Sumptuously extravagant, deeply complex, and powerfully nuclear, Mukhallath Seufi opens with a feast for the senses through an explosion of roses that dazzle like three-dimensional rubies adorned with spices and amber in an opulent oriental blend. Then, the fragrance journeys from the Orient to Europe, slowly turning into a rich chypre before ending up as a dark, smoky, more masculine vetiver leather. Mukhallath Seufi is a story told mainly in three parts, but with endless twists and turns along the way. Not all of them are as grandiose, stunning, or appealing, but that first part… Good lord! It blew my mind — and I say that as someone who is not a rose lover. If you loved Amouage‘s famous Homage attar or mourned its loss, you must try Mukhallath Seufi simply for its spectacular opening, even if the fragrance subsequently transitions away from it and onto other genres.
Al Haramain is a Middle Eastern perfume house that was founded in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 1970, and that now operates mostly out of Dubai. They recently expanded into Europe with a Netherlands office and a separate branch called Al Haramain Exclusive which is focused entirely on luxury fragrances in their “Exclusive Collections.” Reportedly, each scent comes in a crystal bottle that is designed and made by hand, with boxes and caps that are also hand-made.
Al Haramain’s Exclusive Collections consist of three separate lines:
- The Prestige Collection which is all eau de parfums and alcohol-based fragrances;
- The Premium Collection which features luxury attar oils; and
- The Special Editions which also features attars but, oddly, less expensive ones than the Premium Collection and also in larger sizes.
The Netherlands office recently sent me samples of four fragrances from the first two lines: Arabian Treasure and Obsessive Oudh from The Prestige Collection; and Mukhallath Seufi and Safwa attars from The Premium Collection. I’ll try to review as many as I can in a row over the next few days beginning with the Mukhallath Seufi.Mukhallath Seufi is an attar or concentrated fragrance oil whose name is sometimes spelt as “Mukhallat Seufi.” (It often comes with a “CPO” after its name for “concentrated perfume oil” as well.) Al Haramain Exclusive describes the fragrance and its notes as follows:
Mukhallath Seufi is like a precious jewel with glittering shades. A precious gift that will make the heart beat faster, not only for fans of perfume but also for lovers of fine and high quality belongings. The box is covered with patterned leather, hiding a small, heavy bottle of ruby crystal in a silver frame. By opening the bottle the inexpressibly pleasant aroma of the romantic rose captures the heart. The fresh and sweet top notes of lime, orange, plum and bergamot are in perfect harmony with the heart of rich flowers like ylang ylang, jasmine, lily of the valley and soothing spicy notes including clove and nutmeg. As time passes, the fragrance develops in an enchanting scent of amber and vanilla woven together with the scent of saffron and deep Indian oudh. Mukhallath Seufi perpetuates a sweet and everlasting aroma in the wearer’s surrounding.
Top notes: Bergamot, Sage, Geranium, Aldehyde, Mango, Plum, Orange, Lime, Lavender
Middle notes: Clove, Nutmeg, Rose, Saffron, Rosewood, Jasmine,Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Orris, Lily of the Valley
Base notes: Sandalwood, Patchouli, Cedar wood, Vetiver, Moss, Tonka bean, Agarwood, Vanilla, Amber, Musk.
Mukhallath Seufi opens on my skin with a sumptuously thick rose that is coated with rich, buttery saffron, then edged on its sides with rose geranium to give it both another wave of rose richness and a subtle piquant, leafy greenness. Other spices dart about like fireflies, generally indistinct but occasionally smelling like cinnamon and nutmeg. Bergamot laced with the tiniest pinch of aldehydes offers a sense of sparkling glitter that is bright and fresh, never soapy or clean. There is such a radiance to the top notes, yet they also come with a deluge of baroque, floral extravagance where the rose practically bathes in the darkest, heaviest velvet amidst a haze of golden, ambered warmth.
