So what does oud smell like?
- Very seductive
- Slightly animalic
- Has scent which is rich in nuances, ranging from sweet to earthy
- With some accords of leather and spices
It's exact smell depends on the species of the tree that produces the resin and on the technique used for extraction.
Oud is charming; it is an unmistakable and mysterious smell that you will not easily forget. Oud is full of character and is often combined with floral notes. In the perfume industry, Oud is often used in oriental bases as well as woody and fougère compositions. Oud fragrances without a doubt evoke feelings of pure luxury and exclusivity.
Oud wood and its essential oils are extremely precious and rare and is used extensively in perfumery. One of its great qualities is the long-lasting persistence on the skin. Oud is considered to be one of the most precious ingredients of artisan perfumery.
What Is Oud And Where Does It Come From?
So what is oud? Oud wood, also commonly referred to as Agarwood, is produced from trees of the genus Aquilaria, belonging to the Thymelaceae family. These trees are prone to being infected by a particular fungus. The tree rejects this invasion by producing resin. In this way the wood remains protected. The resinous heart of the oud wood goes from soft and odorless to dark and aromatic, in defense of the fungus growth. The infection can progress from the trunk to the roots making the whole tree dark brown or black.
In harvesting, workers cut the pieces of infected trunk into small flakes that are used to extract the resin. They soak the flakes in water for a few days. Then the wood is left to dry for 2 or 3 days. Finally, the resin is extracted using different methods, that produce oils of different quality. The final product is an essential oil with a woody and enveloping scent. The remaining wood is usually left to dry to make incense.
Agar trees that produce oud typically grow in dense forests in South East Asia, India and Bangladesh. It has been said that only 1 out of 10 Agar trees have the infected heartwood, making it even more rare!
Why Is Oud So Special?
Oud is a very rare scent that is not readily available therefore the amount that is around needs to be savored beyond measure. The oud scent is classified as one of the most valuable and richest raw fragrances in the world.
In today’s world of mixed fragrance formulations, oud is much in demand and no longer confined to perfumes from the Middle East. Some very well-known perfumers have launched their scents using this precious essential oil.
When used in perfume production, oud is most frequently a base note, which tends to remain on the skin long after the other notes have dissipated. Since they make up the perfume’s core, base notes are energetic, substantial and long-lasting (up to 6 hours and more). They help to improve the smell of other components.
Many of today's perfumes feature a synthetic version of oud because the original product is so expensive.
A Brief History Of Oud
Historians have traced the use of oud all the way back to ancient times when it was used in the scriptures of various cultures around the world. Muslims, Hebrews and even Buddhists made use of oud as a fragrance and as incense. The use of oud also spread to Europe, where European royalty used oud as an everyday fragrance.
Even today, eastern cultures often use oud during prayer to get closer to God. The extremely intense smell is linked to the sacred, and in fact oud is called "the wood of the Gods". Oud is also mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible.
In the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, they use both incense and oil, to obtain a longer lasting effect. Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists use incense mainly in religious ceremonies. Therefore, the use of this perfume linked to religion plays a very important role. Some people even perfume their clothes by exposing them to the smoke of burning wood.
In Morocco, oud is considered a real treasure reserved for a chosen few and used during Islamic religious services, such as the Prophet’s birthday. It is also used during meditation for a deeper and more spiritual experience induced by oud's heady and mysterious fragrance.
In Japan they use oud in the Ko-Do ceremony, during which resin and other aromatic woods are burned in braziers. This ceremony represents the beginning of a lifelong journey. In fact, through different enveloping fragrances, it is possible to undertake a spiritual journey.
Indians, Indonesians and Chinese also use oud. Its noble and ancient origins have made it one of the most expensive fragrances, earning it the nickname of "liquid gold".
The Benefits And Uses Of Oud
The uses of this precious essential oil has various forms that range from religious to corrective and remedial. It is usually associated with harmony, peace of the spirit, and if applied daily, the elimination of destructive forces in the home. A beneficial aid for meditation, it is also said to improve mental acuity and ease compulsive and obsessive behaviours.
