Six from La Via Del Profumo

Today, we’ll look at six fragrances from AbdesSalaam Attar of La Via del Profumo in styles ranging from ambered oud to a green fougère, incensey-woody florals, a boozy, chocolate leather oriental, and a salty, vetiver-laden, woody, spicy oriental. They are: Amber Oud, Lake Blossom, African Night, Sensemilla, Cuoio dei Dolci, and Sea Wood. I’ll look at each one in turn, trying to keep things as short and succinct as I can.

AbdesSalaam's logo, based on his own calligraphy. Photo: my own.

AbdesSalaam’s logo, based on his own calligraphy. Photo: my own.

AMBER OUD:

Amber Oud via the La Via del Profumo website

Amber Oud via the La Via del Profumo website

Amber Oud is an eau de parfum that was released last year along with Amber Rose and Amber Chocolate as part of The Private Collection. (There is also an Amber Jasmine.) AbdesSalaam always gives mere nutshell synopses for his note lists, but is even less detailed in this case. He says only that it is a blend of sweet ambers with wild Laotian oud.

Amber Oud opens on my skin with the multi-faceted refrains of genuine agarwood. The oud smells earthy, mushroomy, woody, vegetal, and cheesy (mostly creamy goat cheese with a drop of Gorgonzola or Stilton). A thick layer of warm, musky fur lies on top, smelling softly animalic, but it’s not truly, properly, or heavily dirty or raunchy in feel and it’s certainly not fecal. Under it are layers of creamy, spicy sandalwood, then even thinner ones of leather, smoke, and a honeyed, resinous, dark sweetness. The whole thing is then enveloped within a cloud of genuine ambergris that smells musky, faintly salty, sweet, faintly vegetal, and faintly earthy.

Agarwood. Source: elle.fr

Agarwood. Source: elle.fr

Everything is seamlessly blended and integrated, but the oud stands as the centerpiece, the altar around which everything else swirls. It’s a very smooth agarwood whose animalic, smoky, and earthy aromas have been filtered, polished, and refined into their most elegant aspects without losing sight of the characteristics which make oud stand out and appealing in the first place. It’s definitely not the rawer, more hardcore, camel breath oud that you find in Profumo‘s Oud Caravan No. 3. Nor is it the feral, intensely goaty sort that dominates the opening hours of Dusita‘s lovely new Oudh Infini. Compared to those fragrances, this is quite tame and, yet, it’s still unquestionably got a bit of funk underlying its intensely creamy, lush, mushroomy, and cheesy bouquet.

That bouquet turns even smoother after 25 minutes, once the sandalwood kicks in, and the result is fantastic. The sandalwood wafts an almost satiny butteriness that turns the oud into pure agarwood cream and velvet, although it still bears its earthy, cheesy, white mushroom aromas laced with an even more restrained, moderated whiff of soft, golden, animal fur. The suggestion of leather in the base vanishes, replaced by a plush suede-like texture, while the ambergris melts into liquid gold touched by the merely lick of musky saltiness. It’s a pure delight to wear.

Photo source: Fragrantica

Photo source: Fragrantica

Amber Oud changes in only small ways and mostly in terms of its balance of notes. At the end of the first hour and the start of the second, the oud’s smokiness grows, weakening the oud’s cheesiness as well as the buttery sandalwood and ambergris. The animalic furriness basically disappear into the background. The result is a smokier, slightly drier oud with much milder quantities of its supporting notes. During the drydown, however, the roles reverse as the ambergris asserts itself, becoming the central note and enveloping the oud within layers of its soft, sweet, faintly caramelized aromas. The drydown typically begins on my skin about 5.5 to 6 hours into Amber Oud’s development and, from that point forth, the oud becomes a subsumed layer that gradually faded away more and more. In its final hours, Amber Oud is pure ambergris, and little else.

The projection, sillage, and longevity numbers were good for an all-natural fragrance, more so than naturals from other brands, many of which typically don’t last long on my skin or project in any significant way. Amber Oud is stronger and richer than the norm. For the first half of its life, the sillage was average, starting about 4-5 inches, then slowly dropping after that. The initial projection was low. Amber Oud was almost a skin scent at 4.75 hours, became a full skin scent when the drydown began around the 6th hour, and clung to the skin softly after that. However, it was a tenacious scent that lasted just short of 11 hours on my skin with several smears equal to 2 good sprays from a bottle.

I haven’t found any reviews of Amber Oud to share with you, and the fragrance has no entry page on either Basenotes or Fragrantica, so let’s move on since we have a lot to cover.

LAKE FLOWER, LAKE BLOSSOM, OR “FIORE DI LAGO”:

Lake Blossom, Lake Flower, or Fiore di Lago via AbdesSalaam Attar.

Lake Blossom, Lake Flower, or Fiore di Lago via AbdesSalaam Attar.

Lake Flower or Lake Blossom is an eau de parfum that AbdesSalaam created for an Italian health spa and wellness retreat. (On the Profumo website, it’s called “Lake Flower,” but both the description and my sample call the scent “Lake Blossom,” so that’s the name I’ll use.) AbdesSalaam describes it as “a fresh and aquatic feminine fragrance, that harmonizes flowery aromas (Ylang-Ylang, Rose, Helichrysium) with scents of prairies.” The extremely abbreviated, incomplete note list seems to be something like this:

Ylang-ylang, Rose, Helichrysium [Immortelle], Aquatic notes, Green notes.

Source: FutureGardens.pl

Source: FutureGardens.pl

Lake Blossom opens on my skin with a fresh, crisp, and slightly watery bouquet of sweet florals doused with a lemony, green-scented bergamot, then framed with green notes. The flowers are difficult to discern. There is an initial whiff of a pale, sweet rose, but it’s subsumed within minutes by a a lemony, honeyed sweetness arrives that reminds me strongly of linden blossoms, except these have been coated with a dry, woody, hay-ish, vaguely immortelle-ish sweetness as well. About 15 minutes later, a faintly woody, slightly powdery note arrives on scene, but it’s equally difficult to parse or dissect. To me, it smells like frankincense mixed perhaps with a drop of dry mimosa? It’s only a light touch at first and doesn’t change the focus of the opening bouquet which is centered on a honeyed, lemony, fresh, crisp, and watery floralcy flecked by thin threads of greenness, woodiness, powderiness, and something vaguely hay-like.

