I continue my research on how to make an oud that has all the power and finesse of the real deal. I’ve been pretty excited and, at the risk of sounding conceited, have always thought mine the best oud out there. Now, I know in principle I shouldn’t be promoting the competition, but it is my nature to be open about such things. I was at the Twisted Lily (my favorite Brooklyn niche perfume store) yesterday, sniffing around, being discontent and literally turning up my nose at most of the bottles. The ouds didn’t smell like ouds, the sandalwoods didn’t smell like sandalwood, and the list goes on. I found many of the perfumes distinctly artificial. I will say, that modern perfumes have a smoothness in the top notes that I’ve never been able to replicate.
This continued until I came across Kirkdjian’s Oud Cashmere. While I should have jumped with delight at finding something so reminiscent of oud itself, to tell the truth, I was rather annoyed. The oud is tight and woody without being soft or spread out, if that makes any sense. Most ouds that contain authentic oud have a cheesy component. This is because only the more expensive ouds lack (or contain less of) that barnyard aspect. So, an honest oud, containing plenty of oud itself, tends to have a little (or a lot of) funk. To make an oud perfume with a higher end oud (and I’m talking about at $200/ml.) is just about impossible without the oud costing even more of a fortune. (Although there are those who would say that the Kirkdjian Oud Cashmere already costs a fortune at $370 for 70 ml.)
So, I continue working on improving my oud. I’ve tried switching the oud itself from Oud Assam, which has a mild cheesy component, to Borneo Gold which is almost free of the barnyard thing. While Borneo Gold is not as expensive as the highest end ouds, it is powerful and complex and by no means cheap. However, I find that the Borneo Gold is less powerful and projects less of an oud aroma. I’ve tried nagarmotha (cypriol), but I consider this cheating. It also has a weird dry-down.
I may have made my oud too soft by including vanillin (only about .1%, but still). My oud also has a balsamic quality which is very pleasant but distracts from the pure note of the oud. I've also added a ridiculous amount of sandalwood, but I don’t find sandalwood soft in the way I’m describing. My oud also includes some frankincense, the best of which has a balsamic aspect.
The structure of the perfume is based on a wood complex (lots of sandalwood, cedar, kephalis, castoreum, methyl laitone, etc.) and a tobacco complex (tobacco, patchouli, castoreum, etc.) finished with the oud.
I’m very fond of my oud—I think it’s one of the best available--but am concerned it’s a bit too soft and balsamic. It has plenty of oud character, but of a different style than the Kirkdjian.
I would love to hear comments comparing mine with the Kirkdjian Oud Cashmere.