Oud — the olfactory equivalent of truffles in the perfume world — has been on the ascent in recent years. It’s one of the most expensive ingredients to be bottled, costing as much as US$30,000 (S$40,500) per kilo for the purest form. The resinous product has a dark and woody profile that lends a brooding quality to whatever formula it touches.
“It has a very particular scent and there is nothing like it on the market,” says Chandler Burr, author of The Emperor of Scent tells business magazine Fortune. “It’s dark, rich and opaque.”
These are all qualities that make oud perfumes for men some of the most alluring on the shelves, and one that brands as massive as Ermenegildo Zegna to niche perfume houses like Byredo are quick to catch on.
Much of this sudden popularity is thanks to an increase in oud oil’s availability. While it was once a rare ingredient, research and forestry firms have figured out a way to cultivate the product: by drilling holes into aquilaria trees and injecting it with a type of mould. Once infected, the tree begins to produce a dark resin as a means to fight off the infection. This is the resin that perfumers covet.
As a perfume ingredient though, oud performs as a strong base from which middle and top notes are introduced. No matter the concoction, such combinations often project confidence, authority and a mystical woodiness not seen elsewhere. It’s perfect for occasions where you mean business, or evening events where its mystical allure blends with the night. Either way, here’s our selection of oud perfumes for men to get you started.
Tom Ford’s experience in bottling the beguiling scent of oud begin in his YSL days when he launched M7 back in 2003. Many regarded the fragrance as being too far ahead of its time. He seems to have reigned it in a little with Oud Wood as it’s formulated with the sweet scent of rose wood and cardomom with the warm spiciness of Chinese pepper. The smokiness of oud, sandalwood and vetiver is rounded off with the gentle notes of amber, tonka beans and vanilla.
Available at Tomford.com, from S$310 (50ml).
Unlike other perfume houses, Fragrance du Bois has carved its niche in agarwood fragrances as it is part of a larger company that owns and manages its own oud plantations. All its perfumes boast 100 per cent sustainable and ethically sourced oud oil in strong doses. Of this, the Oud Orange Intense is more suitable for our sunny climes for its base notes of musk, vanilla and oud is offset with the top notes of coconut and fruit.
Available at Fragrance du bois, from S$189 (15ml).
Heritage label Creed nods to the majestic palaces of Persia in Royal Oud, taking inspiration from regal interiors often clad in marble, gold, wood and leather. Here, the deep throbbing base notes of Indian oud and sandalwood meets the middle notes of cedar and angelic wood while the top notes are decidedly citrusy with lemon, bergamot and pink berry.
Available at Creedboutique.com, from S$580 (75ml)
Italian menswear label Ermenegildo Zegna carries one of the few fragrances that nods to the region that oud grows. And why not since oud from different countries tend to have slightly differing properties that experienced noses can detect. Here, woody notes like Indonesian oud and amber meets bergamot and patchouli, sweetened by a touch of rose. It’s the perfect combination if you’re looking for a night time scent, especially for occasions that demand you suit up.
Available at Zegna.us, S$276 (125ml).
Swedish perfumerie Byredo’s Oud Immortel is a smokey scent with a difference. Unlike other perfumes in our list, its base notes is not oud but is in fact, oak moss and tobacco. The scent of agarwood lies in the middle note where it sits with patchouli, Brazilian rosewood and papyrus. The theme of smokiness continues on the top note with incense for a dark, and somewhat brooding scent tamed with a hint of sweetness.
Available at byredo.eu, S$156 (50ml).