Newly felled logs left in a pile get rained on overnight. A cat that has eaten something it shouldn’t have comes by and voids its bowels. The following morning, the work of stripping the logs begins: bark and woodchips fly, sap flows, a cloud of damp and earthy wood scents hang in the air. Next they are sawn into planks and left in the golden sun to dry, before being brought indoors, where they ooze their inviting, new-minted odour, driving you back again and again to where they are stored. Their scent changes in shades all the time, deepening, getting more and more civilized, picking up traces of honeyed floor wax, but keeping the rush of fresh sawdust about it.
This is Oud 27 for me – the wood is mainly an inviting sappy, sweet cedar which gains sandal accents over time as the aroma profile ‘dries out’. The oud could be the faecal emanation at the start (soon gone), or it could be the peppery dryness that lingers over the whole, but it’s not the focal point, in fact it seems not to be the point at all. As a straight up woody, this is a strong offering.
A fun musky incense rose oud with a shock opening. I bought a small bottle of this that I went through about 1/4 of before giving it away to a friend that liked it. At the end it began to feel dated. How about that--oud started to feel so dated in 2015 that I didn't want to wear it, despite that I have never smelled an oud fragrance on a living person besides my sister, since no one wears anything at all. Still, oud and Iso E cedar have become the ubiquitous "last decade" fragrances.
This one’s pure fun to me. It’s the most synthetic, rubbery, spacey oud on the market, and I kind of love that about it. It has almost no connection to actual oud (it's clearly Givaudan's Black Agar blend), and it’s like marinating in saffron and damascone beta. The overall result is a jammy, berry-like latex with some hardcore civet thrown in. It takes the whole Western wimpy "oud" concept and Westernizes it further with hilarious results.
It’s probably the most chemical smelling scent Le Labo has released, but I actually think that’s part of its weirdo charm. It’s also not something that you could wear on a regular basis—at least I couldn’t—as it’s strong and cloying at first. Upfront, you get honeyed damascone berries and civet, then the “oud” creeps in with “saffron” by its side, and from that point on the scent is basically latex gloves and skeezy florals. It’s sickly at first, but it sorts itself out a bit after a few minutes. The base seems to be a pedestrian vetiver/cedar combo, but I found that much of the scent fizzles out before it really gets to that point anyway.
If someone were shopping for ouds, I’d keep them far away from this one. But if that person needed a great scent for a trip to the circus, I think Oud 27 would be ideal. It’s fun, blaring, and super weird.
Le Labo’s Oud 27 starts off as equal parts smoky saffron, aggressively medicinal oudh, and animalic leather; somewhere between Alan Cumming’s signature fragrance and Montale’s Oud Cuir d’Arabie. The oudh soon softens to reveal a more conventional conifer wood accord that smells to me both of juniper and cedar. The animalic component also drops out almost completely with about a half an hour of wear, so that for most of its life on my skin Oud 27 is a surprisingly crisp, cool, and translucent fragrance centering on frankincense, saffron, and woods. Unfortunately that life is abruptly truncated at close to the two hour mark, after which a very faint, dry, woody base note (the guaiac, I presume,) is all I can detect. Anticlimactic and disappointing after such a distinguished start. My advice: don't buy this without trying Oud Cuir d'Arabie first.
It's been stated before but bears repeating that Oud 27 was one of the first few niche oud scents to show up outside of Montale. At the time, its leathery saffron and upfront birch tar earned it a reputation as quite animalic, but now that we've all smelled dozens more of these, including truly animalic stinkers like Al Aoud and Bond's Harrods Swarkovsy Oud, Oud 27 feels quite tame by comparison, more like something CDG would do than the smell of a true fecal oud.
That being said, I still think Oud 27 is great. The rubbery oud plays against traditional sandalwood and a pinch of rose for sweetness, while smoky saffron lends strong leathery support. Over time, the birch tar picks up the heavy lifting, while the smoky woods settle into a slow burn. There's no barnyard stink or any of the moldy band-aid smells that typify real oud - this is an oud for fashionophiles at Barneys, not locals at a Cambodian bazaar. It's quite beautiful, though in a very dark way, but if you're looking for the huge stinker promised in the early reviews, you may be disappointed.