

Well my dear V. I love this review and want to try some. Aaaaaannnnnddddyyyyyy???????? Bussi.

Vanessa said...

Val, I fear that for cologne-related reasons of inherent evanescence, I may have used my vial all up by July, or I would gladly reciprocate your PHI donation with the remains of my sample. Will try to resist, promise - or Andy may come good mittlerweile. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Sabine,

PHI pips even LADDM in my view and I don't say that lightly. I don't think you should necessarily correlate your nasal powers with the fleeting aspect of a cologne. I think it is just built-in product obsolescence - the laws of chemistry, basically. ;)

For the record, I do think my nose is losing any ability it ever had to pick out distinct notes in things, and plan to write a post on this subject soon, which you may find reassuring?

Unknown said...

I know that colognes are not made for lasting, but it still bothers me...hence my indifference to them. Will await your post about nose fails with anticipation.

Vanessa said...

Haha - it was inspired by an epic fail to smell anything at all in a recent release beyond a general 'textural impression'.

Odiferess said...


"we are talking lemon groves in Marrakech, cedar trees in Algeria's Atlas mountains, and rock roses in scrubby terrain"

That sounds like the holiday that I desire but haven't yet booked. This time you are enabling me, not only with perfume fantasy, but also with Thomas Cook-ism..

Asali said...

Oh, this does sound like a great summer fragrance. Now, I'm looking even more forward to my sample arriving. And a resemblance to Sous le Vent sounds extra exciting to my nose ;-)
Funny, even though in general I prefer a good longevity, with some fragrances I kind of like that they don't stay long on the skin, so you can re-apply, or apply something else later, without the fragrances interfering with each other. I think as long as I can smell a good development while the perfume lasts...

Tara said...

I don't think I'll ever tire of you starring out the j word, V. Makes me smile every time.

Fun post as ever. I don't know how you're finding the time. This makes me think more and more that Eau de Magnolia is the perfect summer perfume for you. We must get you a sample at the end of July. I've used mine up I'm afraid but I'll pick one up in the meantime if I can.

As for working out notes, I'd be lost without a note list to prompt me. I admire people who tease them out from nothing. My bad sinsuses (sp?) would never be up for that.


Vanessa said...

Hi Sarah,

Am happy to have also inspired you on a fantasy holiday level. Don't just book it, Thomas Cook it! ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Asali,

I hope it lives up to your expectations when your sample comes! I think the comparison with Sous le Vent is definitely there, even though the note lists have only some crossover.

Good point about fleeting fragrances enabling you to switch to something else later in the day. I found that Cologne du Maghreb went very suddenly from top to base, as it were, so will be interested to learn what kind of development your nose tracks with it.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

Well, you are in luck, as I probably shan't have the nerve to ever write the 'j' word in full again. ;) As for keeping the blog going, I am not sure how I am finding the time to be honest. Not sleeping very much or cleaning the house is probably the short answer, but my eyes are on stalks. Work continues to be manic - for the time being, at least.

Ooh, I do hope to try Eau de Magnolia when we meet up - magnolia, ylang ylang, rose and lily-NOT-of-the-valley are probably my four favourite floral notes (in no particular order).

Hmm, my nose is definitely getting worse, for whatever reason. As I mentioned to Sabine above, a blog post is coming along soon on that very topic.

Suzanne said...

You at one time worked in the juice industry??!!

I loved your review, you make this sound like an unusual and incredibly tender Tauer scent, but yes - it's your tidbit about working in the juice industry that got my attention. What kind of juice, and what part were you involved in? I don't picture many juice factories in England or your former home of Ireland, hence my curiosity. Do spill (pun intended)! :D

Anonymous said...

The name of this Cologne is nice and really adequate, I think. Guerlain's Eau de Cologne Imperiale is a favorite of mine (and a bit similar to Cologne du Maghreb, in my opinion) but the name is like a contradiction: Cologne = pretty powerless, civic, just for the moment, elusive, inspiring or like "finely crushed ice" (I liked that part of your review and the roses in scrubby terrain and the HMS Tuberose!).
I would associate an imperator with a heavy oriental...or, somehting repellent like ELdO's "Rien"...
Have a nice week

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

I did indeed - I was brand manager for fresh and long life juice for St Ivel (now part of French dairy conglomerate Danone) in the mid-80s. My minor claim to fame is to have been the first in the UK to put fresh juice into clear PET bottles instead of cardboard cartons, and to have co-developed Apple & Mango juice with my then boss. We also launched Apple & Pear and Apple & Banana - but only the former did well, and I have a modern descendant in my fridge as it happens. Although we had a couple of our own brands, the vast majority of sales were under own label to the supermarket chains. Oh, and the factory was in Walthamstow, East London, right next door to a famous dog racing track, in a beautiful white Art Deco building.

Vanessa said...

Hi Anka,

Oh yes, I do like the Guerlain colognes - the one you mention, also Eau de Guerlain, Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat, and Cologne du Parfumeur. And isn't there one with Coq in it? Haven't tried it though.

And you make a point that there is perhaps an inner contradiction between the light assocations of cologne and the heavier connotations of that desert terrain, I suppose because there are a number of heavier perfumes to have been inspired by the region, like Ormonde Jayne Ta'if and LADDM itself indeed.

I do recall a couple of scents which I featured years ago on Bonkers from the Moroccan line Les Parfums du Soleil - Festival and L'Agdal - were also herbal citrus numbers, though I didn't care for them as much as this latest Tauer. My favourite was the heavier Oriental, Soir de Marrakech.

Have a good week yourself!

Anonymous said...

Hi Vanessa,
oh no, the contradiction to me lies in Cologne + Imperiale, not in Cologne + desert terrain, the latter I find very fitting! (my English...).
Greetings from Berlin

Vanessa said...

Hi Anka,

Not your English at all! I didn't follow your sentence correctly and mistakenly jumped from the Imperial cologne to the Maghreb one. ;)

Suzanne said...

That's impressive, Vanessa (I'm starting to think there's almost no job now you haven't done!). And as a lover of mango, I have to say that Apple & Mango juice sounds genius. I can imagine it doing well, and now I'll have to see if we have any such juice on our side of the pond. (A craving is born.) :-D

Vanessa said...

Hi Suzanne,

Haha - I did have a number of roles during my time there, including presiding over an £11m empire of coleslaw at one point. ;). Our branded Apple & Mango didn't stay the course, as the market was so own label driven - still is today - but it went gangbusters in Marks & Spencer and the 'top end' chains.