Hello dear Oudh people. I have been ushered gently to this group by Profumo. I am studying all aspects of natural perfumery as a serious apprentice perfumer. The interest having come from an aromatherapy background. I suppose it was only a matter of time before I arrived here.
I have ordered already without your good advice, but as a result, I have sitting on my desk a 3ml bottle and four vials from a very obliging vendor called Bouk from agarwoodoudh who I certainly commend, as he certainly couldn't have bent any further backwards in helping me choose the best one to begin with. The larger one is Cambodian Quadeem and was about as expensive as a newb can manage on a whim. The other four are weeny samples which Bouk has very kindly put in for my learning curve. These are:- Burmese, Cambodian Malaki, Indian Oudh and Cambodian Muataq.
I own an inexpensive, barnyardy, Indian Agarwood from Kanpur, an attar named Rooh al Oudh, and have smelled profumos Caravan No 1. This is the entire breadth of my Oudh smelling experience to date.
Having got this far, I am letting them settle after their journey and i am in the delightful position of being ready to try these. However, having got this far, I thought I should ask for your collective advices on where to begin and what to look for. I don't have much more than a precious drip or two, so I don't want to dive in as a clumsy novice and miss things I should learn from. All advice will be most appreciated.
Welcome to the world of Oud. I am sorry but I can't comment on your Oud's as I have not tried them. However, if you enter the name of the vendor in the search window here you will get a lot of hits and you can see what the other members observations were. I think a lot of members here would agree with me that the top (2) vendors have been Agaraura and Oriscent along with Oudimentary and Enfleurage. Those four you can be assured that their Oils are True and unadulterated. There is also Oudline, OudHassi and R.K. and Sons. and Oud Select I hope I am not forgetting anyone else. Their Oils are also quite good depending on the patch and type. The First Four vendors all offer samples except Enfleurage and the first two of them have Oils that are divided almost in (2) tiers; there is the Luxurious ones (costing between $350-$550) and there is the lesser expensive line (ranging from $200-$350). Oudimentary used to carry a famous Cambodian Oil called KSSS, now in it's a second patch still called KSSS, which "Old Timers" tell me is lighter and less complex than the Old one, I like it very much though and I haven't tested the Old one yet. The last three vendors, and especially Oudline IMHO offer the most bang for the buck. They are not the top or near the top but for everyday use they are excellent value IMO.
Visit the web sites and read here on the Oud thread (the one with the most messages) what other members are saying about the different Ouds. A good way to start is go the samplers way so you start understanding the difference between the regions and what each one of them has to offer and soon you will find yourself leaning more towards one region or the other. Good Hunting :-)
Thank you. I shall go hunting for all comments and knowledge about these. I tried to test just one, but of course just couldn't resist putting a tiny trace of them all on, which was just silly because I am wafting, catching a note and don't know from which one. What did surprise me however, was that the Indian one which I saved until last due to my expectations of a barnyard blast, was the softest and creamiest of all with the least sticking plasterish note. A good lesson to learn first I suspect... to let go of preconceptions.
What is nice for me as an Oudh beginner is that all of these are much more gentle than I was expecting, but are so strong, that this tiny trace of each is gently teasing my nostrils in a dance for attention. These may not be the best Oudhs, and I don't yet know anything about them, but they are already fun and I can sense their potential power when worn in a hot country.
I did like these oudhs, and have found them most interesting to test run, but of course have no idea whether or where these fit into the realms of oudh that everyone discusses. I feel shy on this oudh group because I may find myself relating to the oudh equivalent of ordinary earth with earths' real gold for all that I know. I could have been a little less clumsy with my question. Here are my learner thoughts for what they are worth to more oudh experienced noses.
I went on to buy all four after my samples, and their Khus, Saffron and Mysore attar too. I have no idea what I am meant to be smelling but these are my thoughts about what I have.
Burmese - the softest of the four and the darkest in colour. A warm medicinal resinous with a barnyardy lean. Not too barnyardy, more sappish, quite full. There is a soaring note over the top with the base woody notes far below, reminding me of a bird far above a farm. The smell is like fragrant bird feather dust and earth. Almost an incensy feel about it with a sweeter side leaning towards the idea of vanilla without ever being near. There is a sharp note there of harsh sap, but way away in the distance. The medicine note is almost like a fabric sticking plaster. The sharp note of that being maybe the same as the sap note I am smelling. It lasts for ages weaving between each part like the bird flying nearer and further from each part. This was the easiest to like for a beginner.
Cambodian Muataq - A different more creamy sap, lighter and nearer to the sharper sap notes of Mysore sandalwood. Still with the distinct fabric sticking plaster note but more like the bandage liniment. Not much barnyard in this one, more forest and dark green with dark dank loam.
Cambodian Malaki - Still creamy, resinous, but with a more plasticky elastoplast almost artificial note. I expected to like this the most, yet I liked it the least. It opens into a softer more comfortable place, but is still like an old medicine basket made of raffia that has been left to mildew in a dark corner of a woody floor. It smells as if you have just found it and taken it into the sun and opened it after years of it being there. The sun is drying the woodsy mildew and softening it. I smell the haylike part of the raffia drying and becoming warmer and softer.
