Oud – The Sexiest Olfactory Note In Perfumery

And why this woody note is so rare and expensive


Oud is a highly prized olfactory ingredient for thousands of years, particularly in the Middle East as its intensely woody and smoky characteristics make for a very exotic scent. 

In ancient times, it was even valued more highly than gold and is sometimes called "liquid gold".

Rich, powerful, spicy, dark, incense-y and exotic, the note is extremely complex and lingers like a sexy second skin, which probably explains why it is so highly sought-after in perfumery.

Oud is derived from the resinous wood of a particular tree called Aquilaria that's native to Southeast Asia. Oud is produced when the tree is infected by a mould known as Phialophora parasitica and the tree reacts by producing a dense, dark and fragrant resin to protect itself. 

When the resin is embedded in the heartwood of the tree, the wood becomes agarwood and the extract is the fragrant oud.

This infection occurs very rarely in the wild and this rarity makes pure natural oud very precious. Adding to the rising cost of oud is the fact that illegal logging has caused severe depletion. 

What's more, since 2004 all species of this Aquilaria tree is protected under CITES convention, contributing to the growth of the global agarwood market, which is thought to be worth almost S$9 billion annually.

One niche fragrance house, Fragrance Du Bois, which uses oud as its signature olfactory note, even has its own agarwood plantation to meet its demand for the ingredient. Its plantation is located in Indonesia and ensures its source is sustainable and ethically produced.

The brand recently relocated its Singapore flagship boutique from The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, to Scotts Square in Orchard Road. The boutique also has a fragrance experience corner where you can smell different notes including pure oud and compare it to synthetic oud, which mixes various olfactory notes to recreate it. 

If you are looking for scents that are more heady, full-bodied, sultry and lasts all day, click through our gallery for our 5 top picks for feminine oud fragrances.

For more on beauty head here. Or check out The A-Lister Trick To Make Centre Partings Look Gorgeous or 6 Sink-Side Handcare Sets For The Houseproud.

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