creating scents

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  • pipettes, play and $ signs

    Fragrant greetings on this bright day. Two more days (or one, depending on counting) before we for the Pitti Fragranze niche perfume show in Florence. Thus, as you may imagine:  a lot of last minute preparations! But today, I will  talk about composing and not about presenting fragrances.

    I cleaned up the other day, throwing away plastic pipettes that I used to mix a few trials (they are reusable in principle for a while, but I do not reuse them too often). Smelling them, after mixing was such a delight and reminded me to share with you the facts and figures of composing a fragrance.

    The fact: So many times, the simple individual raw ingredients smell so much better and more intense then the mixture. Thus, what is left on the pipette tips is heaven on earth, but what you mixed with them is blunt, boring, dull, grey.

    Figures: You may safely assume that a standard mixture for me consists of at least 30 ingredients., (exceptions apply) and you may safely assume that for a final fragrance I make between 2 and 100 trials. Yep: 2 is the easy way, the perfect way, the mother of all perfume creative experiments. 100 is the nightmare over 5 years. But the standard is somewhere in between.

    Now, how is it possible that mixture can be dull if the individual ingredients are shining beauties?, you might ask. Actually, this is quite simple: it is an effect that you find everywhere. Annihilation. Some ingredients eat each other up and what is left is ****. Dull, flat mixtures. You can compare it to painting where mixing too many colors gives you a grayish brown.

    What was I mixing a while ago: An all natural eau de toilette-eau de cologne like twitter. A fresh, all botanical, yummie further development of my cologne series, a gentleman's water if you wish,  with green herbs, spices, neroli, and woods (incl. sandalwood from Australia) and ambra and a fine patchouli in the base.  And this time, the mixture turned out as nice as the stuff that went inside. The concentrated mixture has well matured and a  few milliliters go into dilution now.  Please do not ask me when and how I will launch this. The fragrant world in Tauerville is turning too fast right now.  But I like sharing my experiments. And I think it is important to play with scents without always having a sales and $ sign in front of the nose and inside the brain.

    Actually, that's a nice last sentence, to keep in mind when going to a sales show like Pitti: It is important to play with scents without always having a sales and $ sign in front of the nose and inside the brain.



  • shifting

    It is almost September. The roses are still in bloom but you can feel how they bring out the last buds for this year. The sun is changing its course, the evening light breaks out in yellow colors and the shape of things says: Autumn. The temperatures, the light, the perspective: All is shifting. Usually, the autumn brings a lot of perfume ideas and looking into my excel, where I store all formulas and experiments, even the very ugly ones, then this excel tells me that late autumn is the most creative part of the year.

    Do not ask me why.

    The excel file mentioned above, is on some sheets uncharted territory and fun experiments, on some sheets a walk around always the same block without moving much, and on some sheets a chamber of horror. Experiments that fail and did not survive the first week in the experimental bottles. I mix all my experiments to a virtual equivalent of 1000 units. These 1000 units translate into 12.5 gr/ml mixtures. Diluted this gives about 50-100 diluted fragrance. Thus, in my mixture you find from 1 virtual unit (12. 5 mgr/microliter) to a few hundred of overdosed components everything. The base of 1000 units helps to compare formulas. It is easier because everything you add in a mixture is always a part of 1000. Most of the 30 ml flacons with these mixtures do not survive, though. Especially when iterating around the final hurdles, these mixtures will -once the perfume is considered finished- all be incinerated. They rest in peace and turned into what all matter is: Stardust.  But the formulas stay in Excel, as I do not through any of them. They just sit there and one day, when excel does not exist anymore, they will be gone, too.

    Thus, the rose petals are falling in late summer. But they are still very fragrant. And I come back to last weeks musing on roses, and roses for Monsieur. There is one formula for this in the excel, yet. But it is not mixed, yet. This mixture is still breeding in my head. And -no offense- so far the recommendations "dark, vetiver, nasty, not ugly" , well, somehow it did not make "click" in my head. Thus, I continue adding notes in my brain and play with the formula in the excel. Patience, dear readers.  Well, maybe I do not see "Monsieur" yet.

    I guess I need to look at the rose seriously as it starts to bother me; this translates into looking at Monsieur a little bit more in detail. Monsieur = ?

    But first things first: Today sees us doing a lot of tables in another excel file. Pack lists.Price lists. One day, I will need the list listing the lists.

    Until we are there: Enjoy the rose petals, scanned yesterday, picked fresh from a fainting rose.


  • the thing with roses

    I guess have a thing with roses. Thus, here comes the promised post on rosy matters.  I got a lovely mail today, where someone admires what I do with roses. These mails are of course lovely to read, but here is the truth: The trick is quite simple. Just use the real thing.

