Perfumer's Notes - Oud

What springs to mind when we say ‘Oud’? A soft, velvety, resinous warmth that envelops the senses? Or something more clawing - spicy, sticky and syrupy? Either way, Oud is an ingredient that has been used within fragrance for centuries, and one that is often the source of many questions…

What is Oud?

Oud is derived from the agar tree. When the agarwood becomes infected by a fungus called phialophora parasitica the tree produces a dark, fragrant resin to protect itself. It is this deep resin that is the source of oud.

Why is Oud expensive?

Oud is considered one of the most expensive essential oils in the fragrance world, due the rarity and the extraction process of its raw material. The essential oil is taken from fungus-infected resins in the heartwood of the tree, most commonly found in the forests of Southeast Asia, Bangladesh and India.

The formation of the mould inside the heartwood of the tree is what makes it expensive. Master perfumers, often seek out these older, fungus-infected trees for the superior richness of the resin’s aroma, however it is estimated that only 2 percent of agarwood trees produce it, and many of these older trees are now considered an endangered species.

Always concerned about preserving our environment and always at the heart of the sustainability of our raw materials, we choose not to extract agarwood when using Oud in our fragrances due to its rarity and fragility. The expertise of our perfumers has enabled us to recreate an accord very close to the original smell of oud, but a more sustainable oud alternative.

What does Oud smell like? 

Oud, or ‘agarwood’ sits in the scent category of woods or mosses. As a raw ingredient, it’s described as rich, resinous and musty. However, composed in the right way, that same oud can be elevated to levels of bright-and-breezy freshness you never thought possible. This is the case in our newest fragrance, Oud Éclat.

Taking inspiration from the movement of lead and glass as they both entwine in the creation of crystal to fuse together the beauty of light and dark, Perfumer Emilie Bouge looked to this vibrant gem to get an idea of the sort of contrasts this scent would capture in fragrance form. Crystals are of course composed of light and shadows – and are formed when lead is poured into glass and the balance is just right. This balance is what Oud Éclat pays tribute to.

Unlike many Oud fragrances, the oud can be found in the opening notes with a cashmere wood accord set around a bouquet of tagete. The fragrance soon takes on a more complex and mysterious structure where the shimmering, sugary accord comes into play – offering brightness to offset the oud’s rich deepness, for a mesmerising and truly unique fragrance experience. This blends with fir balsam and nutmeg to bring a complex, almost ethereal emotion to the fragrance and a mossy, musk base, along with the continuation of the sugar note continues long after the first spray.

Whilst traditional ouds can sometimes be polarising, this boasts an appeal which is very much universal and both dazzling enough for the evening yet wearable enough for during the day. Truly a unique take on oud and shows the confidence of Emilie Bouge in re-setting this addictive ingredient.