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