Asha

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2008
Balsamo-della-Mecca1-med.jpg


La Via del Profumo
Balsamo della Mecca

Official Description from the profumo.it website at http://www.profumo.it/perfume/home_english.htm :

My travel to Mecca was the inspiration for composing this fragrance of the scents of the soul, “Mecca Balsam”.

In Mecca, the scents of Labdanum resin, of Benzoin, frankincense and of the precious Agar wood invade the streets together with the 4 million pilgrims who pour to the streets 5 times every day, walking to the great mosque like river.

The ritual of purification required for entering in the sacred state of Ihram and for taking its simple white dress involves the lavish use of perfumes but once dressing the Ihram, no pilgrim can use perfumes any more.

The trail of a million scents in the wake of the pilgrims at Mecca raptures the nose of the visitor and make this travel an unforgettable experience for a westerner little used to such a profusion of olfactory stimulus.

I have imagined the perfume at Mecca itself while walking in the mist of the pilgrims, and I had already found its name there; “Mecca Balsam”. I would compose it with the smells and fragrances that are omnipresent in the holy city, it would be it’s olfactory signature.
Back to Italy, my memories still fresh and my spirit still filled with the pilgrimage, I started blending the essences of my perfumer’s organ.

The grave and austere note of Labdanum, deep and resinous, at once sacred and profane, is the center of gravity of “Mecca Balsam”. Wrapped in the amber fragrance of Tonka and in the mystic aroma of the Arabic Frankincense, Labdanum wildness is tamed in an almost ecclesiastic scent that evocates at once the perfume of the mosques and the music of the wind organs in cathedrals.

The scent of raw Tobacco, always present in the background, is like an anchor that binds the base accord, giving them a common denominator.

The flowery notes of Indian Tuberose and of Damask Rose enrich the base of the balsam in the fashion of Arabic fragrances, bestowing to the perfume an opulence worthy of the precious aromatic elixirs worn by the royal family of Saudia. Mecca Balsam is a fragrance that is liked by men and women alike, its aroma is warming, full, aromatic, and somehow gives a fatherly sense of security.

AbdesSalaam Attar
Composer Perfumer
 
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Asha

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2008
Hello all! Profumo (AbdesSalaam Attar) has graciously sponsored a BN sampling group for his new fragrance Balsamo della Mecca. The group is mainly composed of past members from various Profumo sampling projects. The majority of this group have received their samples now, so let the discussion begin! :smiley:
 

arwen_elf

Well-known member
Dec 12, 2007
I am trying this perfume tonight. I find the opening of Labdanum and Frankincense soft and inviting. This does not smell like a church fragrance (although I like those very much too). The benzoin soon joins and then spices. Although not listed, I smell something like cinnamon. This fragrance is warm and cozy. I am finding it very comforting. I cannot smell the tuberose or tobacco, just a little bit of rose.
This is definitely full bottle worthy. It seems well balanced, it is not too spicy, too incensy or too sweet. I don't know how long it will last, since this is a natural perfume. I asked Profumo once about longevity in natural fragrances and he told me that the secret was in the oils used, how they were blended, and the proportions (I am paraphrasing here).
 

Asha

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2008
No worries, mrclmind! Some have had a bit more time with the samples, and some haven't received theirs yet. It is a proceess, after all :smiley:

Arwen_elf--nice description and thanks for kicking things off! I do smell the tobacco, mostly in the base. I have a coffee filter that I sprayed over the weekend, and it is still fragrant today, several days later. To my nose, the tobacco combines with labdanum to give a sort of preserved fruit smell, kind of like raisins, but more dry. No doubt longevity is excellent, although the sillage is not terribly powerful for modest sprays. For me, that is a plus.
 
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Buzzlepuff

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Dec 27, 2005
It is interesting to read these threads of folks sampling Mr. Dubrana's fragrances but how can others participate in these group discussions? I guess ordering a sample from profumo.it would be a good starting point - and I have done that but it would be helpful to have some advance notice. I have samples and small bottles of around a dozen of his fragrances and I am a fan of many - some more than others.

