My sample of Amouage’s Badr al Badour was tiny – a few drops only. I knew going into it that it would be a one-day affair, and I was ok with that. Impatient, I squeezed all the contents of the miniscule plastic cone onto my skin and waited. I had tested other Amouage attars before – four or five perhaps – among them the famous (or infamous) Tribute and Homage attars, and thus far, they had been, well,….. nice. But nothing that I would sell my soul for, let alone pay upwards of €400 for 12mls.
Well. So, yes. Badr al Badour. Who here knows of anyone willing to pay for a lightly-used and mostly innocent soul? Because mine’s for the taking.
Badr al Badour is a heavy, opulent attar based on a mixture of real oud oils (one from Cambodia, the other from Myanmar), rosa damascena oil, ambergris, and a touch of sandalwood. I could have used one drop to scent my entire body, hair, wardrobe (and God knows, my home) for a whole day, that’s how rich this attar is, but like the big idiot I am, I went and squandered my entire sample in one go.
The opening is a rather classic rose-oud combination, with a rather dark, medicinal oud note and a citrusy, geranium-tinted Bulgarian rose. So far, so traditional. But slowly, as the oil warms up on the skin, the Burmese oud oil comes to the fore and it is then that you begin to notice the lightly sour, almost fetid breath of real oud wood. It is peppery and dry with nary a hint of sweetness to soften it. I would best describe the smell as the dusty, pleasantly stale woodiness you get when you lift the lid on an old wooden trunk that has been sitting at the back of a house, abandoned for a long time. It is the smell of decay and of ancient wood breaking down. There is, for the average Westerner, a moment of repulsion – fight it. After the repulsion comes attraction and fascination. There is a reason aficionados describe the smell of real oud as a compelling type of smell.
The salty funk of ambergris breathes life into the sour, dry oud mélange from beneath, bequeathing a round sort of warmth that has nothing to do with sweetness. I would describe the base of this attar as opulently rich and golden, and the oud heart as silver or grey, if that makes any sense.
The citrusy, light rose of the start seems to gain in richness and creaminess as the day wears on – this is perhaps the softening effect of the sandalwood. I have seen the rose in this described as a Bulgarian rose in one place, and a Taifi rose in another – I don’t know which source is accurate. Either way, the rose starts out as sharply green and citrusy as the pure Taifi rose attar I once tested from Abdul Samad Al Qurashi called Al Ta’if Rose Nakhb Al Arous. This is an oil that comes from slowly distilling Taifi roses, mixing it with water to allow impurities to materialize and then syringing off the pure, clear oil off the water and putting it in a small bottle.
Smelled up close, the Taifi oil smells surprisingly nothing like what you expect a rose to smell like – but this makes sense, because a rose is made up of over 500 different aroma compounds. But the two main ‘flavor’ constituents of rose are actually geraniol and citronellol – these smell sharply ‘green’ and sharply ‘citric’ respectively. And when I smelled it close up, I mostly got a piercing lemony note and a lurid green note, so acid it is almost like you just peeled a citron. The smell is blindingly bright, sharp, thin, almost animalic in its spiciness and greenness. This is the type of rose I smell at the start of Badr Al Badour. It softens as the day goes on, though, becoming more ‘rosy’ and sweeter/creamier. More recognizable as a rose, let’s say, than as a citron.
Overall, this is an unusually prismatic scent for an oil attar – different notes seem to come forward and then recede over the course of a wearing, allowing others to take their place. At times, the scent was purely a dry oud one, at times the rose came forward to cast a sweet, rosy netting over the oud, and at other times, everything but the salty warmth of the ambergris dropped back. This made for an endlessly rich and varied wearing experience throughout the day.
I savored every minute that Badr al Badour was on my skin.
Night arrived. I put the kids to bed. I sighed and stepped into the shower – my day with Badr al Badour was about to be over. It’s alright, I thought – I knew it was all I was signed up for anyway. But the next morning, as I was collecting clothes for the laundry, I noticed the beguiling aroma emanating from my sweater – Badr al Badour was still here! Booming out as powerfully as it had the day before. Even better, I discovered that I had left heavy scent trails of the attar in, variously, my infant daughter’s hair (the heads of babies do smell divine, but even more so when perfumed with an Amouage attar), the collar of my husband’s coat, and the tips of my hair – all things I had touched or rubbed with the attar the day before.
So, I got one more day out of my one-day love affair. A whole 48 hours of pure pleasure from two measly drops. Badr al Badour is the first Amouage attar I’ve found to be worth the price of admission (over $450 for 30mls, if you can still find it). If I could afford it, I’d buy it.