7 best men’s oud perfumes on the market right now
With the pious austerity of Ramadan drawing to a close and the advent of Eid-ul-Fitr set for this weekend, what better time then now, to highlight a commodity synonymous with the Arab world: introducing oud perfumes. Oud is a dark, aromatic resin formed in the heartwood of an evergreen tree native to Northeast India, Bengal, and Southeast Asia. Despite contemporary depictions linking the wood to Arabia, its earliest mention is in the ancient Vedic texts of India, where it has been valued both for its distinctive fragrance and its medicinal properties.
The scent of oud has recently been made ubiquitous in the perfume world, adding a touch of the exotic and the luxurious. With so many fine blends to choose from, this roundup will explore some of the more notable fragrances.
ACQUA DI PARMA COLONIA OUD
This has to be one of the most accessible oud fragrances out there. Though it opens with citrus top notes, any expected sharpness is immediately cut by an elegantly soft oud, clean coriander, and the sweet smokiness of amyris wood, all enveloped by a base of masculine leather and musk. Though it is not mentioned in the list of components, there is a lingering tone of sweet spice running through the blend, something akin to cardamom and ginger, tying all these characteristics together with an exotic flourish.
Typical of the brand’s invigorating colognes, Colonia Oud is perfect for those who are not too keen on heavy fragrances, whilst still retaining the sumptuous essence of oud. This one is sure to be met with appreciation, without being too obtrusive.
Available from £150 for 100ml at John Lewis.
TOM FORD OUD WOOD
Tom Ford’s creation can be considered as one that initiated the trend for oud scents in the fashion world, if not setting the bar. It is an exquisite blend of exotic spices, precious woods, and heady resins that comes together beautifully to create a fragrance that not only gets you noticed, but also transforms with time to bring out various nuances to both the wearer and those experiencing the marvel. I personally love the strong opening of sweet cardamom and floral rosewood combined with a heart of toned down oud, which is offset by soft, powdery sandalwood and clean, green vetiver. All of this dries down with sweet, vanilla-scented tonka bean and warm, resinous amber to conclude with a scent that seems to fuse the best of India and Arabia in one distinctive bouquet.
A warm and woody fragrance to set you apart from the crowd, Oud Wood also feels comfortingly familiar; it is almost reminiscent of the attar stalls of Delhi’s Nizamuddin Basti.
YVES SAINT LAURENT M7 OUD ABSOLU
I remember the original M7 commissioned by Tom Ford in 2002. It was clearly not a fragrance for everyone; almost medicinal in quality, decadent, and extremely rich and heavy with the animalistic notes of agarwood, ambergris, and musk. And so it was reworked in 2011 to make it more universally palatable. It is still a very commendable scent, and possibly one of the closest to a true oud blend of all the ones featured. The mandarin top note is almost like triple sec, fusing nicely with the middle notes of oud and patchouli. This refined tone endures through to the base notes of labdanum ciste and myrrh, giving off a pleasurable dry down of grown up, woody leather and honeyed, almost balsamic, resins.
An intense, mysterious, and seductive fragrance, M7 Oud Absolu provides the perfect catalyst for enticement on a night out.
BYREDO OUD IMMORTEL
Stockholm based fragrance house Byredo offers us two creations centred on oud. Of the two that I sampled, it was Oud Immortel that I was initially least keen on. The limoncello making up part of the top note was far too fresh and fruity; I much preferred the peculiarly earthy, damp aroma of saffron that was prominent in Accord Oud. Upon my return home, the Accord Oud had mellowed to an undeniably floral and powdery feminine scent, whilst Oud Immortel had matured to sheer magnificence. The limoncello had disappeared to give way to seductive incense, voluptuous oud, and smoky patchouli and papyrus.
Oud Immortel is clearly for the distinguished gentleman, one that emanates understated class and style with a proud, ethnic facet.
Available from £130 for 100ml at Selfridges.
COMME DES GARÇONS WONDEROUD
With an entire fragrance line dedicated to incense from across the globe it was only a matter of time before Comme des Garçons brought out an oud scent, and Wonderoud does not fail to impress. With a combination of natural and synthetic wood notes woven through oud and spices, this fragrance emits a bouquet that manages to demonstrate something both modern and traditional at the same time. Blended with clean vetiver wood and a synthetic component called pashminol, that brings out the fresher qualities of sandalwood, this multifaceted fragrance utilises patchouli to assist the dry down, resulting in a smooth and elegant, well rounded finish.
Highly recommended for those that are bold enough to embrace ostentatious individuality, whilst still appreciating the timeless beauty ever present in tradition.
Available from £85 for 100ml at Liberty.
MAISON FRANCIS KURKDJIAN OUD SILK MOOD
A personal favourite out of all the fragrances featured, Oud Silk Mood is part of the Oud Mood collection by Francis Kukdjian, who has been responsible for creating such masterpieces as Jean-Paul Gaultier’s epochal ‘Le Male’ and Narciso Rodriguez’s signature scents. The oud here can be considered the most true, in terms of perfumery, to its original form; it is sharp, sweetly resinous, almost vulgar, and carrying the odour of damp wood. The chamomile adds a touch of herby bitterness to complement that leathery, narcotic scent of the oud, the papyrus brings appealingly clean woodiness, and the dense, opulent rose dances beautifully with the oud throughout to present a fragrance so fine, so skilfully developed, that it continues to alter superbly with every moment, every hour, every day, that it lasts on your skin.
Each fragrance in the Oud Mood line presents its own virtues, and everyone has different preferences. But for the connoisseurs, the true oud lovers, Maison Francis Kurkdjian is an excellent place to start.
Available from £275 for 70ml at Liberty.
AYESHA ZIYA THE OUD
Ayesha Ziya is a new, elite fragrance house that draws on the intoxicating aroma of oud and the Middle East in particular to create its exclusive scents. The Oud opens with a top note of soft bergamot that still manages to retain its tartness and smokiness, evocative of high quality Earl Grey tea. This gives way to a balsamic sweetness courtesy of its amyris heart, which continues to mingle with the top notes for a clean and lively effect on the senses. As it sits on the skin, the fragrance curiously, yet delightfully, takes on an air of powdery white musk and spicy exotic roses. Though it does not appear to contain any oud within its composition, rendering it ever so slightly linear, The Oud embodies the spirit of oud in the Arab world.
This is a wonderfully subtle fragrance for both men and women and captures the spirit and position of oud in the Arab world; it is ultimately the waft that lingers after an Arab Sheikh and his entourage.
Available from £72 for 100ml at ayeshaziya.com.
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