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Click on Links to Previous Posts, below

A Conversation on Arabie

A Package from Christos: Greek Sandals & Oud Cuir d'Arabie

A Package from Ines

A Package from Lavanya

A More Affordable Olfactionary

A Week of Wearing What I Like

Amouage Dia (pour femme)

Amouage Dia (pour homme)

Amouage Epic Woman

Amouage Gold

Amouage Interlude Man

Amouage Jubilation 25 

Amouage Lyric Woman

Amouage Memoir Woman

Amouage Opus I

Amouage Opus III

Amouage Opus IV

Amouage Opus V

Amouage Opus VI

Amouage Tribute

Amouage Ubar

Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche

Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant

Annick Goutal Heure Exquise

Annick Goutal Petite Cherie

Annick Goutal Sables

April Aromatics Calling All Angels

April Aromatics Bohemian Spice

April Aromatics Jasmina 

April Aromatics Nectar of Love

April Aromatics Rose L'Orange

Aroma M Geisha Green

Aroma M Geisha Rouge

Arquiste Anima Dulcis

Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7

At the Moment (Chanel 22 & Marshall Crenshaw)

At the Moment (Contemplating Change & Habit Rouge)

At the Moment (Marron Chic & Paris)

At the Moment (More Midsummer Delights/Epic/Geisha Noire)

At the Moment (Saki & Lubin Idole edt)

At the Moment (Secret de Suzanne /D'Orsay L'Intrigante)

At the Moment (Spring Pretties/Un Air de Samsara)

At the Moment (Summery Things...Love Coconut)

At the Moment (Vera Wang & Fireman's Fair novel)

Ava Luxe Café Noir

Beatnik Emptiness Incense

Best of 2009

Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory

Bond No. 9 Brooklyn

Bond No. 9 Little Italy

Bond No. 9 New Haarlem

Bottega Veneta eau de parfum

Breath of God

Byredo Green

By Kilian Amber Oud

By Kilian Forbidden Games and In the City of Sin

Calyx by Prescriptives

Canturi by Stefano Canturi

Capote, Truman & Evening in Paris

Carner Barcelona D600

Caron Aimez-Moi

Caron French Cancan

Caron Parfum Sacre

Caron Tabac Blond

Caron Tubereuse

Caron Yatagan

Cartier II L'Heure Convoitee

Cartier IV L'Heure Fougueuse

Chanel 31 Rue Cambon

Chanel Bel Respiro

Chanel Chance

Chanel Coco

Chanel Coromandel

Chanel Cuir de Russie

Chanel Egoiste

Chanel No. 5 (vintage)

Chanel No. 22

Chantecaille Petales

Chantilly Dusting Powder

Clive Christian C for Women

Comme des Garcons Daphne

Comme des Garcons LUXE Champaca

Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet Nomad Tea

Costes by Costes

Coty Ambre Antique

Coty Chypre

Coty Paris

Creature by Kerosene

Creed Acqua Fiorentina

Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie

Creed Virgin Island Water

DSH Perfumes Bancha Extreme

DSH Perfumes Quinacridone Violet 

DSH Perfumes Vert pour Madame

Deneuve

Devilscent Project

Dior Diorissimo (vintage)

Donna Karan Black Cashmere

EnVoyage Vents Ardents

EnVoyage Zelda

Estee Lauder Private Collection

Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss

Etat Libre d'Orange Rien, Rossy de Palma & Noel au Balcon

Faberge Woodhue Cologne

Favorite Fall Fragrances

Fendi Uomo

Fragrances for Sweden

Frapin 1697 Absolu Parfum

Frederic Malle Angeliques Sous La Pluie

Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentrée

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

Frederic Malle Dans Tes Bras

Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre

Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese

Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose

Frederic Malle Noir Epices

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady

Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie

Frederic Malle Une Rose

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel

Ghosts of Perfumes Past, Present & Future

Gone Fishin'

Gucci Eau de Parfum

Gucci L'Arte di Gucci

Gucci Pour Homme

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Exaltant

Guerlain Attrape Coeur

Guerlain Chamade

Guerlain Encens Mythique d'Orient

Guerlain Jicky

Guerlain Mayotte

Guerlain Parure

Guerlain Samsara Parfum

Guerlain Un Air de Samsara

Guerlain Vega

Guerlain Vetiver (vintage)

Guy Laroche J'ai Ose (vintage)

Happy Solstice

Hermes 24, Faubourg

Hermes Caleche (vintage)

