Wood Rose: Montale Attar
Imagine a Bulgarian rose carved out of Mysore sandalwood, drizzled with oud, resting on a frond of some sort, decorated with little mounds of savory spices. Pierre Montale’s blending of these elements in Attar is hardly revolutionary in the Arabic-speaking world. For centuries, precious rose oils have been hydrodistilled and then distilled again into sandalwood. Variously named ittars, itrs and attars, these mixtures must always involve a base oil of sandalwood. Here, the oud lends a sharp medicinal character, which is overtaken almost immediately by a dark velvety rose, but which makes the blend eminently unisex. Saffron and Indian herbs (fenugreek among them) provide backup support, warming the entire composition. Attar is sexy rather than alluring, dark and pleasantly furry rather than smooth, appetite-forming rather than overtly gourmand: a sort of amuse-nez, if you will. I think it is the perfect conversation-starter... perhaps for starting a conversation with a Maharadja or the beauty on the next barstool. And with its extraordinary – though never indiscreet – sillage, it’s guaranteed to start quite a few.