Less Is So Much More – Review: Tauer Perfumes’ Pentachords Collection

The following post was written by regular reader, commenter and perfume lover extraordinaire Tara from London. I am delighted she agreed to share her experiences with the coveted new Tauer collection with us and I hope she will agree to write for Olfactoria’s Travels from time to time. Welcome Tara and thank you for this wonderful post!

I was lucky enough to win a prize on Andy Tauer’s blog recently, which included 3 samples of the upcoming collection from Tauer Perfumes. The Pentachords (five chords) Collection consists of three fragrances, each of which contains five notes and each note is a single synthetic molecule.  You might think these compositions could be pretty basic affairs but remember they are in the hands of the renowned indie perfumer, Andy Tauer.

Tauer’s creative concept and challenge to himself was to reduce perfume down to just a few ingredients of the highest quality. In doing so, he proves that synthetics in perfumery definitely do not have to mean cheap, and that more ingredients do not necessarily make for a better end product. Less only means more in this case. The names, Verdant, White and Auburn perfectly represent their scents as well as the Collection’s simplicity.



Notes:  dewy leaves, suave leather, brown tobacco, sweet earth and vibrant amber

Somehow this combination of notes manages to conjure up an entire forest of ivy, resonating lushness and fecundity. Now, you are not walking by a forest, or sniffing ivy on the breeze, you are standing in the midst of dense, green vines, rays of sunlight are glinting through the canopy and the scent of damp soil is rising from beneath your feet. The depth and pungency of Verdant is quite astounding. It is entirely natural smelling, as are all three fragrances despite their synthetic nature. This could well be the green to end them all.



Notes:  violet blossom, orris root, bourbon vanilla, amber gris and warm woods.

White is nuzzle-your-own-wrist yummy and I think it may prove to be the most popular of the trio. Though be assured there are no freeloaders here! The violet flower and orris root are most prominent early on and are so beautiful they make me swoon. The soft base of vanilla, amber gris and warm woods adds a fair amount of sweetness and some powder. It evokes the dreamy feeling of sipping milky hot chocolate in the snow.



Notes: citrus blossom, warm cinnamon, fruity tobacco, dry amber and creamy sandalwood

I‘ll admit, I am not generally a fan of cinnamon notes in perfume but Auburn changes all that – and how!. This is not the nose-tickling, harshly spicy cinnamon that makes me want to back off (and sneeze). This is the softest, most welcoming cinnamon ever and manages to be both fresh and warm at the same time. The orange citrus cuts through the sweetness and the supporting notes are rather dry, so this does not remind me of the bakery, but it is comforting none the less. Auburn is a strikingly original fruity cinnamon and Andy himself says it makes “a statement” which it certainly does.


There is not a lot of evolution with any of the three, which is to be expected when there are just five ingredients but, the emphasis does shift somewhat between notes over time. Longevity is extremely good and sillage is enough to get you compliments (and I have) but not enough to overwhelm.

What I like about this minimalist Pentachords Collection is that it showcases Tauer’s artistry and the outstanding results you can get from top-notch synthetics. With so few ingredients, there’s nowhere to hide. I am very hopeful that there will be further additions to the Collection at a later date.  Andy says he has five “in his books” but chose to release the three most diverse.  After experiencing the quality of these three, I am keeping my fingers crossed.

The Pentachords come in 50ml and are exclusive to Rome’s Campomarzio 70 until mid September when they will become available from the  Tauer website and retail stockists.

Image source: basenotes.net, http://www.resilientearth.com, thundafunda.com, Cinnamon courtesy of Photo8.com

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51 Responses to Less Is So Much More – Review: Tauer Perfumes’ Pentachords Collection

  1. I can’t wait for these! I will have to try all three, they sound delightful. Thank you for the preview, Tara!

    • Tara says:

      Hi Carrie! Yes, I strongly recommend trying all three. I wonder if you will like Verdant the most given your love of OJ Woman. It’s a stunner and has eventually become my favourite.

  2. Ines says:

    🙂 I’m happy to see perfume synchronicity at work again. Two guest posts on the same day about same perfumes. 🙂
    I don’t know which I like best. I’m a huge fan of cinnamon so I’d love to try that one first but the rest sound wonderful as well.
    Lucky you that you got to try them. 🙂

  3. andrea says:

    What a beautiful review, it makes me want to try all 3 of them although I have put myself on an embargo for full bottles after buying a rather expensive brand, I can still sample though. 🙂

    • Tara says:

      Thank-you Andrea, I’m glad my review has inspired you to sample the Pentachords. You may be tempted to break your full bottle embargo though!

  4. Thank you for this review Tara and Birgit, I think we’re all awaiting these three with baited breath! White and Aburn sound especially wonderful.

  5. Asali says:

    Hi Tara,
    Wonderful review, yes I see we agree very much, these are truly special.

    • Tara says:

      Hi Asali, it’s funny how often we think along the same lines in our little perfume community! Glad you liked my review too.

