AbdesSalaam Attar Mecca Balsam

Having blogged on a difficult, fancypants niche scent on Monday, I thought I’d blog on the opposite end of the spectrum today – AbdesSalaam Attar Mecca Balsam from the Scents of the Soul series.

As many of you know, I was trapped in Snowmageddon, parts I and II (part III, yesterday, failed to materialize.  The kids went to school, today, sort of.  The snow is piled now five feet high on the roadside, and there’s nowhere to walk.  Friday was declared the worst commuting day in regional history in Washington, D.C., and that’s saying something.  My guess is today wasn’t too much better.  We’re missing a lane on most of our major roads.)

So our car was still snowed in, and Louise came down this past weekend, on the nearest plowed road, to pick me up for some sanity time.  She got stuck in traffic.  I’d had terrible insomnia the night before and was feeling a bit sick and sad.  I sat outside of the local market nursing a Coke and watching angry commuters honk at each other.  My mood could not have been much more fragile, although I was trying to keep my game face on.

She brought along AbdesSalaam Attar Mecca Balsam, which is being bounced around hotly on the blogs and perfume boards right now.  I figured I’d get around to trying it eventually, but “eventually” came sooner than I thought.  (Look, I’ve created a new tag: Blame Louise).  I sprayed Mecca Balsam on in her car before limping into Starbucks for a latte and conversation with someone other than my immediate family, about something other than some dire aspect of the blizzard.  (Did I mention our gutter fell off?  While I was out?  40 linear feet of metal in the driveway, fortunately not on anyone’s head, as that’s the route to the side door and the mudroom that we all use.  It was laden with a foot of slushy ice, and is now twisted like a dead sea serpent on the concrete.  I don’t want to think about what would have happened if it had landed on someone’s head.)  Notes are: cistus labdanum, frankincense, benzoin, agarwood, tonka bean, tobacco, Indian tuberose and Damask rose.

AbdesSalaam Attar Mecca Balsam is not a high-art scent, like perhaps a Serge, or a Malle, where you are thinking your way through what you are smelling.  (In the case of some Serges or Malles, perhaps your thought process is w…..t…..f….?, even if you find yourself loving it later.)

This is the olfactory equivalent of a giant, warm embrace of the incense/benzoin sort.  Don’t be alarmed by the name – it is not balsam-y in the Pine-Sol way, as you can see from the notes.

AbdesSalaam Attar Mecca Balsam is, according to the perfumer, Dominique Dubrana, inspired by a trip to Mecca.  I’ll link here so you can read all the blurbage.  At the opening it’s sweeter than I’d have expected, rather ambery, but not overwhelmingly so.  It settles quickly into a fairly uniform scent that tilts very slightly, constantly, back and forth, between warm and cool – that’s the only way I can think of to describe it, and as I see the same description on The Perfume Shrine I’m linking to Helg’s review, as she clearly knows much more about the line than I do.

I was smelling it without thought, on a messy, sad, frustrating day.  And … it’s lovely.  Lovely. I smiled and the sun broke out from behind the clouds and my heart lifted. AbdesSalaam Attar Mecca Balsam feels more like an essential oil, and I don’t mean that disparagingly – it sits on the skin and then blooms and blooms and blooms.  I could not keep my nose away from my wrist.  I deliberately sprayed the sleeve of my jacket so I could enjoy it later, and I did.  Very much so.

I can’t think of the last time I smelled a fragrance cold, without much in the way of preconception, and was so enchanted.   It’s not really about the florals (rose and tuberose) at all; I can’t even pick them out.  Incense freaks: man, you need to try this.  There is nothing austere about it; it’s warm, like a golden orb.  It’s honeyed. It makes me think of burning those papiers d’Armenies, with their smoke and benzoin.  It’s rich but not cloying.  There’s nothing at all edible about it, it’s not gourmand, but it provided me with approximately the same amount of pleasure as a mouthful of a really excellent creme brulee, or the rice pudding I had recently at an Indian restaurant.  It has a fullness to it. It’s smoke and amber, tobacco and the dry/sweet joy of frankincense.  (Oud lovers – it’s really subtle here, I wouldn’t buy this scent for that note.)  I, who have a ton of incense scents, can’t say that this reminds me of anything at all other than why I think incense scents are so fabulous.

PS Looks like Trish is giving away a bottle on Scent Hive — here’s a link to her review, she liked it too.  (nope, they didn’t offer me a giveaway bottle for the Posse, sorry folks!)

You can get a 16ml bottle of AbdesSalaam Attar Mecca Balsam for 34 Euros, and that seems more than fair to me.  I’m ordering it.

59 Comments
Joe February 18, 2010

So if y'all come to L.A. and drive up to SF, you have to stop for lunch in Santa Barbara, m'kay? ;) I have a small decant of Balsamo coming, so I'll find out soon enough, but your description made me think of Jubilation XXV. Anything like that, even a little bit? I love an ambery incense.

