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  1. #1

    Default What should Oud wood smell like ?

    Its obvious Oud is the next and trend or fad if you will and Im gettign ready to order some samples so I get the right idea of what true Oud Wood smells and should smell like. Without ordering the actual Oud oil itself (too expensive) how does one get the right idea of what Oud smells like so one doesnt get caught up in the synthetic trap ?

  2. #2

    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    I would say just buy some wood chips and decide yourself which ones do it justice maybe. In the purest form people burn or smoulder the raw agarwood chips.

    There are countless threads on oud here though and many interpretations of pure and mixed versions as with most any wood.

    Original Santal for instance really smells nothing like raw sandlewood.

    Good luck !
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  3. #3
    DuNezDeBuzier's Avatar
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    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    This is all so subjective. The 'right' idea? What it 'should' smell like?

    In my experience, I've done: M7, various Montales, Tom Fords, L'Artisans, Kilians, LeLabo, Oudy Woody (lol, and ), various tolas from different sources, Perfumers Apprentice Oud & Black Agar, Dior's Oud Leather, etc., to develop a pretty good idea what the Oud smell is all about. I don't have the funds to go after the higher end oils that many here could vouch for. While I'm sure those are simply divine, perhaps you don't have to go that far to get a good and accurate idea.

    Now... some synthetics (I assume most if not all of the above use synthetic) may be better than the real thing. It is, afterall, a harvesting excercise with geographical variance. 'Better' being the totally subjective and controversial operative word. It all depends what you're looking for in the fragrance.

    There is a group in the community area of these boards that goes into impressive detail on Oud. You might want to acquaint yourself with some of those marathon discussions and sample away.
    Last edited by DuNezDeBuzier; 13th January 2011 at 06:04 PM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    Not sure what it should smell like, but what it does smell like to me is a strong, burnt, rubbery, rotting wood smell - but in a good sort of way.

  5. #5

    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DuNezDeBuzier View Post
    Now... some synthetics (I assume most if not all of the above use synthetic) may be better than the real thing. It is, afterall, a harvesting excercise with geographical variance. 'Better' being the totally subjective and controversial operative word. It all depends what you're looking for in the fragrance.
    I am yet to see a synthetic oud that can even begin to approximate the real thing, let alone be better. Granted, there are some nasty oud oils out there (the great majority of the cheap stuff sold on the net, in fact), but a really good pure oil like some of the stuff from Oriscent (especially their Borneos), Agar Aura (Cambodi Royale, Purana, Malinau), ASAQ (Thaqeel, Kalakassi) and Oudimentary (KSSS) are in no danger of even being imitated by mass-produced synthetic "oud" fragrances. There's just no comparison (which is a sad thing since the real stuff is very rare and very expensive).

    It's not difficult to sample good oils as Oriscent, AgarAura and Oudimentary all offer small samples. It won't be cheap, but a heck of a lot cheaper than buying full bottles of oud oil just to find that oud doesn't work for you. Since only microscopic quantities are needed for each wearing, these samples should be easy to re-sell at a price close to the original value. I'd consider this a much better investment than buying the super-expensive (for what they are) bottles of By Killian, Le Labo, or Tom Ford. Seriously, using these "ouds" to try to figure out what the real ones smell like is like trying to ascertain what real tropical fruits are like by chewing a stick of Juicy Fruit or sniffing some "fruit-scented" magic markers.

  6. #6

    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Igor01 View Post
    Seriously, using these "ouds" to try to figure out what the real ones smell like is like trying to ascertain what real tropical fruits are like by chewing a stick of Juicy Fruit or sniffing some "fruit-scented" magic markers.
    so true. I believe in technology, and I'm not by any stretch a synthetic basher. In fact I hope someone goes headspace technology on fundamental ouds. But I haven't smelled anything that correctly approximates actual oud.

    while I'm no expert, in my experience there are three types of ouds. dry fruits tobacco caramel; herbal astringent bitter; musky hay animalic.