Hermes Eau des Merveilles

Hermes Hiris

Hermes Iris Ukiyoe

Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles

Histoires de Parfums 1740

Histoires de Parfums 1828

Histoires de Parfums Blanc Violette

Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine

Hometown Portrait, State College, PA

Honore des Pres Vamp a NY

House of Matriarch Carmine

How I Store Decants

Il Profumo Cannabis

In Memory (w/mention of Lanvin Arpege)

Jacomo #02

Jacomo #09 (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles

Jean Patou Joy

Jean Patou 1000

Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense

Jo Malone Sweet Milk Cologne 

Juliet by Juliet Stewart

Kai Eau de Parfum

Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant

Kenzo Summer

Lancome Magie Noire (vintage) 

Lanvin Via Lanvin (vintage) 

L'Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubereuse

L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidee Blanche 

L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer

L'Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l'Aube

L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two

La Via del Profumo Balsamo Della Mecca

La Via del Profumo Hindu Kush

La Via del Profumo Milano Caffe

La Via del Profumo Oud Caravan Project

La Via del Profumo Sharif

La Via del Profumo Tawaf

Le Labo Gaiac 10

Le Labo Iris 39

Le Labo Patchouli 24

Le Labo Poivre 23

Little Lists

Lorenzo Villoresi Yerbamate

M. Micallef Vanille Orient

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour le Soir

Maison Martin Margiela (untitled) eau de parfum

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles

Message In A Bottle 

Michael Storer Winter Star

Miller Harris L'Air de Rien

Miscellany

Missoni (original) by Missoni

Molinard Habanita

Mona Di Orio Nuit Noire

Mona Di Orio Oud

Mona Di Orio Vanille

Montale Black Aoud

Montale Boise Vanille

Montale Intense Tiare

Montale Patchouli Leaves

Montale Red Aoud

More Roses (rose cookie recipe)

My Heart Has Skipped a Beat (summer smells)

My Perfumes Have Theme Songs

Nasomatto China White

Neila Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling

Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps

Nez a Nez Ambre a Sade

Northern Exposure "A Dash of Chanel No. 5"

Odin 04 Petrana (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline

Omar Sharif Pour Femme

Oriscent Pure Oud Oils

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani

Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman

Oscar de la Renta Oscar for Men

O Tannenbaum Joint Blog Project

Parfum d'Empire Azemour

Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman

Parfum d'Empire Equistrius

Parfum d'Empire 3 Fleurs

Parfumerie Generale Bois de Copaiba

Parfumerie Generale Indochine

Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique

Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu

Parfums DelRae Amoureuse

Parfums Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars

Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin

Parfums Retro Grand Cuir

Paris, je t'aime

Pascal Morabito Or Black 

Perfume Quotes - The English Patient

Prada Infusion d'Iris Absolue

Pretty Perfume Bottles 

Prince Matchabelli Aviance Cologne (vintage) 

Profumum Roma Acqua Viva

Profumum Roma D'Ambrosia

Puredistance I

Puredistance Antonia

Puredistance BLACK

Puredistance M

Puredistance Opardu

Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk

Ramon Monegal Pure Mariposa

Recipe for Socca

Regina Harris Amber Vanilla Perfume Oil

Regina Harris Frankincense-Myrrh-Rose Maroc Perfume Oil

Robert Piguet Fracas

Robert Piguet Visa

Rochas Mystere 

Rome Vacation Photos

Sammarco Perfumes Bond-T

San Francisco Holiday

Sarah Horowitz Parfums' Joy Comes From Within & Beauty Comes From Within

Scented Reading

Scents of the Mediterranean

Scentuous Reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Serge Lutens Arabie

Serge Lutens Borneo 1834

Serge Lutens Boxeuses

Serge Lutens Chêne

Serge Lutens Chergui

Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles

Serge Lutens Five O’Clock Au Gingembre

Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque

Serge Lutens Miel de Bois

Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan

Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle

Serge Lutens Un Lys

Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental

Slumberhouse Rume

Snow Days

Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure

Sonoma Scent Studio Jour Ensoleille

Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette

Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods (brief mention)

SoOud Ouris Parfum Nectar

S-Perfume 100% Love {More}

Stone Harbor, NJ Vacaton pix (non-perfume related)

Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric Rain

Sweden Is For Lovers

T is for Taxes

Tauer Perfumes: Incense Extrême, Incense Rosé, Lonestar Memories, & Reverie au Jardin

