Oud is known as the “five thousand dollar per pound scent”. Oud or Oudh is by far one of the most expensive raw fragrance ingredients in the world.
Also known as agarwood this essential oil is extracted from the fungus-infected resinous heartwood of the agar tree which is a member of the Aquilaria tree.
These trees are primarily found in the dense forests of Southeast Asia, India and Bangladesh. It is either extracted by distillation from the wood or by melting the resin.
It is believed that for every ten trees in the wild, only one will have an infected heartwood. The higher end perfumers seek out these older trees because of the superior richness of the resin’s aroma. Unfortunately, many of these older trees are considered threatened species.
As the resin is only triggered by the formation of the mould, it is estimated that a total of two percent of these trees produce it.
The annual Oud market is established at around six billion dollars and its value is often estimated as one and a half times the value of gold which is why it is often referred to as “liquid gold”.
It has been reported that it can cost five thousand dollars per pound. Oud retailers often sell a three-gram bottle for three hundred dollars.
They claim that only a little oil is needed per application and that one bottle should last the average daily user a whole year.
The fragrance is comprised of many diverse aspects. It is extremely pungent, yet very pleasing, invoking warm, smoky notes with tinges of dampened wood and subtlety blended with hints of floral and fruit, the predominant scent is musky and sensual.
The very aroma of this exquisite fragrance is a precious, rare and intriguing gift of nature that when blended with other essential oils creates an olfactory experience of opulence, luxury and supreme serenity.
Historians can trace the use of Oud back to ancient times, there is evidence that lies within the scriptures of various ancient cultures.
The Prophet Muhammad held the tradition of fumigation with agarwood, which is a practice that continues in the Muslim world to this day.
The holy Prophet referred to agarwood as a distinct item found in Paradise. In Hebrew tradition, The Song of Songs describes Oud as a form of incense and King Solomon as “coming up from the desert like a column of smoke perfumed with myrrh and incense”.
Early records in Vietnam dating back to the third century A.D. refer to the extraction of agarwood and the export of Oud to China and Japan where it was burned for centuries as incense.
Wealthy Chinese ancients were known to make their coffins out of resinous heartwood. There is also a strong association of this aromatic substance and the tradition of Fengshui.
In Buddhist tradition, the most precious string of beads numbering to 108 is made of agarwood. Historically the Islamic world valued the precious resin as both an essential oil and a personal perfume.
As the use of Oud spread to Europe, the royalty of France, particularly Louis the XIV who was known for his outrageous indulgences loved the fragrance so much he washed his clothes in Oud.
In today’s world of fragrance formulations Oud has become one of the most popular and has gained a lot of interest. Some famous designers have even launched their own fragrance utilising this cherished essential oil. Some examples include Giorgio Armani’s Oud Royale and Tom Ford’s Oud Wood.
In the 1980’s the rise of boutique hotels gained momentum and with it the rise of a new travel experience with rare and exotic scents catering to those with luxurious tastes and for whom money was no object.
When putting a perfume composition together Oud is usually the base note which stays on the skin long after the other notes have dissipated.
Base notes form the foundation of any perfume as they are rich, heavy and long lasting. They help to enhance the scent of other ingredients and in some cases impart a fragrance of their own.
Most wood notes are known for their earthy qualities, Oud gives a pleasant, sweet scent and is often provided in a synthetic version because it is so costly to harvest.
One amazing fact about this exquisite essential oil is that it has many applications that range from spiritual to therapeutic and medicinal.
It is considered a highly effective aid for meditation and is often associated with harmony, serenity of spirit and when applied regularly, the removal of destructive and negative energies in the home. It is also known to enhance mental clarity and ease neurotic and obsessive behaviour.
In the Middle East both men and women burn Oud wood chips to scent their houses and their clothes. In the Muslim religion they believe that their prayers rise with the scented smoke of agarwood and are carried straight to the creator.
The master perfumers are meticulous in their selection of essential oils which are always the foundation of any new fragrance and at the helm of the perfume industry their expertise is clearly exemplified in the development of many unusual fragrances that stimulate the human imagination and pleasure the senses.
The chemists and researchers that work painstakingly behind the scenes developing new formulations are equipped with the best state of the art tools that money can buy and work in a state of innovation within the world of industrial science.
The following five blended fragrances all contain the exotic power of Oud as their base note:
Olive Blossom Oud
The olive tree has been cultivated for more than seven thousand years and although its blossoms are flowers their scent is not floral but more earthy and sophisticated.
It has top notes of lemon verbena, juicy, mild and zesty tangelo and pink grapefruit, middle notes of green olive blossom, musty cyclamen, metallic, marine violet leaf and gardenia with a base note of warm smoky Oud, patchouli and rosewood. This particular scent works well for both men and women.
Tonka Oud Patchouli
This is a warm, juicy and citrusy blood orange together with sweet, floral and fruity wild berries providing the top notes of this fragrance. These fade away to middle notes of rich jasmine, lily rose, light, floral and bitter neroli and musky rose. The base notes of this fragrance comprise of smoky, musky and fruity Oud, patchouli, amber and vanilla almond tonka bean, fruity cinnamon, saffron and spicy clove.
Black Musk and Oud
This essential oil is derived from natural sources. It is a very strong black musk with an equally potent Oud oil. It has top notes of sweet, dark berry-like cassis, grapefruit, pomelo and spicy bergamot together with middle notes of lily of the valley, violet and jasmine and base notes of a woody musk, smoky and fruity Oud, patchouli and vanilla.
This fragrance is floral in character and possesses top notes of mandarin, lemon and lime and pear. The middle notes are rose, jasmine and magnolia with base notes of leather, patchouli, musky Oud, amber and musk.
The top notes of this fragrance include lemon grass and citrus rind with middle notes of floral, banana and ylang ylang, vetiver, tea tree and jasmine together with base notes of sandalwood, Oud, patchouli and oakmoss.