Mecca Balsam by La Via del Profumo

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:

Indie Perfumes

Perfume Posse

Perfume Shrine

Bittergrace Notes


 

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.

Disclosure: Samples from La Via del Profumo were provided for this review. The opinons in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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157 thoughts on “Mecca Balsam by La Via del Profumo

  1. Since it is still Valentine’s day, and the inspiration for the perfume was a trip to Mecca (love of God), a snippet of a love poem from Rumi:

    The minute I heard my first love story
    I started looking for you, not knowing
    how blind that was.

    Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere.
    They’re in each other all along.”

  2. I’m yet to sample this perfumer, but his perfumes really do sound amazing! Sounds like a beautiful winter perfume, I can imagine it lingering on your clothes.

    Thank you Trish for yet another wonderful giveaway!! I follow Scent Hive via Google Friend Connect, Facebook’s Networked Blogs and am a subscriber also.

    Holly

  3. I had heard about the goats, but even the leather rake method for collecting the resin is pretty special in view of the way most things are made in the modern world… Mecca Balsam sounds so gorgeous, and I love that it comes from a natural perfumer. Please enter me in the draw. I am subscribed and also follow on my Google Reader.

    • Elizabeth,
      Thank you for the comment, ITA with everything you said! :-D
      I’ll enter you 3 times, and thank you for the follows.
      Cheers,
      Trish

    • london,
      We have La Via della Profumo to thank for the amazing prize. So incredibly generous!
      And he’ll ship anywhere :-)
      ~T

    • G,
      I know, I love that image of the labdanum harvest too. Be sure to check out the link to the image at the bottom of the post, it’s from a very informative blog, especially when it comes to labdanum!
      ~T

  4. I love that visual of the goats! I’ve sampled some of LVdP’s scents but many I really wanted to try were sold out on TPC when I ordered. I would love to be entered for a chance to win a bottle of Mecca Balsam! Labdanum is really beautiful and one of the few substances that I’ve smelled that is complex enough all on its own. I enjoy his website too…lots of interesting and useful info. Cheers!

    • Joy,
      I could not agree with you more about labdanum, it is so beautiful and complex, and Mecca Balsam is a wonderful fragrance.

      Thanks for your thoughts and good luck!
      ~T

  5. I would love to try this perfume. I love Labdanum and deep intense scents of all sorts. I also follow you on Twitter. I enjoyed your post on this scent and the description of the goats with resin in their beards.

    Warmly, Anna

  6. I tried Dominic’s perfumes a few years back, and I was intrigued how his style of blending differed from those of NBP’s in the States. The scents seemed more exotic and heavier. I’d love to be entered in the draw for a full bottle of parfum!

    Regards,

    Justine

    • Hi Dabney,
      I wonder why it didn’t go through the first time? Anyway, thanks for trying again, you are now officially entered in the drawing, 3 times!
      Take care and good luck,
      ~T

  7. This one sounds really very good. I tried his Grezzo some time back, and enjoyed that one too. I’d love to be entered in the draw.

    • Fernando,
      I’d be happy to enter you in the drawing :-)
      I love that so many people are already familiar with La Via della Profumo’s natural fragrances!
      Best,
      Trish

  8. What a great giveaway, I would love to win this one! I’ve sampled several from La Via del Profumo’s line, mostly the animalic ones, and he does animalic very well. Mecca Balsam sounds wonderful.

    And p.s., I’m finally fully subscribed to all the options on your righthand sidebar. 5 extra entries to better my odds :)

    • Amy,
      Thanks for the follows my dear! :-)
      That’s 6 total for you. I wish you luck in the drawing, Mecca Balsam is really beautiful!
      ~T

  9. I mightily resisted buying this blind because it sounded so good (I’ve started to understand that both labdanum and frankincense both speak to me), so, yes, I would really, really love to try this!

    • Nina,
      I totally understand the trials of resisting temptation! ;-)
      Maybe you’ll get lucky and win the bottle?!?! If not, I wonder if there are samples on the website, I’ll have to go check that out.
      Cheers,
      Trish

  10. Hi Trish,
    I’ve been told that I would love this partly because I can’t keep my sniffer from Tabac Blond.
    This Mecca Balsam sounds all the more — esp with the combination of the resins and Labdanum which is so intriguing.
    Please enter me in the draw as you have certainly drawn me in.
    Thank you,
    N

    • Nancy,
      I think Mecca Balsam would be a great pick for you since you love Tabac Blond. La Via della Profumo also makes Tabac which is a gorgeous tobacco scent, I’ll be reviewing it in the near future.

      Good luck!
      Trish

  11. This is such a lovely and generous way to get a fragrance known to more people. I must say that the description sounds like a kind of dream fragrance for me. Indian tuberose with frankisence and benzoin…. I definetely want to make chance for Mecca. I also follow you on twitter ( as CUTSPK)
    Thanks for letting us know all these lovely perfumes and perfumers.

