Roja Dove Amber Aoud

No-one is immune from the oud trend, and that includes Roja Dove. One of his several agarwood fragrances is Amber Aoud which he describes as “sumptuous, mysterious sensuality.”

Amber Aoud in the 30 ml bottle. Source: Bergdorf Goodman website.

Amber Aoud in the 30 ml bottle. Source: Bergdorf Goodman website.

Amber Oud is an extrait or pure parfum that was released in 2012. It is centered on a rather straightforward, traditional combination of notes, with one small exception: birch tar. However, on his personal Roja Parfums website, Roja Dove focuses more on the resins underlying the scent:

“Sumptuous Mysterious Sensuality”
SOFT, SWEET, SPICY, WARM, and SENSUAL

“Many of the Gum Resins which have been used in perfumery for millennia originate from the Middle East. I took these materials and blended them with the exotic note of Aoud to create a scent which is both soft and sensual.” —Roja Dove.

INGREDIENTS
Top: Bergamot, Lemon, Lime
Heart: Fig, Jasmine, Rose, Ylang Ylang
Base: Ambergris, Aoud Wood, Birch, Cinnamon, Civet, Musk, Oakmoss, Orris, Patchouli, Saffron, Sandalwood.

Source: forwallpaper.com

Source: forwallpaper.com

Amber Aoud opens on my skin with a very traditional saffron, rose, oud combination, followed by smoky birch that has a slightly leathered nuance, a soft and golden amber, and a tinge of muskiness. The birch is really the best part for me, as it elevates Amber Aoud beyond the usual rose-oud-saffron trio. That said, the latter is very deep and luxurious. The saffron smells both spicy and buttered, adding a red-gold richness to the scent. The rose is dripping red juices, rendered jammy and syrupy from a very fruited patchouli. And the oud feels refined, slightly honeyed, and extremely smooth. Out of the three, the agarwood is actually the mildest and softest element, coming in third place in a way that would make Amber Aoud appealing to those who aren’t fond of hardcore oud scents.

There are other elements hovering about as well, though none of them are very profound. Tiny slivers of bergamot dart about, along a dash of cinnamon. Both die out within minutes on my skin. More noticeable, however, though still slight and muted, is the fig note which is both milky and faintly leathered. As a whole, Amber Aoud is primarily a saffron-rose-oud trio, flecked with a gentle, woody birch and anchored upon a very soft base of amber. The latter feels very abstract to me, as it doesn’t smell like true ambergris to my nose with its salty, marshy, slightly sweaty qualities. This is more of a simple golden softness that adds to the overall richness of the scent. It’s all very sweet, jammy, buttery smooth, slightly musky, and a tiny bit woody.

Source: Tasty Yummies blog. (Link to website embedded within photo.)

Source: Tasty Yummies blog. (Link to website embedded within photo.)

I want to talk upfront about something that long-time readers know full well. I’m not really one for rose fragrances as a general rule. However, I strongly dislike fragrances where the roses have been rendered jammy with a fruited, almost grape-y, purple, syrupy patchouli touch. (Fruitchouli must die!) Making matters worse, I’m completely burnt out on the rose-oud or rose-saffron-oud combination. In short, if you sense a flatness in my tone when talking about Amber Aoud, you need to put it into context. I wasn’t blown away by the perfume when I smelt it last year in Jovoy, and I’m not now. My personal tastes simply don’t tend that way.

"Bleeding Rose" by April Koehler. Source: redbubble.com

“Bleeding Rose” by April Koehler. Source: redbubble.com

That said, I would be the first one to tell you that Amber Aoud is an incredibly smooth, luxurious take on the combination. If I were ever to like a patchouli-rose fragrance with saffron and oud, this might be on the list just after some of the Amouage attars. Every note in Amber Oud’s opening ripples like rosy velvet and liquid gold onto the skin, speaking of wealth and luxury. It’s not particularly original (or interesting), but then it’s not supposed to be. Amber Aoud is supposed to be the smoothest, most refined, softest interpretation of the classical, traditional standards — and it succeeds in that regard.

Silver birch tree. My own photo. Fjällnäs, Sweden.

Silver birch tree. My own photo. Fjällnäs, Sweden.

