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Oud Intentions

Art by Maxwell Burnstein

Oud talk has permeated every sector of the fragrance industry. The exotic ingredient, widely noted for its rarity, is extracted from agarwood after it has been infected by a specific fungal mould. As the infection progresses, the pale odourless heartwood secretes a dark aromatic resin that is then converted into what has come to be known in the fragrance industry as “liquid gold.”

With most agarwood trees growing in Southeast Asia and India, Oud has prominently been featured in Middle Eastern and Asian cultures as a treasured ceremonial tool. It is often described as warm and seductive with notes that range from smoky to sweet. Contemporary artist Brandon Maxwell illustrates the complex and sultry nature of the opulent ingredient with five fragrances to consider this fall.

John Varvatos Oud by John Varvatos (Men)

A black bottle encased in gold mesh makes for a visually impressive product, but it is the strong sillage and longevity that carry the John Varvatos Oud through. The woody scent balances tobacco with leather creating a smoky and warm tone that is perfect for anyone seeking an air of mysterious intrigue. $190 for 125 ml

Indonesian Oud by Ermenegildo Zegna (Men)

There is a classic and earthy quality to this fragrance from the Essenze collection that epitomizes tradition featuring oud that has been distilled via century old methods and blended with amber and myrrh. The rose and oud juxtaposition is showcased prominently in the drydown as the scent gets subtly sweeter with time. $270 for 125 ml

Oud Royal by Armani Privé (Unisex)

From Giorgio Armani’s La Collection des Mille et une Nuits, Oud Royal is a regal blend of the sensual and distinguished. While the sleek and sharp bottle with gold embellishments decree elegance, the scent functions as an elixir of masculine opulence mixing animal accords with those of rose and sandalwood. $380 for 100 ml

Velvet Desert Oud by Dolce & Gabbana (Unisex)

The rich key ingredients of the scent — incense, amber, musk and oud — pack a heady wave that immediately floods the senses. The luscious scent can be categorized as audaciously pungent in an adventurous sense with its essence lying in the authority it conveys through its power and dominance. $425 for 50 ml

Royal Oud by Creed (Unisex)

The architecture of this scent is inspired from the four major elements of a royal Persian palace: wood, leather, marble and gold. The fragrance is undoubtedly for an acquired audience that can appreciate its layered intensity. Creed’s Royal Oud is a heavenly foray into a delicate mélange of spices like pink pepper and citruses with woody oud, cedar and sandalwood. $670 for 120 ml