Vanilla Flash is Andy Tauer‘s perfect vanilla, a vanilla seen through the lenses of boozy Bourbon, heavy roses, tobacco, spices and patchouli. It’s the latest release from Tauerville, Mr. Tauer’s secondary brand, and quite an oriental vision of vanilla. While I do not consider Vanilla Flash to be a true vanilla soliflore, it is a fragrance that I think will appeal greatly to those who adore Tauerade, boozy vanillas and spicy roses — ideally, all three at once.
On his blog, Andy Tauer explains that his Tauerville brand was created in order to let him play more creatively:
To make a long story short. One of the best qualities for me, about tauerville, is: I can pick and place my scents. Place them there where I think they fit best. Following my instinct, and playing my cards on a growing table. And: I can play in tauerville, a bit more than I can here, on tauer perfumes. Playing means: Trying out new esthetics, complementary to Tauer Perfumes.
All the Tauerville creations are meant to be approachable and affordable scents, which is why they are released in practical, small sizes: a 30 ml bottle and a 10 ml roller-ball. Rose Flash was the first Tauerville scent and debuted in 2014. Last week was the turn of Vanilla Flash which Mr. Tauer describes on Tauerville as his sort of vanilla. “My vanilla. It is all in there that I love. Spices, roses, patchouli… and vanilla.” Sites like Luckyscent provide a slightly fuller list:
Spices, Vanilla Bourbon, Rose, Patchouli, Tobacco.
Vanilla Flash opens on my skin with an explosion of gold, red, and black. There is a wave of boozy, cognac-drenched, dark vanilla followed quickly by a cinnamon-laden, spicy rose. It strongly resembles the note in Tauer’s PHI — Une Rose de Kandahar, only this one is significantly richer in body and amplified in projection. Minute streaks of tobacco absolute run through its veins, and then the whole thing is placed atop a dark Tauerade base where sticky, balsamic resins vie with spicy, brown patchouli and a hint of smoky aromachemicals.
What is interesting is how very different the fragrance smells from afar versus up close. The opening scent trail carries a bouquet that is almost purely dark, cognac Bourbon vanilla laced with spicy patchouli. Up close, however, it’s quite a different balance of notes, as the rose edges out the titular vanilla. This version of Vanilla Flash is centered heavily on a very beefy, thick rose that is darkened with cinnamon and splattered with chugs of booziness atop a very visible Tauerade base. The latter is partially responsible for the thick haze of golden ambered warmth that blankets everything, though I think the tobacco indirectly contributes to the sense of musky thickness.
Regardless of the particular balance of notes, every part of Vanilla Flash in the opening hour feels intensely rich. In fact, it’s almost a surfeit of richness that just barely resists being cloying in its over-saturated density. At times, it feels rather like a Slumberhouse creation. For a fragrance that is an eau de parfum with supposedly 12% concentration, Vanilla Flash acts like an extrait in terms of its intensity and heft. It’s also an incredibly powerful scent on my skin in the opening hour with serious sillage and good projection. Using 2 small smears equal to 1 big spray from an actual bottle, Vanilla Flash was a thick, saturated cloud that projected 4 to 5 inches but had approximately a foot and a half of sillage. Using 3 big smears on my other arm equal to 2 good sprays resulted in roughly the same numbers with only a tiny bump, but Vanilla Flash felt significantly louder.
However, the main differences lay elsewhere. With the larger quantity, Vanilla Flash’s base turned very smoky, and the tobacco was more visible from the start, smelling almost phenolic and tarry. The fragrance was darker and felt extremely sticky, both in terms of each individual note like the rose, vanilla, and Tauerade base, but also in terms of the scent as a whole. The rose became sweetened to the point of being a jammy molasses; the vanilla felt as though it had been concentrated down to a thick, solid brick of perfume concrete; the spices were amped up to a crescendo; and the whole thing lies upon a tobacco base that is so steeped in balsamic resins, it evoked thoughts of sticky glue. If you’re someone who loves both concentrated rose bouquets and intensely saturated, smoky, Bourbon vanillas, Vanilla Flash may be right up your alley, but I think you also need to love Tauerade as well.
I don’t fit into a number of those categories, so I personally found Vanilla Flash to be a difficult scent on occasion. First and foremost, I dislike rose-dominated fragrances, and the flower is a major, inescapable part of Vanilla Flash on my skin for much of the first 3 hours. Second, my sweetness threshold is quite low and, while Vanilla Flash isn’t akin to the Pink Sugar sort of frosted sweetness, the booziness here for the first few hours exceeds my limits. Last and most significantly, the Tauerade was difficult regardless of how much scent I applied. I don’t always have a problem with the signature accord, but it feels pretty amped up here. There is also something aromachemical in it that gave me a profound headache and shooting pains through my eye whenever I smelt Vanilla Flash up close for too long.
I think it stems from the creosote element that Andy Tauer seems to frequently use in his base. Creosote is, in a nutshell, a sort of black goo that is derived from coal-tar distillation or the smoky remnants of burnt wood, like the thick black coating you’d find in the inside of a chimney. It is used to coat railroad ties, or to preserve wood. Here, the note is very pronounced, though I grant you that my skin tends to amplify base notes. At the same time, I found the tobacco to have a smokiness (which may be a separate issue or part of the same problematic aromachemical) that felt extremely raspy. It caught at the back of my throat, leaving a scratchiness that felt like a constant sore throat. I may be more sensitive to aromachemicals than most, but I know a number of people struggle with “Tauerade,” and some may find the density and strength of the accord in Vanilla Flash to be difficult as well.