The part that I like the most continues to be the birch. After 10 minutes, the note actually smells more of the wood itself than the way birch usually manifests itself in fragrances, which is either campfire smoke or tarry, black leather. The latter shows up at the end of the first hour, but the early nuances are really intriguing. There is almost an aromatic outdoorsy quality to the woodiness that evokes smooth tree bark. The tiniest whiff of black smokiness lingers underneath, but generally the smell transports me back in time to a silver birch forest I walked through in northern Sweden near the Arctic Circle. The whole thing works beautifully alongside the patchouli-rose, saffron, and oud combination, and feels like a completely original touch.

The second lovely aspect to Amber Aoud is the fig. It doesn’t last long, perhaps 20 minutes at most, but while it’s there, it adds subtle depth to the perfume. Part of it smells a little leathery in the particular, spicy way that fig can be, but the majority of it is just sweet milkiness. It contrasts well with the buttery spiciness of the saffron and the dripping jamminess of the rose, helping to keep those other notes in check. Once the fig fades away at the 30-minute mark, Amber Aoud turns even sweeter and richer. The patchouli-rose seems to take over, quite overshadowing the oud on my skin and not even the increasingly smoky touches of the birch can cut through the perfume’s ruby sweetness.

Amber Aoud is quite concentrated in feel, but not as much as other Roja Dove Extraits that I have tried. In fact, I’m a little surprised by how soft the projection is, right off the bat. Two really large sprays from my atomizer (amounting to one extremely big spray from a bottle) yielded only 2 inches in projection, at best. In contrast, similar amounts of Diaghilev, Fetish, and Enigma or Creation-E all had stronger sillage at a comparable stage in time. Actually, I didn’t spray Diaghilev at all but merely dabbed it on, and, yet, I remember it to be substantially stronger in both feel and projection. In addition, all of those fragrances took far longer to turn discreet. Amber Aoud hovers a mere inch above the skin at the end of the first hour; it turns into a skin scent 3.25 hours into the perfume’s development, though it’s still easy to detect up close.

Source: RGPeixoto on Flickr. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Source: RGPeixoto on Flickr. (Website link embedded within photo.)

Amber Aoud’s core essence doesn’t change for a few hours, but the notes rearrange themselves in terms of their strength, prominence, or order. After the fig fades away at the 30-minute mark, the primary bouquet is a jammy patchouli rose with saffron and light oud, all flecked with birch and nestled in a soft, golden haze. The birch turns smokier and slightly tarred in feel at the start of the second hour, losing its more woody facets in favour of a subtle leatheriness. The rose becomes even richer and more syrupy, but the saffron begins to weaken. At no point do I smell any civet, oakmoss, jasmine or ylang-ylang on my skin.

Source: voguefabricsstore.com

Source: voguefabricsstore.com

The most noticeable change is a growing creaminess underlying the scent. 2.25 hours in, the sandalwood rises from the base, though it smells nothing like the Mysore wood and is generally just creamy smoothness. Actually, I detect a subtle vanillic undertone to it, though I can’t explain it. The birch now joins the jammy rose and the oud as the dominant trio, while the saffron limps off to the sidelines. Amber Aoud feels much airier and lighter than it was at the start, and it lies right on the skin.

Source: voguefabricsstore.com

Source: voguefabricsstore.com

3.5 hours into Amber Aoud’s development, the perfume shifts. The rose loses a lot of its patchouli jamminess, turning into an infinitely soft, sweet, pink note with only light touches of smoky birch and oud over an extremely creamy base. I refuse to call it actual “sandalwood,” but it’s lovely, especially with the tiny slivers of vanilla. None of it feels ambered in a distinct way, but there is a gentle glow around the rose petals that increasingly coat the skin like a layer of fine silk.

Source: wholeblossoms.com

Source: wholeblossoms.com

Amber Aoud remains that way for the next few hours, softening further until it’s primarily just a creamy, sweet rose scent. The petals are dusted with the lightest, sheerest layer of powder, presumably from the orris/iris, while a lingering trace of oud hovers at the edges. There is no birch — either tarry or smoky — and no muskiness, only a general sense of creamy softness. Again, I’m not a rose lover, but I’d almost call the overall effect “graceful.” Something about Amber Aoud’s final drydown really evokes pink and cream petals falling from the sky to softly, gently, daintily land on the skin. It’s all a gauzy wisp, and it fades away entirely in a blur of rosiness approximately 8.75 hours from the start.