  7. #7

    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DuNezDeBuzier View Post
    This is all so subjective. The 'right' idea? What it 'should' smell like?

    In my experience, I've done: M7, various Montales, Tom Fords, L'Artisans, Kilians, LeLabo, Oudy Woody (lol, and ), various tolas from different sources, Perfumers Apprentice Oud & Black Agar, Dior's Oud Leather, etc., to develop a pretty good idea what the Oud smell is all about. I don't have the funds to go after the higher end oils that many here could vouch for. While I'm sure those are simply divine, perhaps you don't have to go that far to get a good and accurate idea.

    Now... some synthetics (I assume most if not all of the above use synthetic) may be better than the real thing. It is, afterall, a harvesting excercise with geographical variance. 'Better' being the totally subjective and controversial operative word. It all depends what you're looking for in the fragrance.

    There is a group in the community area of these boards that goes into impressive detail on Oud. You might want to acquaint yourself with some of those marathon discussions and sample away.
    So, question.....How is Oudy Woody? Ive thought about picking up a bottle myself. And as for perfumers apprentice black agar and oud, how are they on their own?

  8. #8

    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    Quote Originally Posted by sarıpatates View Post
    so true. I believe in technology, and I'm not by any stretch a synthetic basher. In fact I hope someone goes headspace technology on fundamental ouds. But I haven't smelled anything that correctly approximates actual oud.
    I may be wrong here but my theory is that the complexity, depth and dynamic range of the real (good quality) oud oils is due to an incredible diversity of different types of molecules, while a synthetic "oud" can never have the same variety of all those isomers. And those complexities and variations can be huge even in individual trees from the same patch of the jungle, influenced by a myriad of factors like soil composition, type and progress of the infection, tree's age, humidity, whether the tree is still alive or felled, how the oils were extracted, whether they were aged and countless others. I think it is not impossible to do some real scientific analysis of various oud oil types and figure out which molecules are responsible for the magic but I doubt that it's a practical undertaking - even if financially feasible, the question remains how all these molecules can be synthesized in a commercially viable way, if at all.

    Similar story with sandalwood - creating a synthetic santalol is a perfected process but achieving the diversity of different variations of santalols found in the real oils is either impossible or so impractical that it's impossible for all intents and purposes.

    Quiptos' suggestion to get a bit of real oud chips of good quality to burn or better yet, heat on an electric incense heater, is an excellent idea. While the aromas of the chips and extracted oud oils would not be identical, burning oud should give one a pretty good idea what the real thing should smell like. And even mid-grade chips should yield very pleasing results without the challenges of the funk or steep learning curve that some of the oils, especially Indian/Chinese/Lao may have. I'd personally get a bit of Cambodian, Borneo and Indian ones and start from there. This can be done for a small fraction of the cost of one bottle of Tom Ford's Oud Wood (which is a misnomer and a half...)

  9. #9

    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    What's a good source for oud chips?

  10. #10

  11. #11

    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    I really dont understand what is so compelling about this scent other than I love it on certain occasions. Why is there such a big race for these companies to produce the best Oud product ? Im really not interested in the synthetic versions. I shouldnt need to buy a wood burner to find this out. I guess if im that interested I will have to buy an oil or wood chips and a special burner lol.

  12. #12

    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    Nersh, you don't really need to buy the electrical burner, one can manage with just an improvised holder fashioned out of a bit of aluminium foil, you can hold it over your stove top or even a candle flame, it won't be as good as an electrical burner or as traditional as charcoal ones but should still work. You will just need to figure out the proper temperature and control the burn by adjusting the distance between your make-shift holder and the flame or heating element. It's a lot easier and more enjoyable with an automatic electrical burner which allows you to dial the right temperature and lets you enjoy the aroma without any mess or the need to worry about holding the foil right etc.

    If you do decide to get some oud wood and have to get just one or two, try a good Cambodian and/or Indian. Borneo chips are not as intoxicating to my nose for some reason even though the oils from that region are some of my favourites.