There are a few things that I’ve noticed time and time again when trying AbdesSalaam’s fragrances. The first is that he loves frankincense for philosophical, aromatherapy, and spiritual reasons, and that he pairs it often with florals in fragrances intended to have a soothing, serene, or positive mental effect. The second is that, on my skin, the incense always tends to take over. So, I asked him if Lake Blossom includes the note, but he says it does not and that there is rosewood (and other ingredients, like lemongrass) instead. I’ve tried AbdesSalaam’s own stock of rosewood and frankincense during his seminar, but the aromas emanating from my skin smell nothing like his rosewood or any immortelle that I’ve encountered prior to now. Instead, the aromas smell exactly like his frankincense: dusty, lemony, liturgical, churchy, and dry woodiness. I can’t explain it and it’s probably the immortelle at play, but whatever the actual source, the odor profile resembles many aspects of frankincense on my skin, so that’s how I’m going to refer to the aroma (in quotes).

Painting by Moon Beom via lostateminor.com

Painting by Moon Beom via lostateminor.com

The “incense” rapidly becomes a central chord in the composition. Roughly 20-25 minutes in, Lake Blossom transforms into a floral-scented “incense” fragrance imbued with fresh, citrusy, woody, clean, and slightly dusty notes. The “frankincense” is particularly dominant when I smell my arm up close. However, when I smell the fragrance on the scent trail from afar, its level constantly fluctuates, and Lake Blossom smells mostly of a fresh, clean, lemony and honeyed floralcy coated with woody dustiness. It doesn’t change much for the next five hours, and basically wafts some form of incensey, woody floralcy with ripples of honeyed, lemony sweetness.

Things change to a small degree when the drydown begins towards the end of the 5th hour. The ylang arrives, adding a custardy, lightly spiced, minimally sweetened floral creaminess to the scent. It works well with the “frankincense” and the now fully abstract, lemony, honeyed floral accord. As a whole, Lake Blossom continues to be an incense-laden floral on my skin, but the notes are now warmer, sweeter, creamier, less cool, and less woody in undertone. All of it coats the skin discreetly and softly, a sliver of olfactory silk. In its final hours, all that’s left is something vaguely incense-y-ish.

Lake Blossom had low sillage and projection on my skin, and average longevity. With several smears equal to 2 sprays from a bottle, the fragrance opened with about 2 inches of projection. The sillage was initially close to the skin, then grew to about 4 inches after 20 minutes when the frankincense kicked in. Lake Blossom turned into a skin scent at the end of the third hour, felt like a sliver after 4 hours, but lasted just under 7.5 hours in total.

Lemongrass. Source: background-pictures.vidzshare.net

Lemongrass. Source: background-pictures.vidzshare.net

I’ve only found a handful of reviews for Lake Blossom. There is nothing on Fragrantica where the fragrance is listed under the name Lake Flower, but there are two reviews on its Basenotes page, both of which are ambivalent. For both posters, Lake Blossom smelt a lot of lemongrass and hay. The latter stemmed on their skin from the immortelle/helichrysium. The other floralcy was abstract and largely subsumed within. “Darvant” describes the scent, in part, as:

Lake flower starts with a blast of bergamot (yes lemongrass like, aromatic/green, typically medicinal but absolutely natural) immediately joined by an airy/aromatic grassy feel, a vague aquatic fluidity and a sort of “hay-like” aroma [….] Rose and ylang-ylang provide a typical floral wave which is anyway too much overshadowed by aromatic green/lemony elements. The dry down is musky, lemony and vaguely floral, still mastered by a hay-type of “warm animalic” effect [….]

Lake Blossom actually does contain lemongrass, so if that is something that you enjoy when combined with hay, lemony notes, and a vaguely aquatic floral freshness, then this might be the fragrance for you.

AFRICAN NIGHT:

African Night or Notte Africana via AbdesSalaam Attar.

African Night. Source: Profumo.

African Night is described as an anti-stress fragrance. It’s an eau de parfum whose notes include:

grapefruit, pallisander rosewood, rose, ylang-ylang, and ambrette (hibiscus abelmoschus).

Personally, I detect a lot of frankincense here as well, no doubt because AbdesSalaam views incense as having intense anti-stress, healing, and relaxing therapeutic benefits in addition to it being one of his favourite materials. He’s confirmed to me that, yes, this time, frankincense was included and it wasn’t merely a trick of my mind/skin/nose.

African Night opens on my skin with brisk, fresh, yellow grapefruit splattered over rosewood that is simultaneously spicy, aromatic, bright, faintly lemony, and softly smoky. Wisps of rose, spicy ylang, and musky, faintly animalic, earthy ambrette weave around the background. Roughly 15 minutes in, the frankincense appears on center stage. Not long after, it weakens the rose, pushes aside the grapefruit, and turns the ylang into a largely abstract spicy, yellow sweetness, whispers of which fluctuate quietly in the background.

The end result is a rosewood-incense bouquet, smudged at the corners with rose and a muffled hint of ylang. The incense is dry, dusty, woody, occasionally a bit lemony and piney, but also very clean in a pure, churchy, and Catholic High Mass sort of way. African Night remains this way for hours without any change. There is something about the frankincense or woody notes that AbdesSalaam uses that really take over on my skin, pushing everything else out of its way, and African Night is a good example of that.

Source: Wikicommons.

Source: Wikicommons.

In all frankness, I wish it weren’t that way on my skin. I love the gorgeous ylang-ylang that AbdesSalaam uses, but I genuinely struggle with his frankincense. I know from personal experience just how expensive and high-grade it is but, for me, it’s immensely dusty, woody, churchy character isn’t something soothing, contemplative, serene, or appealing. It’s a question of personal tastes, but my skin also tends to make the note balloon out of all proportion to the rest of the notes. For hours on end, African Night wafts a dusty, woody incense bouquet with only a ghostly whisper of ylang and rose, once in a blue moon.