  6. lady jane grey says:

    I didn’t get it : if they’re 5 synthetic molecules, how can they be called cinnamon and citrus blossom and amber gris and etc ???

    • Tara says:

      Hi lady jane grey, it’s seems to be a general convention in perfumery to use the names of the botanicals that the synthetic molecoles re-create when listing notes or describing the scent. Very few perfumes are entirely natural afterall. I think this is in order to help us non-chemists better understand what the perfume might smell like but it also sounds so much better – violet flower (for example) sounds a lot more enticing than the chemical name of the molecule, 6-methyl alpha ionone!

      • lady jane grey says:

        Yep, clear, except Mandy Aftel and few others everybody uses syntheticals – some more, and some less. However, a purely sythetic thingy scares me a bit, just as in food and everywhere else. Hm, yeah, somehow, it’s interesting… – pourquoi pas ?!
        Still, my enthusiasm remains on the freezing point, after all it’s 6-methyl alpha ionone with 4-ethyl beta… Never mind.

        • Tara says:

          Oh that’s too bad, I guess I’ve failed to inspire you!

          I respect that you are put off by anything totally synthetic but I still strongly urge you to try them if you ever get the chance, I promise you will be very pleasantly surprised!

  7. Lisa says:

    Fabulous review Tara, so beautifully written & has given me such a clear picture of what the fragrances are like. Good work!

  8. Suzanne says:

    Hi Tara! I enjoyed your first guest post and will look forward to reading more from you. Your descriptions of all three of these Pentachords are enticing! I was certain that White was your favorite, but I see from your comment to Carrie that it turned out to be Verdant. I’m thinking Verdant has my name on it too. 🙂

    • Tara says:

      You are very perceptive Suzanne because when I wrote the review White WAS my favourite! Then Auburn, and now Verdant, lol! I think I’m going to stick with Verdant though, there’s nothing like it. Glad it appeals to you too. Hope there will be a review on your Perfume Journal one of these days.

      Thanks also for your encouraging words, I never thought I could write a review until B generously invited me to give it a go. Andy’s creations made it much easier though!

  9. Lavanya says:

    Lovely review, Tara- it doesn’t sound like it is your first at all..
    I am intrigued by all three and I need to try them all! Thanks for the review..
    The pentachords sound like a great exercise in restraint- Sometimes constraining oneself can really feed creativity – I have found that to be true in cooking as well as writing (i.e sometimes less is definitely more)..:)

    • Tara says:

      Many thanks, Lavanya. I’m glad you are going to try all three because it ‘s such an experience to try them together and you never know which one will turn out to be your favourite!

      You are so right about restraint, I think the challenge really sparked Andy’s creativity (not that he is lacking in that department!).

  10. JoannElaine says:

    Hi Tara! Lovely to meet you!
    I don’t mind a somewhat linear perfume if it smells great.
    Auburn is calling my name in particular, but I’d like to try all three.

    • Tara says:

      Hi JoanElaine! They do indeed smell great! It’s nice hearing which one appeals to people. I’m sure you will love Auburn, a bright, fresh and fruity cinnamon makes a lovely change from the more common heavy gourmand/ oriental setting. Pleased you will try all three though, I highly recommend it!

  11. deeHowe says:

    The first guest post on OT, and Tara, you are a perfect fit! (a big thank you to Birgitta, for pulling Tara out in the open for us all to enjoy 😉 )

    You apparently have B’s gift for inspiring lemmings: I’ve been interested in these, but not actively so until today. I was thinking that Auburn would be my favorite, but now I’m convinced that Verdant is the one for me… Must sample!

    Thank you for the lovely review Tara, and I hope to hear more from you! 🙂

    • deeHowe says:

      Damn you iPad spell correct! Sorry Bee, for calling you Birgitta!

    • Tara says:

      Thank you for your lovely words, dee! I was nervous about poking my head outside of the cave but it’s been such a great experience. Thanks to B, indeed!

      Look forward to hearing which one turns out to be your favourite. Auburn is fantastic but Verdant just gets better and better. Too bad they’re not released till the Autumn/Fall, I’m dying to get everyone else’s reactions!

  12. Alnysie says:

    Thank you for the great review, Tara! All three are extremely tempting, they’re going on my wishlist! I’m also wary of cinnamon in perfumes, I don’t like smelling like a Christmas cookie (which I felt was happening with Parfums Delrae Bois de Paradis, though I should try it again), but Dzing! has cinnamon notes and I just love it. So I’m intrigued by this one! White is also extremely tempting!

    • Tara says:

      Hi Alnysie thanks for your comment! I’m glad you like the sound of them enough to put them on your wishlist, you won’t be sorry! Auburn is not at all like a Christmas cookie. It is fruity and soft, and not very sweet at all. White is instantly appealing and will please vanilla fans everywhere. Hope you love them all as I do!

