There’s so much to love about labdanum. I love the sound of the word. It’s a potential tongue twister but once you get it, labdanum is a fun word to say. I also love the story of this resin. Goats would feast on Mediterranean rockrose shrubs filling their bellies while unwittingly collecting the sticky substance in their beards allowing their keepers to harvest the fragrant goo. Labdanum is still obtained via trusty goats, but more often with *leather rakes empowered by human hands.
What I love most about labdanum though, is its complex yet soothing aroma. All at once it encompasses a vegetal mossiness, subtle floral tones, calming incense and supple leather. The following was my impression the first time I smelled labdanum on its own: …”utterly rich and musty. It also struck me as quite leathery with great depth and amazingly animalic for a botanical”. How lovely I thought it would be to have a perfume composed mainly of this compelling essence.
La Via del Profumo, an Italian all natural perfumery, has recently launched an ode to labdanum in Mecca Balsam that exudes what I described above. Benzoin, frankincense, agarwood, tonka, tobacco, Indian tuberose and Damask rose help comprise Mecca Balsam, but it is labdanum that most inspires this olfactory visit to Mecca. La Via del Profumo’s website has an eloquent description of Mecca Balsam that is truly on point:
“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.”
My dad has never smelled like labdanum and the florals didn’t blossom on my skin, but otherwise, I fully concur. Mecca Balsam’s quartet of labdanum, frankincense, benzoin and tobacco suffuses the air with the caress of incense. The fragrance anoints your skin with a soft richness that has striking sillage and impressive staying power. It also layers beautifully with floral tobacco perfumes like Hermes Kelly Caleche and Ayala Moriel Parfums Espionage.
Dominique Dubrana (AKA AbdesSalaam Attar which is his Mulsim name) is the perfumer at La Via del Profumo whose creations have been given much praise in print. Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez have given Dubrana’s Grezzo d’eleganza, Hindu Kush and Tabac four stars in “Perfumes: The Guide” and please see the following blogs for more on Mecca Balsam:
Dominique Dubrana has been very generous in offering a full 50ml bottle (worth $125 USD) to a Scent Hive reader. Please leave a comment to enter. You can also get extra entries if you follow Scent Hive on Bloglovin, Twitter, Google Friend Connect, Facebook’s Networked Blogs, or subscribe to Scent Hive. (Check the right sidebar for the Scent Hive links). We have our winner!
Mecca Balsam is available at the La Via del Profumo website. € 34,17 for 16mls and € 91,67 for 50mls.
Posted by ~Trish
*labdanum rake image from labdanum-creta.blogspot.com
Please visit the NYT website for a feature on La Via del Profumo and Mecca Balsam.