A plethora of other notes ripple on the sidelines. There is a complex mix of: spicy patchouli, dark woods, plush forest mosses, woody vetiver, abstract fruity juiciness, and a hint of jasmine. Yet, all of those notes are minor, subtle touches in the opening hour, and simply amplify the rose’s innate characteristics, giving depth to its naturally sweet, spicy, fruity, woody, lemony, green, and fresh facets. The result is the very richest rose that grows simultaneously in a garden and in the woods, all taken to 3-D extremes, then distilled down to its most powerful, intoxicating, forceful depths. Mukhallath Seufi’s opening is so impossibly rich that it feels as though that concentrate were then shot through with steroids, turning into the Incredible Hulk of spiced, oriental roses. I fear I’m not conveying the true extent of its depth or might so, at the risk of seeming redundant, let me say one more time that it’s a wallopingly intense, strong, heavy bouquet where the rose practically flashes in neon and jewelled tones alike.
The way the rose goes beyond photorealistic and enters 3D levels, all accompanied by massive density, reminds me nonstop in the opening phase of Amouage‘s famous and now discontinued Homage attar. Let me be clear that the similarity doesn’t last beyond the first two hours, but the two attars begin with a very similar rose. In all honesty, I much prefer the one in Mukhallath Seufi, though I grant you that I’ve only tried Homage in the red-brown box (hence, the reformulated version) and not the white box original.
At first glance, the two roses seem very similar but I think there are big differences if you examine them closely. On my skin, Mukhallath Seufi’s opening is significantly spicier, more balsamic, and chewier in body than the red-box version of Homage. Not only is the degree of spices noticeably greater, but the fragrance is fractionally sweeter and more syrupy. The rose is not as fresh as the one in Homage, and the scent skews overtly to the oriental and chypre genres instead of being primarily floral in nature. Finally, I think the Mukhallath Seufi has perhaps double Homage’s power, sillage, and strength.
In fact, the rose in Mukhallath Seufi’s opening stage is so strong, sweet, and dense, it almost made my eyes water at one point in one test when I sniffed my arm. I had made the mistake of applying 3 generous swipes of the little sample stick and, let me tell you, that results in quite a force-field up close! And, from afar, the scent trail carries across the length of a room. I think the average person generally applies only a few drops, but even with an amount in-between those extremes — only 2 moderate smears — the attar had palatial heft and a heavy scent trail during its first few hours. Yet, none of it feels so bombastic that the fragrance wears me, rather than the other way around. The laundry list of ingredients has been carefully modulated and balanced, so that the notes work harmoniously together to create, first, the most nuanced, layered oriental rose in sight, and then a rich, sophisticated chypre. Things go a little haywire for me in the drydown, but that is largely a personal matter derived from some note issues, as you will see.
Before that point, Mukhallath Seufi goes through several stages. The first hour is the opulent, spiced floral oriental that I’ve described, but the fragrance begins a transition into a chypre roughly 90 minutes into its development. There are growing amounts of mossy greenness, vetiver, and spicy patchouli, accompanied by fluctuating levels of aldehydic fizziness and citrus. At the same time, a subtle, resinous smokiness awakens in the base from something that feels a lot like styrax, lending a quiet, muted hint of leatheriness.
Mukhallath Seufi turns fully chypre-ish by the end of the second hour. The saffron wanes, retreating to the edges along with those tiny darting fireflies of other spices and the sense of heavy, ambered warmth that floated all around. At the same time, while the vetiver, oakmoss, patchouli, and leafy geranium surge forth, wrapping the dark rose in their embrace. Instead of spices, the flower is now veiled with a soft layer of aldehydes drizzled with bergamot and citrus. It’s not soapy or clean at this time, merely a fizzy, sparkling freshness that accentuates the chypre-like greenness. Only the faintest whisper of spices or orientalism lingers in the background, but it’s rapidly fading away.