Tauer Perfumes Vetiver Dance

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Diary of a Nose, Book Review

The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit

The Intimacy of Scent

Thoughts of a Perfume Collector

Tightly

Tokyo Milk Ex Libris

Unlocking an Unknown: Webber Parfum 6T

Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery Bed of Roses

Venimus Vidimus Vicimus, or How 3 Perfume Bloggers and a Husband Took Rome

Vero Profumo Kiki, Onda, and Rubj

Vero Profumo Mito

Viktoria Minya Hedonist

Viktor & Rolfe Flowerbomb

What I’m Lovin’ Now

Xerjoff Mamluk

YOSH Perfumes Ginger Ciao

Yves Saint Laurent Nu

Exploring the Pure Oud Oils of Oriscent (and Sending Out an SOS!)

It’s funny how you can think you’re at the very bottom of the Rabbit Hole—a reasonable conclusion, once you’ve been down there wandering around for so many years—and just when it occurs to you that the logical next step might be to surface again, Surprise!  The bottom you thought was the bottom suddenly drops out, and the light you thought you glimpsed at the top of the tunnel is now the pinprick equivalent of a distant star.

That’s what happened to me last November—a precipitous fall into a whole other level of olfactory curiosity that can be summed up in three dangerous words: Artisanal Oud Oils. And when I say dangerous, I mean seriously addictive and expensive, though I suspect their addictive properties might only be conceived as such by a small subset of the perfume community, simply because they smell so different from what most Westerners conceive of as perfume. I never imagined myself as someone who would be interested in wearing these oils—when I ordered my samples, it was with the notion of finding out what pure, unadulterated oud smelled like as a raw material—but almost as soon as I began testing them, I came to view ouds not as a building block for other perfumes, but as unique perfumes in and of themselves. I say this having only tried two of them (because for the time being, that is all I can afford), but these two oud oils each offer up what I’ll call a “complete” olfactory experience—a slow unfolding of scent facets one can hardly guess at when these oils first detonate on the skin with their initial, medicinal blasts—and are so expressively different from one another that I can’t lump them together in my mind and label them “oud,” as if they are interchangeable. They really do smell like two different wood perfumes.

“There's a huge variety within every general (however loosely defined) genre of oud, let alone between different regions or from different species. One "Cambodian oud" may smell absolutely nothing like another "Cambodian oud", same goes for all others. There's at least two or three general types of Cambodian ouds, so by sampling one you are probably only scratching the surface of the iceberg.”

                                                                                  -- Igor01, Basenotes.net

The above quote is from a gentleman I had the pleasure of “meeting” through my participation in the Oud Caravan project at Basenotes.net, and is taken from one of the discussions there. Igor knows a great deal about ouds and I asked him if I could reference him, because he is so familiar with the two oud oils I purchased (which are not Cambodians) that I thought it would be illuminating to include his descriptions, as well as my own impressions. I also thought I’d use his quote, above, as a lead in to say that this, in a nutshell, is what oud connoisseurs find so attractive about these oils (and not just the oils, but the oud chips that are burned in a censer in the traditional Arabian way). Pure ouds cover a wide gamut on the olfactory spectrum: their scent profiles vary vastly depending on what country the agarwood tree was grown in and how its oil was distilled. As such, ouds collected in some parts of Asia are known to smell quite indolic, whereas those gathered from another country might smell exceedingly green and fruity. Overall though, they should smell woody (oud being the Arabic name for wood), and here I’m going to borrow another one of Igor’s quotes from the Oud Caravan discussion:

“To me the woodiness is one of the most attractive aspects of oud experience, be it burning the chips or wearing pure oils. It, together with balsamic and resinous mid notes, provides the bridge connecting oud's vapourous top with its mellow, heavy and dreamy base.”

There are only around four companies from which you can reliably purchase true oud oils. The ouds I purchased are Borneo 3000 and Kyara Koutan, from a company called Oriscent (also known as Ensar Oud), considered la crème de la crème purveyor of oud oils—and if you pay a visit to the site and read their blog, you’ll know why. Ensar is a hands-on perfectionist who lives on the road and appears to be involved in every facet of collecting and distilling the oud oils, as well as cultivating relationships with agarwood tree growers.