  13. #13
    vita odorifera
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    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    I thought i knew oud a little bit, but one day i was at a mall in Dubai and smelt this dense and heavenly fragrance in the air. Of course i traced it to its source and it was an Arab shop with an ethnic oud chip burner going at full blast at the doorway. I spent a few good minutes just letting the smoke infuse into my clothes. My appreciation for oud soared after that experience.
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  14. #14

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    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    The real oud oils I have smelled are musty or rather moldy smelling. They haven't smelled like the oud notes you find in popular fragrances.

  15. #15

    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    I believe oud wood smells dry, spicy, and somewhat animalic. Based on my experiences with oud. I also used to have some agarwood incense sticks that gave me this same vibe. Personally, I'm not much a fan of oud wood.. I prefer sandalwood and cedar.

  16. #16
    DuNezDeBuzier's Avatar
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    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    Mr. Nersh,

    A couple years ago, I had the same question as you in your OP. Above, I shared my experience. I am but a simple old-school wet shaver! I am no expert, but can be rather opinionated at times. Eventhough I sit here, before readying myself for work, burning myrrh resins at 6a.m., I made the choice to sample the various fragrance offerings and to buy some of the cheapie tolas and not so cheapie tolas. I chose not to buy wood chips and burn them. It simply seemed too much a hassle at that time. Still does but that could change. Cambodian, Indian, Borneo etc... Is your head spinnin yet? You know TPC and LuckyScent, right... sample away!

    This thread can go in any direction, but I tried to answer in the context of what you shared in the OP. It all depends so much on what you want. Do you want to jump into the deep end of Oud or do you want to kind of wade in from the shallow end? Me, I'm coming at it from shallow end, no doubt. As you probably can tell, there are bn'ers that are passionate about Oud. Some have chimed in on this thread. I respect their insight and opinions immensely; it's some of what make basenotes such a great place. They're upper level classmen and me, I'm Oud 101 or maybe 201.


    Mr. mdtroyer,

    Oudy Woody is an obvious(?) synthetic take on Oud. It is rubbery, leather, wood. Should sound familiar. Its price point is such that I blind bought on a lark. No regrets. Context is important, however, and my approach is that of a hobbyist/collector/DIY'er. I make my own. I also decant and adulterate some of my purchased frags with animalics and other materials. That is how/why I came across Perfumer's Apprentice. Now, again, others might tell you how the Oud and/or Black Agar from that vendor are for shite and have absolutely nothing to do with any smell common to Oud etc., but do yourself a service and go there (and other places) and see what they're about. They offer up small quantities of some of the same materials used in modern perfumery. I enjoy the Oud and Black Agar. The Oud, I've mixed with some of their Suederal at 8% concentration level or 'juice'. Same with the Black Agar. They are not complex, but I enjoy them. And when the Christian Dior Leather Oud arrived recently, I already knew that smell and quite honestly had already covered it rather well if I do say so myself.

  17. #17

    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nersh View Post
    I shouldnt need to buy a wood burner to find this out. I guess if im that interested I will have to buy an oil or wood chips and a special burner lol.
    Not quite. You can burn on charcoal blocks, but that's messy, requires extra equipment & will consume an expensive piece of agarwood in minutes unless you indirectly heat a mica plate. Or you can improvise a heater from what you have around you.



    I used a hotplate, wire gauze with a ceramic center & found a temperature which produces a nice slow vaporization of fragrance without all the smoke. Not pretty, but functional. I usually have to turn up the heat as the odor diminishes to squeeze out the last bit of fragrance. Don't sniff the wood itself, it's hot! Waft the scent towards your nose. Be aware that the scent of the pan/plate that you heat the wood upon can contaminate the wood's perfume. Clean ceramic or tinfoil should work fine. Heat the material & sniff from a safe distance when in doubt.

