Thursday, December 8, 2011

Arabian Perfume Oils: What Doesn't Kill You Can Only Make You Stronger?!!

The world of Arabian perfumes, oud in particular is my alien territory. These mysterious and exotic perfumes have made me flex my olfactory muscles and use a bit of grey matter as well. Oud especially has grabbed me by my throat and hasn't let go. It is something that I'm undecided about, still exploring and trying to figure out what exactly I'm smelling. If you have read my previous post of my difficulty in liking Oud, you will know what I'm talking about. For me Oud is an acquired taste, that I'm still trying to acquire.

While Montale, By Killian, Amouage, etc are the exemplars of Oud in Western perfumes, Arabian perfumes are a league of their own. In my pursuit to understand oud and in an attempt to experience the "real" stuff, I took a plunge into the world of Arabian perfumes. The brands like Ajmal, Al Haramain, Al Rehab are the much coveted and reputable brands and use oud in the purest form from the sustainable agarwood plantations from all over the world.

Oud being extremely expensive, I looked for a good deal without having to spend a fortune on something I might not even like. I ordered a bunch of oils from an eBay seller, Paradise Perfumes (Thanks Michelle, for introducing me to the store). I gather that the 3 ml roll-on bottles are genuine but these "decants" (or so called "loose" samples) are from generous samples given out by the retailers. This explains the affordable price.

Generally Arabian perfume oils are very concentrated, they are 'blow-your-mind' strong! They can be extremely overpowering to the nose at first. They need time to develop on the skin to acknowledge the presence of oud and fully appreciate the depth.

The staying power is super! It lasts on the skin for the whole day, on clothes forever and I can smell traces on it on washed scarfs and sweaters. May not be a good thing if you end up not liking it!

Most of the Arabian perfumes are linear. They do develop on the skin and change in the intensity but most of these are made to highlight one note, like Oud oil which is all agarwood, Attar which is flower extracts and Mukhallat, a 'mixture' of substances like amber, musk, rose and jasmine with or without oud. More the concentration of oud, more expensive they are.

Ajmal Liquid Gold
Oud is generally referred to as Liquid Gold because of the rarity and the cost. Ajmal's Liquid Gold is textbook oud. At first, it is super concentrated and harsh, just like what oud would really smell like. It transforms on the skin and softens to a woody aroma, still intense with smokyness. The agarwood is nice, not plastic-y and not head achy for me. Even though the agarwood is super intense, it has a delicate nature. With agarwood, comes a light but prominent hint of sandalwood, making it woodier and more exotic. Liquid Gold is earthy and strong and has given me an example of how oud is used in Arabian perfumes. 

Ajmal Red Velvet
Fruity sweet at first sniff. Very strong. This takes a long time to mellow down, even longer than oud. It is like those celebrity fruity floral, only with an edge that makes it superior. I smell apple, melon, cucumber, mild spices like cardamom. It is a really nice perfume once it develops. 

Al Haramain Mukkhalat Burj
It is a rose based perfume. It smells like foody rose and has that Rahaat Loukhum or Turkish Delight feel to it. This perfume is like rose which is processed into a jam of some kind. There is a lot of sweetness which is honey like. The rose is accompanied by some other florals which I can't put my finger on. It is a sweet floral. Not my favourite personally.

Al Haramain Musk Amber
More musk than amber. The musk is black, animalic and raw. I also get hints of oud in it too. I don't get any sweetness that amber should have. It turns into a really enjoyable perfume with the dry down of musk on a soft woody base. 

Al Rehab Sultan
Clean and masculine. Kind of smells like expensive soap. It could easily pass off for a high end cologne. 

My verdict: Arabian perfumes have taken me to a different time and place, a great experience. These perfumes need understanding before liking them. My nose needs to develop more to appreciate them. As for Oud, I am liking what I am smelling. I can appreciate how delicate and intense it can be at the same time. It is a refined taste. Personally, I'm not sure if I can handle oud in its purest form and enjoy wearing it. For me, Oud has to come with some notes I like, to add that special something to the perfume. I'm still partial to Tom Ford's Oud Wood, which is a modern take on oud with some beautiful resins. To be honest, I'm generally partial to modern ouds than traditional ones. 


  1. RED VELVET! OH MY JINGLE BELLS! I NEED IT! I have a thing for red velvet cake. :-p!

  2. Great review, Su. I love how you're brave enough to try anything and everything, not only that, but you give these notes a chance. :)

  3. Great one Su! think i will never have the nose to try these :)
    So would these be the ones we smell when we pass some rich Arab? :o)

  4. Vintage, Red Velvet smells nice! They cost under $10 and last like crazy. Do try :)

    Michelle, I really want to like oud and these kind of perfumes because they have such a great reputation. It is an acquired taste for sure :)

    Gaea, lol I guess a rich Arab would smell like Liquid Gold, very luxurious :)

  5. I totally agree oudh is an acquired taste. The arabian oudh is very different from the one indie perfumes like Solstice Scents, bpal and possets use at least to my nose.

    1. I love indie perfumes so much! These oudh perfumes are strong, like a punch! I may actually enjoy them if they didn't take such a long time to settle on my skin :(

  6. thanks for this review. I've been interested in Arabian perfume oils and feel inspired by your review to go give them a try. can you give a link of the ebay seller you got these sample for and what price you paid.

      Can't vouch for them though. The store seems to be closed right now. Good luck!

    2. Try ARABESDQUE smells and quality !!!

  7. Hey... I am writing an article on Arabic Perfumes for a leading newspaper... Care to share your insights?

    1. Hi yes are you writing reagrding oud perfumes? Or more on european arabian blend types?

  8. Recently purchased Private Blend by Arabian Oud from Paradise Perfumes and Gems, Amazing scent with speedy delivery and friendly customer service. Have placed second order with them...
    Review marks 10/10