It would have been nice if this discussion was open to the other basenoters such as myself who are also interested in fragrances from profumo.it - I guess I missed the post about this upcoming discussion group.
 

hirch_duckfinder

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 8, 2006
I don't know about any formal sampling group but I have a couple of samples which I am distributing too. I suppose the idea was to give a few people a try and get a discussion going as part of the launch, which is something I am more than happy to do.

My thoughts on Mecca Balsam:

First, I found the experience of sampling this from a swipe or from paper to be totally different from an actual wearing. In the wearing, the body heat (I assume) governs the development and many more subtleties are revealed to me. It seems somewhat linear on paper. Also I found the thinner distribution from a spray application helps to reveal this beauty. Just for clarity, it contains no Oud, I asked profumo.

It begins with a sweet labdanum infused with a resinous incense, not high pitched top-note frankincense oil but a woodier, deeper, slow burning note. Already there at the top is a little tuberose, just inside the balsams, giving just a touch of an animalic edge. Rather quickly, the sweetness, which briefly threatens to overwhelm, drops down and the hay-like, sunshine-and-raisins tobacco starts to emerge, giving structure and combining with tonka, to provide a significant dry, herbal aspect. After twenty minutes, or thereabouts, this is firmly established. Some smokiness is balanced by a little sweetness from rose, though the florals are very much background flavours here.

There is a great deal of subtle complexity, especially in the base with whiffs of smoke and dark resins. It is as if my spectrum has to reset a few octaves down from the usual citrus-floral-balsam/wood and zoom in on the beautiful natural aspects near the bottom. In some ways this reminds me more of wearing a nutural oud oil, or a pure vetiver, than a conventional Western perfume. Not that it smells of either of those in the least, but rather that there is a core, low pitched vibration which contains higher register subtleties within itself. This adds to the authenticity of the atmosphere it conjours.

Its persisitence is exceptional for an all natural perfume. Two sprays were detecable into the evening. The frankincense is ever present, like the murmur of many low voices. Alongside this are the woody resins and the coumarin and hay of tobacco and tonka, the florals a gentle decoration.

Into the next day, I smelled a faint tobacco on my arm...

It put me a little in mind of a lutens without the monsterous sillage or synthetic notes.

This is a very special oriental which is built from the very best natural ingredients and works extrememly well. Everything it smells of is good to my nose and it mercifully lacks the harsh synthetics which so often ruin this genre for me. It is very wearable and an uplifting and pleasant companion for the day.

I will be wearing it often.
 
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whisperingleaves

Well-known member
Mar 21, 2008
My sample arrived yesterday and I got a chance to put one tiny drop on my wrist late last night. Love at first sniff. I was smiling as I fell asleep, wrist to nose.

First impressions: 1) It is a wonderfully spicy incense that is unlike any I know. It is persistent. I can still smell that drop 11 hours later. 3) There is a depth and complexity to this will be fun to explore and will likely make every wearing a unique experience 4) I would wear this. 5) I suspect I will be buying a bottle of this soon....

I’ll do a full wearing today and post more late tonight or tomorrow.
 

Asha

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2008
Buzzlepuff, my sampling group is mainly from the original groups on the FFD which formed via a Social Group called Addicted to Sampling, plus some of the Profumo-sponsored discussions here on the MFD. For the past FFD discussions, it was actually Profumo who approved the participants, so I followed his model again this time. This effort was not meant to offend or exclude people, but at least now you know how the choices were made.
 
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hirch_duckfinder

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 8, 2006
Just for clarity, my previous thread here on MFD discussing many La Via del Profumo http://www.basenotes.net/threads/227014-Profumo-it-sample-reviews?highlight=profumo.it frags was not really a profumo sponsered one, it began with (very generous) samples I received with a purchase which I chose to write about. All the samples I recieved subsequently were also (very generous) accompaniments to purchases. The first time I recieved samples with no purchase was this time, for Mecca Balsam.

Buzzlepuff, my sampling group is mainly from the original groups on the FFD which formed via a Social Group called Addicted to Sampling, plus some of the Profumo-sponsored discussions here on the MFD. For the past FFD discussions, it was actually Profumo who approved the participants, so I followed his model again this time. This effort was not meant to offend or exclude people, but at least now you know how the choices were made.
 
