One of the many things I love about traveling to the Gulf is shopping for oud (aloeswood). While I have yet to find pure oud wood or oud oil that matches what I can get locally here in California at Oudimentary. During my travels (almost all the Oud I have seen in the Gulf is waxed, which ruins the natural smell of burning oud) I always enjoy smelling the new Oud mixes by regional and global perfume houses. Three years ago I visited Saudi Arabia and you could see the beginnings of the big global perfume companies making oud fragrances for middle eastern markets. Today you would be hard pressed to find a major player in the global perfume trade who does not have at least one oud fragrance on the market.
Like most things in life my tastes have changed with age, I used to love pure oud and would wear it almost daily, but as I started to get into the mixes I found them to be more balanced as a daily fragrance. This is a short list of ten of my favorites as of now, almost all of which could be worn by men or women and are sold generally as unisex perfumes. While it is easier to find these scents because they are concentrated together at shops like Areej or in the Duty Free shops in the airport in the Gulf, in the United States you can find most of these fragrances at Neiman Marcus. Click on the name of the perfume in each section to see more in depth reviews by Fragrantica.
Leather Oud?—?Christian Dior
On this trip, my favorite Oud mix was surprisingly Leather Oud. I say surprisingly because when you first spray it the leather notes are very strong. I sprayed this for the first time before a short flight and I spent the next hour and a half smelling my hand and was amazed by the depth of this fragrance. It is such an incredible fragrance because it transforms every 15–20 minutes and the Oud base notes stand out beautifully. It is also one of the longest lasting oud mixes I have ever worn.
Oud Royal?—?Giorgio Armani
Oud Royal was by far my wife’s favorite fragrance on our trip, this unisex perfume has long lasting but light oud notes. However, because of the amber and floral notes you could say that this fragrance leans towards a feminine smell. More than anything I think it is a balanced and beautiful fragrance.
Mukhallat al Shams?—?Ajmal
The strongest Oud fragrance of all the perfumes on this list and also the hardest one to find in the United States, Mukhallat al Shams is a classic fragrance. Founded in India, Ajmal is today headquartered in Dubai. Mukhallat al Shams is the lightest of three perfumes in this series with each step up representing a more pure oud smell (try Dahn Oud al Shams if you want something stronger). We also like the new series from Ajmal called W, especially the Amber Wood.
Check out this video on the future of Oud and the competition of all these international brands featured in this article by Abdulla Ajmal the general manager of Ajmal perfumes.
We spent a lot of time in the Amouage shop in Abu Dhabi that was attached to our hotel, while the range of this Oman based perfume company is incredible, this scent stood out as my favorite. In Amouage’s general line of perfumes they use one color and one name and then make different Men’s and Women’s fragrances tied to each of these. Honour for women stood out as a soft floral scent that was beautiful in its depth.
I received Oud Maliki as a gift after I first fell in love with it back in 2012. Chopard is known more for its over the top watches and jewelry than its perfumes, but this is a long lasting beauty with deep oud notes. While I really do like this perfume the spicy cinnamon like notes in it make me take long breaks from wearing it.
Oud Tobacco?—?Tom Ford
Like most real oud enthusiasts, one of my favorite things is to wear oud in layers where you dab the oil and then burn oud wood on top of it for an entirely deeper and transformative smell. I knew I loved Oud Tobacco by Tom Ford the first time I tried it precisely because it smelled like this long lasting fragrance of oud wood burned over oud oil. I am also a fan of oud fleur in this collection, and less so of Tom Ford’s oud wood.
Oud Ispahan?—?Christian Dior
Oud and rose mixes are one of the oldest combinations in the long history of perfume. Oud Ispahan is a deep oud and rose fragrance that has a balance in a way that other oud/ rose mixes cannot come lose to. The key with this type of mix is not allowing the rose to totally over power the fragrance as is most often the case. That is what makes this perfume special as the oud stands out especially as it dries down.
Precious Oud?—?Van Cleef & Arpels
Precious Oud is another floral fragrance that we recently ran into at Nieman Marcus after we returned home. The oud balanced with jasmine, tuberose petals, amber, vetiver and sandalwood create a beautiful fragrance that is more likely to be worn by women.
10 Corso Como
10 Corso Como was one of the first European based fragrances to really embrace the power of oud. This perfume was first released in 1999 and is considered a classic with its notes of rose, geranium, vetiver, musk, sandalwood, oud wood resin and incense.
A number of fragrances from Amouage caught our attention, from their library series, to epic man, interlude man, and one of their newest fragrances journey. Definitely worth a visit to one of their shops if you are in the region though we have also seen their perfumes at specialty perfume shops throughout the United States.
Editor’s note: This article first appeared on Ummah Wide.