In the Middle East, both women & men burn oud wood pieces to fragrance their homes and their clothes. Numerous Muslims think that their prayers grow with the scented smoke of oud and are sent directly to Heaven.
Why You Should Try An Oud Perfume
So what does oud smell like in perfume? Sweet, smoky, sexily earthy, oud is all about depth. It is one of the strongest and most long-lasting perfume notes on skin. Oud goes well with vetiver, sandalwood, rose, lavender, geranium and carnation and sometimes with citruses like bergamot as supporting notes.
Oud perfumes are perfect for special occasions, especially as an evening event in cold weather. It can be intimidating to wear oud perfumes for the first time, as they are certainly not for everyone. With oud being such a precious ingredient, and one of the most expensive natural essential oils available, fragrances that contain it tend to be more pricey. But once you get accustomed to the velvety spiciness of oud, it’s hard to forget!
What Does Oud Smell Like? 10 Oud Perfumes
1. Acqua di Parma Colonia Oud Eau de Cologne Concentree
Colonia Oud is an oriental woody fragrance for men.
The opening brings gentle fresh citruses - typical of Acqua Di Parma perfumes. This dissipates very fast allowing the darker notes to come through. The cologne then transitions to an elegant musky almost soapy stage giving room for the beautiful oud and honey smell, with a rich floral background. The dry down has a leathery touch which almost overpowers the oud.
Colonia Oud is very wearable and pleasant. Not much oud though, once you get past the opening, it's more of a soft leather, with warm and fresh spiciness and citrus.
Colonia Oud is very long lasting (around 8 hours) and the sillage is strong. This fragrance can be worn all your round, but it really comes into its own in cooler weather during fall, winter and spring. It is a great scent to wear in the evening for more formal occasions.
Top Notes: Calabrian bergamot, Italian orange
Middle Notes: Agarwood (Oud), Amyris, Coriander
Base Notes: Leather, Sandalwood, Musk, Atlas cedar, Indonesian patchouli leaf
2. Al Oudh Eau de Parfum by L'Artisan Parfumeur
Al Oudh is a Oriental Spicy fragrance for women and men, but it leans more masculine.
It opens with delicious notes of pink pepper, dates, dried fruits, caraway, cardamom and orange blossoms. They fade quite quickly though. A beautiful incense, elegant oud and rich dark leather make up the heady concoction that takes over. This center is supported by iris, saffron, neroli, and rose.
The ever evolving dry down brings its own treasures from the east. Sandalwood, tonka beans, vanilla and civet mix with a grounding musk, patchouli, rich caramelized myrrh all enveloped in a fine cedar.
Yet even then you never loose the incense, oud and leather.
Al Oudh can be worn all year round, but it is really best suited to cold fall and winter nights. It is moderately long lasting with a moderate sillage.
Top Notes: Caraway, Dates, Dried fruits, Cardamom, Pink pepper, Orange blossom
Middle Notes: Agarwood (Oud), Leather, Incense, Saffron, Rose, Iris, Neroli
Base Notes: Civetta, Myrrh, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Musk, Virginia cedar, Tonka bean, Vanilla
3. Versace Pour Homme Oud Noir Eau de Parfum
Versace Pour Homme Oud Noir is an oriental woody fragrance. It opens with a moderate to strong projection of oud, green, sweet resinous, and sweet citrus notes. The opening is mature, delectable, classy, intense, fresh, and inviting.
The oud in this fragrance is dark, woody, rich, but very refined and polished. The patchouli is a very intense, earthy, herbaceous, green, bright, and mossy note that adds a classy, mature, manly and fresh feel to the fragrance.
Oud Noir has a noticeable sweet note; this is a result of the olibanum and bitter orange. The olibanum is a sweet, honey-like, fresh, resinous, and slightly spicy note. Its honey and vanilla-like touches gives the fragrance its uniquely appetizing, and resinous sweetness. Less noticeable are the bitter orange and the neroli with a citrusy, bitter, floral, and sweet accord. Similarly, and close to the citruses are the saffron, and cardamom with a bittersweet, and light spicy touch.