"Cottonwoods" by Georgia O'Keeffe. Source: wetcanvas.com/forums

“Cottonwoods” by Georgia O’Keeffe. Source: wetcanvas.com/forums

It’s not until the drydown that things change. It typically starts late in the 5th hour. At that point, the incense ebbs away, retreating to the background and thereby permitting the rest of the notes to finally emerge.  The result is a soft, creamy, yellow floral bouquet centered on ylang ylang and rose, with hints of grapefruit and incense weaving around the background. In its final moments, all that’s left is the suggestion of a fresh, floral sweetness.

As a whole, African Night’s projection and sillage numbers were low, but the longevity was good. Using several good smears equal to 2 sprays from an actual bottle, the fragrance opened with about 2 to 2.5 inches of projection. The sillage consisted of soft vapors. African Night became a skin scent after 2.75 hours on me, and was particularly discreet from the end of the 4th hour onwards. In total, African Night lasted just shy of 8 hours.

On Fragrantica, the only person to write a review describes the fragrance as follows:

So nice! Very soft yellow floral, well built, both feminine and elegant. It stays close to skin and I can smell it on myself. It’s a perfume that can be worn for any occasion and become more of an intimate scent rather than a perfume to impress others. I smell a very vague recall of Acqua di Stresa, but these perfumes are made in a different way and they are like precious a scarf you wear for your own confort.

Donna of Perfume-Smellin’ Things loved African Night even more. She wished she had “a really big bottle” instead of a sample, and described its bouquet as “the sweet living breath of the earth and awakening life.” The fragrance called back to mind the scent she encountered in a hot air balloon ride over rural Oregan:

as we passed over fields where thousands of berry bushes grew, their delicious aromas rose up in tantalizing waves to delight us. It was a mixture of rich, damp soil, fresh growing leaves, sweetly fragrant blossoms and the ripening fruit of cane berries, bursting with juices in the warming sun. This was many years ago, but when I smelled African Night it immediately reminded me of that day. Its balance is a bit more flowery than fruity, since the fruitiness is partially the result of a particularly excellent extract of ylang ylang, combined with rosewood, hibiscus and grapefruit. How this brought me back to the berry fields I have no idea but I heartily approve of the effect. African Night is said to be an anti-stress perfume, and it does seem to be conducive to a serene state of mind. It has a youthful, vibrant personality and a light femininity that would make it wearable for almost any woman and it is simply superb for summer wear. I know I will be longing for more of it once the really hot weather arrives.

It sounds lovely on both women, and I’m rather envious of the experience because AbdesSalaam does ylang florals really well. Perhaps it will be that way on you. Then again, if you love incense-laden florals, then perhaps you’d prefer the version that appeared on my skin.

SENSEMILLA:

Sensemilla via en.vogue.me

Sensemilla via en.vogue.me

Sensemilla is an eau de parfum that was originally commissioned as a custom scent. It received an extremely positive review last year from Luca Turin. AbdesSalaam describes the scent and its notes as follows:

Some of the most precious perfumery materials enter into the composition of Sensemilla, particularly Neroli, Tuberose and Narcissus. Cannabis essential oil is at the core of the fragrance. The central ingredient around which others whirl. Sensemilla is in fact the name for a super potent variety of marijuana, and I wrote the perfume keeping in mind the name it was to have. [¶] Therefore Sensemilla is a full fledged Hemp perfume [….]

Yes, he said cannabis or marijuana!

In his review last year for Style Arabia, now Vogue Arabia, Luca Turin mentioned other elements and provided a fuller note list:

hemp absolute, cocoa, neroli, tuberose, narcissus, and cedar.

Source: wallpaperscastle.com

Source: wallpaperscastle.com

Sensemilla opens on my skin with intensely aromatic, fresh, and herbal notes that smell a lot like lavender. Luca Turin was certain Sensemilla contained lavender, and I would have reached the exact same conclusion had I smelt the fragrance blindly and without knowing its notes. There is a powerful resemblance, except I find the hemp is more intensely medicinal, aromatic, woody, and dry in character. It’s lightly drizzled with neroli that smells brisk, lemony, and citrusy fresh, then sandwiched between layers of narcissus. The latter smells like dry leaves and dry hay, but also wafts earthy, smoky, almost diesel-like tonalities. (Or, is that the cannabis/marijuana?) After a few minutes, a watery, vegetal, and very fern-like greenness appears as well, evoking images of the wet ferns and slightly decayed leaves at the edge of a pond in a forest.

Hemp. Source: Leafly.com

Hemp. Source: Leafly.com

The central note, however, is the hemp, and I won’t pretend it’s an easy one for me. It’s immensely medicinal in its aromatics, in addition to being pungent in an oily, smoky, and leathery way. Lavender is something that I struggle with, and this is like lavender to the X degree, only darker, drier, and immensely greener. On the other hand, the cumulative effect is one of the truest, greenest and most classical fougères that I’ve encountered in a while. The way that the hemp combined with the other notes, particularly the strong narcissus and the inexplicable, vegetal “fern” accord makes me think of fougères the way they must have been composed a hundred years ago, hardcore and unadulterated by any oriental notes or even any coumarin-like cream softness. The smoky, earthy, wet, dry, vegetal, green, oily, and pungent aromatics are very much the sort of thing that I think Amouage was aiming for in its new Bracken Man, except it never succeeded to half the same degree and, in addition, its fern-like aspects didn’t last for long. Here, it’s a strong, persistent, and central accord.

Fern forest. Photo: Quinn Johnson Photography via 500px/ (Direct website link embedded within.)

Fern forest. Photo: Quinn Johnson Photography via 500px. (Direct website link embedded within.)

