Must Love Oud.
Thirty-Three features some of the strongest oud I have come across, paired with a rather beautiful rose and a surprisingly quiet patchouli (no wonder really, having to compete with an oud like that). I feel like there is more going on than that but it's supremely hard to sort out, given the sheer force of this trio. This is not to say this fragrance is abrasive or unpleasantly strong; it radiates with an intense softness which lasts until the next day and then some. The market is currently flooded with rose/oud duos but this offering simply nails the style and sticks the landing.
33 gets its name from the Chinese oud oil used in the fragrance, which was aged for 33 years before its release in 2013. Mind you, since I’m finally trying out my sample of this in 2016, I think that means that I am wearing 36. Nevermind - this is basically Montale’s Black Aoud done with very high quality rose oil and (supposedly) real oud oil instead of a synthetic replacer. To my nose, it is also much stronger than Black Aoud and lacks the soapy, musky dry down that always proves to be such a letdown in Black Aoud. If you love the Montale, then you will love this – it’s a definite upgrade. Personally, I am over this exact type of sourish, high-pitched rose-oud combo that has proved to be such a popular shorthand for that special, exotic Arabic “flavor”.
33 is incredibly strong, and is possessed of an oud note that smells like the real thing – rubbery, woody, balsamic, but with slight bile or fecal aspects that might be off-putting to the uninitiated (but who, these days, is uninitiated into this style of rose-oud?). It is joined by a really earthy, almost fungal patchouli – properly “damp cellar” in tone and effect. More than animalic, though, this oud and patchouli duet proves to be sharply medicinal and hyper-clean, like hospital corridors washed down with disinfectant.
You have to really like this style of oud to like this fragrance – and don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy it. But only once in a blue moon, these days, because, honestly, I am so over the sourness of this combo. It’s not a comfortable wear for me – not anymore. I feel like I am constantly bracing myself when I put it on.
The rose note is excellent in 33. It emerges like a boss following the piercing oud note in the topnotes, and from there on in only grows in sweetness and jamminess, serving to sand down the corners of that rubber/medicine-like oud. In the second half of the fragrance, the oud note disappears and the rose takes over, rendering it in all intents and purposes a strong rose perfume with some dark patchouli/oud inferences.
I’m not saying 33 is not a good fragrance – perhaps it is even a very good rendition of the tired rose-oud category, and it for sure is miles better than the famous Montale example. But from a personal perspective, I am done with this kind of fragrance. I already own Rose Gold Oudh, White Aoud, Midnight Oud, and Red Aoud, and that really is more than enough for me (actually for anyone) in this category.
This is another in a long line of rose and oud scents. Although much more appealing than Ryder, this is nothing to cause a stir. The rose is never hidden, and the woody undertones stay relatively dry, with moderately entertaining faint florals and peppery spice. This is never offensive, but never memorable either. It does possess great longevity and projection on me. A pass and neutral thumbs.
A spicy rose-oud scent as much decent as dull and in the vein of dozens of others, from Montale to Xerjoff to well, two thirds of niche brands. I admit though, that this may sit just a tiny tad above many of them, because of both some moderately interesting nuances, and its overall quality. The smell is in fact enough thick, faceted and natural to result in something a bit (just a bit) more intriguing and fulfilling that several other average niche oud scents. Both rose and oud seem good quality, especially the rose note, which has a quite appealing texture of soapy, resinous, camphorous nuances, a bit as in Aramis Calligraphy Rose, with some sharp sort of spicy edges (I get cloves, definitely, and pepper). The same for oud, it smells a bit flat, but not overly artificial to my nose, and cleverly toned-down to act more as just a smoky, weightless, kind of cold yet gloomy dry-medicinal base for rose. I appreciate so much the absence of any cheap dry rubberiness as in the near totality of synthetic ouds.
Besides the faceted rose infusion, the “interesting nuances” I mentioned (interesting for me, of course) would be mostly a deeper woody-smoky-peppery vein with a sort of dry-mossy feel which kind of reminds me of some vintage masculine chypres (I guess it’s patchouli), that sort of austere dark green-mossy dryness with camphorous nuances infused with a hint of dusky flowers (rose) and something reminding me of civet – that peculiar sweaty-indolic-sultry feel. I see no civet here, but I believe that oud plus some sweet nuances and the powdery feel of the floral notes may create something like that. They create an overall sort of cold, dirty feel, which is quite fascinating – as long as it lasts (not much, sadly).
And that was the good part, basically. Fun subtle variations on a trite theme – this leading us to the bad side of this scent: rose and oud combos and variations are so ubiquitous, so abused and over-done, that it’s really hard for a scent to stand out, especially with absurd price tags such as Ex-Idolo’s ones. Thirty-three is somehow nice, it is refined and competently put together, but not really enough for being bottle worthy in my opinion. I mean: it’s decent, but it’s still just rose and oud again. So many others are equally nice and are cheaper than this. If it cost a third of its price, I’d consider it fine, but for $185 / 50 ml I want something outstanding, magic and memorable, and there’s none of it here (for my idea of “outstanding, magic and memorable” applied to a rose oud scent, just check any Abdul Samad Al Qurashi fine oil).
At my first wearing, this was my impression. Maybe my nose is not sensitive yet, but this one did not impress me. It seems better for a serious man. I like a lighter scent that makes me smile, not brood.
Edit: one month later 11/11/2015 wow, this is something else. I love the heart and the base. The rose is simply beautiful and full bodied and luscious and wrapped in something I can't put my finger on. The base is wood and flower. A beautiful perfume. The top note smells straight up like a tire, but once you get past that..it's heaven. This is going straight to my full bottle purchase list.
15th November, 2015 (last edited: 16th November, 2015)