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OK. So this is saffron. Now I get it. And I now can say I love it. The bombastic dominating spice at the head, midsection, and tail of Gao is much more earthy and smokey than what I thought to be Saffron in Noir de Noir or Red Aoud. Someone in an initial discussion on these boards likened Gao to other Montale Ouds (Aouds :-), a similarity that I also sense so much to the extreme of confusing this with Black Aoud once some paper strips had been resting a few days. It is the dry down where the similarity is apparent (so I assume a similarity in the oud accord.) Though the rose and saffron are really polar opposites on the dry-and-dusty continuum, Gao carries THAT style of medicinal oud (ala Montale) - whether real or synthetic - for those wondering. This is quite different than the velvety richness of the Laotian Oud in Zafar or the Barnyard sensation of Najaff and perhaps Al-khatt. Still it is fantastic, tenacious, and striking. Thankfully, it does have a softer side, though it never reaches any of the sweetness suggested by notes in the base. Until the peppery saffron ceases, the other players don't really stand a chance. Loud. Spicy. Intoxicating. Magnificent.
08th July, 2012