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PHI - une Rose de Kandahar – A masterpiece - March 9, 2015

Image - Wikimedia Commons - Pink Romatic Rose Petals by D. Sharon Pruitt

It’s no secret that Andy Tauer is a fave here at the niche. His Lonestar Memories, Orange Star, Incense Extrême, Incense rosé, Le Maroc pour elle, L'Air du Désert Marocain, Zeta and Une rose Chypree are stunners and those are just the ones we’ve written about!

And now there’s PHI - une Rose de Kandahar, as gorgeous a rose scent that, I predict, is destined to be a classic fragrance. But it’s more than that. It’s a fragrance with a conscience.

One of the key roses used in PHI - une Rose de Kandahar come from the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium and exporter of heroin. Roughly eighty percent of the Afghani population earns its living from agriculture and from growing opium poppy. Growing opium poppy is so lucrative and it’s difficult to offer small farmers a sustainable and legal alternative.

Still, efforts are being made. In 2004, the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry and then Foreign Minister Solomon Passy and German NGO Welthungerhilfe introduced the cultivation of the Bulgarian rose in the in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The essential oil from Bulgarian roses is used in perfume and with the growth of the natural-organic cosmetic industry the demand for it is high. And, since rose water is used in Islamic cultures for cosmetics, as well as medicine and as food, there are regional markets for it as well. Growing Bulgarian roses offers Afghani farmers a stable, long term income and an alternative to growing opium poppy.

Despite some growing pains, by 2010 growing Bulgarian roses provide a living for about 5,000 Afghans. Production is still small-scale which effects supply – that’s why PHI - une Rose de Kandahar is not available all the time and why you should by two bottles. And believe me, once you smell it you will want to buy a bottle.

It opens with a note of rich, fruity apricot gently warmed by spicy cinnamon. Almond appears and adds a soft bittersweet note that tempers the richness of the apricot while bergamot gives the opening a gentle brightness. The opening is warm and fruity, full and fatty and sets the stage perfectly for the roses. Kandahar rose, with its spicy and plummy nuances, carry the cinnamon and apricot from the opening to the heart where it is joined by a deep, hypnotic Bulgarian rose – it smells of warm opulent, voluptuous roses. This is where I surrender, until a note of geranium appears. Geranium, has a strong rose-like odor that allows it to thread through the roses and offer glimmers of subtle mint. Then it starts to get animalic, leathery and woody from tobacco that leads to patchouli and vetiver at the base – strong notes for sure, but held in check by Tauer’s deft hand they hum instead of sing. Vanilla and tonka bean add sweetness – a reminder to me that roses can be eaten and are used in desserts - without veering into gourmand territory. Musk and ambergris round out the fragrance and anchor it all.

The drydown is rich, sophisticated and refined. What do I smell when I sniff PHI - une Rose de Kandahar? I smell a rich, rare masterpiece that has seeped into my skin straight to my soul. But it is a masterpiece with spotty production. I think my heart just cracked.

I think I’d better buy another bottle….

PHI - une Rose de Kandahar is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $8.00 for 1 ml.