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Mecca Balsam – Made for the Soul (January 6, 2012 New Fragrance Listing)

Photo-Wikipedia - Perfume attars for pilgrims - a treasured gift from God

Fedex arrived at my door on December 24th, with a package from Italy. Inside was a large bottle of Balsamo della Mecca, which I’d ordered for myself. It is, without doubt, the best gift I got for Christmas.

It’s also now one of the most beautiful scents I own, and for me it has opened the door to another niche in the perfume world - natural perfumery. Balsamo della Mecca, or Mecca Balsam, is one of the Scents of the Soul series from perfumer AbdesSalaam Attar, (birth name Dominque Dubrana), the nose and creative force behind the 100% natural online company, La Via del Profumo  He started his scented journey using natural substances for healing and aromatherapy, which led to becoming a perfumer. He says on his website,

“…I chose to make natural perfumes as someone chooses to work with precious metals and rare gems instead of plastic beads and pearls of colored glass. From the aesthetic point of view I could have considered to insert synthetic aromas into my natural compositions but there were two things that prevented me from doing so. The first was my experience with allergies and with the inconvenience they caused. The second was that I wanted only the best, and in the world of scents the best simply means the natural…. Natural perfumes, because of the very nature of the materials that they are made from, are real olfactory jewels….”

Mecca Balsam is a perfect olfactory jewel. The inspiration for the scent came from a trip AbdesSalaam took to Mecca during Hajj, when Muslim pilgrims dress in white robes and ritually scent themselves with perfumes. In the Eastern world, pure perfume oils, or attars, are regarded as a treasured gift from God. Five times a day the streets become a river of humanity scented with the pungent notes of resins, woods, flowers and musk, as both body and spirit prepare to greet Allah at the Great Mosque. Mecca Balsam is an impression of that spiritual olfactory experience, with notes of cistus labdanum, frankincense, benzoin, agarwood, tonka bean, tobacco, Indian tuberose and Damask rose.

Rich dark leathery labdanum is the core, and appears at the first whiff, sweet at first with frankincense and then becoming really smoky and woody, the very distinct smell of slow-burning outdoor fire created by the benzoin and agarwood (oud). The smoke cloud disperses, and I can smell the labdanum wrapped in ambery tonka, as well as aromatic tobacco, which becomes stronger, the smell of the ripened leaves mixed with dried fruit. This tobacco accord is full and complex, and just when you think it’s here to stay, the dry-down changes it into the outdoor scent of hay drying in fields, mixing with smoke, leather and resinous woods. Underneath this incredible mix, is the very subtle hint of floral sweetness from rose and tuberose. The sillage is perfection, not too much and not too little, and the scent stay on my skin for hours - I can still smell it faintly on my wrists the next morning – which I think is amazing for an oil-based natural scent.

Mecca Balsam is an extremely addictive scent. It’s an Oriental incense fragrance in the Middle-Eastern style, loaded with exotic and aromatic notes, but, to my nose, it has none of the overwhelming sweetness, heaviness, or throat-catching dryness of more Western, non-natural perfumes based on incense notes. This scent has a smooth compelling atmosphere which draws you in, creating an aura that borders on spiritual. It conveys an inner glow that I can best compare to the embers in a fireplace, burning slowly, steadily, filling the air with perfect warmth and the smell of life.

I don’t know whether this “inner glow” is due to the fact that it is a 100% natural perfume, or whether it’s due to the artistic and technical genius of its creator - it really doesn’t matter. Balsamo della Mecca is an unusually beautiful scent for women and men, rich and dark, but subtle and comforting, and with an inner mystical core that speaks of peaceful strength. A balsam for the soul.

La Via del Profumo has many other 100% natural scents and you can bet that I’ll be sniffing a lot more of them in 2012.

Today, we’re adding Mecca Balsam to our decant sample offering. This a perfume oil and therefore decants are $6.00.