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Asha

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2008
I wore BdM today for my first full day wearing at work. I think I did not spray liberally enough, so I will try a different strategy next time. In the meanwhile, I noticed in the drydown, aside from the raisiny tobacco and labdanum "fruited leather" accord of the base, there was also a creamy woody aspect that is reminiscent of the sandalwood drydown of Chanel Egoiste or Bois des Iles. Really delectable, as those are two of my favorites!
 
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arwen_elf

Well-known member
Dec 12, 2007
Asha,

I am glad you mention the creamy woody aspect. I smelled that too and yesterday I almost made a comparison to Egoiste, but thought it sounded a little crazy and that I should give it another try and perhaps make a side by side comparison
 

Asha

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2008
arwen_elf...well, even upon reading Profumo's decriptions before I ever tried the fragrance, I wondered if Mecca Balsam would be a bit like Egoiste only done with a more intimate artistic and spiritual sensitivity. I have not been dissapointed! And may I add, being compared to Egoiste is not bad, in my opinion. In fact, Profumo's Bazaar also reminds me of Egoiste, although Bazaar is much drier and spicier.

After reading the article on NST I had to laugh, because I also though of layering Mecca Balsam. It is certainly a complete composition in its own right, but I found myself wondering what it would smell like when layered with "kin" fragrances such as Bazaar or Hindu Kush.
 

mikeperez23

Be Here. Now.
Basenotes Plus
Dec 31, 2006
Wearing my sample as I type this.

Quick comments: Campfire smoke or more specifically creosote. Something pepper-y. I used to keep clove cigarettes (when I smoked years ago) in a decorative, wooden box - MB smells a bit like the inside of that box after years and years. I am not getting any florals.

Tomorrow I think I'm going to decant my sample into an atomizer and spray it on, to see if that reveals something different.
 

Asha

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2008
Mike, I agree with Hirch_Duckfinder in that spraying Mecca Balsam seems to "spread out" the notes. I get the smoke on top also, and yes, it is a bit tarry but not at all disagreeable. I'm still trying to decide if it is something like birch tar or some other botanical (cade?).
 

mikeperez23

Be Here. Now.
Basenotes Plus
Dec 31, 2006
This morning I decanted some into an atomizer and sprayed it on (liberally).

There is discernible raw intensity to this scent. I am only familiar with a handful of scents from La Via del Profumo, but Balsamo della Mecca is very abrasive to me, when first applied. That indie line D.S. & Durga have many scents that fit this same category: they are not trying to appear 'pretty' or 'easy to love' in the top notes...rather they are just naturally pungent and fragrant. If anyone has smelled Incense by Norma Kamali, you know what I'm talking about. BdM seems to conjure up a Eau de Cologne version of that scent - wearable harsh incense and resins.

However once it warms up on my skin, it gets nice and subtle. Almost minimalist. Oriental minimalism, if you will.

Is there spice in this? Or am I just smelling the incense and my mind is making a spice/olfactory association?

It's been on my skin for about 2 hours now and I get not a whiff, of florals. Of course, I have no doubt that they are in there - perhaps strengthening and/or bolstering the other notes that I do smell. However, at least on my skin, this is not a fragrance with noticeable floral notes.

Ray complimented me this morning when I came up and gave him a hug, wearing this. Not what I expected...a nice surprise.

I think this smells VERY masculine. Not that I think it would smell inappropriate on a woman - it would not. But I think it's very butch. I would classify it as something for fans of Essence of John Galliano by Diptyque, Serge Noire by Serge Lutens, Lonestar Memories by Tauer Perfumes and/or Patchouli 24 by Le Labo.
 
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Quarry

Doing the BN salute
Basenotes Plus
Aug 9, 2005
I'm on my second day of wearing Mecca Balsam, which, right there, is a vote of confidence, because I have little tolerance for any fragrance that grates on me for the slightest reason. Although incense isn't a favorite note, MB is so polite and refined, it makes a good companion.

When I first sniffed the sample, fresh from the mailbox, my impression was “old” — no, make that “ancient.” Although I have no associations with church or incense, I know what old wooden and paper products smell like, and MB seem to represent old x 10. That agedness translates to a smoothness.