Sensemilla changes slowly and in incremental degrees. At the end of the first hour and the start of the second, the hemp turns milder, smoother, less medicinal, and even more fern-like. The narcissus is folded within, but the neroli’s citrusy freshness disappears. Near the start of the third hour, the level of smokiness goes up a notch, while the tuberose appears in indirect form, adding a different sort of earthiness to the mix, this time a mushroomy, green, and faintly floral one. Cedar stirs in the background as well. By the time the 5th hour rolls around, everything has overlapped into a haze of aromatics, greenness, and vegetal earthiness, licked at the corners with abstract, nebulous suggestions of woodiness, dry leafiness, wet leafiness, smokiness, hay, and something vaguely floral. Sensemilla remains that way until its very end when it dies away as a wisp of greenness with something vaguely aromatic underlying it.

Sensemilla had slightly stronger sillage than the other Profumos during the first hour, but roughly the same sort of numbers for everything else. With several smears equal to 2 good sprays from a bottle, the projection was about 4 inches and the opening sillage was about 5-6 inches. After 90 minutes, the numbers dropped to about 1-2 inches, and 3 inches, respectively. Sensemilla became a skin scent on me 3.25 hours in, and was hard to difficult to detect after the 6th hour. In total, it lasted just shy of 8.5 hours.

Photo: Samboxerx on Pichost.me. (Direct link embedded within.)

Photo: Samboxerx on Pichost.me. (Direct link embedded within.)

Sensemilla has no Fragrantica page, but Luca Turin loved the fragrance when he covered it for Style Arabia last year. His review reads, in part, as follows:

It was a complete surprise: an intense green-peppery top note half way between geranium leaf and galbanum which morphed seamlessly and aerobatically into a beautiful, clean, smooth lavender without any of the caramel off-notes that usually spoil the fun. This came at the perfect time, because Caldey Island Lavender, my long time favorite, has been reformulated and is a shadow of its former self. I emailed Dubrana to congratulate him on having composed such an unusual green lavender.

[¶]  This is where the story gets weird. First, he let me know the perfume contains no lavender at all, and is composed from hemp absolute, cocoa, neroli, tuberose, narcissus, and cedar. When I next congratulated him on having done for lavender what Guerlain supposedly did for Nahema, the “rose without rose,” Dubrana explained to me that he had not smelled the perfume, because due to some nasal congestion he has been anosmic for weeks. For the record, the last time someone did this was 1946 when Jean Carles lost his sense of smell and composed Ma Griffe. Dubrana said the formula just came to him and he wrote it down quickly. “But everyone seems to like it,” he added. As indeed they should: it is now my new “lavender” of reference, and in all respects as close to a miracle as perfumery gets.

If you love classical fougeres, unsweetened green fragrances, lavender, narcissus, or hemp, you should try Sensemilla for yourself. Don’t expect or worry about smelling like marijuana, though. That’s not the aroma at play here, and I think this is most definitely a green fougère instead of a drug scent.

CUOIO DEI DOLCI (“SWEET LEATHER”)(“CDD”):

Cuoio dei Dolci via AbdesSalaam Attar.

Cuoio dei Dolci via AbdesSalaam Attar.

Cuoio dei Dolci (“Sweet Leather”) is another scent that was originally made as a custom creation for a client. It’s now available for sale to the public, which makes me very happy because it is my favourite of the fragrances covered today. Its description on the Profumo website is a simple one:

“Cuoio dei Dolci (Sweet Leather)  was composed for a customer who specified castoreum, tonka and tobacco in that order, followed by cocoa, vanilla, ylang, and mandarin.” 

AbdesSalaam told me that there were other elements in minor, subtle doses as well, like sandalwood and an accord from his Amber Chocolate fragrance. He says there isn’t ambergris in the scent, but it really smells as though there is to me and on my skin. Nevertheless, the official note list is:

Castoreum, Tonka, Tobacco, Cocoa, Vanilla, Ylang-Ylang, Mandarin, & Mysore Sandalwood.

Source: dreamstime.com

Source: dreamstime.com

Cuoio dei Dolci (hereinafter sometimes referred to as “CDD” for reasons of convenience and speed) opens on my skin with boozy cognac poured in heavy waves upon rich, dark chocolate that is semi-sweet and semi-dry. It’s similar to the accord in Amber Chocolate, only this is not herbal, it’s less bitter, and the liqueured note is very different. It’s the macerated fruit of aged cognac with an elusive, almost ghostly whiff of the saltiness that you’d find in whisky, no doubt the result of the ambergris that lies in a thick haze over everything.

Photo: Dennis Prescott. Source: foodandwine.com

Photo: Dennis Prescott. Source: foodandwine.com

The chocolate is a really beautiful, addictive note. Its slightly bitter, dark cocoa powder is juxtaposed next to vanilla that is silky, dark, sweet, dry, and with almost a boozy Bourbon quality to it. It also bears quite a few of the woody vanilla aspects of Peru Balsam as well. (AbdesSalaam’s Peru Balsam was one of my favourite essences that I worked with during his seminar, and the material that I always turned to when I sought the best “vanilla” aroma, so I wouldn’t be astonished if a bit of it were used here as well.) But the chocolate is also offset by other elements as well. There is tonka cream and also caramel from the ambergris. A touch of spicy, buttery sweetness licks its edges, but I can’t say it’s redolent of ylang ylang flowers on my skin in any clearly delineated, tangible, and concrete way. Only its spiciness hints at ylang, and only if I apply a lot of the Cuoio dei Dolci. Instead, there is a different sort of buttery plushness and spiciness that is more evident, one that stems from the sandalwood in the base.

Source: pinterest.com

Source: pinterest.com

Cuoio dei Dolci shifts quickly. Less than 5 minutes in, the castoreum stirs in the base, initially wafting a quiet, musky darkness that slowly, gradually, turns into something smokier and more evocative of castoreum-style leather. Roughly 20-30 minutes into the fragrance’s development, it seeps up to fuse with the boozy cognac and chocolate, turning Cuoio dei Dolci darker and muskier. The level of smokiness slowly accelerates as well, but I can’t determine its source with any certainty.

