An ode to orange blossom, done the Tauer way: dusted with spices, smoked with frankincense, turned black and rubbery with elevated indoles, sweetened with candy, and infused with amber. That’s Eau d’Epices (sometimes called L’Eau d’Epices or No. 12 – L’Eau d’Épices) an eau de parfum from Tauer Perfumes.
Eau d’Epices was originally released in 2010 and has just been re-released. I’ve sought specific clarification on the timeline of events, and whether the sample I received was from a new batch or formula. I’ve been repeatedly assured that it is not. According to Hypoluxe, Tauer’s American distributor, Andy Tauer created one batch of Eau d’Epices in 2010 which sold out by 2012. He held off on creating more to see how customers responded to the scent, and only recently decided to create more. So, again, the formula is said to be identical, and there should be no question of batch variations.
The press release for Eau d’Epices describes the perfume as follows:
One of Tauer’s favorite naturals, orange blossoms absolute, plays a central role in this scent that is unique and original. Natural oils from spices orchestrate an opening that is vibrant, and warm. Red mandarin softens the spices and prepare for the orange blossoms that bloom in l’eau d’épices together with another white flower: Jasmin. Frankincense essential oil leads over to a classical Tauer base chord featuring ambergris, tonka, hints of vetiver and the woody warm perfume of cistus ladaniferus resin, resembling a walk in a pineta.
An Indian basket of spices with cinnamon, cardamom, clove and corriander with red mandarines.
An opulent heart of orange blossom, jasmine, orris root and incense.
A woody cistus ladaniferus resin, softened with ambergris, tonka beans and vetiver.
I tested Eau d’Epices twice, using different quantities and experienced two very different opening phases. The perfume eventually ended up in the same place, but the focal point was quite different in each test, especially in the beginning.
The first time, I used 2 small sprays from my atomizer, and the dominant aroma on my skin was candy sweets. Specifically, Sweet Tarts (or SweeTarts) and Smarties, with a touch of the exploding, fizzy Pop Rocks. All the candies have a very sweet aroma that is powdered. Here, however, the Sweet Tarts of Eau d’Epices’ start was also accompanied by a brief lemony touch from the coriander and a hint of red fruits (more like berries). Hot on their heels was jasmine, sticky orange, flickers of vetiver, a whisper of orange blossom, and dark spices, all on an amber base.
The jasmine’s initial burst quickly receded, leaving a bouquet that was almost entirely Sweet Tarts with orange sherbet that had been dusted with cinnamon. There were tiny pinches of cardamom and cloves, but the cinnamon ruled them both on my skin. The orange blossom never really showed up as a floral note the way one normally encounters it, and the frankincense was barely perceptible. The whole thing was extremely sweet, but also playful and whimsical in a fun way.
For the first hour, the cinnamon orange sherbet and powdered Sweet Tarts ruled almost unimpeded by the other notes. Then, the spice bouquet became stronger, with the clove slowly creeping to the foreground. Much more significant was the vetiver which, on my skin, often manifests a minty freshness. It did so here with Eau d’Epices, too. As the vetiver swirled into the syrupy sweetness of the fruity sherbet, it felt almost candied in a way that was quite enjoyable.
About 2.5 hours in, Eau d’Epices starts to shift more dramatically. My skin often amplified or clings onto vetiver, and Eau d’Epices was no exception. The vetiver begins to take over the dominant position, trailed by the spice-dusted orange sherbet, the candied notes and the amber. The candy feels almost more like Cinnamon Red Hots now, instead of Sweet Tarts but there is still a powdered quality to the note. (It’s undoubtedly from the orris.) Slowly, slowly, the amber rises to the surface, and Eau d’Epices begins to turn into a scent that is labdanum amber with minty vetiver. The perfume feels simultaneously resinous, candied, sweet, and dusted with spices.
At the start of the 5th hour, Eau d’Epices is a highly blended scent that is largely dominated by the “Tauerade” signature base. That particular accord is quite identifiable, as it always features a darkly resinous amber which is simultaneously somewhat woody, sharp, smoky, and sweet.
Here, it is infused with vetiver and cinnamon candies. Again, my skin has a tendency to bring out vetiver to an unusual degree, and to cling onto it like mad, especially if it is Haitian vetiver with its minty undertones. You may not necessarily experience the same thing. At Eau d’Epices’ edges are lingering whispers of orange sherbet, but they fade away entirely as the hours pass. By the end of the 7th hour, Eau d’Epices is a whisper of resinous Tauerade with vetiver and a light sprinkling of tonka powder. In its final moments, the perfume is merely a blur of Tauerade amber.