Source: amideastfeast.com

Source: amideastfeast.com

Reviews are mixed for Amber Aoud on Fragrantica. Some people share my feeling that the perfume is neither particularly ambered nor unique, and one person also thinks that it is encumbered by that jammy fruitchouli, but others think it is stunning and wonderfully luxurious. First, some of the more ambivalent or critical opinions:

  • I was pretty unimpressed by this one. I love Roja Dove Aoud, so I had high hopes for Amber Aoud. The opening smells to me like concord grape jelly smeared on a slice of oud. The overwhelming sweetness dries down after about half an hour and it’s a very nice smooth oud, but I get no amber in this. Also, longevity on me was terrible, maybe 3 or 4 hours tops. My husband liked it, but was surprised when I told him it had oud in it.
  • I’d say that this to me is much more a Rose Aoud than a properly Amber Aoud. It doesn’t have the thick, vanillic and incense aura that you would expect from a classic Amber approach, and it also doesn’t have the woody, light, sometimes plastic modern aura that you get from woody ambery bases. Leaving this aside, this is a good, silky and rich aoud and rose orchestration, surrounded by a velvet suedish touch which lingers discretly on skin. Altough the fragrance seems to be more complex, it relies basically around these three facets, creating an harmony which is very pleasant to be noticed all day. It has a great longevity, a small sample lasted all day on me, and while i see a lot of quality on here, it seems to me very safe, something made for the one which is willing to pay for quality and wants and oud rose orchestration which softens the rough aspects of this noble wood. It’s at least worth a sample.
  • This fragrance is very nice, but its a traditional oud for almost £500, its not worth it. maybe if you are not custom to the smell of this type of warm musky oud you might find it unique. but for those from middle eastern backgrounds, you have smelt this many times before, some Mosques and Arab book/perfume shops smell similar to this fragrance, of course this is much much higher quality, you can definelty smell the quality of the ingredients , but its that type of traditional oud smell that you would smell often if you visited an Arab country. a disappointment for me I am afraid for the price[….]
Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

On the other side of the aisle are the fans who think very little can compare to the luxuriousness of Amber Aoud. Some excerpts:

  • A very clean oud with a smooth and well rounded amber. From the moment I sampled this fragrance, I knew that I would do what it took to obtain a bottle. Even if it meant saving and making this my #1 priority, I just had to have it. This fragrance smells of incredible and undeniable quality. If you have ever smelled Krigler “Oud for Highness” you would agree that these two share similar qualities being that the scent is so royal, rich, and luxurious. I am at a loss for words on how to accurately describe how divine this fragrance is.
  • Sensual,noble,velvety feel almost physically,my most favorite perfume,very expensive,but everything is expensive for this work
  • This is a royal oud blend! Honestly speaking! Royalty in a bottle!
  •  Its very rich,very luxurious, super smooth. […][¶] until now I thought the best aoud could come only from the Gulf. I think aoud can not get better than this one. It’s so well blended. […][¶] I tried several other aoud and aoud combo perfumes and attars at Paris gallary and elsewhere at Dubai mall but everything else looked pale in comparison. [¶] Who can wear this and where? I think the sheer opulence of this scent demands an occasion and
    formal dress.

Honestly, I agree with arguments from both sides. Amber Aoud is a luxurious take on a very traditional scent; it isn’t original (how can it be?); the quality does stand out; it does have a much stronger focus on rose than on amber; and there is an almost grape-like, jammy fruitedness that will be annoying for anyone who shares my loathing for fruitchouli. Yes, it is very expensive (more expensive than a number of Roja Dove scents, in fact), but the simple fact is that you’re paying for the Roja Dove name and the perfume’s quality.

