Oud, oudh, aoud, od, ud, oudwood, agar, agarwood… So many names and just one perfume ingredient. It appeared in perfume world suddenly and kind of out of nowhere, literally. During the last few years oud has dominated our noses, perfumers noses and was hidden almost in every perfume bottle! Oud was and still is on everyone’s lips. Numerous oud perfume were released providing various combinations and possibilities of choices making it the ingredient for everyone. With this number of oud perfume every perfumista could find an oud fitting their taste and aesthetics. Oud became fashionable somewhere around 2009 or 2010. I can’t name the first perfume that contained it (if you know it, do tell!) In case you didn’t drill through it’s origins I’ve got this article for you.
To us, perfumistas, perfume is an art. Every bottle filled with perfumed juice is a one, the most portable object of art, admirable, desirable, bringing love, envy, hate… They say that art, no matter what kind of art we’re talking about, requires sacrifice. This applies to perfume as well and this applies to oud itself. When we’re talking about oud, you need to sacrifice a tree. And it’s not a first tree you see in the park. It has to be tree from the species of Aquilaria or Gyrinops. Those trees are native to southeast Asia – they grow in India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, but India is the homeland for those tree species.
Every living organism tries to protect itself from harm when danger occurs, right? Aquilaria or Gyrinops are attacked by a specifid kind of ascomycetous mold, Phaeoacremonium parasitica.It’s a dematiaceous (dark walled) fungus. Once this fungus infects the tree tries to fight back and prevent the infection. It does so by producing a resin infused with many volatile compounds. These chemical substances cause fungus to grow slower. The wood colour is originally light, but it becomes darker, it’s mass and density increases with the time of infection. Unfortunately for the tree this is a fight between David & Goliath. Fungus grows quickly and it dominates over a tree, killing it slowly from it’s core… Sad and bit painful, but true.
When the infected tree is dead it can be cut down and then cut again into small pieces so that they can undergo a process of hydro-distillation. This technological proces uses hot water and steam to extract all aromatic, volatile compounds that were dissolved in the agarwood resin. When this process is done you obtain a pure essence of a tree, an oud extract. Have you ever thought about why oud perfume are this expensive? Of course it’s partially because of it’s hype, but the main reason of high prices is the fact that Aquilara trees are endangered species. Their infections and cutting down must be controlled so that they don’t experience extinction. The similar extinction problems apply to sandalwood.
Oud possesses the characteristic, deep and dense aroma, partially resinous, partially woody and incensy. This note found many lovers but there is also a group of haters. I’m somewhere in between, I oscillate between the two poles depending on what oud perfume you would give me to try. What do you think about oud perfume? Do you like it or you don’t? Feel free to share your favourite agarwood perfume with me!