    EDIT: But, seriously, burning real resins, woods & flora on a charcoal block can be a remarkable experience; don't discount it!
    Last edited by Castrensis; 14th January 2011 at 12:26 PM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    Quote Originally Posted by DuNezDeBuzier View Post
    Mr. mdtroyer,

    Oudy Woody is an obvious(?) synthetic take on Oud. It is rubbery, leather, wood. Should sound familiar. Its price point is such that I blind bought on a lark. No regrets. Context is important, however, and my approach is that of a hobbyist/collector/DIY'er. I make my own. I also decant and adulterate some of my purchased frags with animalics and other materials. That is how/why I came across Perfumer's Apprentice. Now, again, others might tell you how the Oud and/or Black Agar from that vendor are for shite and have absolutely nothing to do with any smell common to Oud etc., but do yourself a service and go there (and other places) and see what they're about. They offer up small quantities of some of the same materials used in modern perfumery. I enjoy the Oud and Black Agar. The Oud, I've mixed with some of their Suederal at 8% concentration level or 'juice'. Same with the Black Agar. They are not complex, but I enjoy them. And when the Christian Dior Leather Oud arrived recently, I already knew that smell and quite honestly had already covered it rather well if I do say so myself.
    Thanks DuNez,
    I think i may ask for a sample of Oudy woody after my next zahras purchase, sounds interesting. Also, i am definitely going to go to perfumers apprentice and purchase their beginners perfumery set, plus iso e super, ambrox, black agar, and oud. This way i can learn how to recognize the oud note in most modern perfumes, along with being able to modify/make my own scents. Thanks for the advice! On a side note, i just had the chance to sample rose oud from kilian, and i have to say that i am underwhelmed. It smells like many of the attars offered at zahras, which can all be bought at much cheaper prices.

  19. #19

    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    I think that the smell of burning oud wood and the smell of the oil are quite different. IMO you cannot get a complete idea of what the oil smells like based on the wood itself. But it is certainly a wonderful smell!

    I do agree with Igor that the smell of good quality oil is nothing like the oud smell in most European perfumes that use oud. I am not a big fan of these Euro oud fragrances. They seem to be pretty popular now, but to me they all pretty much smell the same, and the oud note just isn't what I've become accustomed to living in the Middle East. To me it comes across as thin and one dimensional, like a cardboard cutout of a living person. Synthetic or not, I find the use of oud in traditional Arabic style fragrances to be much more enjoyable than how it is used in European fragrances.

  20. #20
    PerfumeCollector's Avatar
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    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    Let me understand your question first.
    You asked What should Oud wood smell like? right?
    No Oud oil would give you the exact smell of the wood, so do not try to answer that question by smelling different oud oils.
    Closer, but not by that much is the burning of oud chips. I lived in Kuwait for 3 years (the war) and visited UAE and Bahrain. In those countries almost every local shop have oud burners and the intoxicating smell of burning oud penetrates the whole shop and it is a pleasure to do business in that ambiance, but now with Starbucks, McDonalds and other american and european business invading the place unfortunately that tradition is being lost and every day there are less and less of those shops, so if you want to live that beautiful experience go to the middle east ASAP.
    The wood itself has a much better aroma than oil and/or burning, it is a sweet, amazing aroma hard to describe. intoxicating, that literally transports you to a feeling of calmness and happiness. You have to try it.
    But going back to your question, knowing what oud wood smells like will tell you nothing what an oud perfume smells like and vice-versa. So if you question was directed on knowing what an oud perfume smells like, just try oud perfumes, not the wood.

  21. #21

    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    very medicinal like cough syrup

  22. #22

    Default Re: What should Oud wood smell like ?

    Quote Originally Posted by mdtroyer View Post
    So, question.....How is Oudy Woody?


    Seriously for those who like to wear excessive amounts of Amouage Epic Man while working on greasy combustion engines in a garage where gasoline was used as a solvent to strip paint from antique wooden furniture.......your budget grail has arrived !

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