  12. please enter me!
    On labdanum, it’s a wonderful material. I have done some experimenting with making scents and while it’s exquisite it can be very overpowering so I admire people who can make it’s character remain but mix it with other oils. It makes me think of Princesses from the Levant in medieval times!

    • Rose,
      Yup, labdanum has me under its spell too. I am thrilled La Via della Profumo has this beauty to share.
      Good luck!
      Trish

  13. Labdanum is fast becoming a favorite note in perfume compositions—and this one sounds wonderful! Please enter me into the draw.

  14. Please include me in the draw, it sounds like an incredible scent–who wouldn’t want to smell like the royal family? Love the Rumi verse, too.

    • Lorelie,
      It was so sweet of Jennifer to add the Rumi verse at the beginning of the comments. It fits in so well with the nature of the fragrance.
      Will enter you in the drawing and good luck!
      ~Trish

  15. Hi , I’m in an incense mode recently and I have some really good ones I have the whole CdG Incense Series, Heeley cardinal, CdG for H&M, Hinoki, CdG Standard and this one looks an awesome addition to that part of my wardrobe (crossing fingers)
    Thanks a lot , and btw that is an awesome review that makes me want to try it right now!!!

    • Hi you smell!!!
      I love Hinoki too. Mecca Balsam is smoother though and the labdanum makes it an earthy incense…..really gorgeous!
      Hope it gets into your collection somehow :-)
      ~T

  16. This sounds absolutely lovely (I adore incense-y frgarances and was just thinking I am running low) and a good antidote for all this depressing snow and slush. Please enter me in the drawing.

  17. I’m waiting for a split of this to arrive, but it couldn’t hurt to win a full bottle unsniffed, could it? Please put my name in the hat.

  18. Oh. I’d happily kill to try this, if only someone would help me bury the body! ;-) For the past two months, I’ve been writing a book where the scent of labdanum and incense play a not insignificant part, which is why, when I began reading these reviews, I became very hot around the collar! ;-) Please enter me into the draw, and thank you so much for a beautiful review!

    • Tarleisio,
      How fascinating that you are writing a book that features our precious labdanum! Do tell when it comes out will you?
      Good luck,
      Trish

  19. Would love to try this one! I’ve been following the chatter all over the scent boards – seems to have quite a following already. Must be fantastic! Thanks so much!

    • Lawladyda,
      Mecca Balsam is indeed getting a lot of chatter, and mostly very positive :-)

      I’ll enter you in the drawing, thanks for stopping by!
      ~T

  20. this sounds lovely, and with all of you singing its praises, i can’t help but want to sample some of the joy. so, thank you in advance for entering me in your drawing.

    • minette,
      it is a must try, especially if you like labdanum/incensy type fragrances. I would be pleased to enter you in the draw :-D

      ~Trish

    • Tara,
      hmmmm, Le Labo’s Labdanum…..I was in their boutique this past summer and remember not falling in love with anything. If my memory serves me correctly though, it was pretty musky no? Mecca Balsam is not musky!

      Maybe you’ll win and be able to let me know how they compare :-)
      ~T

    • Connie,
      I’m sure there are people out there who might prefer something else, but I’d be surprised if someone really loathed it. It manages to be special and unique while still being universally attractive.
      Cheers,
      Trish

  21. I’ve been avoiding reading bout this one for fear that it’d flick a spending switch. See what you made me do!
    Hope you don’t mind a first time commenter enter the drawing? Thank you kindly!

  22. Thank you so much for this evocative review. I had heard the murmurs all over fragrance board, but hadn’t listened much. After this review, I must order. It would be nice to be entered in the drawing

  23. This sounds like a perfume I’ve been wanting to try a long time! I’ve a dark rose oil from Arabian Oud which is absolutely stunning, and sounds like those two are related scentwise.

    Count me in!

  24. The perfume of mosques and the music of the wind organs in cathedrals – oh, that sounds lovely. Please enter me in the draw, and thanks for the review.

  25. Please enter me in the drawing!! It sounds right up my alley,,,as does the whole La Via del Purdumo site. Oakmoss sounds really intriguing!!

    • Lynne,
      If I remember correctly, Tania Sanchez wrote a comment on NST praising Oak Moss. It too sounds wonderful!

      Good luck,
      Trish

  26. Well I knew that goats enjoy playing around but had no idea about their connection to labdanum! Fascinating. Thanks for the info and for the opportunity to enter the drawing.

  27. Boy that sounds amazing! Can you please enter me in the draw?

    I also follow you on Twitter (fountain_girl), feedburner, google friend connect, and via email just for good measure. :)

    • Hi Fountaingirl!
      I’d love to enter you in the drawing :-) Good luck and thanks for the follow. That’s 2 entries for you!

      Cheers,
      Trish

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