There is perhaps no other ingredient that has dominated the world of fragrances in recent years like the famous oud. Known for its deep musky aroma with rich and smoky notes, it has been used to some extent by almost all major international perfume designer brands.
While popularity has grown strong in recent years throughout Europe and the Western world in general, oud is an old classic in the Middle East, long used as a powerful component of fragrances and associated with power, luxury and prestige.
What is oud?
The oil is distilled from the resinous heartwood of the Asian aquilaria tree which is exceedingly rare. The distinctive smell that we all recognise is produced when the heartwood becomes diseased with a certain mould, leaving it dark, oily and incredibly dense – creating the perfect situation for this scent to materialise and mature into what is often known as ‘liquid gold’ across the globe.
It’s worth noting here that although many top international brands such as Tom Ford use oud, many mainstream fragrances actually use a synthetic form of the scent, created to be affordable for the mass market with a lower quality.
So what is it that makes the smell of oud so alluring? Despite its hefty price tag, this special ingredient has become one of the most important components of the perfume world today.
Some believe that the scent of oud carries with it a depth unlike other ingredients, which is lower in the composition of fragrance notes and lasts far longer than others, such as lighter citrus or fruity notes.
Others believe that it is simply the distinctive smell that makes it stand out, with an almost overpowering pungent quality that is hard to overlook. Or maybe it’s just the novelty of using an ingredient that is more expensive than gold?
It’s not the first time that culture and fashion have spread from the east partly because of their contrast to Western contemporary fashion and ideas – with an ‘exotic’ feel making it appealing to European perfumers and consumers. Ultimately, it’s a unique smell that continues to stand apart from other typical discount perfumes that can be found with more common components like sandalwood or vanilla.
Wearing a bolder scent is becoming an increasingly popular move when it comes to perfumes. While this type of smell may appear too ‘aged’ or musky for most people – especially younger buyers looking for light day-to-day fragrances – the perception of harsher, more punchy smells is changing and today it symbolises individuality as much as anything else.
For those who want to break away from lighter more predictable scents, oud is the perfect choice that sits at the opposite side of the spectrum, with deeper and longer lasting notes that are perfect for making a statement. Depending on your budget, there are hundreds of options for the daring – or those who would merely like to experiment with something different.
For example, Tom Ford’s popular Oud Wood has been a big hit for those who don’t want to venture too deeply into the world of oud, or even the slightly more punchy Tobacco Oud, which still has a lighter effect than some of the more traditional and high strength oud options.
If you take a trip to the Middle East and some parts of Asia, you’ll even get the chance to make your own scent in certain destinations where perfumery has become an attraction in itself. Whether you are in Dubai and want to mix your own bespoke bottle, or Thailand and have the opportunity to pick up a fairly affordable priced bottle of oud-based perfume, you could pick up a unique oud fragrance while on your travels. It’s not likely that you’ll find oud as a discount perfume that matches other good value colognes and perfumes, but its popularity is still spreading and many retailers offer products at prices that are incredibly good value.