All in all, Eau d’Epices lasted just short of 10.75 hours on me during the first test with 2 small sprays from my atomizer. The perfume was always incredibly concentrated in feel and potent, especially up close. Eau d’Epices only turned into a skin scent on me at the start of the 4th hour, but it was still easily detectable without much effort until the 8th hour.
The second time I tested Eau d’Epices, I applied 4 sprays from my atomizer, amounting to 2 proper sprays from an actual bottle. The result was something that I think was much more true to what Eau d’Epices is meant to be, as it was a scent that was fully dominated by orange blossoms.
My second test of Eau d’Epices opened with orange blossoms and orange, followed by sticky resins, loads of cinnamon, sweetened powder, and hints of both cloves and lemony coriander. The perfume again smelled of Sweet Tarts and candy, but the orange blossom was only inches away this time and soon took over completely. It was very sharp, fresh, and indolic with a blackened heart of sticky resins and smoky leather. Frankincense swirled all around, and it too had a sharp bite that contrasted quite deeply with the candied feel.
This version of Eau d’Epices was powerfully indolic. Indoles are put out by white flowers like orange blossom as a signal to bees and, in their most undiluted form, can smell either rubbery, mentholated, fecal, a little urinous, plasticky, or like mothballs. Here, with Eau d’Epices, the indoles smell exactly like mothballs — something I’ve only experienced once before with a scent that used a lot of absolutes and that barely diluted the indolic element. At the same time, there is a very mentholated tonality to Eau d’Epices that almost fizzes. Something about the perfume’s opening feels as if actual menthol was used in the way that it was with YSL‘s vintage Champagne (Yvresse), though the fizziness here tickles the nose far more than in that fruity floriental.
Eau d’Epices shifts after 5 minutes. Hints of jasmine appear, weaving throughout the top notes and adding even more sweetness to the bouquet. The cloves and cinnamon grow stronger, while the coriander and cardamom retreat to the sidelines. As a whole, the spices feel much less dominant in this version of Eau d’Epices, while the florals and frankincense are significantly more powerful. The impression of orange sherbet and Sweet Tarts is significantly less prominent this time around, as well.
As a whole, Eau d’Epices is a very sharp, smoky, blackened, candied and syrupy floral bouquet dominated by orange blossom. It is thoroughly infused by mothball-like indoles on the top, with smoky, rubbery, almost leathered, smoky nuances underneath. The smokiness is further amplified by the sharp frankincense, and then the whole thing is dusted with cloves and cinnamon. It’s a powerful, massive bouquet that initially projects 5-6 inches with the 4 atomizer sprays.
Eau d’Epices changes over the next few hours, but only incrementally. The vetiver becomes prominent at the end of the first hour, weaving its way throughout the orange blossom. The latter is so rich, it feels almost boozy at times. At the start of the second hour, Eau d’Epices turns noticeably warmer and deeper, as the amber slowly begins to rise from the base. The flowers lose that menthol fizziness, though much of their indolic blackness remains. As a whole, Eau d’Epices is more powerfully floral, with only a little sweet sherbet; the spices seem stronger; and the perfume feels more golden in hue.
By the end of the 4th hour, Eau d’Epices is a bouquet of vetiver and indolic, mentholated orange blossom, followed by sharp incense, sweet jasmine, hints of sweetened candy powder, and cinnamon over a sticky, woody amber base. The perfume feels sharp and rough, but also soft, and it hovers an inch above the skin.
Eau d’Epices’ core bouquet remains unchanged for hours and hours, shifting only in the prominence and order of its notes. The jasmine retreats to the sidelines; the spices turn nebulous and abstract; the frankincense feels stronger; and the vetiver takes over center stage with the orange blossom. The sharp, woody, smoky, Tauerade ambered base looks on from the wings, but it joins the two leading players at the end of the 8th hour. Eau d’Epices turns into a simple triptych of orange blossom, vetiver, and Tauerade.
It remains that way for hours, merely growing more nebulous and abstract, until it fades away entirely in a blur of woody-smoked-amber lightly flecked with vetiver. All in all, Eau d’Epices lasted 14.5 hours with the equivalent of 2 proper sprays from a bottle. As a side note, that quantity of Eau d’Epices created a bouquet that was so concentrated and strong, it was almost too much so for me — and I love potent scents. So you may want to go easy on the application.
ALL IN ALL:
I’ve read in a few places that Eau d’Epices is supposed to be a “love it/hate it” scent, but I don’t feel either emotion. I don’t like it, but I certainly don’t hate it. I simply got tired of Eau d’Epices’ indolic bombast and overall untrammelled intensity. I blame my own skin for much of that, as it always amplifies base notes. (It also seems to take vetiver to ridiculous extremes.)
