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By Michelle Feda

The Middle Eastern fragrance that is making an exotic impact

Oud is one of the most exclusive and popular scents on the fragrance market today. Also known as agarwood, it’s long been admired in the Middle East but has only recently been making a name for itself in Western markets.

When the agar tree becomes infected with the mold Phialophora parasitica, it produces a dark and sticky resin in order to protect itself. It is from this resin that oud derives. Due to the threatened nature of the agar tree – it has been called the most expensive hardwood in the world – oud is a very exclusive ingredient not found cheaply. Once you smell oud, however, you may understand why it is so sought after.

Oud smells warm and woody, with hints of smoke and damp rot. Traditionally blended with warm and spicy notes, such as sandalwood and myrrh, contemporary perfumers are exploring the other sides of oud. While it is a deeply unique scent, distinguishable no matter what it is combined with, it blends beautifully with a surprising range of scent. There are many new and exciting ways in which oud can be interpreted and occasions to wear it.

Everyday errands

While oud is typically considered to be dark and warm, it has a lighter scent as well. Reserve Suede by CLEAN shows this daytime perspective by mixing oud with notes, such as honeysuckle, praline, and blooming jasmine. These floral, sweet notes blend well with oud’s warmness but still allow it to shine through. The overall effect of this perfume is sophisticated and mysterious but not overpowering, making it an ideal perfume to turn heads while walking down the street to the grocery store or the yoga studio. Spritz or dab a little on the back of your neck and leave an alluring trail behind.

Date night

Oud is a scent that is ideal for a romantic date night. The smoky tones pair well with flickering candlelight and may make any companion want to lean in closer for a whiff. Perfumes like Oud and Bergamot Cologne Intense from Jo Malone London capitalize on these sultry scents. Here, oud is paired with floral, dry bergamot and warm cedarwood for a hypnotic and alluring fragrance experience. Spritz a little behind your ears and onto your wrists for a scent that will last all evening – suitable for celebrating a special occasion.

Dinner with the family

There’s nothing wrong with a little tradition. The next time your family is gathered together, cooking the recipes passed down through the generations, try out BERDOUES‘s Oud al Sahraa. With Italian mandarin, Namibian myrrh, and Malaysian oud, it’s a multicultural blend of the richest spices the Earth has to offer. Oud shines singularly here, supported by the other ingredients but not overwhelmed. It’s reminiscent of the Old World in its depth and complexity. Spritz on your chest for instant warmth.

Drinks with the girls

Oud displays its adaptability in Another Oud from the perfumery Juliette Has a Gun. Its tongue-in-cheek name belies the complexity of the fragrance. This time, oud is remixed in ultramodern fashion, paired with sweet, fruity raspberry and ashy ambrocenide. The effect is mysterious in its originality. Entirely unexpected, it’s impossible to forget and impossible to pin down. It’ll keep your friends constantly guessing.


Often considered to be one, exclusive note, oud is endlessly adaptable. It is only the creativity of the perfumer that is the limit. It can be dark and sexy, creamy and sweet, or soft and flirty, depending on the ways in which it is paired and layered. Oud will likely become even more exclusive in time unless the world invests in serious conservation efforts for the agar tree. However, with proper cultivation, we can be enjoying this gorgeous scent for centuries to come.

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