Inspired by the shifting red, pink, and cream layers of the sandstone at Petra, Jordan, Fredrik Dalman wanted to create a perfume that might bring the memory of the 4th century BC Nabataean Kingdom, for whom Petra was the capital city, back to life. A nomadic tribe by nature, Petra was a touchstone for the Nabataeans, and the main focal point of trade in the region. Santal Nabataea honors the inspiration of Petra in two ways: via references to the exotic fruit and spices traded in Petra at the time, and by using certain materials to emulate the dusty, rosy colors and textures of the sandstone of this haunting city.
And wow, does it succeed. In exploring the dusty and sometimes astringent heart of true sandalwood, rather than its famously creamy facet, Santal Nabataea is that rare thing ? a perfume that smells genuinely exotic in and of itself, rather than simply stuffed with as many exotic notes the perfumer can think of. A pared-back structure demonstrates confidence in its own ability to deliver its message without unnecessary embellishment. All the other notes here exist to showcase the sandal ? the black pepper creating a spicy darkness at the back of your throat, the coffee deepening its masculine growl, and the black currant leaf and apricot notes giving off a tannic tea-like nuance that matches the wood in astringency. If it’s the brusque, aromatic dryness of real sandalwood that you love, then make sampling Santal Nabataea a priority. Featuring sustainably-sourced santalum album from Australia as well as Indian sandalwood, it’s the (rare) real deal.