Indian oudh - Like cough medicine. Sweet and sickly with piney, lemon sherbet and cherry notes at the first blast. Like a throat sweetie. Full and resinous and it shouts sappy trees and newly cut woods all bottled and trapped and have been arguing with each other inside the bottle. They all shout and fight and fall over each other for attention, each winning a small place and then losing it. It is like a whirlwind of medicinal clamour. The camphorous notes beginning to emerge like the mother, ordering all the others to line up and behave. I smell no barnyard here but the noisy notes are in a barn and settling down to be regulated and calm in a sweeter medicinal woodsy way.
Cambodian Qadeem - A different creature again. Resinous, but sweet without being sickly and without being a childs cough medicine. it reminds me of a more grown up cough medicine, with liquorice or squill and that part is softer and more behind the woods.The woodsy quality is more like a frankincense and myrrh resin than wood. It has also a smoky feel to it that i didn't get in the others. It also has the soaring almost buzzing elements of the burmese one, but more like a bee than a bird. This flying seems to be lower and more amongst all the fragrances of the forest floor all jumbled up. Stems and flowers and mulch with a trace pf propolis almost. This also turns towards the creamier, but more to the harsher sides of honey than vanilla.
Wow, very in-depth analyses - thanks for sharing!
You mentioned the Indian oud doesn't have barnyard notes. Does it at least have some hay going on?
And how's the thickness and color of the Muataq oil? Is it sticky? Is it opaque? Any fruit?
Mumsy, thank you very much for sending me the samples that you did, and for your sweet note. I have checked out each of the oils you sent, and will just offer you a general overview that is as honest as I can be.
I believe there is little to no Oud oil present in these oils. They are highly adulterated with synthetics. I had a hard time detecting any Oud presence in the oils, and the most I could admit is that there may be a little bit in them that is masked by the overpowering quality of synthetics. It is difficult to find pure Oud oil in the general market, and the mass production of it is just that, a production. People are basically manufacturing Oud oils by creating leathery smells and other un-interesting aromas to allure people into thinking that it is Oud, when it is far from it.
The core give-aways to me are: one-dimensionality, lack of complexity, and lack of depth. The oils lack the mystical allure that makes Oud oil such a prized quantity. Even if one only looks at their scent profile, they smell mostly like poorly blended oils, very one-dimensional. If someone had me close my eyes and tell them which oil was Oud and which was not, I would not have been able to identify any of the samples as Oud oils. They do not smell like the distillation of any of the Aquilaria species. Altogether, they do not smell very natural at all, they smell like a synthetic creation.
I hope that this is not news that is too bad! But I had to be honest with you, since you expressed a desire to know the pure Oud note for your perfumery endeavors. I would refer you to my website, www.oudimpressions.com, where I've written many reviews of Oud oils, and also given two main sources for the highest quality pure Oud oil available, www.agaraura.com, and www.oriscent.com, both vendors have some very affordable and fantastic offerings right now! I think as soon as you smell one of their bottles, you will know what I'm talking about!
Thank you again for sending the samples, Mumsy. I wish you the best, and please do not hesitate to ask or make any inquiry of me if you care to know more.
In search of exotic oils I came across a seller who had just returned from India. He had oudh and my curiosity got the better of me. I bought it.
I think I was ripped off. The oudh is from Ajmal and carries the letters D.O - 125 on the label. The oudh is packaged in a silver box with Ajmal written on the box.
The oil has a low to medium viscocity, is brown and has a staying power of less than 3 hours. The fragrance is medicinal and does not change. Just not what I expect based on what I have been reading.
Is there some way that I can verify the authenticity of the oudh? I sent Ajmal an email and they have not responded.
It's most likely legit. D.O. is just an abbreviation of 'Dhen al Oud', and '125' is the batch number. You can see similar examples on page 45 of the Ajmal catalog:
The packaging may have just been provided by the reseller since the oud was decanted from a bulk source.
Ouds from the large perfume houses, while some are quite good, tend to lack a lot of character when compared to the small-scale, "artisanally" distilled ouds. Think in terms of your grandmother's chicken soup compared to a can of Campbell's chicken soup...know what I mean??
If you read through the back-log of discussion you will see mention of a number of reputable small companies and sellers. If you'd like some recommendations feel free to PM me.
I reckon I'll hold onto this bottle.
The supplier will be going to India at the end of March and I requested that he brings back more oudh. Hope I'm not getting myself into a fix by buying fake oudh.
Thank you Oudiferous for all these comments and smelling these for me. I didn't see the responses here until now. However in a perfumers journey I suppose learning to tell one thing from another is as valuable a lesson in a way. Live and learn and move on. The vendor insists these have real B and C quality agarwoods in these brews, along with a secret herbal recipe, so I shall assume his supplier holds the tale. They are all certainly very interesting and unusual smells from whatever origins. It appears that many people purport to be very pleased with them and I have no interest in spoiling his trade. I am utterly unfamiliar with artificial ingredients, so do not have any experience to pick that sort of thing up for myself.
I shall study this forum harder and buy from a recommended source. I was a bit silly to have rushed in, but was too curious.
(Hi sjh, I have no need or reason to fib)