PerfumeLand is the vast ocean of fragrances. Different smells, differently colored and shaped bottles, different sizes etc. In this sea of scent it is not easy to stumble upon a situation when you find two perfumes made by different companies, that would smell so similar. Last time when it happened to me was in December 2013 when I tested Hermes Ambre Narguile and Nu_Be Helium. Recently I found another pair of similar fragrances that I would like to tell you about.
White Aoud by Montale is a perfume which starts with a very beautiful, oriental rose accord that is accompanied by a reasonably small dose of oud. The oud accord adds depth to this composition, adding a darker and more mysterious feeling to the rose. As soon as 5 minutes later this blend becomes very, very warm and rich due to the use of saffron accord. The warm spiciness emanates from White Aoud, spreading the cosy and comforting aura around the wearer. The note of saffron also has a huge impact on rose note, making it more jammy and kind of gourmand. A generous dose of vanilla emphasizes the delicious smell of red rose petals. After some time rose and saffron become weaker but they don’t disappear completely. They just sit on a solid base created with sandalwood. Sandalwood accord in Montale White Aoud is very smooth and creamy, it’s like one big fluffy cloud, like a white plush bear you want to hug. The density of the perfume and its Middle-Eastern character are highlighted with the use of luminous amber and resinous labdanum which together form a very pleasant concoction balancing between light and darkness. In the drydown, a little bit of cardamom and jasmine mingle, surrounded by the woody smell of vetiver with earthy side note of patchouli. As much as I don’t like Montale as a brand, because I don’t like their aluminium bottles and their ADHD when it comes to launching new things, White Aoud is heck of a great perfume which performs great in the cold weather. And as characteristic for montale, the sillage is quite enormous and the lasting power is very good, providing 12 hours of scent.
On the other hand we have Levantium, a recent launch from Penhaligon’s. This perfume is one of the 3 compositions in Trade Routes Collection. This perfume starts with a significant rose accord blended with sandalwood. The feeling of these two is a little bit more woody and dry at the beginning but after a while it also becomes more creamy. Then, after 15 minutes we have a small dose of saffron (much smaller than in Montale) and a bit of rose. The rose note is also weaker than in White Aoud but it’s still kept in a similar, oriental manner with the depth and dark side created with oud note. Myrrh and cardamom introduce balsamic and gently spicy facets that settle in the background of this new Penhaligon’s composition. There’s also a nice and warm cloves note, it adds a little bit of a gingerbread feeling to Penhaligon’s Levantium. Ylang-ylang and jasmine bring more intensity to flowery notes, allowing them to stand over the oud accord. There’s also a bit of amber for more light and elegance. A little bit of vanilla, bergamot and peach mark the finale in the drydown, after a few hours, giving a powdery sensation as an effect. Additional notes are angelica, wormwood, cedar and guaiac wood. Levantium is a great perfume as well, this one puts more emphasis on woods and resins rather than on rose and spices, especially the saffron. This fragrance has a moderate projection and lasts for around 8 hours, later it tends to stick close to the skin.
Two perfumes with very similar compositions, yet the final effect doesn’t make White Aoud and Levantium copies of each other. One perfume is more intensive and rich, the other one is drier and more woody. Both are worth checking out and it’s up to you which interpretation suits you in a better way. To me it was the Montale that smelled better to me, mostly because of the intensity of rose and saffron, and I just love a combination of these two notes. Which one sounds more tempting to you?