Ever since my first visit to the Middle East, I gained a newfound appreciation for perfumery and the particular style of fragrance from this part of the world. The sweet smell of Oud from a passing Emirate in the UAE, the smoke-filled rooms laced with bakhoor and the perfume souks glistening with scented elixirs entranced all of my senses. It is here where I discovered my first Attar, a form of fragrance that is very popular in the Middle East. Attar (also known as ittar) is a natural perfume oil renowned throughout the Middle East, South Asia and parts of Africa and is the oldest form of perfume known to mankind. A true attar is 100% pure perfume oil and free of alcohol which means they are highly concentrated. Usually encased in small vessels the thick elixir is full of depth providing a stunning aroma with unparalleled longevity in only a few drops. Placed on each of the pulse points of the body, the warmth generated by blood flow gently releases the intricate notes of the perfume oil, casting a scented aura around its wearer. It wasn’t until recently that I was reunited with this precious perfumed oil, but this time at home, thanks to Oman-based fragrance house, Amouage.
Founded in the Sultanate of Oman in 1983, Amouage is a luxury fragrance house acclaimed for conjuring up the most beautifully crafted perfumes. Having only previously sold their attars in Oman, Amouage gifted the world in 2022 with six new Attars, allowing everyone to experience this exquisite sacred perfume. Inspired by different villages around Oman, each one being thoughtfully created to embody the historic traditions of Attar whilst suffusing them with Amouage’s forward-thinking creativity. I was recently gifted their striking sampler set which included all of the Attars, each in a 0.7ml vial. It was a fantastic way to experience each of the unique scent profiles and discover my favourite.
This first Attar transports the wearer to Wakan, a village which lies in the Al Hajar Mountains of Oman. Known for its beautiful terraced gardens, the Attar is an ode to the peaceful apricot orchards which flourish each spring. Previously I had only experienced dark and heady Attars brimming with sumptuous Oud, however this one was surprisingly different. As I smeared the hay-coloured oil upon my wrist, the enveloping notes of Orris were evident straight away. Like the sap from a fractured flower stem, its earthy green facets were the first to arise before unveiling its notoriously floral and powdery attributes. Orris is one of my favourite notes, therefore it wasn’t surprising that I found this beautifully sensual, ebbing over the skin like a soft blanket of alluring sweetness. Then creatively Sandalwood unleashed its creamy spice-infused aroma engendering additional warmth whilst a cascading veil of White Musk brought forth an enchanting and welcoming freshness. Like rain-speckled white petals after a passing shower, its delicate nuances are subtle but nevertheless help to lift the scent beautifully.
Perfumer: Julien Rasquinet
Notes: Orris – White Musk – Sandalwood
Rose Aqor takes its inspiration from the village of Al Aqor located high up in the Saiq Plateau. Adorning its mountain slopes each spring are an abundance of the rarest roses in the world, enhancing the landscape with their vibrant colour. On application, you are greeted with this true elixir of rose, as if you have lifted the elegant flower towards your nose and drawn in its robust natural essence. Musky, earthy and peppery nuances beguile the senses, laced with hints of the flower’s dark green verdant stems. It isn’t long before those evocative honeyed floral facets rise to the forefront, like entering a rose garden on a summer’s day its sweetly perfumed aroma is both uplifting and heady. The sweetness remains delicate and endearing and refrains from becoming overly cloying perhaps due to the addition of Frankincense and Sandalwood. Frankincense with its resinous, smokey nuances perpetuates those spicy undertones whilst Sandalwood grounds the fragrance, its smooth and creamy notes coating the skin like an opulent rose-scented lotion.
Perfumer: Cécile Zarokian
Notes: Rose – Frankincense – Sandalwood
The beauty of an Attar is that it gifts you with the pure soul of an ingredient, an enriching experience which you don’t often encounter with a perfume. Taking inspiration from the Omani port city of Barka which is renowned for its spices, this Attar exudes a profusion of the second most expensive spice in the world. Smearing the skin with oil, you encounter this irresistible spice, a voluptuous creamy smothering of vanilla. Golden drops of decadence blanket the skin, its sweet opulent nuances softly dancing in the air. It is immediately comforting, wrapping the wearer in mellow nuances that continue to reveal themselves as the skin gradually warms up. As time goes by the sweetness subsides, giving way to a more powdery softness tinged with resinous facets. I almost envisage walking into a grand cathedral, dark varnished woods reflecting the flames of a myriad of white candles. A shroud of vanilla tainted wax fills the expanse, bolstered by an infusion of Frankincense. This Attar is rich and enveloping, and one of my favourites in the range which is surprising considering I don’t usually gravitate towards vanilla. I often like to layer it under my favourite amber fragrance to enhance it and bring further depth and longevity.