The Tauerade is one of the most noticeable changes in Vanilla Flash’s development. At the end of the 3rd hour, the rose retreats to the sidelines and, a little while thereafter, completely to the background. At the same time, the tarry smokiness and tobacco surge up from the base, bursting all over the top notes like a thick river of darkness. Vanilla Flash is now primarily a boozy, Bourbon vanilla laced with ever growing amounts of tobacco and enveloped in smokiness, as well as a golden, resinous muskiness. Initially, the fragrance bears some similarity to Guerlain‘s Spiritueuse Double Vanille, except the Tauer is significantly darker, streaked with tobacco and, as a result, is less sweet. There is also a quiet whiff of spicy patchouli lurking at Vanilla Flash’s edges, and that was most definitely not a part of SDV. Still, from afar, the scent trail is very similar to the Guerlain fragrance in terms of wafting a smoky twist on dark Bourbon vanilla.
By the middle of the 4th hour, however, Vanilla Flash skews much closer to something like Tom Ford‘s Tobacco Vanille, though with some major differences. First and foremost, the Tauer fragrance lacks the fruity, plum molasses that ends up making Tobacco Vanille resemble a Christmas plum pudding at times. Vanilla Flash’s spices are largely based on cinnamon with nary a note of ginger about. More importantly, the tobacco is very different. It’s not as diluted or refined as it is in Tobacco Vanille. Here, it feels more like a tobacco absolute that has been amplified by phenolic, creosote tar. Its raspiness makes it difficult for me to enjoy a bouquet that would otherwise be completely up my alley: a cognac-laden vanilla that has been blackened with oriental notes and nestled in almost ambered goldenness.
What surprised me about Vanilla Flash is the sudden change that occurs roughly 4.75 hours into its development. For a fragrance that opened with Sturm Und Drang, bellowing at a high octave with extrait-like saturated density, and throwing its bouquet far and wide, Vanilla Flash has suddenly turned into a whimper. The tobacco’s huff and puff fade away, leaving primarily a thin layer of boozy sweetness. The rose reappears, though faintly now, as a pale demure thing with little weight and no spices. Vanilla Flash is now a very subdued patchouli-vanilla, drizzled with only a few drops of cognac and rose. The drydown is truly lovely, and the patch-head in me loves the spicy-sweet mix immensely, but the scent coats the skin in the thinnest of smears and is becoming increasingly hard to detect up close on both arms, even the one with the much larger application.
Vanilla Flash died away not too much longer after that. It lasted just a hair over 6.5 hours with the small quantity equal to 1 spray from a bottle, but not significantly more than that (7.25 hours) with the equivalent of two. To quote a witty analogy given by a reader of the blog, “Sultan Pasha,” for one of the Amouage attars, it went from being a loud diva to developing laryngitis and then committing suicide shortly thereafter.
As a whole, I think Vanilla Flash is a great fragrance for a very particular set of tastes, but vanilla purists who are hoping for a truly concentrated soliflore may be disappointed. On my skin, the namesake nose is merely the skeletal structure upon which sinews of rose, tarry smoke, and tobacco are built. The fragrance is essentially a triptych in two parts: first, a rose-spice-boozy-vanilla, then a tobacco-smoke-boozy-vanilla, each developing within a musky, resinous, balsamic Tauerade framework. Obviously, the Bourbon vanilla runs through both phases, but it rarely stands alone on center stage. I don’t even think you can say the other notes are a supporting chorus, because they are always part and parcel of the vanilla. In fact, for periods of time in the first 90 minutes, the rose blanketed the vanilla to such an extent, it almost muffled it. The tobacco wasn’t quite as overwhelming in the second stage, but it was inexorably infused into the titular note. All of that disqualifies Vanilla Flash from being a true vanilla soliflore in the vein of something like Profumum‘s Dulcis in Fundo or Vanitas, to give just two examples.
Vanilla Flash is too new for there to be extensive reviews, but there is already one comment on Fragrantica. “Sweetnspicey” had an extremely different experience than I did with the scent, as she detected no smokiness and very subdued spices:
Tauer’s new Vanilla Flash is nice! It has an interesting opening that smelled a bit like ginger cola, bright and a little tangy, yet no citrus. From there it only gets better. The heart reveals intense tobacco, and any spice is extremely subdued; vanilla is deliciously natural, like vanilla bean ice-milk. The base smells like a boozy, spiced rum ice cream–wonderful! It is not smoky at all, in case anyone is wondering.
This is no Tobacco Vanille. Vanilla Flash holds its own.
It is spring in my city, and this vanilla wears well in the sunny and warm air. For the price point, Mr. Tauer is right, this is a fantastic vanilla as well as a fantastic tobacco perfume. Certainly a love for me! Full bottle on its way.
Speaking of bottles, the Tauerville perfumes are only sold in American stores and in Switzerland. Mr. Tauer explained why in another blog post:
in 2014, I was looking […] to create and offer my creations, in an easy approachable way; easy approachable for both, me -the sender- and you -the recipient-. […][¶] In the end, I decided for the US. It makes economical sense to ship stuff there, get bottles filled there and packed, and ship part of it back. […] This is all TAUERVILLE. Not Tauer Perfumes.
Thankfully, several of the Tauer retailers ship worldwide. Plus, the fragrance is very reasonably priced at $63 or $31, depending on size. So, if you enjoy Tauerade and absolutely adore tobacco, roses, and boozy bourbon vanilla, give Vanilla Flash a sniff.