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Bombay Duck London

Tauer Perfumes Lonestar Memories

The world is divided into those who love smoky scents, and those who really seriously don’t.  Now, let me start by saying that The Scent Critic is a Lapsang Souchong tea fanatic.  My beloved, by contrast, has not only banned me from brewing it in communal teapots, but from making a pot of Lapsang (or its near-relation, Tarry Souchong) when he’s in the house.  (He’d rather I didn’t brew it while he’s in the country, but what’s marriage if not a constant compromise…?)

I have also been known to linger on sidewalks where the road is being ashphalted, to get a tarry fix.  Two of my favourite scented candles are the bonfire-esque Diptyque Feu de Bois and Annick Goutal Chine Impériale.  (Without wanting to make the man I love sound like a tyrant, I am prohibited from burning those when he’s around, too.  It’s not his fault.  Smokiness literally makes him queasy, whereas – ironically for a non-cigarette smoker – I’m a total junkie.)  So:  woodsmoke candles, tarry tea and hint-of-barbecue fragrances and have become my guilty pleasures.  (There are worse vices, I guess.)

I’ve a hunch, then, that the smoke-hater in this house is going to loathe this – whereas I am enraptured.  The third in self-taught Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer’s portfolio, No. 3 Lonestar Memories is pure campfire chic.  Cowboy-in-a-bottle.  Brokeback Mountain, with all of its leather-jacketed homoeroticism simmering under the surface.  (Not Brokeback Coalition, though.  You can’t imagine clean-cut Mr. Cameron or his Tweedledee zooshing anything this dangerous all over before they head out of the door to run the nation.)  But don’t run away with the idea that Lonestar Memories is so macho that a woman couldn’t wear it.  (Although probably better with dressed-down denim than diamonds.)

The topnotes have a touch of geranium in there – a rub-the-leaf-between-your-fingers-and-sniff-them moment – while a drop of amber honeys it up a little, as the mid-notes swagger in.  This isn’t a million miles from Laura Mercier’s Ambre Passion fragrant oil, which The Scent Critic dipped into recently, and which also has a seriously smoky side to it.  But perfumer Andy Tauer – who recently told me that the happiest time in his life was probably the year he spent hanging out with real-life cowboys in the States (to which this is a tribute) – got there first.  I can’t be sure, but The Scent Critic has an inkling that this fragrance may also be a hidden nod to perfumery’s own history:  the word perfume, as  many scentophiles know, comes from the Latin ‘per fume’ – ‘through smoke’…  And they don’t get any ‘through smoke-ier’ than this.

As The Scent Critic has noted before, fragrances to me fall either into the ‘dry’ or ‘wet’ category – and Lonestar Memories is very definitely dry.  Tinder-dry.  Desert-dry.  Mountain-dry.  Gradually, the smokiness segues into an exotic, artisan-tanned leatheriness, evoking the backstreets of a Marrakech souk hung with fringed bags, and piled high with babouches.  For a fleeting moment, I get burning tyre or burning rubber, but not enough to put me off.  And then other woods emerge – of the un-burned variety, starting with Moroccan cedarwood.  (On me, this goes very weekend-in-Morocco, after an hour or two – right down to an incense stick smouldering in the background somewhere).  There’s just enough vetiver to keep even me happy, meanwhile, along with softly sexy sandalwood.  And oh, that aromatic gum myrrh (maybe that should be mmmmmyrrh), too.

But the constant in this scent is that right till the last ember’s gone out, it retains that wonderful (to me) smokiness – like sniffing a favourite cashmere jumper you’ve worn around a crackling fire, its fragrance embedded in the so-soft yarn till you pull it out of your drawer again.  Is it sexy?  Maybe if I was married to someone else – but with a fume-averse man like man I’m never going to get the chance to put it through its true paces.

So:  Lonestar Memories.  Love it?  Hate it?  Let me know.  I’ll read your responses while sneaking a clandestine cup of Lapsang.  Behind a closed office door.  With the window open.

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