Perfumer: Dominique Ropion
Notes: Vanilla – Tonka Bean – Frankincense
This Attar takes inspiration from Khor Rori, a port historically known for its export of Frankincense around the world. As you have probably noticed, Frankincense is used in a few of the Attars featured. This aromatic resin has a prominent place in history, known for its use in the formation of perfumes and incense. Oman is known to produce the world’s finest Frankincense, obtained from the bark of the Boswellia trees that grow in the region. Described as the magical scent of Khor Rori at dusk, when incense wafts in from the boats ashore, the moment it touches the skin you will see how well Amouage have managed to capture this moment. An instant smokiness permeates the air and although it is intense there is a tranquillity about it that is somewhat consoling. Imagine smoky entrails slowly dancing in the atmosphere twisting and turning to meet your nose. It’s almost like stepping into a religious shrine, a shrouded embrace of consoling and enveloping nuances. Transforming into a deep woody fragrance it reminds me of wandering into some of my favourite traditional buildings in Edinburgh. Their walls clad with dark carved oak emitting a rich, spicy and enveloping aroma as if the history is oozing right out of them. This attar emits something that truly resonates with me, inducing an almost meditative, spiritual and grounding feeling, one which you cannot help be captivated by.
Perfumer: Julien Rasquinet
Notes: Frankincense – Cedarwood – Oakmoss
Saffron Hamra is described by Amouage as a luxurious union of a King and Queen in the stark redness of the Hamra Mountains. There is no doubting that just like Royalty itself, this attar oozes sophistication, and richness and demands attention. Saffron which is used in this Attar is renowned to be the most expensive spice in the world. Harvested from the Crocus Sativa, it takes more than 80,000 flowers to make one pound of Saffron. The fragrant dark oil tinged with red instantly reminds me of a time meandering through the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Mounds of coloured spices, alcoves of leather goods and powdery piles of Turkish delight cast aromas into the dense warm air. Saffron is a prominent note here, its earthy and sweet characteristics emit an almost soft leather-like accord. I’ve become so underwhelmed with Saffron fragrances lately that I almost refrained from sampling this Attar. However, the addition of Cade (extracted from the Cade Tree), takes the scent profile to a whole new level. It evoked images of an extinguished fire in the desert, red specked embers releasing a thin vein of smoke that weaves its mystical essence in the air. Before those smoke-tinged accords become too masculine, along comes a striking feminine energy. Rose Centifolia unveils its sweet floral facets tinged with honey, bringing a much-needed beautiful blend of sophistication and elegance. The King (Saffron) and the Queen (Rose) are always a spectacular pairing, but for me, the addition of Cade intertwines them both into this faultless fragrant union.
Perfumer: Cécile Zarokian
Ingredients: Saffron – Rose Centifolia – Cade
The darker the elixir the more audacious the scent and that is certainly what you get with the impressive Oud Ulya. At the forefront of this rich attar is a sumptuous serving of animalistic Oud, its distinctively bold and unflinching aroma engaging the senses. I am not going to lie, this is one of those Oud’s that I would normally deviate from, however somehow its compelling qualities kept luring me in. Birch Tar adds a distinct slant, like pieces of leather and wood charred with fire, which is very close to the original Attars that I experienced whilst in the Middle East. Its potent smokiness is quite a challenge to this Scotsman’s nose, but sooner or later my impatience is rewarded. The intense smokiness is soon smothered in a decadent blanket of Vanilla, cocooning the oil in a caramelised case of sweetness. This combination of sweetness, spiciness and earthiness transforms into the most captivating fragrance, full of depth and intrigue. Ulya is one of the most intense in the range and although it wasn’t my favourite, I can appreciate the exquisite ingredients and exceptional creativity.
Perfumer: Cécile Zarokian
Notes: Oud Assam – Vanilla – Birch Tar
Although I haven’t yet had the privilege to visit Oman, these Attars have given me a little taste of what this beautiful country has to offer. With the caress of such a precious oil, I was instantly transported to those mystical lands. For someone who hasn’t delved into the world of Attars, this collection is a fantastic introduction. Amouage have renowned reputation for their Attars in Oman, therefore it was brave to share a new interpretation of these for the world to enjoy. With an abundance of expertise behind each Attar and an undeniable quality, these luxurious treasures are a must for any fragrance enthusiast’s collection.
Perfume concentration: Attar
Size: Discovery Set 6 * 0.7ml
Luxury Coffret 6 * 12ml
Individual bottle 12ml
Available from: Amouage.