Mukhallath Seufi’s third stage begins roughly 4.25 hours into its development. The vanilla and tonka awaken in the base, but they don’t smell gourmand or anything alike actual vanilla on my skin. Instead, they simply create a creamy softness that feels entirely like plush suede. I can’t explain it, but it’s as though they had merged with the leathery side of styrax or some other resin to result in an accord that is very far from gourmand. (Styrax may not be listed as one of Mukhallath Seufi’s ingredients, but it or something very much like it has to be part of the scent if you ask me.) In any event, the end result is a combination of leather and suede, one that is coated in a film of aldehydic soapiness and clean musk. I can’t say I enjoy the latter very much, but it’s not excessive at this point.
Up top, the slightly citrusy, fresh rose has suddenly and most unexpectedly turned into a pale pink, delicate little thing. It floats like a gossamer veil and feels practically translucent when compared to the rose at Mukhallath Seufi’s beginning. In essence, the fragrance is now a soft, fresh, quiet rose atop an increasingly thick layer of creamy suede and dark leather, bridged by aldehydes, soapy cleanness, and tendrils of smokiness. It’s a very short stage doesn’t last long, and seems to be mostly just a transition point.
Mukhallath Seufi’s fourth stage begins midway during the 6th hour. The leather and clean suede rise to the top, merging with the rose before eventually overtaking and dominating it entirely. The rose is still citrusy, fresh, and aldehydic, but it is no longer the sole focal point of the attar.
Mukhallath Seufi is now increasingly turning its attention to the leather as the rose’s main counterpart. The leather is resinous and smoky, but it has suddenly turned quietly animalic as well, almost as if a few drops of civet and musk castoreum had been sprinkled on top. It is embroidered with threads of a similarly smoky vetiver, but the oakmoss and spicy patchouli have sunk into the base where they join a new arrival. It’s an abstract, largely indistinct woodiness that also bears a quiet smokiness and, once in a blue moon, wafts a faint, muted streak of oud. The vanilla, tonka, and even the “suede” slowly grow weaker, but the aldehydes, soapiness, and clean musk stand firm.
As a whole, Mukhallath Seufi is now a seamless duet of rose and smoky, slightly animalic leather that are laced with vetiver, creamy tonka-ish “suede,” soapy aldehydes, clean musk, and a touch of fresh citrus, all atop a mossy and woody base. It’s simultaneously balsamically dark but green; woody but freshly floral; soapy clean but also musky and animalic; semi-sweet but semi-dry. To my nose, it also bears a certain sharpness when I smell my arm up close, but I can’t pinpoint the source or decide whether it stems from the leather, the white musk, or the increasing levels of both animalics and smoky vetiver. Whatever the cause, I confess I don’t like this part of Mukhallath Seufi very much, and certainly less so than its warm, rich, spicy and ambered opening. Speaking of the amber, it really is an inconsequential part of the Mukhallath Seufi after the opening hour, and never shows up in any clearly delineated way, particularly once the fragrance skews towards the chypre or leather side.
The leather brings the rose back to life, imbuing it with body and strength, as well as turning it dark again. No longer pale, pink, and translucent, the rose is now dry, heavily leathered, smoky, and blackened except for where it is etched dark green with smoky vetiver, brown with woods, and white with clean musk and soapy aldehydes. Over the next few hours, it rumbles at the center of Mukhallath Seufi, occasionally reminding me of the dark, withered rose in Guerlain‘s Rose Nacrée du Desert, except this flower is thicker, heavier, and centered more on leather than on incense smokiness.
Darkness overtakes everything at the start of the 9th hour when the fifth stage begins. Now, Mukhallat Seufi smells primarily of smoky, musky, often animalic, and rather toughened leather. It is layered with an equally smoky, leatherish vetiver, along with lesser amounts of soapy white musk. There is almost no rose at all, only a lingering hint of vaguely sweetened floralcy, but even that fades away when the 10th hour rolls around. Occasional hints of woodiness flicker in the base, but they’re nebulous and heavily muffled on my skin.