    You remember my playing with bases for later use in soaps? One series of experiments was a base for a rose soap. The other day I picked the base again and found it rosy enough and good enough to be eventually used as sort of "universal rose base". It is rather simple, consisting of 12 ingredients, among them rose absolute, rose CO2 (both r. damascena), geranium essential oil in an overdose, additional citronellol and phenylethanol; and of course some nerol and geraniol. Without the naturals the mixture would smell like a cheap rose, a "terpenoid alcohol based " rose, but you would definitively say rose!. Actually, you would probably say "rose" when you smell citronellol by itself.

    By the way: I do not use a citronellol or geraniol that is isolated from natural source, but I use a quality that is synthesized. Price wise it does not matter much. The standard quality at is 84 Francs per kilo, the quality isolated from natural sources is 118 Francs per kilo.

    I have no comparative information on the sustainability of the two different production methods. It might well be that the natural quality is a bit less sustainable as the way to the product is a bit more complicated. But I guess it does not matter here. What matters is that the quality of the two are identical. They are 97% pure and smell the same. And they are quite cheap.

    Additional molecules that you find in the base are: A touch Iso E super to fix it, a hint ionones to add floral powder, and a few drops of Methylpamplemousse, adding a bit of vibrant silvery citrus cest, again making the mix a bit lighter.

    But, the most important ingredients, are the two natural rose isolates: The absolute and the CO2 extract from Ecomaat. Together with the top notch geranium oil, they add the twist to this basic rose base; they add the spices, the depth, the honeyed dirty undertone, the richness that you do not get even when putting more different molecules into your mix.

    This is the trick. Not much more. Just use the real stuff. The total base comes to 450 Francs per kilo. That's the price you have to pay for a real rose base. Actually, compared to the rose absolute  per se it is a bargain (rose absolute sells for about 4000 $ per kilo, if you buy large quantities), and after I have clicked the publish button of this post, I will start playing with the rose base, and see whether it can be used outside of soaps, too.

    Actually, it might be time for a rose pour lui. Or something like it.

    I wish you a lovely weekend.


  • one word on Marjoram

    Today's picture shows you a bundle of fresh Marjoram, given to me by a dear perfumer friend over the weekend, together with a sample of Marjoram CO2 extract. In one word: Wow!

    This is an extract that is as close to the scent of crushed marjoram leaves as you can possibly get. A top note, for sure, fleeting, not lasting on paper, but  of a wonderful complexity. It reminds me in dry Alpine slopes in high summer with herbs on rocky ground sending their perfume into the sun. There is definitely a campherous note in it, a little soapiness, green leaves, but not the juicy type, more the green notes that you can discover in hay.

    A natural treasure. When I smell new essential oils or other fragrant material, I always imagine what might fit with it, and where you could go with it.

    Marjoran would give a wonderful head note in a fougère, together with Geranium concrète, lavender, bergamot. In my mind, I am undecided about the base notes, yet. I guess  tonka and vetiver, and maybe a hint vanilla CO2.  I guess I can dream on them while bottling Rêverie today (will do so in a second). Actually, this Marjoram note would work wonders in a cologne, too.

    Thus, here we are again: Colognes. And Fougères. I love them all!

  • basil

    Over the weekend I did a lot of things, most of them not perfume related, such as making some pesto, with basil grown on our balcony, stored in the freezer now, to enjoy the summer sun later this year.  Today's picture shows you some leaves before they were scrunched together with olive oil, some Parmesan cheese, pine seeds, garlic and salt.

    Other highlights were jogging in pouring rain, with some grey clouds over me, and thinking about the financial crisis while doing so and coming up with the conclusion that today's financial crises (II), or the dept crisis,  is actually also a deep crisis of the world`s economic and political leaders and leadership and hence we are in for changes, whether we like it or not. The brew cooking these days is the juice revolutions are made of.

    On a brighter side, I found time to work on my excel and come up with perfume formulas; working on a  Tauer hyacinth base, a green floral mixture that can be used later to bring in a hyacinth note;  not a super green as basil, and not as campherous, almost minty as the crunched basil leaves, but a bit spicy.  Fun! and finally me playing with molecules again. Talking molecules: In case you did not read it yet, please visit Giovanni Sammarco's Fragrance Scout blog (click here) and read the interview with me there, on Pentachords, on synthetic molecules, and a few thoughts on boredome in perfumery.  Enjoy!

  • on the perfume MIRIAM for Tableau de Parfums

    looking back is not always easy. Proportions fall apart and perspectives change. Looking back is like walking through a dark tunnel and the longer the tunnel is the smaller everything looks on the other side.