Towards the dry down the sharp notes relax, the edges smooth out, and the fragrance acquires a dry texture. Finally, the initial projection becomes moderate.
Longevity is moderate at about 4 hours, it projects well for about 1 hour. The fragrance loses intensity quickly and may have to be re-applied. Oud Noir is best for colder days in winter, spring and fall. It can be worn during the day or at night, and is well suited to climate-controlled environments.
Wear Oud Noir for formal events, outdoor gatherings, the office and casual.
Top Notes: Black Pepper, Bitter Orange, Neroli
Middle Notes: Saffron, Cardamom, Olibanum
Base Notes: Oud, Patchouli, Leatherwood
4. Gucci Intense Oud Eau de Parfum
Intense Oud is an oriental fragrance for women and men; elegant, quiet, calm, mesmerizing, and classy.
The slightly sweet and minty opening is all about very refined incense. Intense Oud has woody notes over a rich, leathery base while hinting of sweet amber and olibanum.
At the end stage it is very faint but consistent and creamy, which makes it an extremely smooth skin scent.
This is a very beautiful scent that women can carry off with ease.Very long lasting, Intense Oud has a strong sillage that lingers for hours, leaving a dry, smokey oud with notes of cumin. A little goes a long way. It is best suited to cooler winter and fall nights. Wear it for formal, semi-formal and smart casual events.
Notes: Oud, Incense, Olibanum, Woody notes, Leather, Amber
5. Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud Cologne Intense
Velvet Rose & Oud is a dark and romantic oriental floral oud cologne for women and men, but it leans more feminine.
It opens with the oud and then the praline and sweet Damask rose enters the picture. The rose offers up a dark and captivating feel, while smoky wood balances out the rich deep and warm oud. There is a suggestion of clove entwined with the praline. They linger together for a moment until the rose takes over.
This fragrance is deep, glamorous, enigmatic and unforgettable.
It is quite long lasting and the sillage is moderate.Velvet Rose & Oud adds a perfect touch of luxury to any occasion. It is especially good for fall and winter days and nights.
Notes: Damask rose, Oud, Praline, Cloves
6. Golden Aoud Eau de Parfum by Montale
Golden Aoud is an oriental fragrance for women and men, but it definitely leans to the feminine side.
The rose and oud dominate. The mix of other notes is well balanced enough so that the saffron adds a congenial "golden" quality to the fragrance. The most prominent overall note is the oud with a slight leathery twinge to it. The patchouli is very lightly applied - almost unnoticeable, while the saffron and geranium are quite prominent.
This is the most subtle oud in the Montale collection, and one of its most wearable. The oud is light without losing its richness and the rose is wispy and caressing. The other notes add a hint of spice. A truly gorgeous oud perfume that could very easily become your signature scent.
Golden Aoud is exceptionally long lasting with a strong sillage. It is light enough to be worn all year round, however this fragrance really is best suited to fall - day as well as evening wear.
Top Notes: Rose, Geranium, Patchouli
Middle Notes: Leather, Chili Pepper
Base Notes: Oud, Saffron, Teak wood, Cedar
7. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Eau De Parfum
Oud is an oriental woody fragrance for women and men. It is easy to wear, versatile, and smells wonderful - a little sweet, woody and mysterious.
This is the gentlest oud I've ever smelled. The opening promises something fairly strong and sweet, almost caramel or honeyed but the headier opening quickly gives way to a sweetly refined oud and saffron mix. The saffron adds a very subtle earthy roundedness to the oud. The dry down reveals a soft sensual powdery floral oud.
A beautifully refined, sophisticated and romantic oud perfume, this fragrance is exceptionally long lasting. The sillage is moderate.
Oud is at it’s best worn on colder fall nights - a scent for special occasions.
Notes: Saffron, Elemi, Oud, Cedar, Patchouli
8. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud Satin Mood Eau De Parfum
Oud Satin Mood is an amber woody fragrance for women and men. The strong rose accord makes it perfectly suitable for women to wear.