  13. Olfactoria says:

    Thank you very much, Tara, for writing such a beautiful
    and interesting post. I, like Dee, was only moderately interested in the Pentachords, but now I cannot wait to try them!
    You are a perfect fit on OT, I think I am not alone in this assessment, seeing from the other comments. I hope we do this again! 🙂 xo

    • Tara says:

      I’m so glad Andy included them in my prize because they are wonderful, but I am mostly grateful because it led me to this post. I can’t tell you how fulfilling it has been (although if anyone understands it’s you with your amazing rate of output!) Thanks again for letting me share OT for the day and the opportunity to do it again some time x

  14. Undina says:

    Tara, thank you for the review and welcome.

    I’m conflicted.

    I do not have the same problem with synthetics as lady jane grey: for the last many decades perfumes, including the most popular and renowned, have been using synthetic molecules and calling it flowers names in description (waves at Diorissimo). Also, one of my favorite perfumes consists of just 1 (one) molecule – Molecule 01 by Essentric Molecules.

    On the other hand I noticed that I feel somehow more justified spending money on “complex” perfumes (Amouage comes to mind) – even though sometimes, after both reading a list of notes and smelling a perfume I wonder where did all those notes go.

    Am I curious about this new line? Sure. Will I try it if I have a chance? Definitely. Will I be actively seeking (read – paying) to try these? Probably not.

    • Tara says:

      Hi Undina! Thanks for the welcome. I can see how you may not want to pay hard earned money for something with so few ingredients but I honestly would never have known the compositions was so simple if I hadn’t read about them. They smell more complex and high quality than 99% of the stuff on the market right now. I have sample purchase fatigue myself so I can relate, but hopefully you will come across them some time.

      Keep meaning to try Molecule 01, you have spurred me on!

      • Undina says:

        Tara, I’m just being cranky. I understand that the list of notes doesn’t matter much on its own. And yes, you’re right: I’m burnt a little by all the samples I paid for and didn’t enjoy much. I’ll get over it.

        If you want, send me your address (to undina@myway.com) and I’ll send you a sample of Molecule 01. Five molecules work for you. Let’s see if one is enough 😉

        • Tara says:

          You’re on Undina! I’ll send you a list of my samples so you can try something new and save some cash at the same time – for once!

    • annemariec says:

      Hi Undina, I get what you are saying about spending money on complex perfumes, but I wonder if here the complexity is actually in the simplicity. I mean, in other art forms – music, art, even cookery – it can be extremely hard work to make simplicity work. I’m supposing that the same might apply to perfumery. A great deal of work and artistry might have gone into making these five note fragrances work – and I guess that is partly what we are paying for. Anyway, that’s just my thought. I have not smelled the fragrances yet.

      • Undina says:

        annemariec, yeah, I know – one string and Paganini and all that.
        I didn’t mean that the feeling was rational 🙂
        If I could go to a store and try them I wouldn’t have cared for such unimportant things. I’m just a little frustrated with all new releases I can’t try. I’ll get over it.

    • lady jane grey says:

      No, I don’t reject it entirely either. But I’m on the very same position as you with your last 6 sentences…

  15. Vanessa says:

    Thanks, Tara, for giving us the heads up on this new range – they all sound lovely and I am particularly drawn to White from your description. Who could resist “the dreamy feeling of sipping milky hot chocolate in the snow”? Then I always think I don’t care much for cinnamon, but DSH Nouroz, which Auburn made me think of, changed all that – oh and Cimabue. So I would definitely give all these of these a whirl. I have also yet to try Zeta! (I am so behind with my “quality” sniffing homework… : – ) )

    • Tara says:

      Ha! Vanessa, I think we are all at least a bit behind with our sniffing, it’s near impossible (not to mention expensive) to keep up. I will send you some Zeta though, so you can cross that one off your list.

      Pleased you’ll try them all. I don’t think you have to be a fan of vanilla, cinnamon or greens to love them, as I discovered. I can’t say I was that much into any of those before the Pentachords!

  16. annemariec says:

    Hi Tara, wonderful reviews. As Lisa said (above), they give an instant idea as to what to expect. I was initially not keen on Auburn but you have changed my mind. Orange – literal orange – is not a note I like much, usually, as it tends to remind me of orange scented cleaning products. But I do like cinnamon, and the combination of fruitiness and dryness sounds really intriguing.

    • Tara says:

      Hi annemarie, I’m very pleased my reviews helped you get an idea of the scents, that’s the ultimate goal I suppose! You are dead right, it’s not literal orange which I am not keen on either, just a citrusy note that lightens and brightens the cinnamon. It was the one I had pretty much dismissed before trying so I did a total turn around! I know you have a full set of Tauer samples so I look forwrd to learning what you make of these some time.

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  18. Emma says:

    Beautiful & insightful review Tara.

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  21. Zubi d'Nova / Melissa de Blok says:

    Ha, as usual I’m late! Just ordered 2 sample packs from Tauer thanks to this review… Sigh…

    • Tara says:

      It’s impossible to keep up to date with so many perfume releases, that’s for sure. I hope you enjoy your sample packs, the Tauers have such distinctive personalities.

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