In fact, it’s difficult to pinpoint several of the notes in Cuoio dei Dolci as a whole. I’ve tried the fragrance five or six times now, but I can’t say that I’ve ever detected a clear, unquestionable tobacco note on my skin, something that I can point to and say, “Aha, this is a tobacco scent.” There is a definite gingerbread-ish sweetness that, if I focus hard, suggests tobacco, but it is a light brush stroke that is enveloped within the other spicy and dark notes, and nothing like the clear, profound, multi-faceted tobacco in Profumo’s fantastic Tabac on my skin. The mandarin must be partially responsible for the cognac booze note since, after all, cognac is derived from macerated fruits, but I can’t detect that clearly either. And, as I explained up above, the ylang is equally abstract in nature on my skin.

Part of the difficulty is that Cuoio dei Dolci, like so many of the Profumo scents, is seamlessly blended, while the rest of it is the AbdesSalaam aesthetic style. Some notes are clear, but flow one into the other, while others are subsumed within a cloud that feels like an artist painted in broad, abstract brushstrokes. The only things that are clear on my skin and consistent throughout the fragrance’s development is a central bouquet of chocolate-vanilla slathered in thick layers over musky castoreum leather, then streaked with boozy cognac, smoky darkness, and sandalwood-like spicy creaminess, before the whole thing is subsumed within a rich, heavy cloud of ambergris goldenness, muskiness, and gingerbread spiciness.

Source: de.forwallpaper.com

Source: de.forwallpaper.com

Cuoio dei Dolci doesn’t change in any dramatic or significant way throughout its lifetime on my skin. Its notes and nuances merely fluctuate in their strength or prominence. Sometimes the chocolate gives way to let the castoreum shine with its musky leather tonalities. At other times, a mixed vanilla/tonka and buttery Mysore sandalwood accord overtakes both the chocolate and the leather, particularly from the 7th hour onwards. On other occasions, the ambergris and the gingerbread-ish spiciness take turns as the central note. The boozy, macerated cognac generally ripples over everything from the sidelines. Roughly 2.75 hours in, it becomes virtually impossible to dissect the layers beyond the broadest accords. Everything is a haze of perfectly balanced oriental notes with gourmand sweetness, darkness, and buttery creaminess, but it’s never cloying or gooey. It’s also never dry, too musky, or particularly smoky, either. I think all of it is cozy, gorgeously delectable, enticing, and addictive from start to finish.

It’s also a strong, rich scent with greater projection, sillage, and longevity on my skin than other Profumo fragrances. Using two good sprays from my small bottle, Cuoio dei Dolci typically opened with 4 inches of projection and about 5-6 inches of sillage. It took a while for the numbers to drop. After 3 hours, the projection was roughly 2-2.5 inches, while the scent trail was about 4. It generally took between 5.75 to 6 hours for Cuoio dei Dolci to turn into a skin scent on me but, even then, I could detect it up close without major effort. Things tend to become harder after the 9th hour. In total, Cuoio dei Dolci lasts between 11.5 and 12.5 hours on my skin.

Luca Turin really liked Cuoio dei Dolci as well. On his blog, Perfumes I Love, he wrote about AbdesSalaam’s bespoke or custom perfume business, its affordability, and the appealing fragrances which ensue. CDD was one of two examples that he used. His post reads, in part, as follows:

Dubrana’s approach is much cleverer and less onerous, but requires a little more knowledge from the buyer. He asks you to chose and rank 7 materials you like best from a list of approximately eighty. He then composes a fragrance for you, mostly from those seven materials. He charges €240, and the process takes two weeks. He did a violet-iris one for me several years ago which I liked very much. The two he sent me are Cuoio dei Dolci (Sweet Leather) and Nicolaya. CdD was composed for a dentist who specified castoreum, tonka and tobacco in that order, followed by cocoa, vanilla, ylang, and mandarin. Dubrana rose to the challenge and produced a delicious confection, a sort of gingerbread ottoman that hits all the buttons as required, yet works nicely as a whole. The whole idea is fun and, given his skill, will smell good no matter how cockeyed your list is. [Emphasis to perfume name added by me.]

I agree, Cuoio dei Dolci is a “delicious confection.” In fact, it’s pretty much my ideal sort of “gourmand.” I have a very low tolerance for sweetness but none at all for saccharine excess; Cuoio dei Dolci hits the perfect balance. It’s something that I really enjoy as a “cozy comfort,” bedtime scent and I plan to wear it long after any review. If you love any of the notes or accords described here, I strongly recommend that you try it yourself.

SEA WOOD:

AbdesSalaam's image for Sea Wood.

AbdesSalaam’s image for Sea Wood.

Sea Wood is an eau de parfum that is described as being a spicy, woody, oriental fragrance centered primarily around vetiver, then frankincense and patchouli. Part of the description reads as follows:

Sea wood is a deep woody and spicy exotic fragrance that evokes ancient ship storerooms loaded with spices of Cinnamon, cloves, ginger and the precious ambergris, seasoned, sea woods drifted on the beach after a long travel in open sea. […]

Sea Wood is build around an accord of Vetyver, Patchouli and Frankincense. Patchouli has the ability to reconciliation our physical and intellectual dimensions when they tend to clash, while Frankincense is the spiritual element that really balances and gives meaning to the fragrance. […]

The central element of the composition, the vetyver, essence extracted from a root, is the ballast of the fragrance. The hull is the Patchouli and the frankincense is the sails. The spices are the perfumes of the adventure of life.

I detected nutmeg in the spice mix, and AbdesSalaam confirmed its presence, so the full note list looks something like this:

Haitian Vetiver, Patchouli, Frankincense, Ambergris, Nutmeg, Clove, Cinnamon, and Ginger.

Painting: Dorian Monsalve at dorianscratchart.com (Website link embedded within.)

Painting: Dorian Monsalve at dorianscratchart.com (Website link embedded within.)

Sea Wood opens on my skin with dry, earthy, woody, and leafy vetiver fused together with patchouli that is softly spicy but predominantly woody in nature. Dusty, earthy, and equally dry spices are heaped generously on top, led primarily by bitter nutmeg, then cloves. I don’t detect ginger or cinnamon on my skin, but something else entirely: star anise with its earthy, bitter, and strongly salty tonalities. In actuality, AbdesSalaam says there is no star anise in Sea Wood, but that was the dominant spice aroma that wafted off my skin both times that I tried the fragrance.

