Dominant rose atop 'westernized' oud, i.e. synthetic medicinal. N-u-c-u-l-a-r strength. Projects for light-years. Lasts for eons.
As with many others, dialing in on the proper dose for this one makes all the difference. Half spray around the navel works for me. I'm not into big florals yet I've got a softspot for rose. The thing is, I don't want to smell like rose to others, rather I want to be distracted from time to time throughout the wearing with a hint or notion that there just might be a vase-full in the vicinity. A little bit of Black Aoud does it well and for a long long time. Too much and it's a no-go however. There are things worse than gassing out a room by smelling of a ton of roses, but still.
So...this is my fourth Montale experience and I hate to buck the trend but I just do not get it. I really want to LOVE one of Montale's offerings because I am searching hard for an affordable dark rose fragrance. And I like oud when blended (not as a solo note). Unfortunately, this fragrance is a major no-go for me.
In one word, this fragrance seemed "messy" when applied. Like others, I was curious about Montale's "ouds" and I hoped to experience a few fragrances...try to understand the hype. Like ALL the Montale fragrances I try, the opening of Black Aoud smells like an aldehydic, alcoholic, almost medicinal concoction that literally hurts my nose. Sensing a headache, I feel confused & dizzy...almost sick. I can barely tolerate the development of this fragrance on my skin because for nearly 30 minutes, Black Aoud is all over the place but consistently harsh harsh harsh...LOUD and almost vulgar.
After 20-30 minutes, I detect a bit of rose and BOAT LOADS of patchouli (which I really dislike as a primary note). As others have noted, Black Aoud is a loud, over-whelming, synthetic rose-oud fragrance that is not dark, rich, complex or mysterious. Resinous patchouli...that's about it. Pretty linear in the end with little development and no complexity.
But unlike the other Montale fragrances I tried, the longevity on Black Aoud is strong and silage is pretty high. Hate to say this but I had to scrub, eventually shower and wash all my clothing. And still, this fragrance persisted.
The house of Montale and I do not get along. This is another definite pass.
Montale’s entire existence is basically structured upon their ability to create a hundred or so variants of their house aesthetic — a crass take on Eastern perfumes that are well balanced, but tend to smell dodgy. The archetype for their success seems to be built on a blueprint that sits somewhere between White and Black Aoud. Black Aoud plays the standard Montale hand of rubbery saffron, spices, a woody-ambery base, and “rose," but in Black Aoud the focus in shifted more toward the rose that dominates much of the scent. This one is, first and foremost, and bitter rose. It’s green and a bit stemmy, and it’s undercut by saffron and spice. And that’s really all Black Aoud is. The usual woody base is there, cranked up to comedic levels, and it’s synthetic as all hell. Like the rest of Montale’s Aoud scents, there’s no oud in it — just a synthetic replacer that does the job perfectly well, but doesn’t smell much like oud. It’s really the model for everything that Montale does: vulgar and trashy, but dramatic, characterful, and somehow likable. It might smell cartoonish, and it’d be hard to pull it off tastefully (extremely low doses?), but it does what it sets out to do and makes no apologies along the way. It’s sort of the olfactory equivalent of standing in the middle of a public space and screaming “Look at me! Look at me! Everybody look at me!” over and over. You have to love rose to enjoy this one—well, rose chemicals at least.
Black Aoud is the benchmark for rose oud fragrances in modern Western perfumery. The problem with benchmark fragrances is that, just like in the computer industry, competitors come along and move the model forward or improve upon it, so if you circle back to try the prototype after having tried the mutations, like I did, it can seem like going back to a typewriter after having worked on a laptop. Black Aoud seems static and unexciting to me after having been wowed by some of the great riffs on the rose-oud-patchouli theme, like Rosam (Histoires de Parfums), Rose Gold Oudh (Tiziana Terenzi), and Rose Nacree du Desert (Guerlain), as well as brutally synthetic when compared to real oud oils.
It is worth trying only if you are curious about what Montale’s oud accord smells like, because it is presented in exemplar form here – it smells alcoholic, high-pitched and vaguely poisonous, like sticking your nose over a pan of vodka off which you are boiling the alcohol. Personally, I get a desiccated rose petal note only in the opening, after which it is pretty much this boiling-alcohol style of oud accent until you reach the drydown, which is more pleasant and based around a bland patchouli and sandalwood pairing. I don’t know where all this talk about a dark, masculine rose comes from. To me, this is an almost blindingly bright and synthetic rose-oud that is neither very dark nor mysterious. It doesn’t evolve much and just sits on the skin, belching out these objectionable, almost brutal rubber oud fumes for a few hours and then nose dives into that pale patchouli and sandalwood combo.
I am in the minority on the longevity and projection also – it may be the newer, weaker versions I am testing (a mini directly from Montale Paris and a recent sample from a respectable web retailer), but the scent is extremely weak on my skin after the first couple of hours and I can barely perceive it after five hours. It is perhaps worth owning if you are the type of person who likes to collect the important milestone fragrances that have defined perfumery. But above and beyond that – meh. You can do better.
Montale's Dark Aoud is a gorgeous fragrance based on a dark rose note surrounded by patchouli and a deft, delicate handling of oud. The agarwood (oud) is less prominent, and creates a rusty deep woody background with the patchouli, letting the rose shine. The result is a deep, dark, haunting fragrance with great evocative qualities. It makes you dream of the orient, of the cosy alleys on dark cold evenings, of fragrant bazaars, and the alluring charms of an unseen land. It is not the most versatile fragrance, but who cares. It's a pleasure to wear on the right occasions, and is a very personal scent, much like another great oriental - Chergui. Deeply introspective, it has that rare ability to transport you to another time and place.
Wear this one on a winter evening, while reading Dubliners and sipping a favourite whiskey. You will not be disappointed.