For me, this is the missing link between Malle’s Musc Ravageur and Amouage’s Jubilation XXV. It combines the half-doughnut, half-perineum aspects that I like so much in the first with the uplifting fruit and incense/oud combo I like in the latter.
It opens on a note of sugary sweet dates, cumin, and cinnamon, with a powdery musk underneath, and reminds me strongly of the gourmandish properties of both Musc Ravageur and its cheaper cousin, Meharees by L’Erbolario. I really like Musc Ravageur. I know that many in the perfume community turn their noses up at it, saying that it’s vulgar and flashy. But that’s part of its appeal for me. It’s the olfactory equivalent of a massive neon sign flashing the words “FOOD” and “SEX” in hot pink above a lonely highway at night. I like that it smells partly like a massive pile of vanilla-glazed doughnuts and partly like a hot, naked man who hasn’t washed in days. Al Oudh does this but in a sheer, light manner that seems like it would be easier to wear during the day.
The cumin note is quite strong, recalling both the flat breadiness of doughnut dough and male armpits, a kind of spicy and stale smell that I find quite alluring. Anyone who likes the hot cumin note in Puredistance M and Bel Ami would find the treatment of the spice in Al Oudh to be along similar lines – a bit dry and brutal at first, but ending up as an attractive warm skin note.
The oud note is subtle, and reminds me a little bit of how the oud in Jubilation XXV stays in the background as one woody note among many others. Al Oudh is predominantly a spicy, woody fragrance rather than an oud-focused one. It is lightly musky and animalic, I would say, rather than heavily so – and certainly I can’t detect much of the civet or castoreum that’s supposed to be in this. But there is a gauzy, sweet animalic tone to this that I like very much, and the typical L’Artisan transparency makes it an attractive daytime option for when my heavier, skankier scents are just not appropriate. I could see myself wearing this one with abandon in summer even!
Projection and longevity are terrible. But this is a problem with most L’Artisan Parfumeur scents (although I am sure they see it as a feature rather than a problem). I also have to say that the higher-than-average LAP price for a bottle of this is not justified. I wouldn’t buy a full bottle of this unless I found it at half-off, but I am certainly thinking about getting a decant and playing around with it for a while.
Velvety, sweet, slightly soapy woody notes (sandalwood, maybe cashmere wood), mellow aromatic herbs (sage?), a rose breeze, a whiff of incense and a subtle rubbery-medicinal whiff on the base – the agar wood – which smells really discreet, also somehow sugary, blended with a leather note which is “tiny” but rich, somehow like in Dzing! by the same house. Basically Al Oudh smells like a sort of transparent, “clean” rewriting of many Western oud scents, particularly those on the sweet-woody side, just much more tamed down and with a more discreet, posh, light appearance as per style of L’Artisan Parfumeur (for me it’s just a consistently repeated flaw more than a style mark, but to each his own). I appreciate in particular the refined complexity of the texture, which smells initially thin but solid, and the nice bright counterpart of powdery notes which perfectly balances the cozy woodiness. So what’s the issue? The evolution. Not because of its persistence, but because in a matter of minutes it all becomes in my opinion a close-to-skin, completely negligible synthetic woody incense with a vague spicy feel (tonka above all). Somehow oudish, but yawn. Something fades away, something just becomes duller, it all lands on a “woody designer from the 2000s” territory. I am even a moderate fan of the genre actually, but they cost a third of this - for a reason. The opening phase is nice, but then, meh...
What a terrible cheapskate artificial juice, i mean the whole line seems like some cheap stuff which you can easily find at your local mall or something.
Typical Duchaufour's creation, spicy and incensey in execution with a leathery and animalistic substance, an orangy-rosey touch, green aromatic patterns and traces of final resinous temperament. Orientalistic. The dosage of aoud in here is anyway less impressive and far more attenuated and subtle than in several creations from Montale, Bond or Nasomatto for instance and is blended in low amount with a concert of (spicy, earthy, animalic, liturgical) elements in the way the scent comes out subtle and complex without a strong and powerful sillage. This fragrance is oriental and mystic in perception even if in my opinion it does't reach the "holy" levels of the spiritual Dzongkha. Al Oudh starts very spicy-herbal (with Nasomatto Hindu Grass's nuances in this phase) with a strong presence of black-rose pepper, cumin and cinnamon. This prickly molecular dust gradually introduces a leathery base with animalic traits from (minimally appointed) civet-castoreum and with the hallmarking support from neroli and rose. The latter are perceivable many hours over the first spray when the dust is in part tamed and the basic resinous smoothness is playing its role. The base is all smoked woods, herbs, roots and incense with a touch of "sticky" myrrh and soothing vanilla. The note of incense is with neroli, patchouli, resins and rose the key element because its echo spreads the reflection since the beginning. The final issue is a refined and aristocratic, dry incense-orange with prickly, woodsy and creamy nuances, ideal for a proud insight in the bon-ton and culture ambiences.
Bertrand Duchaufour’s recent Havana Vanille for L’Artisan Parfumeur was quiet and short lived on me. Not Al Oudh, which arrived right behind it this winter. Al Oudh is a robust, assertive Orientalist composition that sets incense, animalic leather, fruit and spices alongside its titular ingredient. Anyone expecting the kind of stark, piercing oudh-dominant arrangement Pierre Montale offers in Black Aoud or Oud Cuir d’Arabie will be disappointed. Al Oudh’s structure and development are complex and its mood dark and weighty, but the oudh note is more of an ensemble player than a soloist. In its ingredients* and general style Al Oudh is more akin to Jubilation XXV, which Duchaufour composed for Amouage a couple of years back.
Al Oudh’s opening is a busy assemblage of citrus, spices, and saffron that leaves an impression of heat and a tart prickle in the nose. Frankincense and the unmistakable medicinal accent of oudh fall into place with a few moments, while the scent begins to darken and sweeten under the influence of vanilla and a potent dried fruit note. These notes arrange themselves around a rose, patchouli, and leather core in a configuration that delicately balances the sweetness of fruit and vanilla with the astringency of the incense resins. Over the course of hours the sweet hay flavor of coumarin (tonka bean) and the otherworldly tonic of myrrh emerge to reinforce each end of the structure. As a result, Al Oudh gains density while retaining its overall balance.
Online reviewers are divided over a cumin note in Al Oudh. Some enjoy it, while others find it intrusive, or even repugnant. I don’t find Al Oudh’s cumin all that conspicuous, especially in comparison with scents like Eau d’Hermes, Cologne Bigarade, or Diptyque’s L’Autre. Then again, cumin smells to me like an ingredient in south Asian cuisine, not unwashed armpits, so I don’t object to it on principle. Al Oudh does have an animalic aspect, courtesy of civet and castoreum, but they contribute to the scent’s dense, warm foundation rather than acting as conspicuous individual notes.
Al Oudh is tenacious on my skin, and it wears for a solid six to eight hours before drifting slowly into a cedar, patchouli, and powdery vanilla drydown. It doesn’t strike me as a gender-specific scent, but its weight and intensity might make me uncomfortable in an office setting. I enjoy Al Oudh’s assured character and I think it extends the L’Artisan Parfumeur line (if not necessarily Duchaufour’s creative range,) in an interesting direction. It’s certainly worth sampling if your taste favors the dark and exotic.
* The two scents have in common coriander, Atlas cedar, frankincense, rose, myrrh, patchouli, and (yes) oudh.