Another unexpected aroma not supported by the note list is a green herbaceousness that strongly resembles dried thyme on my skin, mixed with a drop of something more dill-like like fenugreek. Once again, though, neither one was included in the scent. AbdesSalaam suggests the Haitian vetiver is responsible, and that must indeed be the case, but this is the first time that I’ve encountered a vetiver with thyme and almost dill-like herbal nuances.

Source: 1stdibs.com

Source: 1stdibs.com

It’s an interesting and evocative opening bouquet. Some of the time, it calls to mind old, dusty, wooden apothecary drawers that have retained the aroma of decades or centuries worth of spices. At other times, I think of the cargo hold of an old wooden ship where barrels of spices lie fragrant and in full bloom. It’s partially due to the salty tang that becomes increasingly prominent 10 minutes into Sea Wood’s development, redolent not just of ambergris but also that “star anise” note with its salty, earthy bite.

Driftwood on a beach. Photo: my own.

Driftwood on a beach. Photo: my own.

The images soon change, however. Sea Wood rapidly takes on a dusty dryness that has almost a sandy quality to it and, for a short while, the effect calls to mind Tauer‘s L’Air du Desert Marocain (“LDDM”). That thought is strengthened by the frankincense which arrives roughly 15-20 minutes into the fragrance’s development. When combined with the woods, spices, dusty dryness, and the burgeoning ambergris in the background, the cumulative effect is a cousin to LDDM, only in smoother, more herbal, salty, and all-natural form. Perhaps the best way to sum it up would be to call it a cross between LDDM, salty driftwood, and herbal greenness.

"Novemthree" by Olaf Marshall. Source: Vita Ignes Corpus Lignum blogspot. (Direct website link embedded within.)

“Novemthree” by Olaf Marshall. Source: Vita Ignes Corpus Lignum blogspot. (Direct website link embedded within.)

The LDDM similarity is short-lived, though, as the incense and vetiver grow stronger, turning Sea Wood greener, more herbal, earthier, and even woodier in nature. It’s an unexpectedly serene and meditative scent for such a spicy oriental, and it strongly reminds me of Sultan Pasha AttarsNankun Kodo attar. The two fragrances are really alike on my skin, and they share quite a few olfactory aromas and materials in common, too. Both compositions are built around the same strong, central trio of notes — herbal, earthy greenness combined with earthy, brown-red spices and dry, dusty, woody, churchy frankincense — which is then set against a backdrop of ambergris. I think Sea Wood is woodier and greener, with a salty quality that Nankun Kodo lacks, while the attar is significantly heavier on the spices and has an almost fiery nature at times. That said, if you put aside the salty aspect, the two fragrances definitely share the same DNA and inhabit the same universe.

Source: hqdesktop.net/wallpapers

Source: hqdesktop.net/wallpapers

Sea Wood doesn’t change much on my skin. The strength of each of the three central accords fluctuates constantly as they take turns shining in the spotlight. By the start of the 3rd hour, the fragrance is a seamless blend of spicy, earthy, herbal, green, and sometimes churchy, incense-y woodiness, although it tends to lean predominantly towards the patchouli side of the main trio on my skin. Its drier, the ambergris is more amorphous and abstract, the saltiness has disappeared, and the dustiness is fractionally greater, but I think some of that is due largely to the way my skin handles AbdesSalaam’s frankincense. When the drydown begins roughly towards the end of the 5th hour, Sea Wood is a simple blur of spicy, woody, incense-y, and patchouli-ish notes.

The fragrance dies away in much the same way, roughly 7.5 hours from its start. Its sillage and projection numbers were generally soft. They were stronger than African Night on my skin, but not as strong as Cuoio dei Dolci.

Driftwood in water. Photo: My own.

Driftwood in water. Photo: My own.

On Fragrantica, there are three reviews for Sea Wood at this time. One is written in Arabic, so I can’t read it, but the other two reviews are generally positive and describe Sea Wood as follows:

  • Lighter, more subtle and transparent offering than most from Profumo. This one to my nose is the smell of driftwood. Saline/reedy vetiver with a dry woody heart (supposedly patchouli from the notes list, but I get more of an oak/cedar). Wisps of incense and a minty ginger snap add to the marine air vibe. Very interesting and pleasant but short-lived.
  • I see that others have ranked the patchouli as the main note but I think I get a very aquatic vetiver/ginger/patchouli vibe with strong wood undertones. This is a very fresh, marine, spice scent that is very “different” than my usual scents. I like it a great deal and will likely buy a bottle.

On Basenotes, Sea Wood has 8 reviews. All are positive, but are far longer than I can quote here. Since this post is quite lengthy as it is, I’ll let you read them for yourself if you’re interested. I’ll only say that a number of people find Sea Wood to be strongly centered on vetiver with salty sea notes and spices, so if those things appeal to you, then you should give the fragrance a try for yourself.

ALL IN ALL:

How you feel about each of these fragrances is going to come down to the notes that you prefer. Each of the fragrances had interesting bits to them, but the one which suited my personal tastes best was Cuoio dei Dolci (Sweet Leather). My second favourite of the lot was Amber Oud with its highly refined agarwood and its fantastic ambergris. If you love green, woody, aromatic, dry, herbal, or incense fragrances, the others will suit you better. None of them are particularly floral, not even the ones which include rose or ylang, and almost all of them skew unisex in nature. Only African Night is intended to be a feminine fragrance but, if the frankincense is as strong on your skin as it was on my mine, you may find it skews unisex as well.

In all cases, though, regardless of fragrance or genre, the longevity and sillage won’t be the same as what you will find with semi-synthetic, mixed fragrances. Purely natural scents will always be softer, quieter, and will cling closely to the skin, so don’t expect a billowing scent trail. Individual skin chemistry will impact how long they last on your skin, but a few of Profumo’s darker or more oriental scents may surprise you.

AbdesSalaam "Mignons."

AbdesSalaam “Mignons.”

Finally, there is a 5.5 ml mini decant option for each fragrance, and prices typically are €15 or €18. You can choose a “Mignon Coffret” of any five or six scents. Regular bottles start at 15.5 ml in size. It’s a nice change from other brands that never offer anything smaller than 50 or 100 mls.

