Blog post by Gwen
Over the past few years Agarwood, or oud has become a real player in the niche world of scent and why not? It’s been used for centuries in the east and middle east as temple oil and in incense so it has an air of exotic romance about it. Still, I’d never really smelled it full-on, so in the name of research, I visited an oud shop on the Champs Elysée when I was last in Paris.
I had never seen anything like this before. The shop catered to the Arab market and there were shelves and shelves of over-the-top gold and gilt decorated flacons. Some of them were fabulous works of art and all of them were beyond expensive.
The heady smell of oud filled the air, as an accommodating sales assistant educated me about oud - its’ history, its importance and its beauty.
Oud has a unique, dry, medicinal, almost harsh, woody smell that really benefits from being tempered with other scents. Traditionally, that role has fallen to rose.
Pure oud is too thick to spray, so oud oil is dabbed on the skin. Discovering and smelling oud was an amazing experience, but oil-based scents weren’t really doing it for me and oud and rose combos weren’t either. At the end of the day, I was intrigued by oud, but it wasn’t love….yet.
I really came to appreciate oud when I tried Al Oudh by L'Artisan Parfumeur. What a beauty this fragrance is. It’s heady, mystical scent conjures images of cool desert nights and caravans travelling on the Silk Road carrying riches, spices, food, incense and gold.
Al Oudh opens warm and spicy with caraway, dried fruits, cardamom, caraway and pink pepper. the spices are balanced by sweetness from dried fruits – I smell dried Medjool dates. Orange blossom rounds out the opening and sets up the oud. As I learned that day in Paris, oud can border on harsh, but here it’s linked to a note of smooth leather that softens the oud. Now its flower time: neroli picks up from the orange blossom and is joined by rose and iris. This bouquet adds a gorgeous floral depth to the oud. Castoreum, carnal and animalic, becomes a smooth seducer when flanked by oud and rose. Saffron helps by adding an intimate softness as incense gives Al Oudh a lovely smokiness. The base is woody from Sandalwood and cedarwood, with wood faceted patchouli adding a dark earthiness. Civet keeps the seduction going as the sweetness of warm, balsamic myrrh brings Tonka bean and vanilla forward. Musk is here to smooth it all out.
The drydown is complex: spicy, warm, sensual, floral, a little bitter and just sweet enough. In Al Oudh, the oud isn’t hidden or tamed, instead it is embellished in a way that makes it refined, sensual, exotic, and irresistible.
The beauty of Al Oudh is that It's ancient and contemporary at the same time.
Now, this is an oud I can love.
Check out Al Oudh in our Shop.