I found smokiness only in its uppermost top notes, then toast, toasty, toasted are the words that kept coming to mind — that dry-baked quality that can come from fire or sunlight. I guess that means my two-word review would be: Toasted woods.

By itself, I wouldn't wear MB because I crave some added sweetness, maybe a touch of vanilla, but I'm glad to have this sample on hand for reference. (Hindu Kush remains our house favorite; dear husband usually wears that a couple times a week.)

[Now to go back and read what everyone else posted in this thread …]

Hirch, I appreciate your expressing this: “It is as if my spectrum has to reset a few octaves down from the usual citrus-floral-balsam/wood and zoom in on the beautiful natural aspects near the bottom,” as I'm a lower-octave fan and this explains why I'm comfortable in a frag that doesn’t come from my usual favorite categories of scent.

I don't think I pick up on leather notes; I'm sure I find no creosote. I detect no florals directly, but I could understand how they would play minor supporting roles in order to smooth over any sharp edges in the other ingredients.
 
S

Sorcery of Scent

Guest
My sample arrived today as well... hurrah! Whilst Im wearing Nuit Noire as my Sotd, my wrists are free and I have applied Balsamo della Mecca. I want to give it some more time before I comment, and then read back through previous commentary.
 

odysseusm

Well-known member
Jan 12, 2007
When I heard about this scent, I was interested. I'm glad to be reading all these erudite comments. It sounds great!
 
S

Sorcery of Scent

Guest
OK, so the first thing I'd like to note is that this is clearly a natural botanical creation. As a part time student of NB perfumery with the NNAPA, I recognise exactly how difficult it is to construct scents using naturals. Our palette is so much less "luminous" than a perfumer who uses synthetics. Nonetheless, with some very accurate work, and what might seem like a trillion horizontal and vertical trials you can come up with something smooth and well-balanced. Here though, if I must be at all critical, it still feels very much to me like a bit of a "gritty" composition. There is quite a lot going on here, and often with my own NBP trials I find this occurrs when I attempt to create a very complex perfume.

This being said, I am enjoying the drydown of this scent a lot more than the topnotes. Labdanum is very apparent in the opening, but there also appears to be a hint of something green - something oddly a little bit like viola odorata(?) I dont sense a floral quality at all: the tuberose and Damas rose listed in the notes are likely overwhelmed by the abundance of dark woods and spices. Could there be cardamom?
I am certainly getting a sense of the soukhs and Eastern influences... pungent and heady. The incense/resin-like notes are possibly less prominent than one might think, though, frankincense and creamy vanilla-like tonka become quite apparent in the final whispers of the perfume.

I will have to wear this a few times before passing my final judgement. I think I want to love it more than I actually do. :confused:
 

Asha

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2008
Hmm...I am not sure I agree with the term "gritty", but it could be simply a difference of perspective. I tried spraying Mecca Balsam more liberally today, and I agree with previous comments that there is a kind of "density", at least in the beginning.

Today I also wore Profomo's Bazaar, because I wanted to see how the spice compared to that in Mecca Balsam. Well, Bazaar is hands down the more spicy of the two, and to my surprise, was incredibly boozy with some real nose-searing patchouli (I like that, though, so it is not a criticism). Bazaar is texturally rough, but in a way that is artistically appropriate for the impression it tries to evoke.

Mecca Balsam is super smooth in comparison, although it lacks the glossed-over refinement of compositions which feature synthetics. The smoke in Mecca Balsam was very pronounced when I wore it today, and I got the campfire impression that Quarry wrote about.

I'd like to add...after trying quite a few of Profumo's fragrances, it strikes me that they have to sort of "upack" after they are applied. Indeed, there is a lot going on when first sprayed, but then gradually and gracefully, everything unfolds.
 
S

Sorcery of Scent

Guest
You're probably right Asha... "gritty" is not quite the word I was grasping for. I think "muddy" better describes the idea Im trying to convey.
MikePerez has referred to this in his post above as "abrasive", and I feel that perhaps we are both commenting on the same quality.
I have applied it again today and still cant seem to get past the labyrinthine nature of the perfume - I might have fared a little better coming to terms with it, had there been less going on with this one.
 