For the most part, though, Eau d’Epices simply perplexes me. It’s really not what I expected. Given the name and the description of the notes, I had expected “a spice basket,” but ended up instead with Sweet Tarts and orange sherbet, or with mothball orange blossoms, sharp incense and minty vetiver. I really dislike the mothball aspect of the indoles, and that turned out to be my greatest issue, along with Eau d’Epices’ overall sharpness. Even the Tauerade base to both versions felt too sharp and raw for me, unlike that which I’ve experienced in other Tauer orientals. Jeffrey Dame of Hypoluxe tried to tell me that the sample I received had been freshly prepared 30 days ago, so the perfume may not have settled and continued to be very fresh. Perhaps.
On Fragrantica, reviews are mixed for Eau d’Epices. I was interested to read the most recent review from just a few days ago which says that the perfume smells “rough”:
Amouage Reflection Man meets Mrs. Dash. I’d say it’s a match made in Heaven, but it smells rough.
I have to agree, but another chap wrote a veritable paean to Eau d’Epices just a week before with which I also agree to some extent:
One of the most-brilliant compositions I have ever smelt! Definitely orange-blossom dominates (with a hint of tuberose?), but it is bent and molded into something quite-different and unexpected with an overlay of spices (Ceylon cinnamon is, to my nose, strongest, followed by cloves, and then coriander seed), while the lower, “wood-like” facets of the flower’s essential oil are entwined like loving roots into vetiver and frankincense- it is hard to find where orange-blossom begins and ends, it is that well-married… I also sense a hint of linden-blossom bonding quite well with the “green-grassiness” of vetiver, expanding, diluting the sweet nature of the white-floral heart.
The effect is striking, with a definite character of its own. It reminds me a little of ‘Poeme’, but is not so “round and soft”: there is a “masculine”, assertive edge to Eau d’Epices- despite it’s strong floral character- which makes it, in my opinion, fairly unisex… and, also, quite oriental. Anyone with a modest attar-collection would probably not be shocked so much by this fragrance, but I can see many women of mainstream-western taste being put off by the rich, resin-backed spiciness, and just as many men being put off by the bold use of a sweet white floral. It toys with gender. It is not a crowd-pleaser by any means; it retains its unapologetic integrity throughout its long evaporation, and could be a strong, unmistakeable signature for a self-assured person.
I think he’s right a lot of points, even if we feel differently about the overall effect. The orange blossom is indeed well-married and thoroughly blended into all the other notes, and Eau d’Epices is an unapologetically dark, spicy, very unisex blend that may appeal to those who love very concentrated fragrances.
For one woman on Fragrantica, the dark, resinous base was not the problem so much as the spices:
It sprayed on with promise, a number of sharp notes appeared initially and then it dried down to a yoga studio/head shop type scent on my skin. From there eau d’epices developed into a really cloying mix of overly sweet spices. I ultimately had to scrub it and spend some time outside in a cool breeze to clear my nose.
For The Non-Blonde, however, the spices in Eau d’Epices created a scent that was “gorgeous.” Her 2010 review begins by noting how there is no cumin in the scent, then states:
Now that we established that Eau d’Epices is not Tauer’s answer to Arabie and its back alleys of the Souk, let’s talk about what it is (other than gorgeous). This is a classic Tauer in the sense of offering the familiar Tauerade accord in the dry-down: a balsamic cistus, ambergris and a dry woody thing in the background, but the potent potion is less assertive at first and gives a lot of breathing room both to the spicy opening and to the incredibly sensual floral heart. Eau d”epices is breathtakingly complex and requires a lot of attention the first few times you smell it. The fragrance takes you on an exotic journey and fills your mind with all kinds of Arabian Nights imagery[….][¶]
The thing is that once you make friends with this colorful vision, Eau d’Epice becomes warm easy to wear. Yes, one must love incense and spice, not to mention the Tauer accord, but if you do, this masterfully crafted and blended perfume is a must-try for both men and women.
To that list of requirements, I would also add “very indolic white florals.” Yes, you have to love both the Tauerade signature base and a lot of spices, but the core of Eau d’Epices is the orange blossom absolute — in all of its manifestations. And that includes indoles. Even if you don’t experience the mothball note, you are likely to face one (or more) of its other characteristics.
So, give Eau d’Epices a try if you love orange blossoms, spices, incense, and dark resinous Orientals.
Disclosure: Perfume courtesy of Hypoluxe, the U.S. distributor for Tauer Perfumes. That did not influence this review, I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.