As a side note, if you’re new to the blog or to the La Via del Profumo brand, and you would like to try the Coffret set but don’t know what else to order, I’ve covered about 20 to 25 fragrances from AbdesSalaam Attar, ranging in style from florals to animalic ouds, leathers, incenses, chypres, patchouli-vetivers, and so much more. You can find the list of reviews here.

So, that’s it for today. I hope I’ve covered a few fragrances that piqued your interest. If you try any of them, do let me know what you think.

Disclosure: My samples were provided courtesy of AbdesSalaam Attar. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

DETAILS:
Cost & Samples: All the fragrances covered here are eau de parfums and exclusive to La Via del Profumo. The regular, full bottles usually start at 15.5 ml in size, and go up from there. The prices for a 15.5 ml size: Amber Oud is €48; Lake Blossom/ Lake Flower is €38; African Night is €38; Sensemilla is €47; Cuoio/CDD is €65; and Sea Wood is €47. The Mignon Discovery Coffret is available for any five fragrances, your choice, each in a 5.5 ml glass bottle. The price depends on which perfumes you pick. A number of the ones covered here, like Amber Oud or Sensemilla, are €18, while African Night is €15 and Cuoi/CDD is €25. Most of minis are listed on the Mignon page linked above, but Amber Oud and Cuoio dei Dolci/CDD are listed on The Private Collection page because they’re not part of the “Scents of the Soul” line. For American readers, Surrender to Chance sells 1 ml samples of three of the fragrances covered today in its Profumo section: Amber Oud, Lake Flower, and Sea Wood. It does not have samples of the other ones.

18 thoughts on “Six from La Via Del Profumo

  1. Maybe it is just my computer but there are large gaps in your reviews, I am not able to read all of the words and there are jumbles in the words.
    Nonetheless thank you for these reviews! I love Amber, it seems I would like Amber Oud, hopefully I can have just a tiny bit of the same experiences as you have had, I think I would like Sea Wood too… Looking forward to more!

    • Oh dear. Maybe it’s a browser issue, Anais? I’m not tech savvy enough to know how to fix the problem you’re seeing, and it doesn’t appear to me when I view the post in Chrome, but perhaps you could try a different Web browser and see if that changes things? I wish I had some other suggestion or, better still, a way of fixing whatever is causing the problem on the system you’re using, but this sort of IT or coding stuff is totally beyond me, unfortunately. Thank you for alerting me to the issue, though.

      • Hi, thank you, I am on a public computer at school and I can read everything perfectly. I think it is just my own computer and the Firefox browser I am not sure.

        I have ordered samples of Oud Caravan No. 3 and others from STC, I can’t wait to explore this line more.

        • Must be Firefox! I’m very relieved to know the post looks fine for you when you’re on a different computer and browser. I’ve never liked Firefox personally, and always stick to Chrome.

          I hope you find some AbdesSalaam fragrances that you love. I know how much you adore oud, the wilder and skankier the better, so hopefully Oud Caravan No. 3 will work for you. He has two others as well. On a slightly related note, I know you were planning on getting a sample of Dusita’s Oudh Infini. If you did so, did you like it and did it suit your tastes?

  2. Always SO happy to read anything about AbdesSalaam and his wonderful magical creations! The coffret was one of my best buys of last year, and of course led to some FB’s of the ones I love. Like you, incense tends to amplify on my skin often resulting in what I call my “dirty ashtray” syndrome. So sadly, I shy away from incense-centric ‘fumes. There are a handful that work well however, and African Night is one of them (likely the white floral kicking in. Because white florals.)) Hope you and the pups are well! -Robert H.

    • So sweet of you to inquire after the Teutonic Overlord. He’s actually been a little unwell, but I hope he’ll be on the mend soon. I shall convey your regards to His Hairy Highness, and I’m sure he’ll perk up at the thought of another potential admirer (and acolyte). lol. 😉 😀

      Joking aside, I’m so pleased to hear that you found an incense-centric fragrance that worked for you. I’m not surprised that it took white florals or AbdesSalaam to pull off the trick.

      Totally OT, did you happen to have any difficulty in viewing the post on your computer or mobile device? Were there scrambled, jumbled words or big, gaping spaces on the page? Another reader had those problems, but I’m hoping it’s a browser issue and limited to her computer. If it’s more widespread, then I need to contact WordPress Help, so I’d be grateful if you’d let me know if you experienced similar problems with the text/post.

  3. Whether I comment or not, I always enjoy your posts!
    No issues in viewing and
    wishing better health to the Teutonic Overlord/His Hairy Highness. Your names for him make me chuckle. I do wish that breeders would start breeding for health first – it is a life they’re dealing with – and looks second.

    • “Hear, Hear” to the breeder issue! I wish they’d stop mangling and distorting the looks of so many breeds because it almost always leads to severe health issues. Do you have any furry, pawed children, my dear? If so, I hope you’ll tell me about them. Thank you for letting me know that you aren’t having computer issues. I’m relieved.

      (PS — any progress on the Middle Eastern dessert front, and perhaps looking up or making one of the cardamom-saffron dishes I mentioned? I don’t know why but I have the sense that you’re probably a very fine cook and/or foodie.)

      • I can get very long-winded talking about furry, pawed children so I’ll try to be brief. I love dogs and have had some in the past. Cats, well, they were just there. Then I realized two very obvious things – you can’t compare cats and dogs and every cat has a unique personality. So, I have two cats. Sami (anagram of Siam) is my magical gift. As a kid Ii loved Siamese cats and what we called tiger cats, now tabbys. Sami is an obvious mix of the two and was feral. I trapped her before winter hit. It took a very long time for her to relax and trust. She is by nature gentle but feisty and extremely intelligent and sensitive.

        Kafka, you have some good senses. 🙂 I admit that I am a pretty good cook. A nice weekend morning is good for new dishes. I am looking at recipes for both luquimat and gulub jamun. Both sound wonderful and both have a lot of variations, so I’m deciding which to try first and which recipe to use. It will be fun!

