Raw Materials OUD SERIES: This is the Smell of Oud Oil

OUD SERIES: This is the Smell of Oud Oil

02/24/14 19:37:14 (10 comments)

by: Jordan River

Private Collection: Neeshee Pandit from Oud Impressions
Private Collection: Neeshee Pandit from Oud Impressions

WHAT IS THE SMELL OF OUD OIL?

While I am an Oud Collector I would not consider myself a connoisseur, yet! Today we are learning from an Oud Connoisseur, Neeshee Pandit. Neeshee's parents are from Gujarat in India and he grew up in the USA. He now resides in Hawaii and collects oud oils from all over the globe.

Private Collection: Neeshee Pandit from Oud Impressions
Private Collection: Neeshee Pandit from Oud Impressions


Peace, Neeshee. Please share with us an introduction to the smell of Oud oils.
 

"It is my pleasure to be participating in the Fragrantica Oud series. You have asked me to describe the smell of Oud, but this is a very challenging task.

"I remember the first time I smelled Oud. I was celebrating my friend’s birthday and we were drinking tea in the traditional Japanese manner. At a certain point, a white strip of perfume paper with a drop of Oud oil on it was passed around. I had absolutely no idea what Oud oil was at that time, but everyone who had smelled it before kept saying that I had to smell it, and that there was nothing else really like it. Finally, the strip came to me, and as I brought the fragrance to my nose, I was immediately captivated by an aroma that was unlike anything I had smelled before. I would best describe it as a woody aroma entwined with a more pungent smell that I could tell would be off-putting to many. Yet, even with those two identifiable aspects of the aroma, I found it impossible to really describe what it was that I smelled. I could not say why it was so complex, so mysterious, so intriguing; except that it was.

"It was not too long after this that I found myself traveling in India for a few months, with only that brief impression of the Oud aroma still deeply ingrained in me. I was possessed with the desire to discover this tantalizing aroma. I went to various Attar shops in India only to find packaged fragrances called 'Oud,' which were really poor synthetic perfumes that attempted to imitate Oud. It was obvious to me that those products were nothing like what I had smelled. They smelled flat, one-dimensional, and full of a chemical edge that I found most unsettling. Finally, I found a shop that had Oud oils. It was in this shop that I smelled Oud again and found a similarly intoxicating aroma to what I had smelled before. I later discovered that these oils were not pure Oud oils, but were adulterated with synthetics and thickening agents (which, unfortunately, is the case 99% of the time). Nonetheless, it is remarkable to me that many Oud lovers first smelled Oud in a highly impure form, and were still utterly captivated.

"Of course, it is the 'fecal' (or 'barnyard') aroma of Oud oil is what stands out to most people when they first smell it. And most people, at least in the West, will find this aroma to be most off-putting. We are culturally patterned to detest and to be repulsed by 'fecal' odors. But I would assert (and many perfumers would agree) that such primal odors are actually the most alluring, the most intoxicating, the most tantalizing (see pheremones). Despite all of this being the case, the fact is that only a small variety of Oud oil actually express a funky aroma—and that is mostly due to distillation techniques (such as extended periods of soaking of wood prior to distillation).

"Another anomaly that is present in trying to describe the scent of Oud oil is that almost every descriptive adjective in the aromatic lexicon is potentially applicable to Oud oil. In Oud oil, I have smelled flowers, grasses, rainforests, trees, herbs, spices, resins, and woods. Remarkably, almost every genre of perfumery finds itself represented in a single aromatic: Oud. I do not know of any other aromatic that has such aromatic diversity and complexity. This is why, even though Oud oil is technically an essential oil, it boasts an intensity and complexity that make it nature’s greatest perfume.

"In truth, words will always fail Oud oil. They can never do it justice. It has a mystical allure, an ineffable intoxication, an aroma unable to be rendered in words. It can all be described, and on my website I do my best to give accurate descriptions of an Oud oil. But really none of those descriptive elements truly capture Oud itself. It is a deeply sensual—and for many a spiritual—matter. However, it is also true that Oud oil has been misperceived to be a purely 'stinky' fragrance, and this could not be farther from the truth. In order to really understand the diversity of this essential oil, regional variation has to be examined—and even beyond this, distillation technique plays an incredible role in determining scent profile.

"All of this said, I would describe the core scent of Oud as a resinous-woodiness that is continually in motion, evolving as it is worn. Truly, the best way to discover the pure Oud scent is to burn Oud chips. The scent of gently heated and highly resinated Oud chips is the central and defining aroma in highest quality Oud oil."

Neeshee,  Oud Impressions


Thank you, Neeshee, for your educative words.

If you are a fragrance lover I recommend adding one Oud oil to your collection. The point is to let it age. Open the bottle and smell it once a year to observe the deepening of the scent. Many collectors also swipe Oud to relax and contemplate the universe; the universe within, without and the universe contained within a drop of Oud oil.

Next week we will explore the regional differences of Oud oil sourced from different terroirs such as Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Bhutan and several other places.