    The perfume MIRIAM that I created a while ago for Tableau de Parfums is a perfume where we look back and walk through this tunnel. On the other side, we discover a vintage like fragrance that I once described as bitter sweet memories of days long gone. For a detailed description by Brian: Have a look at Evelyn Avenue's store page here.

    Miriam is a fragrance that you could have smelled in the forties or fifties. Imagine a natural green aldehydic powdery tea rose, think light blue violet flowers, and green animalic, dry and earthy mossy violet leaves, think Mysore sandalwood. Actually, without going to much in to technical details: I use a violet leave absolute  that I get from Biolandes and that is just wonderful. It is such a joy that you can still get these naturals today. As almost all good things in life it is quite expensive. It fits perfectly with my vision of how MIRIAM is supposed to smell. It has this vintage aspect. One reason is of course that you do not get a lot of fragrances these days where violet leaves are used in detectable amounts.

    There is a scene in the movie that I have seen when creating the fragrance, where Miriam sprays a bit of perfume in to the room and goes "ahhhhh". I wanted to create a perfume that brings about this effect. It makes you go "ahhhh". And it fills the room, discreetly.

    Today's picture shows you a look through a keyhole in Rome.

    Miriam will launch in early October in Los Angels at Luckyscent . I will not make it available on my Tauer website, but rather on Evelyn Avenue, and Luckyscent, as Luckyscent has supported our projects and made it all possible.

  • fragrant kingdoms and what perfumery is all about

    In St. Petersburg, during the gala diner, I held a speech. The only recommendation given to me was "make it beautiful". Thus, I was free to speak for 10 min about my passion and what I feel when it comes to creating perfumes. In the following, you find my English text of this evening. I like it very much. You find in it my perspective of perfumery, and I will use a few elements for a little card that I wish to create in the next weeks. I feel, I can hold this speech to you now....Thus, there we go....


    Ladies and Gentlemen
    It is with great pleasure that I am here with you and it is with greatest honor that I speak to you.
    Today, at the occasion of this wonderful banquet, in a lovely environment, with delicious food, exciting drinks, and in beautiful company, I wish to seduce you.
    I would like to take to by the hand and together, we will make a journey to fragrant land. It is the kingdom where perfumes are born.
    But I must warn you: It is a dangerous journey. Once we are on our way to this faraway place, you may not want to come back, because it is warm and cozy, and here it is cold!
    This fragrant land is -of course!- an imaginary kingdom. And you can only get there in your fantasy.
    In these kingdoms where perfumes are born everything is possible. In these kingdoms, where perfumes are born, we draw pictures with scents.
    Every perfumer, every nose works like this. We paint pictures with scents. We create melodies with fragrant notes, we compose music with these melodies.
    Now, close your eyes and dream a dream of Morocco. Imagine you are in your hotel, in your elegant suite, after a long hot day in the Saharan desert. You are lying on your bed, the door to the terrasse is wide open.
    The warm evening wind blows and flows into the spacey suite where you are on the bed. It carries the air from the desert, the bright memories of a long dry day in the sun, it brings with it the spices from the oriental bazaar, it carries the scent of the jasmine bush that is flowering in the garden below. It is sweet from the perfume of the warm cookies out of the oven in the bakery around the corner.
    It is a dry fragrance that fills the room and that makes you dream a dream in a dream.
    This Moroccan dream you will find in my fragrance L'air du desert marocain.
    Maybe this is the biggest fascination of creating art and perfumes: All of us, we are all free to dream and create.
    We can imagine a cowboy, after a long ride on his horse, in the sunset, under a clear sky, smoking his cigarette. We can dream a green garden full of roses without thorns.
    We can imagine a fluffy oriental carpet, flying over old Persan cities, leaving a trail of rose petals like a gleaming comet.
    Being a perfumer, I have the privilege to create these fragrant images. Being an artist, working independently in freedom, I can compose what I want to create.
    Let me quote here the words of Cyrano de Bergerac, who was a poet, philosopher, inventor and simply a free man:
    "Dream, laugh, go lightly, solitary, free,
    With eyes that look straight forward - fearless voice!
    To cock your beaver just the way you choose, - "
    I do not have to compromise. I choose the colors and the shapes. I draw the light and the shadow.
    Of course, this is not easy. It may take for years to finish a perfume. Sometimes, I may never arrive at the point where I am satisfied. It is a long, adventurous, and maybe strenuous journey for perfumers in the kingdom of fragrances.
    But when we reach our goal and look at what we have created, then we are truly happy. Once the fragrant picture is finished, I pour the liquid image into a flacon. And the flacon will be like a frame that highlights the fragrant picture.
    After a long journey, in the end, this fragrant portrait develops in front of your nose.
    These fragrant images are full of emotions. A flacon with perfume is magic in a bottle. And yet, each perfume is not finished. It is you who continues to draw the picture in your fantasy.
    Perfumes are made for people. Skin is the canvas for perfumes. It is the warm skin that presents perfumes to the real world.
    The skin and the perfume unify and the beauty of the fragrant picture transforms the wearer of the perfume. The perfume and the human being become one.
    Perfumes evoke emotion, they make you smile and this renders the fragrant pictures alive.

