Tauer Perfumes has done citrus fragrances before, most notably with Orange Star (2010) and Cologne du Maghreb (2011). Based on the name, I thought the newest, L'Eau, might be the first Tauer riff on a citrus classic cologne for hot summer days, but no, that's not what it is. It is about citrus — it was reportedly "inspired by a lemontree in bloom on Andy Tauer’s veranda in crisp Zurich morning air", and the notes follow suit: bergamot, lemon, orange, lemon blossom, iris flowers, musk, ambergris, timber and sandalwood. And L'Eau does start with a nice sparkle of lemonade, and it does start bright and cheerful.
But L'Eau has more heft than you'd expect from a classic cologne, and the "classic" citrus sparkle / juiciness is short-lived, as L'Eau moves quickly into something more modern and diffuse. The lemon does linger for awhile, as something that isn't exactly soapy, but that is just lemony-clean enough to remind me of lemon soap all the same, although there's also a sprinkle of sugar — candied lemon peel, maybe? It's layered over a sheer woody / ambery skin musk, very pale, with an almost-chalky, almost-creamy finish. It's crisp and fresh early on, warmer later, but stays clean straight through. It never quite crosses the line into laundry detergent, but it flirts with the idea.
As advertised, L'Eau is perfectly unisex. It is light but has decent sillage and lasting power. Our current weather conditions allow me to confirm that it wears quite nicely in extreme heat, and it might have just enough warmth in the base to be the sort of summer-y citrus that you could wear as a pick-me-up on a cold gray day in December.
Verdict: It's natural that perfumistas tend to develop affinities for particular fragrance brands, as a way of weeding through the clutter, and Tauer Perfumes is on my short list of brands that never disappoint me. The reason is simple: as near as I can tell as a consumer, Andy Tauer makes what he likes and doesn't worry so much about the many other considerations that drive fragrance brands, niche and mainstream. I don't love everything he makes, but the ones I love I really love, and the ones I don't, well, I strongly dislike some Tauer fragrances but he's never made a fragrance yet that made me roll my eyes. L'Eau is a "don't love" — it's a shade too clean for my taste — but true to form, I did not roll my eyes, and I highly recommend that you give it a shot.
If you want a modern lemon-y cologne and you don't love L'Eau, you could try Serge Lutens L'Eau Froide, although that one did make me roll my eyes a little, or Comme des Garçons Series 8: Energy C Lemon, although that one is awfully short-lived, or Atelier Cologne Citron d'Erable, if you like syrup with your lemon (and if Atelier Cologne doesn't automatically make you roll your eyes). And do please add your own recommendations in the comments!
Tauer Perfumes L'Eau is available in 50 ml Eau de Parfum, $135. For buying information, see the listing for Tauer Perfumes under Perfume Houses.