Over the next few hours, Mukhallat Seufi grows cleaner, the notes turn blurry, and the scent as a whole becomes very soft. The animalic edge and muskiness fade, while the leather and vetiver morph together. When the drydown finally begins at the start of the 14th hour, the white musk and soapiness surge onto center stage. They join with the leather as the main accord, push away the vetiver, then eventually everything else as well. In the final moments, all that’s left is a simple blur of cleanness.
Mukhallath Seufi has monster longevity, moderate projection, and initially huge sillage that took a few hours to turn soft. Using two or three moderate smears, the scent lasted over 24 hours, but tiny dime-sized parts of my arm wafted a soapy cleanness well after 30 hours. On a person with normal or less voracious perfume-eating skin, I would not be surprised to hear that Mukhallath Seufi lasted a good 36 to 48 hours, especially if they applied a lot of it. In terms of projection and sillage, the fragrance opened with about 4 to 5 inches of projection, while the sillage was about 8 inches. However, both numbers grew as the fragrance oils melted into the skin. (By the way, the attar leaves a lovely sheen on the arm at first.) After 45 minutes, the projection was about 8 inches, while the scent trail extended halfway across the room and in a thick cloud around me. After 2.5 hours, the projection dropped to about 2 inches, then to 1.5 inches at the 3.5 hour mark. At that point, the sillage was also soft, and the trail noticeable only when I moved my arms. Perfume oils tend to sit close to the body in terms of sillage, so that was to be expected. There was no sillage at all at the 4.5 hour mark. The projection hovered just above the skin, though the fragrance was extremely strong and robust up close. I suppose you could say that Mukhallath Seufi turned into a skin scent after 8 hours, but it took zero effort to detect the fragrance until well into the 13th hour. Only then did I have to put my nose right on my arm.
Mukhallat Seufi generally receives very good reviews. On a retail site called Mukhallat, there are 5 comments that all rate the fragrance 5 stars, but few of them really describe its aroma except in the most general terms:
- “The scent is simply divine. The best fragrance I have ever tried. I can’t help but go gaga over it.”
- The tantalizing aroma Al Haramain Mukhallat Seufi can create is beyond description.
- it smells wonderful. I get lots of compliments.
There are three reviews on Fragrantica, two of which are extremely positive, one of which is mixed. One commentator wrote a voluminous review that raves about Mukhallath Seufi as a complex, multi-dimensional rose-centric attar that is never linear like so many others that she’d tried. She says it begins with an aromatic and herbal freshness that quickly transforms into gourmand and fruity notes. Then, the rose appears, and takes over. She writes that it is:
Not just a rose, a whole rose garden, where the air is warm and still, so the sweetness is not blown away but grows fuller and fuller, so intoxicating that butterflies get dizzy and sit down on the garden wall heated by the sun for a bit to recover.
After that, she detected “very clearly lily of the valley, then rose, then spices, then rose again, iris, rose, spices, and this continues for a while.” In the middle portion of the scent, the rose
begins to mingle with wonderful woody notes. Rosewood, I suspect, but also a lovely soft sandalwood (which reminds me of Villoresi Sandalo, my favorite sandalwood). The combination of rose and wood is becoming softer and creamier and sweeter, and I start to smell oud. A creamy oud, it seems, which is in perfect balance with the rose and sandalwood and tonka. A classy oud, as I’ve never smelled before. I feel that every oud I smelled before contains a chemical component, but this smells so natural and earthy, and the “dirty” side of the old (you probably know what I mean) is perfectly restrained by the rose and the other woods. I feel that this attar is purely natural and balanced.
The smell is heading more and more towards sweet when a tiny bit of vanilla and a lot amber to come out to play. We are now hours away, and ended up in the final phase of the attar. This phase lasts the longest […] and is delicious, and seems calming. [Emphasis to perfume name added by me.]
A second commentator said that Mukhallath Seufi smelt primarily of “rose and vanilla in base notes on [her] skin, no mummies, just oud!” She loved it so much, she bought a second bottle.