Whether all of that amounts to a fragrance that is a “must try” or worth buying will really come down to your personal, subjective valuation and tastes. If you absolutely adore rich rose scents that have only the softest touch of a very refined, clean, smooth oud, then you may want to give Amber Aoud a sniff.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Amber Aoud Pure Parfum or Extrait is available in two size: a 30 ml/1 oz size which costs $435, €395 or £345; and a 100 ml size which costs $655, €655, or £495. There are also Crystal or Absolue Precieux versions available, along a candle. As a side note, I believe the Crystal version is the exact same scent as regular Amber Aoud, but merely with clear or white-coloured liquid. In the U.S.: Neiman Marcus carries Amber Aoud in both the small size and the big $655 bottle. Bergdorf Goodman also has the small and big sizes. Same story with Osswald NYC. Outside the U.S.: In the UK, you can buy Amber Aoud from Roja Dove’s Haute Parfumerie on the 5th Floor of Harrods, Harrods itself, the e-store at Roja Parfums, and Fortnum & Mason. In France, Jovoy in Paris carries Amber Aoud in both sizes. Zurich’s Osswald has Amber Aoud as well, but it doesn’t look as though they have an e-store. In the UAE, the Paris Gallery carries the Roja Parfums line, and sells both sizes. For all other locations, you can use the Roja Dove Locations listing which mentions more stores from Poland to Germany, Lithuania, Russia, and the Ukraine. I don’t see any Canadian, Asian, or Oceania vendors. Samples: If you’re in the U.S. but have no access to one of the stores listed above, you can order samples by phone from OsswaldNY. They offer a deal of 10 samples for $20 (shipping included) for domestic customers. Their phone number is: (212) 625-3111. Surrender to Chance does not carry the fragrance at this time.

22 thoughts on “Roja Dove Amber Aoud

  1. In your opinion, who makes the “best” rose-saffron-oud combination in either perfume or oud (and leave out the Amouage attar, please)!?

    I sense the tiredness in this “good” review. With Roja Dove’s prices, I’m guessing a Swiss Arabian would probably suffice for this type of scent.

    • Well, if you’re not going to include an Amouage attar like Al Mas or Asrar, then I guess this one. Honestly, I don’t have a wide range of exposure to the genre these days and I’m so sleep-deprived right now that nothing is immediately coming to mind in terms of possible alternatives for you.

      The problem is that I try to stay away from Rose-Saffron-Oud or Rose-Oud combinations these days, if I can help it. No, seriously, I do. In Paris, I tried a number of things from Arabian Oud that felt EXTREMELY similar as rose-saffron-ouds, but they lacked the smooth, clean refinement of the Roja Dove. A few had a synthetic touch to their oud, too. But yes, Arabian Oud would definitely be one answer.

      I believe their “Woody” is a saffron, rose, oud, and it is one of the more popular fragrances from Arabian Oud. I actually have a sample that a friend sent, despite my warnings about my rose-oud fatigue, but I’ve never actually smelled it. I can pull it out and tell you in a few days, if you’d like. I know Woody is very affordable, and also available on Amazon, if I recall correctly. Arabian Oud in London has also sent me a ton of decants for review, and I think a few of those are saffron-rose-ouds as well.

      In the meantime, in terms of other alternatives for you, there really is nothing else that I’ve tried (with my reluctance to enter into this field) that is quite the same. Some of the Saffron-Rose or Saffron-rose-Oud fragrances that I’ve covered in the past and that I recall off the top of my head are:
      — Montale’s Aoud Safran. It’s nice, but it doesn’t have this sort of smoothness and Montale’s oud notes are generally suspect in my eyes. (The vast majority feel either synthetic, infused with ISO E Super, or both.) I enjoyed it at the time, but I tried the perfume another test some months after my review, applied a much greater quantity, and the rubbing alcohol twinge that was so momentary the first time around definitely showed up as aromachemicals. But, it’s still generally a nice saffron rose oud combination, and it’s much more affordable than the Roja Dove! If you’re interested, you can see what I wrote about Aoud Safran here: http://www.kafkaesqueblog.com/2013/03/09/review-en-bref-montale-aoud-safran/
      — Guerlain’s Rose Nacrée is rose with supposed oud, but I can’t recall now in the midst of my fatigue if it has saffron as well. I think it does. God, that one bored me silly, but I’m sure it qualifies as refined. Blech, so much of that bloody fruitchouli, though.
      — Armani’s Cuir Noir was all heavy saffron with gooey patchouli rose on me. No oud but also no real leather, for that matter, either.
      — Puredistance Black was all gooey patchouli rose with some oud-like subtexts from absinthe wood, and only a light dash of saffron. I didn’t think it was well-done at all. It’s not really a true rose-oud or rose-saffron-oud scent, though.
      — Saffran Troublant from L’Artisan is a super saffron-rose fragrance, but it has NO oud, and it is fleeting in nature.

      I know I’ve written about others, but those are all that are coming to mind at the moment. The most affordable of the lot would be the Montale, I suppose. I’ll try Arabian Oud’s Woody, and let you know privately if that is an option.

