The Tauer Pentachord Range is a bit like a side chapel in a Cathedral of scent ( imagine a Cathedral of scent- wow!). The Pentachord series, of which there are three, always makes me think of a barman in a whisky bar saying “You like that oak aged single malt? Come round the back, I’ve got something very special for you to try”. It’s as if the Pentachords are a special invitation for those who want to go right down to the bare bones of a scent with no fanfare and an open mind.
Pentachord White does not disappoint. You know that interesting side effect that you sometimes get in perfume? The one where two notes are paired together and by serendipity you get a third note that isn’t listed? Well that’s what happens with Pentachord White. It’s like using primary colours to create a palette of 30 other shades (and you only need primary colours to do that anyway). Five notes give a rich and detailed picture indeed.
The notes are ( in no particular order) : Iris, Violet, Ambergris, Vanilla, Rosewood
Pentachord White opens with iris and violet, but on my skin there is initially a kind of vinyl note which beds down into vanilla. Not sponge cake vanilla that seems so overused in High Street scents, but more of a rich milky wood vanilla. In fact, if I was smelling this blind I would have said it was a hint of honey layered over the top. This is Bourbon vanilla, which is aptly named because it kicks off smelling boozy.
The Iris is rooty and dry, which can sometimes seem dour to me in a scent, but here the violets and vanilla bring it out of itself and make it prettier. The prickly amber gris slowly and gradually emerges, making this a multi faceted work in progress, before finally it all comes together bit by bit, like a story, where all the chapters merge into a satisfying dénoument.
The Final Act, despite having only five ingredients, brings to mind a salty tang, a hint of church incense, a dry, almost vegetable backdrop, the tiniest soupcon of Spring, pebbles on a beach, and sun-bleached driftwood. There is a carefully rationed sweetness that ekes itself out moment by moment rather than in one big gush.
Its complex and ever changing, and all from only five ingredients.
What interested me about Pentachord White is that I can think of two excellent fragrances which also have violets and iris prominently, and yet which smell nothing like this: namely Guerlain Insolence and Guerlain Apres L’Ondee. This just goes to prove how diverse a fragrance note can be and the genius of the Pentachord simplicity. It’s the choice of ingredients and how they are put together that makes this stand out. Vanilla and iris? Ambergris and violets? Yes!
Pentachord White may not please every palate, but I urge you to try it if you ever get a chance. It is unique. It’s never smelled exactly the same on me twice which makes this worth a second look and a third.