    I  thank you!

    (Andy Tauer's speech held in St. Petersburg, February 18 2011)

  • scents of wonder

    How about a few instructions for everyday life? Here's one and more if you continue scrolling on ReadyMade's Febrary/March edition (click here). In this edition I give a short instruction how to make a fragrant glycerine soap. Or you can learn how to make a simple solid perfume in Mandy Aftel's contribution, or Yosh Han will give you scented tricks and more.

    My favorite in this ReadyMade magazine, however, was the "your guide to becoming a ROAD SCHOLAR". Perfect timing.

    On Tuesday, I fly out to Moscow and I learned already a lot from ReadyMade: I will roll my shorts in the suitcase and not fold them....

    Have lovely weekend and enjoy the wonders of a fragrant world.

  • Inspiration lingers everywhere and a pre-spring cleaning of a clustered desk

    So it felt like early spring yesterday. The sun got through the early morning fog and it got warm and it truly felt like spring for a moment. Actually, I only wanted to get rid of a few pieces of paper on my desk, but what started innocently as a little engagement turned into a battle and lead to an empty desk. Cleaned of everything that is not needed anymore. It is free from any past activities. Most of them were 30 ml glass vials with perfume trials. I had a lot, really a lot of them.

    While getting rid and reorganizing all the remnants of past searches, of despair  and painful trials I grouped all perfume experiment vials:

    The Linden blossom related: All gone to heaven, except for the final version.

    The fire tree essential oil related searches, discussed on the open letters with Mandy Aftel in Nathan Branch's blog: I keep all them, but put them aside as I have a version that needs to mature and that I consider sort of finished.

    A secret perfume development: Same situation ... I consider it sort of finished.

    A secret perfume development : 90% finished and put aside for fine tuning in the coming weeks.

    All rose soap trials neatly put together and stored away.

    Another secret perfume development, on which I worked for 2 years: finished, and all experimental in between versions gone to heaven except for the final perfume.

    My desk is empty. I have enough fragrances to launch for two years. And with the empty desk I feel like starting new compositions. Inspiration lingers everywhere, for instance in the kitchen (see picture of today...)

    I wonder where this will end.

  • green herbs

    Yesterday, I got my sweet Fennel essential oil, Foeniculum vulgare steam distilled seeds oil (the bitter Fennel is the essential oil from entire plants). So yummy! It is quite a tricky note to work with, though. It is green, very green indeed, with a strong anise like dry down, almost something woody about it in the dry down, and a lot of sweet flower powder in the middle. Think fennel, inflated, exaggerated. I want to try and see what happens with this stuff in soap. It is quite difficult to imagine how a particular natural scent develops in alkaline , soapy environment.  But I found some evidence that fennel is actually used in soap.

    Don't ask me why, but I somehow can see a green fennel, geranium etc. soap.

    Anyhow: Actually, I wanted to mention here an interesting aspect in perfumery. It is this an aspect Vero (see and me come back to quite regularly: Fragrant raw materials  that are from plants which also used in the kitchen, are special in perfumery. Think rosemary, thyme, pepper, vanilla, etc. It is like -because folks know the scents from their food- perfume lovers have a different access to these notes.

    I feel the herbs are very special in this context, too. And so are fruits, and vegetables. Although I am not a big fan of vegetables in perfumes: cucumber, for instance....I prefer it in a glass, pickled.

    Why is this (herbs in perfumery being special)?

    First they are easily recognized. And we human beings like to be on known, solid ground. Thus, we identify these notes and feel at home because we know them.

    Second they are presented in a different context. And we human beings are curious and like to explore new territory.

    Thus, it may be these controversial effects that make these food notes interesting in perfumery, without always making a gourmand perfume, of course. Think rosemary and citrus that you find in a cologne. Not gourmand, but there is something to it....

    Talking rosemary: 6 liters of the "Cologne du Maghreb" (mentioned the first time here) sit in the fridge, maturing. And I confessed to my design guru (whom I will meet later today) that I will give some of this juice away, during the advent calendar, but in the old design flacon, the simple thing, you remember? A difficult decision: But in the end I figured that the blue flacon without proper stickers would not be right. Thus, I fill a bit of this cologne in the old flacon, as gift for friends and family and a few draws.

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