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Asha

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2008
Dimitri--try spraying it, and more lightly. When I sprayed it wet yesterday, it was way more dense than when spraying a light application.
 

mikeperez23

Be Here. Now.
Basenotes Plus
Dec 31, 2006
Dimitri--try spraying it, and more lightly. When I sprayed it wet yesterday, it was way more dense than when spraying a light application.

I agree with Asha - when I applied lightly / heavily I got slightly different impressions (like many fragrances). Like Dimitri, I naturally wanted to over apply this one, mainly because it's a natural which I assumed warranted over application and I really wanted to 'get' the notes for replying to this thread.
 
S

Sorcery of Scent

Guest
I dabbed it from the vial yesterday and transferred it to an atomiser with today's sampling after reading Asha's post #19 above. I didn't experience a huge difference to be honest. I often spray extremely sparingly with NB perfumes, until they unravel (some disappear in minutes, so I find I must apply them again). The only difference that I noted was a bit of a fruity/raisiny accord which perhaps was not as apparent to my nose yesterday.

I don't think I can get past the very muddy Natural Botanical aspect of this. I have a palette of over 100 absolutes and extracts, and I experience that same muddiness when simply opening a vial and smelling an extract in concentrated form. I may actually take a small sample from this sample and dilute it down further with perfumers alcohol. Perhaps with the volume turned down a bit, it may sit with me a little better.
 

hirch_duckfinder

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 8, 2006
Purely natural perfumes are different to mainly synthetic ones and require a different mindset and set of criteria. There are many "smoothers", "extenders", and such like which are not available. I believe that the "mudiness" which you refer to is a product of the highly complex interactions between natural materials which are in themselves very complex with many constituents. It is rare to achive the "glassy shimmer" or clear edges which synthetics provide. To provide harmony and sort the complexity into recognisable elements with their own theme is in itself extremely challanging.

With natural perfumes, base, heart and top are often a product of different facet of the raw materials themselves rather than a clear conscious construction of seperated elements; each ingredient will have higher, medium and lower volitility components.

The natural materials offer a depth and complexity and development which (to me) feels very organic, rich and satisfying. They cannot offer the deliniation and specificity which synthetics can.
 
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S

Sorcery of Scent

Guest
Purely natural perfumes are different to mainly synthetic ones and require a different mindset and set of criteria. There are many "smoothers", "extenders", and such like which are not available. I believe that the "mudiness" which you refer to is a product of the highly complex interactions between natural materials which are in themselves very complex with many constituents. It is rare to achive the "glassy shimmer" or sharp edges which synthetics provide.

With natural perfumes, base, heart and top are often a product of different facet of the raw materials themselves rather than a clear conscious construction of seperated elements.

Precisely. Agree 100%.
Only, some NB perfumes work better than others. Much of it depends on the individual dilutions/ratios.
 

hirch_duckfinder

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 8, 2006
Precisely. Agree 100%.
Only, some NB perfumes work better than others. Much of it depends on the individual dilutions/ratios.

Which ones work well for you?
Mecca Balsam works brilliantly for me. Resinous notes are always sort of woody/muddy almost by definition.....
 
S

Sorcery of Scent

Guest
I am speaking more from my own formulating experience Hirch.
The Scented Djinn has made a number of NB scents that I've tried that manage to avoid that muddiness that I am referring to. Complex scents - some with middle eastern inspiration like Serj and Khalida - that don't effect me in the same way as Mecca Balsam seems to.

I want to make it very clear at this point that this quality is really my only criticism. It is a very sound perfume, but not one that appeals to me in the same way as perhaps some others do.
 

hirch_duckfinder

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 8, 2006
I am speaking more from my own formulating experience Hirch.
The Scented Djinn has made a number of NB scents that I've tried that manage to avoid that muddiness that I am referring to. Complex scents - some with middle eastern inspiration like Serj and Khalida - that don't effect me in the same way as Mecca Balsam seems to.

I want to make it very clear at this point that this quality is really my only criticism. It is a very sound perfume, but not one that appeals to me in the same way as perhaps some others do.