        • Aww, I loved hearing about your furry companions, past and present. Siamese cats are so very striking and, yes, extremely intelligent, too. I’m impressed that you rescued and tamed her. My mother tames wild cats, too, and has done so since childhood. There is something about people with the heart and the gentleness to do that… it’s a very telling character trait, imo, and such a wonderful one.

          And you’re a foodie, too! I just knew it from a few passing, indirect comments that you’ve left over the years. I wish I could sit in your kitchen, pet Sami, and eat your inventions. I have the sense we would have a blast. Until then, I hope you’ll post more often so that I can get to know you even better. There is something about an animal/foodie combination in a person that is quite irresistible to me.

          (P.S. — don’t overlook Sholeh Zard in your culinary explorations if you love saffron. It’s surprisingly addictive in its creamy delights. Also, in the past, I’ve often enjoyed drooling over this post on Middle Eastern desserts with its tantalizing photos: http://egyptianstreets.com/2014/06/29/19-middle-eastern-desserts-to-remember-this-ramadan/
          It covers a wide range of dessert styles, it’s great fun to look at, and it may give you additional avenues of exploration.)

  4. I ordered a 1 mil of Incense Royale from Sultan Pasha, and with it came 16 samples. I did get a chance to sample Nankun Kodo, and soothing is a perfect description for it. So I would love to try Sea Wood . I was very interested in SenseMilla, but then I saw your picture reference , and at first was a little confused . Then I read your description and understood. I sometimes can have a problem with strong lavender . I got sample of Rania J’s Lavender 44 , maybe I put a little to much on, and had a problem . I don’t have a problem with MDCI’s Invasion Barbare, but those lavender satchels people put in their dresser drawers can give me a headache. Sensi , the actual smell , bud, can vary depending if it’s light cycled , if it’s been pushed with organics, crossed , the list goes on. The general overall appeal in its popularity is in its robust strength . It does have a Maui smell to it. Maui can have a skunked, yes skunked beer vibe to it along with the animal variety fume. It maybe that Abdes is trying to create something like Sensi Star. The star has that diesel and dank attributes . Myself, if Abdes tried creating a Northern Lights fragrance, I would be very inclined to try it. I should state that it has been a number of years since I partook , but I do like some of the smells like the old Northern Lights. Thank you for the great review . BTW . Have you done a review on some of the best hemp based fragrances out there? Some of The Body Shop’s best sellers of creams and moisturizers are hemp based . I had no problem with reading this .Your post was fine .

    • I enjoyed the education into different types of cannabis, Eddie. It was an amusing, fun read. I don’t think, though, that Abdes Salaam was trying to create anything like a particular variety of pot or would even know of the scent differences between them. 🙂

      I’m glad to hear you enjoyed Nankun Kodo. 🙂

  5. If there’s anything that makes me wish I’d studied something more lucrative than archaeology, it’s my obsession with perfume. Luckily, I have a freaky nose and decent impulse control, or I’d be a very sweet-smelling and well read pauper, ha ha!

    At the moment my hypothetical coffret would contain the following:
    -Tasneem. I’m a card-carrying lover of all the various facets of ylang ylang. The fact that my perfume-sceptic boyfriend likes it too is a huge bonus.
    -Tawaf. Because JASMINE. The very word makes me sigh and bat my eyelashes.
    -Amber Chocolate. I love chocolate but I’ve never met a chocolate perfume that has worked for me, it always ends up smelling like those little trees some people hang in their cars.
    -Venezia Giardini Segreti. Again, jasmine, and ambergris, and because I’m a sucker for thought-provoking reviews – the one in Grain de musc gave me goosebumps.
    -Amber Oud. It sounds fascinating! I’d really like to smell something with real oud, rather than the synthetic stuff.
    -Cuoio dei Dolci. It might be too masculine for me, but I won’t know that until I try it, right? Boozy, chocolate-y and castoreum sounds good to me.

    I really do need to get myself a coffret, though. I’ve been meaning to for years, but then I always end up going for something else. Everything lasts ages on my skin, so short duration and low sillage compared to mixed medium scents are just bonuses for me (it means I might be able to wear two perfumes in a single day, oh joy!), plus AbdesSalaam Attar seems like such a genuinely nice person I would prefer to support him than to give my money to behemoths like LVMH. Do you know if he has anything with a prominent tuberose note?

    Thank you for the detailed reviews! I love it when you cover the all-naturals and mostly naturals. (I’m still lemming for Vanilla Smoke…)

    • Tasneem is a MUST for a fellow Ylang lover! I think AbdesSalaam uses the most intoxicating ylang I may have ever encountered. Your other choices are great, too. I don’t think Cuoio dei Dolci is particularly masculine. Its leather isn’t the sort of rough, darkened, smoky sort that one typically encounters (and comprised of birch tar, usually). Plus, it’s so seamlessly enfolded into the boozier, chocolate, vanilla, and gingerbread, tobacco-ish goldenness. So, I think it skews quite unisex but, obviously, everyone differs in their assessment of the gender classification issue.

      My suggestion to you is to skip Amber Chocolate since you get an even better chocolate in the CDD one, minus the herbs, and to go for another fragrance instead. If you love roses, then Amber Rose. If you love orange blossom or crisper white florals, then perhaps Oasis. For Tuberose, I haven’t tried AbdesSalaam’s Night Blossom (something I clearly need to remedy soon) but I believe it is a tuberose soliflore: http://www.profumo.it/perfume/prodotto.asp?pid=102 Ask for a sample of that one with whatever order you place or else order the mignon in lieu of Amber Chocolate. It’s not that there is anything wrong with Amber Chocolate at all, but why have a duplication of notes, you know? Plus, in all honesty, I prefer his CDD to the Amber Chocolate. It’s so much richer, deeper, stronger, and more long-lasting.

  6. i love your reviews, you have a gift for describing what you sense in a really colourful way its great to read 🙂

    i ordered some of these perfumes after reading your reviews and i have found Amber Oud, Amber Rose and Cuoio dei Dolci are all excellent, however they only last about 4 hours. Apart from that they are a masterpiece thankyou so much for making me aware of these perfumes keep it up!

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