“Founded over a quarter of a century ago, Amouage is a niche luxury fragrance house that draws inspiration from its birthplace of the Sultanate of Oman, infusing reference points from a rich and colorful heritage that fires the imagination of all who come into contact with its wonderful products.”
That’s the way the History of Amouage begins on their website http://www.amouage.com. It was established in Oman in 1983 by the Sultan of Oman, who hoped to revive and redefine the ancient Omani art of perfumery. Amouage (a word created from “amour” + an Arabic word meaning “waves”) uses the traditional materials of Middle Eastern perfumery, such as frankincense and myrrh.
This perfume house is situated in Oman, just outside of the city of Muscat. A cluster of small buildings, it is overshadowed by a large new structure that will house the whole operation when completed. I was fortunate to be able to go on a tour on Wednesday. I have seen Amouage perfume stores in malls here in the middle East, but didn’t realize what it really is. Most perfumes in Muslim countries are made from pure oil essences only. There is some alcohol in Amouage, which lightens it up a bit, but it still has the intimacy and lasting power of the oils. Many are really heavy in frankincense and myrrh, and I was pleasantly surprised at the number of lighter, more “Western” scents available.
There are 120 different natural ingredients used – silver frankincense is one of the main ones. The most sought after frankincense has always been from Dhofar in the southern part of Oman. In legend, so valuable were the frankincense trees, they were guarded by winged serpents. This frankincense tree is planted just outside the Amouage showroom.
The scent is developed in the south of France, and then sent to Oman, where it is mixed with alcohol and goes through an 8 week maceration period, where all the scents blend together.
First, we were shown around the gallery. The traditional bottles have a mosque-shaped top on the ladies’ perfume, and the top of a Khanjar or traditional Omani knife on the mens’. The first perfume created was Amouage Gold. they also have a display of fancy, gold bottles – I’m not sure if you can buy the, but I’m sure they would be expensive.
We sampled each of the perfumes.. first on wrists and then on paper wands. The main perfumes are displayed on pedestals along the outside of the room, with colourful photos of the main ingredients on the wall beside. Along the wall, there are small jars containing some of the natural ingredients used – frankincense, myrrh, ambergris, cinnamon, moss, and many others.
Once we had seen all the products, which include not only perfumes but also creams, lotions, bath oils, candles and room sprays, we headed into the bowels of the factory. We saw the rooms where the maceration vats are, the first about 17C and the second cooler. There is the mixing room, with it’s scales and interesting little bottles on the shelves. And, have you ever seen a PAIL of perfume before?
At the end of the hallway, we entered the viewing area over the room where the perfume is bottled and packaged. It is all done by hand. We saw the bottles being filled, checked for solids, cleaned of fingerprints, and on the far end of the table, two ladies were putting the bottles into their boxes. Into each box is also inserted a little note saying “Thank you for choosing Amouage” and it includes the name of the person who packaged it.
A very interesting morning. Oh, and by the way, the one I liked best is called Memoir – it’s the newest addition to the line. We received some samples of some of the others, but I want to go back, “clean”, and try just this one, to see if I like it as well on me as on the paper wand.