How much oud (if any) is too much oud?

First let me say that I am one who almost always says, “the more the merrier” when it comes to the number of scents on the market. However, in the case of oud, it seems to me that this is more about marketing than anything else. Now it’s true that you might have smelled a “vetiver scent” that most aficionados would say doesn’t seem to have much if any vetiver in it, but with oud the situation seems to be worse, in that you are probably smelling some sort of synthetic oud reconstruction. If I can sum up the notion of a member who seemed to be an oud expert, if you want oud just go ahead and buy oud (don’t buy an “oud scent,” especially not a designer one)!

This brings me to a post to a thread over at

Really looking forward to this. Big fan of the other Varvatos offerings. My only complaint with their other offerings is the longevity.

Honestly people – how can you say “enough of the oud”? If you don’t like oud, skip it. Why limit your options? No one is forcing you to buy it – or even try it.

Does anyone say “enough [amber / lemon / vetiver / vanilla / iris / incense / etc.] scents!” ? No. So why do it with oud? Oud is here to stay. There are a LOT of very original oud scents out there and more original ones coming out each day. I think there is a good chance this will also be unique and original. If not, then it will be a pass. But I am glad for the option.

This was in response to other posts, where the sentiment was, more or less, enough is enough with oud. As to some of the things said in this passage, I think I’ve said (years ago) that there are too many amber-dominant scents and that they all smell close enough to not warrant owning more than one. I don’t know if I would still say that today, but because I’m not a fan of this kind of scent I am not actively sampling different ones. I have a partial bottle of Ambra by Etro and I can’t even remember the last time I wore it (and I have hardly any interest in it).

On the other hand, “incense scent” could mean some very different things (this is all in my experience, just to make that clear), but even here there only seem to be a few different kinds (dry\woody, oriental/sandalwood, etc.). Leather too has a few different possibilities, but the possibilities do not seem to be extensive. In the case of “oud scents,” I’m not really sure what the idea is. The first major player (at least among the American niche crowd) seemed to be Black Aoud by Montale, which featured strong rose. Oud and Roses by Lanvin reminds me more of wormwood than oud and is much softer. In M7, I think of the oud note as a supporting one at best (in the drdyown). Jovan’s Oud Intense is a nicely balanced scent that has a hint of oud reconstruction (I’m guessing). I can’t say I ever think that I’d like to smell strong oud notes, but then again I may have only smelled synthetic reconstructions, for all I know.

I do agree with this person in terms of not limiting one’s options, and I have a feeling I might end up with a few more bottles of “oud scents” because people will trade me for something on my swap list after they decide that they “hate oud.” And I think this is the most important point I can make here, which is that you never know when you might change your mind about a scent. That’s why I’m much less interested in selling or swapping these days. If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you’ll remember that I was surprised at how camphorous I found Joint Pour Homme to be, after not having worn it for perhaps a year. In the past, that quality “amped up” the entire scent but this time I got clearer notes (though that camphor thing nearly knocked me off my chair!). Also, in past wearings the opening notes didn’t register nearly as powerfully, and I seem to have been detecting the base notes more forcefully (though not the camphor as such).

And yes, I know how disappointing it is to blind buy something you think you’ll wear often and enjoy like nothing else, but what I’ve found happens in many cases is that the ones I really enjoy at first I find to be less compelling over time, whereas some of the ones I didn’t like I come to find intriguing and pleasant. Of course in some cases the issue is a bad reformulation, and after sampling the original I realized that it’s something I’d like to own, so long as I know it’s the original. Examples of disliking a scent at first but then wanting it in the rotation include Xeryus Rouge, Uomo? Moschino, Sienna, Set Sail Saint Barts, Heritage, Zino, Ungaro 1, and Carven Homme, with reformulation only being the case, I think, with Zino and Uomo? Moshino (the others either apparently were never reformulated or I didn’t try a reformulated version until later).

As I’ve said before, strange things have happened with my sense of smell over the last several years (though my detection of notes/accord/aroma chemicals seems to grow progressively). In late 2008, I seem to have been afflicted with some sort of “chemical sensitivity” issue, and I mostly wore soft gourmands for a while. My sensitivity remained quite high even though this extreme sensitivity abated after perhaps four or five months. Over the last year or so my overall sensitivity has been low, but I seem to be better at detecting notes, etc. than ever before. My sensitivity to particular things, however, can be very high, such as what I think is camphor or camphorous patchouli (perhaps depending upon the scent). This is a major reason for me to say, “the more the merrier,” since I don’t know what I’ll enjoy when I push the spray button, though I do understand that many people don’t want to or can’t possess a couple of hundred bottles, and so may be irritated by this “follow the leader” phenomenon, the latest and probably oddest being oud.

How many people do you know that have any idea what oud is? I won’t say more because I have no idea if these companies are trying to create demand or if they are trying to “capture” those who already seek oud scents (perhaps they think they can do both). One thing that’s certain is that you can call any scent an oud one and just put a tiny amount of real or reconstructed/synthetic oud, so that the oud fans might buy it while most others will not know what it means (or think it’s something exciting), but the scent itself could be little more than a “generic masculine.” And to me that puts some if not most “oud scents” in the “pet rock” category, but at least in that case something tangible is present! Obviously, the irony is that there are a huge number of “oud scents” available, but hardly any probably contain any real oud. Of those, there may be none in which the real oud contributes to the smell !


Filed under Criticizing the critics.

3 responses to “How much oud (if any) is too much oud?

  1. EDP

    An interesting important statement. Kudos.

  2. DoneWithSmells

    In and of itself oud is too much. The world needs to stop wearing scents. Period.

    • If you don’t want anyone to wear scents then why single out oud? I have tried what is supposed to be “real” oud, but I’m assuming it’s no better than “middle range,” and while I like it, the part that I like usually doesn’t last longer than perhaps two hours. In any case, my favorite “Western oud scent” at the moment is Ferrari’s Essence Oud, but more importantly, I think this kind of oud note can substitute for oakmoss, at least to a large degree (and assuming you don’t hate even the slightest hint of this kind of synthetic oud). That is, it creates a bit of “bite” in the background that provides something of a backbone to certain compositions that seem to need this.

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