Further Reading:

Jordan River is the host of The Fragrant Man and also writes for Olfactoria's Travels and Australian Perfume Junkies.

He recently covered the first harvest of Santalum album sandalwood grown in Australia. Jordan has been been reading Fragrantica and other fragrance websites for many years and enjoys the confluence of subjectivity, knowledge and opinion. He is not a Perfume Pontiff and is always happy to be enlightened by your own knowledge and challenged by differing opinions.

His high rotation 'fumes are Jubilation XXV, Cuir 28, Fate Man and Puredistance BLACK. Special occasions scents include Cuir de Gardenia, Spiced Citrus Vetiver, Ensar Oud Oils and RealOud Feral.

 



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sir reeksalot
sir reeksalot

i bought a tiny bottle of oud that was dirt cheap on ebay . hoping it was at least a watered down oud i bought it.i'm sure it is patchouli and real barn floor extract because it stinks. the bottle cap has a cute emerald as shown in the videoTHE MAKING OF 99.99% PURE OUD OIL on youtube.now i fear contracting some disease like hepatitis or something.one drop though added so much character to my cologne that had too much safroline.i think i will stop using stuff i aint familiar with before i get cancer or something.i will stick to birch tar oil instead.why didnt i just use patchouli?
Edit: i am using about 100 ml ethanol in my colognes so i'm hoping it will destroy any bacterial.please say it will kill fecal matter bacteria!say it will!say it will! oh i wish i was back in kansas! i will never do bad things again,i promise.
Edit: Edit: i googled ALI IBN ADAM and this is what my product is apparently and they have an awesome store!!!i am impressed and their shipping all the way from france was like 4 days.such a glamorous store using barn scrapings???

Jul
24
2016
Angela Agiannidou
Angela Agiannidou

Only the other day, counting my own little collection, I was wondering what is about oud that makes it so special. So I was glad to read this article and realise that no one can really put words into this magic and elusive ingredient. One either likes it or not and yes, this barnyard smell has an almost primeval appeal. For me the pure version is for a personal time, but mixed with rose and saffron is my all time favourite.
Great article!

Apr
16
2016
matty64
matty64

The ouds I have are all different and complex. I would say that the most pungent I own is feral, not fecal. My fave sounds like the description of the Cambodian, Oud Kampuchea. Good sniffing, everyone. Matty

Apr
15
2016
artisy
artisy

Fascinating! I have seen Oud mentioned several times without the slightest notion of what it was or how it smelled. It looks like I have some sniffing to do. This was enlightening.

One scent fanatic told me it can smell deeply pungent...she likened it to bleu cheese...that raised an eyebrow - but I'm now presented with the idea of fecal matter. I think that tops!

Apr
15
2016
Muznabutt
Muznabutt

Cant get enough of this series!! Just got some Oud Cambodi...the real stuff and its lovely. Look forward to next weeks articles, thank you so much for this series...i have alot of oud based perfume oils (too many) and am now moving to the pure oud oils

Mar
03
2014
chayaruchama
chayaruchama

I never tire of your e plorations and interviews, Jordan.

Feb
25
2014
wprotz
wprotz

I have Black Oud by LM Parfums and I like this. You'll feel very sexy while wearing it.I will enjoy to try in future RealOud Feral.

Feb
25
2014
powdernose
powdernose

I've read through Neeshee's site before. It is a great reference. Unfortunately Oud is too rich for my blood, and there's such a worry of adulteration. The best I've experienced have come from REALOUD of Phoenicia perfumes which I own and from the Xerjoff oud stars series. I'm also very fond of Kurkdjian's Oud though. A truly fine interpretation, chemical or otherwise.
One day I'll splurge for pure oud oils...

Feb
25
2014
kinetisphere
kinetisphere

Pure oud does smell like a barnyard! However you have to give it time to settle. It changes over the next couple hours into a slightly heady very mature deep and dark aroma. Though i only bought a 3ml bottle it gives me the impression of what ouds potential is. Just like any tree from any area they all have a distinct aroma. That is the appeal to me.. to try all the various versions.

Btw i'm a westerner and i love raw oud oil. I just make sure to wait a little bit before leaving the house. Most people aren't ready for such a pungent smell wafting towards them.
It is also great for layering!
Lastly i made my own rose/oud/musk mix that has been macerating for the past month and believe it or not. The fecal smell isn't there!
It smells like a clean semi sweet supple rose that slowly dries down into a sweet soft musk. Lasts for hours! On hours! And creates a medium-sized scent bubble.

Oud is awesome! Now on to the next version!

** disclaimer. Oud is quite pricey. And i have still to this day find any fragrances that truly has an oudy smell. All perfumes so far are watered down versions of the real deal.

Perhaps i'll try the realoud perfume i read about in the last article.

Thank you fot this write up mr Jordan. Take care,be blessed

Feb
25
2014
jeca
jeca

This sounds magical! I'd like to smell it ;o)) Everyone, for example, at exhibitions, insists that only they had in their fragrances the most real oud ever found ;o)

Feb
24
2014

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