I must try those Dmitri. I just tried a bit of Mecca Balsam again and I don't perceive it as muddy at all, just rich and natural and low pitched as I described before.
 

Asha

Well-known member
Jan 15, 2008
Which ones work well for you?
Mecca Balsam works brilliantly for me. Resinous notes are always sort of woody/muddy almost by definition.....

I also find a satisfying resonance with all natural compositions, and specifically Profumo's fragrances. Dimitri, maybe there is one particular ingredient that you are sensitive to. I never liked Burnt Umber much myself, but somehow it always ended up in my paintings, and yes, it was a bit muddy...but no other pigment did the job.
 
G

Guest 3

Guest
I didn't want to read any posts on this fragrance until I had a chance to experience it myself, and I finally got the opportunity to sample it this morning. Here are my first thoughts: pure, beautiful, satiny, thoughtful, and perfume-like in the sense of fragrance being an offering up to God per fumus, through smoke. There is a pleasantly charred wood odor with a resiny sweetness that intensifies with time on skin as the charred impression recedes. That silky sweet part - the creamy woodiness that Arwen_elf mentions - reminds me of vintage Arpege parfum. I do get the tobacco, now that I read the fragrance notes. It's a sweet odor. Most of the fragrances by Profumo.it that I've tried have a psychic and/or spiritual facet to them, and I always look forward to trying them to see how they affect me. I am a fan of his fragrances because they are like olfactory journeys. I enjoy my Estee Lauders or whatever because they are like clothing that I wear on the outside, but the Profumo.it fragrances for me are inward experiences. Very, very nice! Also love at first sniff here. :)
 

arwen_elf

Well-known member
Dec 12, 2007
I tried this again last night next to Hindu Kush. Hindu Kush is much drier. I like Hindu Kush when I need something dry. I prefer to have a little bit of sweetness and I find enough sweetness here to make it very comforting.
 

mrclmind

Well-known member
Aug 6, 2008
Mecca Balsam isn't linear, but it doesn't seem to act completely like a typical western perfume either (Top/Middle/Base). The balsamic labdanum notes are quite up front right away with a slight bitterness in the background. There is a definite smokiness, but it is in the background nicely balanced with the slightly sweet balsam. As the development starts, I definitely get traces of rose and tuberose, but they smell like absolutes, not flowers which only adds to the richness of the entire balsamic experience. The tobacco, which is where I think I get a slight bitterness from, emerges more but loses much of the bitterness as more of the frankincense, oud, tonka and benzoin take over. It lasts for hours and develops very gradually. It's a wonderfully rich and almost sacred smelling perfume that for all its strength stays somewhat close to the skin. From looking at the notes you might think it is a Montale type sillage producing scent; rather, it is very comforting, refined and opulent.

I'm so happy that this thread is where my 1,000th post was used!
 
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hirch_duckfinder

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 8, 2006
Mecca Balsam isn't linear, but it doesn't seem to act completely like a typical western perfume either (Top/Middle/Base). The balsamic labdanum notes are quite up front right away with a slight bitterness in the background. There is a definite smokiness, but it is in the background nicely balanced with the slightly sweet balsam. As the development starts, I definitely get traces of rose and tuberose, but they smell like absolutes, not flowers which only adds to the richness of the entire balsamic experience. The tobacco, which is where I think I get a slight bitterness from, emerges more but loses much of the bitterness as more of the frankincense, oud, tonka and benzoin take over. It lasts for hours and develops very gradually. It's a wonderfully rich and almost sacred smelling perfume that for all its strength stays somewhat close to the skin. From looking at the notes you might think it is a Montale type sillage producing scent; rather, it is very comforting, refined and opulent.

I'm so happy that this thread is where my 1,000th post was used!

Thanks for a fantastic review mrc!
I agree that the rose smells like rose absolute (and possibly a little otto too) rather than flowers. Many people are used to smelling the reconstructions which try to smell of actual roses rather than the oil.

By the way, Mecca Balsam actually contains no oud, I asked pofumo!
 

bluesoul

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 5, 2008
Some fascinating reads here, I'm a bit disappointed I didn't see this earlier. How would I go about getting a sample of this?
 

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