Well, it looks like Nigel really came through on the old birthday front (thank you all for your kind wishes btw) deciding much against his better judgement to generously give me a big ole bottle of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Al Oudh as his gift. Al Oudh has been sat on my wish list for quite some time now (which makes me wonder why I haven’t reviewed it already) and out of the slew of ouds available I believe that it is one of the few thatt brings something new to the party.
Al Oudh now joins my three other L’Artisans (Vanille Absolument/Havana Vanille, Traversée du Bosphore and Nuit de Tuberéuse) all of which, Al Oudh included, just so happen to be Bertrand Duchafour creations, thus proving that I really do have a “thing” for le Duchafour, and who can blame me? The dude is clearly a genius and with Al Oudh his skill of turning common accords entirely on their head is in full swing.
Bertrand Duchaufour created Al Oudh for L’Artisan Parfumeur in 2009. It’s billed as an exotic, spicy and woody oud with accents of rose and dried fruits. L’Artisan describe it as “the elixir of sensuality itself”, which is a very fluffy way of saying that it is in fact sex on a stick, or sex in a bottle to be more accurate. Al Oudh may not be what you’re expecting from an oud but that is exactly what makes it so captivating.
Top: Cumin, Cardamom, Pink Pepper and Date
Heart: Oud Wood, Neroli, Rose, Iris, Leather, Castoreum and Civet
Base: Sandalwood, Cedar, Patchouli, Incense, Myrrh, Vanilla and Tonka
How Does it Smell?
Al Oudh is not your typical oud, or even your typical rose oud, instead it is a spicy oriental with a deep oud heart. Right from the get-go Al Oudh is heavily spiced and devilishly smoky, dusting a bright red, oriental rose with pepper and great big slug of cumin whilst wrapping the whole thing in a shroud of leather. It is so spicy in fact, it would probably benefit from a slight name change – “Al Spice” anyone?
The cumin stays the main feature for the majority of Al Oudh’s lifespan, mixing with the animalic notes of castoreum and civet to create an all-out funk fest that leads one’s mind to think of hot, sweaty bodies intertwining. I know, I know, I really should keep my mind of the gutter but with Al Oudh I just can’t help it, it is pure filth. It also has a real barnyard quality to it (I like to call this “barnyard chic”) similar to that of Dior’s Leather Oud yet on a more refined and ultimately less pornographic level.
Dried fruit intensifies the sweeter, more gourmand facets of the big clove-y rose that sits along side the oud. Oud and rose are like perfume bloggers and kitties, they go hand-in-hand (or hand-in-paw). Both are rich, complex materials with sweet, sour and earthy notes that play off each other and along with the intensity of the spices give Al Oudh that “arabian nights” feel that is befitting of its name.
Where I think Al Oudh really excels is in the fact that the rose/oud accord is allowed to take a back seat to the woods, spices and animalic notes ensuring that it doesn’t fall into the trap of being an “oud-by-numbers”, as so many on the market are.
Al Oudh is one of those fragrances that is seamless right from beginning to end, I imagine Luca Turin would describe it as having “perfect top down design” and that’s a pretty good way of putting it. Right from the initial blast of heady spices and fruit to the warm base of rich, dry woods and velvety tonka and vanilla, Al Oudh hums along without hitting a single bum note.
Try it, but do so with an open mind. If you’re looking for a big medicinal Montale-style oud then Al Oudh isn’t for you, but if you’re in the market for a heavily spiced oriental that is masterfully crafted in perfect proportion then run, don’t walk to your nearest L’Artisan Parfumeur stockist.
The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Oud
Al Oudh is included in The Candy Perfume Boy’s Guide to Oud as “The Barnyard Oud”.
Al Oudh is available in 100ml Eau de Parfum for £88.
Image 1 news.cnet.com. Image 2 and all quotes via artisanparfumeur.com. Notes vía osmoz.com.