(Ms.) Christian February 18, 2010

I read the review last night and promptly ordered Mecca. My way of dealing with sad/stressful times (as in the past 14 months) is to come home from work, take care of ALL the animals (non-human), pick out a book, get some decaf chai brewing, throw my huge back support lounger reading pillow on the bed, throw off the executive garb and shoes, put on loud, loose pj bottoms, a soft t-shirt and an aging cashmere sweater over that. Then wet myself down with a good scent. I think Mecca will be in heavy evening rotation for the job. Thanks March.

maggiecat February 17, 2010

It's warm somewhere? Really? Can I come? I know what you mean about how a scent can make a bad day much, much better. And I don't know Louise personally but have no problem blaming her for whatever I find that makes today manageable for me....ebay, anyone?

Disteza February 17, 2010

You mean gutters are SUPPOSED to be up on your roof, not lying under a pile of icy snow (snowy ice?) in your yard? Next thing you'll be telling me trees are supposed to be growing out of the ground, and not lying in sad little piles after VDOT comes through and cuts everything down that hasn't fallen on its own. [-( The incense does sound quite nice though--I'll have to dig up a samp.

Elizabeth February 17, 2010

I'm a wannabe incense freak, so I'm hoping to win that FB! Lovely writing about how the fragile mood thing can feel--had one of those yesterday. Hope your snow melts away very soon. Here's a little poem for you: The way a crow Shook down on me The dust of snow From a hemlock tree Has given my heart A change of mood And saved some part Of a day I had rued. ~Robert Frost

maidenbliss February 17, 2010

That was a perfect example, March, of perfume lifting one's spirits and bringing a smile to your face in the midst of snowmalicious and all it entails-it's still snowing madly here and my gutter is laying along my house so I know how you feel. I must have this Mecca Balsam!!! Thank you, Louise!

Shelley February 17, 2010

High art. We've covered this before, right...some days are best served with Mac & Cheese, and nothing fancier. Comfort. Though it sounds like this one might be my variation on mac 'n cheese, fumbled upon as a New Mom (oy, baby days...remember those?) Easy to do: add in julienned sun dried tomato from a jar, some goat cheese, et voila! Mac 'n frommage! Kids can have it either way. I wonder if I should save my first sniff of Mecca Balsam for a bad day, so that it gets full contrasty benefit. Nah, who am I kidding. I shall seek it out. Thanks for the review, and may today bring an even bigger break in the "clouds." ~o) >:d<

Melissa February 17, 2010

I wish I had $10 for each time one of us has posted "blame it on Louise". I would probably have a full bottle of an Amouage or something. :o Cabin-fever was certainly the theme last week and it was difficult not to be irritable and touchy. So a trip to the Galleria on Saturday was a welcome relief. I unexpectedly fell in love with Balenciaga Paris- slightly metallic violets on a soft, elegant base. Balsam sounds like a resinous wonder, but I'm starting to crave florals!

Silviafunkly February 17, 2010

Instant lemming from Incense Girl here. :)>-

tania February 17, 2010

I'm an incense-lover, so this is a no-brainer. Thanks for the enabling! :d Damn, that site is chock-full of tempting stuff, isn't it?

Louise February 17, 2010

It was a lovely escape for me, too :x It's been a rough patch all around... The Balsam is such a comfort, innit? My skin brings out the balsam-y aspect, as in resin, in a pretty way. It's just so well blended, and a bargain at that :d I love getting blamed for other than my whoopsies ;)

aotearoa February 17, 2010

Not on topic - but of course now I want to try this too - Just wanted to say thank you for the ebay suggestions for FB Lutens...I am on the way to a whole new perfume problem now! Also I wanted to say how much I have enjoyed this website over the past year for it's entertainment as well as education. Kia Ora from NZ Fiona

carmencanada (Grain de Musc) February 17, 2010

I smelled this last Sunday and I find it quite beautiful, though as you said, quite static: it doesn't really tell a story, it just takes you somewhere. I'm not an incense freak so I don't see myself needing it, but it really does have a calming, meditative effect and I'd love to be able to sniff it now and then.

violetnoir February 17, 2010

I'm glad it made you smile, darling. And, yes...you should totally come to LA. Hugs and love!

Arwen February 17, 2010

Yes, all of you come to LA. We'll have a big sniff party! Today it felt like summer here. Anyway Balsamo della Mecca is really enchanting. I found it very comforting. I am glad you enjoyed it to and that it made your day a little better.

tmp00 February 17, 2010

you my dear need a trip to LA >:d<

Scent Hive February 17, 2010

I loved this too! It's a warm embrace of an incense fragrance. I got a ton of labdanum from it which is fine by me! ~Trish

Elizabeth February 17, 2010

I think I'm ordering it too, now. Seeing as I'm an "incense freak." :) It sounds divine, marvelous, my soul mate of a perfume.