From the beginning, Oud Satin Mood opens up with a clear yet soft oud note, supported by roses. After about 10 minutes, the oud settles down, letting the rose and violet come to the forefront. The rose and violet combination is beautiful - it gives a very clean and soft impression. The vanilla is a soft note in the background. The dry down is just wonderful. It is a fabulous rose mixed with all the sweet and woody notes.
Oud Satin Mood is mature, multifaceted and elegant, and it gets better and better the longer you wear it. This is a perfume that should be reserved for special occasions. A strong scent, it lasts extremely well and remains on the skin. The sillage is equally strong.
Wear Oud Satin Mood on cold winter nights or in fall. Or for very special day-time occasions during the colder months.
Notes: Bulgarian rose, Turkish rose, Vanilla, Oud, Benzoin, Violet
9. Trish McEvoy Black Rose Oud Eau de Parfum
Black Rose Oud is a deep and warm amber floral fragrance for women and men, but it definitely leans more feminine. It was launched in 2011.
If you like deeper, alluring, more mysterious fragrances with lasting, lingering, earthy woody notes then you must try this famous fragrance.
When you initially apply this scent, the black rose petals come through very strongly, with an undertone of woods. However, after the initial dry down (about 20 to 30 minutes), the rose recedes and the other scents start to come out. You can smell a little of the litchi, the raspberry and the oud comes out just a little bit more. You can tell that it is oud, but this is a subtle oud, and very pleasant. There’s also a little bit of spiciness that makes it feel more like an oriental woods fragrance. I can best describe the feeling of this fragrance as elegant and refined.
Black Rose Oud is for a woman who is sure of herself; someone who doesn't fear attention, because this scent is definitely going to draw people to you. It is a very strong fragrance that lasts a long time and has a strong sillage, so take care not to overspray. Black Rose Oud is more of an evening fragrance, and really performs well in cooler weather.
Top Notes: Raspberry leaf, Litchi, Saffron, Osmanthus, Black pepper
Middle Notes: Black rose, Bulgarian rose, Incense, Orchid, Geranium, Papyrus, Cypriol oil or Nagarmotha, Cumin
Base Notes: Oud, Benzoin, Musk, Madagascar vanilla, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Cedar
10. Valentina Oud Assoluto Eau de Parfum by Valentino
Valentina Oud Assoluto is a dramatic rose, oud and leather fragrance for women. It was launched in 2013.
Soft floral notes of rose and prominent leather merged with the scent of fresh orange blossom results in a provocative and beautifully harmonious fragrance. The oud is present, but not overwhelming. The compelling, carnal and voluptuous aroma of the perfume mesmerizes with its languid plush character. This is juxtaposed with the elegant restraint of the wood notes and saffron.
The dry down is all about the saffron and woody notes. Valentina Oud Assoluto is very long lasting and the sillage is moderate to strong - a little goes a long way.
Valentina Oud Assoluto is for the mature and self assured woman. The best seasons for this special scent is autumn and winter. Wear it on special nights out or for elegant day-time engagements.
Top Notes: Cardamom, Orange blossom
Middle Notes: Oud, Leather, Bulgarian rose
Base Notes: Saffron, Vanilla, Woody notes
Questions And Answers
What Are Oud Perfumes?
Oud is much valued by perfumers for its warm sweetness mixed with woody and balsamic notes. It's an aromatic and complex scent. It is used in the form of oud oil or as a resin. When used in oud perfumes, it is most often a base note. More recently, oud perfumes are a hit with both designer and niche brands as they cater for those who prefer a more exotic scent.
What Other Perfumes Resemble Jo Malone's Oud And Bergamot?
- So Yas by Yas Perfumes
- Oud Assam by Rania J
- Verbena Collection - Citrus Verbena Summer Fragrance 2015 by L'Occitane en Provence
Other Oud Perfumes You Should Consider
Although not reviewed in this article, the oud fragrances listed below come highly recommended.