Borneo 3000 and Kyara Koutan are held in high esteem by oud connoisseurs, and though they entertain a number of nuances in terms of their scent profiles, they are, first and foremost, woody. When they arrived to me (I purchased both as samples, and later bought a bottle of Borneo 3000), each vial was housed in a velveteen bag and a little cardboard box, and I’ve kept them that way in a dresser drawer in my bedroom. I’m not exaggerating when I say that every time I open up the drawer, their woody aroma comes wafting out—from these tiny little sample vials still in their respective boxes! It’s almost as if I’m opening up a cedar chest (even though they don’t smell like cedar).The oils themselves are incredibly viscous: one drop is enough to scent myself for an entire day, sometimes longer, and while they are rather bracing and somewhat medicinal-smelling when first applied, they are not overwhelming unless you continually hold your scented wrist to your nose at this stage (which I do, because I’ve come to enjoy every aspect of their development). Waiting for the mists to part is how I view the ouds during the first thirty minutes of wear time, when their most volatile molecules are knocking around like clouds and taking their sweet time to settle. What will eventually be revealed are scent facets that seem incredibly tender for having surfaced from these thick depths.

Borneo 3000 is overall what I would call a sleek oud. In the first few hours of wear, it's reminiscent of curled up shavings of dried pine left behind on a carpenter’s table, next to a leather work glove. There is a beautiful balance between the wood and the light leather, and then the fragrance starts to sweeten such that the leather facet begins to smell more like a fruited, black tea. Overall, it offers a fine mix of astringent, fruity and caramel-like tones. When I first described it to Igor in an email, I had not noticed a leather note and so cannot say whether or not he perceives one too, but what Igor likes about Borneo 3000 is its “balsamic sweetness, airy woodiness and the high-pitched top notes which come across very clean and almost menthol-like.”

Kyara Koutan is a Burmese oud which you can no longer purchase from Oriscent. These oils are in such limited supplies that the most prized ones sell quickly, which, in this case, is unfortunate for me because it took me a while to discover that Kyara Koutan is actually my favorite of the two oils. At first, I was intimidated by its opening, which is not just medicinal but as throbbing as bass notes boomed out of a car stereo from your favorite punk on the street. But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the sweet notes that arise out of it are so bright and clean and floral and lemony, they almost make a person want to cry.

“Thought I should mention to you that KK will change a great deal (and for the better) with time,” Igor wrote when he learned I had purchased this oil, which is one his top three favorites. “If you don’t use up your vial in the next few months or perhaps get more, you’ll find that the bracing top notes recede, the resinous quality in the mid-notes becomes deeper and the sweet drydown is more pronounced against the backdrop of other notes.”

I have no doubt he is right; even with the intimidating opening, I was pretty impressed with Kyara Koutan. Now that I know I can’t purchase anymore of it, it seems doubly good. When I asked Igor about his other top two favorite ouds (Royal Kinam and Burmese Kinam ), he replied: “Unfortunately, you won't find any Royal Kinam at Oriscent any more, it sold out quite a while ago, and as for Burmese Kinam - that one never even made it to the website and was sold in small amounts privately. I wish I could get more of both, but alas, they are now gone and with the latest announcement from Ensar about no more new distillations, we may never get anything even remotely similar again. Sadly, once you step on the [financially] treacherous path of oud exploration, you quickly learn to stock up on the oils you truly love before they are gone forever.”

Hmmm, spoken like a person who’s down deep in the Rabbit Hole.

How is it that the ground is so shaky down here? I wonder. And can anyone tell me which way is out?

Samples of a number of fine oud oils (the pure and genuine article) can be purchased at Oriscent.  Be prepared to spend a pretty penny for a small (.5 gram) sample, but take cheer in the fact that this sample could actually last you for many months. One little drop of these precious oud oils is all it takes to enjoy a full-day of glorious, wood-scented wear.

Photo of bottle of Oriscent Borneo 3000 is my own. For a better look at the bottle, have a look-see at Oriscent's website, which I've linked to above.

Posted by Suzanne Keller, 2/11/2012.


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Australian Perfume Junkies

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Ca Fleure Bon

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From Top to Bottom - Perfume Patter

Giovanni Sammarco (artisanal perfumer) blog

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Katie Puckrik Smells

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Natural Perfumery by Salaam

Notes on Shoes, Cake & Perfume

Notes From Josephine

Notes From the Ledge

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Olfactarama 

Olfactoria's Travels 

Parfumistans blogg

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Perfume Shrine

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Sorcery of Scent 

Sweet Diva

The Alembicated Genie 

The Candy Perfume Boy 

The Fragrant Man

The French Exit


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