Suzanne's Perfume Journal

Mamluk eau de parfum is from the “oud stars” collection of Xerjoff, an Italian perfume house. It can be purchased from Jovoy Haute Parfumerie in Paris, which is where I got my sample, as well as from LuckyScent.com, where a 50-ml bottle is $315.

Photo (top of page) titled "Tea Cup" is from the Flickr photostream of *saxon* and is available through the Creative Commons license, with some rights reserved.  Mamluk bottle image is from Luckyscent.com.



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Xerjoff Mamluk eau de parfum: Don’t Mind If I Have Another Spot...

June 30, 2012:

The weather has turned hot and steamy in my part of the world, and the sky, though a bit hazy, is blue enough that I'm happy: it's summer—for me, the sweet season. As long as I have a cool bedroom at night to sleep in, the rest of the time I don’t mind the heat and, in fact, my body feels more loose-limbed and my mind more relaxed in the heat, so I embrace it, spending as much time as I can outside.

As far as perfumes go, there is no need to pass me the eau de cologne in summer: I don’t want to cool down in that regard. One of the very best things about summer is the thrilling way in which oriental perfumes swell in the heat. It always seems to me that they expand and acquire a whole new dimension in the humidity, and I become even more smitten with them when they reach this state of thick saturation … the way they hang in the air like a hot and hovering cloud. If I worked in an office where such scents would likely intrude on other people’s space, I might refrain from wearing Orientals in summer, but since I don’t, I feel no guilt in saying that for the past few days I’ve been wearing an injudicious amount of a hypnotic spellbinder that goes by the name of Mamluk (from the perfume house of Xerjoff and its “oud stars” collection). I discovered Mamluk at the Jovoy boutique in Paris and only wish now that I had purchased a bottle, pricey as it is. The beauty of Mamluk has nothing to do with oud (to my nose, oud is barely detectable in this composition) and everything to do with osmanthus, a flower with a multifaceted scent profile that smells like apricots, tea and even a bit like fine purse leather—though in Mamluk the osmanthus leans heavily towards tea. In combination with Mamluk’s other notes of honey, caramel and dusky resins, this perfume brings to mind two things: a dessert tea ... enjoyed in the company of a good-looking man. While there is nothing naughty or “skanky” about Mamluk, there is just enough swarthiness around its edges that it has a masculine vibe coupled to its sweetness. Or if not a masculine vibe, a whiff of something that has a rough-and-tumble exoticism to it, such that Mamluk could just as easily be described as smelling like a honeyed, balsamic tea taken in an exotic setting: a souk in Marrakech, perhaps (except that in Marrakech one would probably be drinking mint tea, and Mamluk smells of black tea). Though classified as a woody oriental, I would describe Mamluk as a gourmand oriental. It’s sweet, but in a sophisticated way; the combination of Mamluk’s floral and confectionery notes with its darker base accord ensures that this is a sensual perfume rather than mere nose candy. In other words, Mamluk is sweet in the same way that summer is sweet: it's got more than a lick of drowsy sultriness about it.

The Xerjoff company lists Mamluk's notes as follows: bergamot, honey, caramel accord, jasmine grandiflorum, osmanthus, benzoin, vanilla, oud, musks and amber. I think this list very accurately represents the way the perfume smells, except that I can’t emphasize enough how sophisticated it is in its fine balance between its sweet and soulful sides—and the beauty of its osmanthus note.

On initial application Mamluk has a clear and sparkling note of Italian bergamot that seems calmer to me than most bergamot top notes. It is immediately joined by the nectarous and balsamic smells of jasmine and fruited tea, and something that from a distance smells a bit powdery (my husband comments that he smells something powdery when I first put it on, though I don’t perceive it as such when I put my nose to my wrist). Oddly enough, before this initial accord has time to develop, something inky begins to stir within the fragrance and it grows in intensity for about five to ten minutes before fading away and allowing the honeyed tea smell to return to the fore of the perfume. I can’t tell you how much I love this inkiness that steals up on the perfume when one least expects it!  To me, it’s the olfactory representation of nighttime that lends romanticism to the scent. I feel like I’ve been sitting at an outdoor cafe having tea at dusk, and suddenly I realize that night has fallen and the locale where I’m having this tea has taken on a whole new mood. After this sooty nighttime accord recedes to the background, the light caramel adds some depth to the osmanthus tea note that continues to develop, and with it I feel like I’m no longer alone. Caramel has just enough of a baritone “voice” and languid sweetness to it that I now feel like I’ve been joined by a handsome stranger. This feeling is enhanced by the husky base accord of resinous benzoin, amber and musk (and something lightly woody, which I’m guessing is the oud; considering that I own two types of authentic oud oil and was part of the Oud Caravan project at Basenotes.net, you’d think it would be immediately discernible to me, but it isn’t.)

Mamluk is fairly linear from this point forward, and that’s fine with me because it doesn’t get any less gorgeous. I could go on having tea in this heavy-lidded way forever ... thinking about the sweet possibilities that lie ahead ... and letting those thoughts get stirred by the summer heat.