Middle Eastern perfumes are intense and often leave a trail behind the wearer that a well-trained, or even a lazy, dog can track for days. Hansel and Gretel should have ditched the breadcrumbs and worn an Arabian fragrance to find their way back home. (sniff, sniff…“We came THIS way!”) One either adores such perfumes, or shuns them. I adore them and that’s appropriate with the new La Via del Profumo Balsamo della Mecca because adoration was part of its creation: it was inspired by a trip perfumer Dominique Dubrana took to Mecca during Hajj.
Balsamo della Mecca contains natural notes of cistus labdanum, frankincense, benzoin, agarwood, tonka bean, tobacco, Indian tuberose and Damask rose. Balsamo della Mecca begins with rich, ‘leather-y’ labdanum and smoky frankincense. As the fragrance develops, interesting facets emerge — accords that smell of unsweetened cinnamon, “cola” and musky tobacco. The fragrance is dense and only lightens after hours of wear when the notes seem to “dry out” and turn powdery — a lovely phase when frankincense and benzoin/tonka predominate.
Don’t think of Balsamo della Mecca as a “Montale oud”-type fragrance — rich in oud, rose and woods. I don’t detect much tuberose and rose in Balsamo della Mecca (let’s just say those notes don’t smell like the tuberoses and roses I smell in my garden) and agarwood is “overcome” by labdanum and frankincense. Balsamo della Mecca is a great incense perfume, wearable by men and women.
I was surprised at all-natural Balsamo della Mecca’s lasting power: over 10 hours. And in case you’re “worried,” it is not a sillage-monster. Balsamo della Mecca is an excellent layering scent and adds depth (and a touch of incense) to floral perfumes (it digests citrus fragrances in minutes). Balsamo della Mecca layers beautifully with Eau d’Italie Paestum Rose, and combines with Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums Carnal Flower to produce a gorgeous scent, turning diva-ish Carnal Flower into a fragrance I can wear with pleasure for the first time (normally, Carnal Flower is too 'womanly' for me).
Balsamo della Mecca is available directly from La Via del Profumo; 16 (€34,17) or 50 (€91,67) ml Eau de Parfum.