  2. Oops! I meant “attar” when I typed “oud!” My excuse is a terrible toothache. I can’t even believe I can string a sentence together!! :-p

  3. Oh, goodness. I should know not to ask a question! It was almost a rhetorical one. You are *so* exhaustive and we are both exhausted, I know. I shall read your response tomorrow, but I must say thank you now.

  4. Thank goodness I read this while trying my decant. I wouldn’t know saffron if it bit my foot. I am not fond of it in cooking, so maybe my nose doesn’t know or understand how it really smells. I tried to smell the fig, but my poor nose was just overwhelmed by the powerful rose jam caramel oud wood thing. Some part of my being does not sidle up to this note combination. But I see all the love out in perfumeland for the Arabian style intensity when it comes to rose/oud/saffron scents. Now I got a whole 5 ml. All dressed up and no place to go.

    • LOL. I bet you ordered it thinking you’d be getting a scent that was primarily focused on amber. The “rose jam” is powerful, isn’t it? As for the caramel, some of the butteriness that you’re detecting undoubtedly stems, in part at least, from the saffron. I think the saffron-rose-oud combination is probably an acquired taste. My mother, for example, dislikes saffron in perfumery as she thinks it “smells like food.” That’s mental association, no doubt. As Abdes Salaam Attar once told me, “we smell with our mind.” Given that you’re not keen on the note in food, it will probably not be your thing in perfumery either. The good news is that you would have no problems selling your decant to someone. 🙂

  5. I was underwhelmed by the original Roja Dove Aoud,and find the fake jewel studded caps tacky beyond words. I am sure the ingredients are good quality but I found it incredibly boring and unoriginal.

    • I was underwhelmed by the original Aoud one, too, Tara. Have you found a Roja Dove scent that calls your name?

      • I am a fan of Unspoken and Enslaved. Haven’t had a chance to smell most of them, especially the most recent ones, but I do own and love those two.

        • I’ve heard lovely things about both of those perfumes, but especially Unspoken. I don’t have samples of either one, but I’ll keep them both in mind next time I order. I’m so glad you’ve found 2 that you love a lot. 🙂

  6. Darling K, Like you, I am not at all a fan of rose perfumes. I just cannot, for the life of me, wear a rose scented perfume yet I can without a problem wear a rose scented body lotion or face cream.
    I just got today 3 Roja Dove samples of the extraits and, of course, like a maniac, I tried all three of them at the same time. Fetiche is just extraordinary. Vetiver is stunning, although not my cup of tea since it reminds me of my grandfather and his cohort of drunk poets but it is still divine. Gardenia on me smelled nothing like gardenia so I can only say is a gorgeous jasmine perfume.
    I am not sure I’ll be placing anytime yet a sample for Amber Oud. I have such a huge list of things I urgently need to smell I feel confident I can postpone this one.
    Have a wonderful week!

    • I’m glad you found a few that you enjoyed, WeFadetoGrey. 🙂 Was the Fetish the Woman’s version? Is there any leather on your skin?

  7. Its the woman’s version and I do not get much leather, but I think I need to try it again to be sure since I just got it in the mail yesterday. I am wearing it today. For now, not much leather, just a soft, almost plushy green, smoky? can I say smoky? beautiful soft leather. There’s something very deep slightly spicy with golden borders which is very inviting. After the initial blast of bergamot, at least on my skin, the most well behaved (the opposite of hard leather) leather appears, it is almost creamy and always a bit spicy. You know I am not familiarized with patchouli yet but I believe that this smells like the other perfumes I own that have patchouli. it has that depth that is delicious. I love Fetiche. Definitely my favorite of the three. I cannot stop smelling myself.

    • How lucky. I’m so envious. I got no leather at all from Fetish Woman, just florals. I don’t recall any patchouli either, but I do think that think my experience was quite an anomaly. I’m so glad that you found one that you love. Enjoy! 🙂

  8. I’ve heard so much about this one, but I have to admit it was refreshing to read a review that wasn’t unequivocal praise for the scent. Indeed, the combo is a bit overdone by now and the jammy rose isn’t super appealing. I like the taste of saffron in food, but sometimes I find the smell off-putting (does that even make sense? I feel the same way about mangos – I love the fruit, but the smell is always a weird one to me and one that reminds me of feet). Frankly, though, for the price I’m simply not very interested. A harsh judgment, perhaps, but I think Roja is a bit too rich for my blood financially and I’ve tried a number of his scents and have yet to be enamored.

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