The lone dissenter actually likes the scent, but finds the price is excessive:
a woody floral perfume oil with an Arabic vibe & soft powdery dry down.
Justifiable price? Absolutely Not!
As a side note, Mukhallath Seufi also comes in an eau de parfum version. Fragrantica categorizes it as a “floral woody musk,” and a handful of votes for the dominant notes appears to indicate a completely different scent profile. It also hasn’t received a good review from the one comment there. So, if you stumble upon a tall, 50 ml golden-coloured bottle of Mukhallath Seufi for an affordable price, that is not what I’m reviewing. Plus, the fact that it seems to cost roughly £29 tells me it is far from the same quality as the attar.
Speaking of price, Mukhallath Seufi retails for €160 for a 6 ml bottle. That may seem extremely high for the size but it is line with what Amouage used to charge for its attars, or perhaps even a little less. Also, keep in mind that a few drops of Mukhallath Seufi go a long, long way.
When I was testing Mukhallath Seufi, I was of two minds about the price, but not for the reasons that you might think. I was so blown away by the sheer magnificence and baroque richness of its opening that I was strongly tempted to buy a bottle. But I was torn because I rarely have the opportunity to wear fragrance for myself outside of reviewing purposes and I’m really not one for rose-centric things in general, so spending €140 seemed a little much for 6ml of a rare, once-in-a-blue-moon foray into roses. It is a testament to the luxurious beauty of Mukhallath Seufi’s opening and just how much I loved it that I actually thought I would buy a bottle anyway.
I change my mind after experiencing the subsequent parts of Mukhallath Seufi. The degree of aldehydes, clean musk, and soapiness was too much for my personal tastes. Each of those three things is verboten for my own fragrances, let alone simultaneously. I also don’t enjoy large amounts of smoky vetiver. Finally, I found Mukhallath Seufi has a certain sharpness in its final two stages that I didn’t like, perhaps from the clean musk. Something about the latter also felt cloying to me in drydown, perhaps because it skewed a little sweet. Keep in mind, however, that white musk is one of the things that I despise the most in perfumery, and that my skin does some pretty awful things to any scent which contains a lot of it. The funny thing is that Al Haramain specifically sent me fragrances that, by my request and to their mind, did not include much cleanness or white musk. So, it is obviously an issue of skin chemistry, and things may well be very different on you.
My personal taste and note preferences aside, I strongly recommend trying Mukhallath Seufi if you love either Middle Eastern attars or powerful rose fragrances that cross over the oriental, chypre, woody, and leather genres. And you can do it without excessive cost or difficulty. One of the fantastic things that Al Haramain Exclusive has done is to offer three affordable sample sets in order to give people the chance to explore their fragrances, with free worldwide shipping included in the price. I can’t think of any other Middle Eastern perfume house that does that. Each set costs €20 and you get either 5 or 8 fragrances, depending on which one you choose. Each scent is said to come in 2 ml manufacturer vials, though mine had perhaps 1.5 ml at most, so don’t be surprised if you get less than 2 ml. I think it’s still a great deal given the price of a full bottle. For those of you with sneaky minds, let me tell you now that you can not request five 2 ml samples of the same scent. (I thought of it, too.) The Discovery set lets you choose five things to try from across the Prestige and Premium lines, but you cannot select more than one sample of the same fragrance.
Next time, I’ll cover Al Haramain’s Arabian Treasure eau de parfum which I generally liked and which reminded me at times of a super-sized, concentrated version of Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier’s Ambre Precieux, though it had some metallic aspects that I found quite perplexing. If I can, I’ll also try to squeeze in Safwa Attar as well, but it will probably be a brief discussion because I had some trouble with it. I haven’t had the chance yet to properly explore Obsessive Oudh, so that one will probably be the last review of the quartet.
Disclosure: My sample was provided courtesy of Al Haramain Exclusive. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.