Teaser: Upcoming Ensar Oud Series & Photos

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve been well. I’m safe, dry, and gradually recuperating from the extremely stressful aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, but wanted to check in and give you a small peek into what lies ahead. I’m working my way through a few treasures as I prepare a long, detailed series on Ensar Oud. He is perhaps the single most famous name in the oud world, a pioneer who revolutionized the field with his luxury oils, many of which are made from the oldest, rarest and highest grade wood. He also does sandalwood oils. In both cases, not only are the woods themselves frequently very old, but many of his creations are subsequently aged as well, like the finest cognac or scotch, before they’re released.

Ensar Oud via Fashionweekonline.com

The series is taking quite some time. The first part will be a profile on Ensar Oud, his philosophy, his approach, and why he’s a legend whose name is spoken in reverential, awed tones. He’s a complex, intriguing man who makes passing references to Yeats, Rachmaninov, or Walt Whitman whilst speaking passionately about oud as a force of life. And he writes Hemingway-esque stories about trips into the heart of Far East Asia with his lieutenant “Kruger,” like the time they met with their master “monk distiller” and a member of the local mafia who talked about the old war in Cambodia over Tom Yum, steamed fish, and darts. Part I will be about him, the world of oud, changes to it over the last 10-12 years, and why his work stands out. It is basically finished, but I’m waiting on some information from Ensar Oud. Part II will review three lovely sandalwood oils, all of which have already been tested at length.

Part III will be a number of oud reviews and will be a long work in progress. I’m trying to get through as many of the oils currently offered in the 9-piece Ensar Oud Ultimate Oud sampler kit as I can. There will undoubtedly have to be a Part IV later on down the line because I was sent 21 ouds in total, and it’s difficult not to get distracted by some of the more famous ones. A number of them are long since sold out, but I received samples, the oils are still talked about in awed tones, are now collector items, and are well-known to the oud aficionados. So reviewing them would be valuable or interesting to that group in the same way that a review of Shiseido’s Nombre Noir or Guerlain’s vintage Apres L’Ondée was to perfume people. Still, I’m doing my best to focus, for now, primarily on oils that are currently for sale, even if some of the samples are not in the sampler set and have to be purchased separately.

Some of them quite incredible thus far. Who knew that oud could go from animalic funk to smelling of lilac and peaches?! I kid you not, lilacs!! Or that oud could be redolent of: indolic jasmine; chocolate and patchouli mixed with plums and stewed raisins; the best single-malt Islay scotch sipped over old parchment manuscripts in a leather armchair before a fire; or a mesquite-filled desert that suddenly morphs into the verdant heart of a Papua New Guinea jungle?

I thought I would share with you photos of the oud oils sent to me. At the very least, it will give you an idea of the task before me as well as the difficulty of picking, choosing, and sticking solely to the ones currently available:

Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

Some of the “Legends” series, still available. Photo: my own.

Photo: my own.

The oils currently available in Ensar Oud’s Ultimate Oud Sampler Kit. Photo: my own.

Ensar Oud’s three most famous collections are the “Oriscents,” the “Legends,” and his “Sultan” series. The most legendary “Oriscents” are collector’s items now, and only one limited-edition oil is currently left for sale, along with a stratospherically priced sample set. A few of the more recently issued, vintage, aged “Legends” are still available, but most are sold out. Samples of two are available in the Ultimate Oud sample kit. But the super-luxury Sultan series is the one that I have to fight off the urge to try because only one remains available for sale, Sultan Ahmet, and it sounds like the zenith of Ensar Oud’s art. Unfortunately, its price is so astronomical that a review would not benefit the vast majority of my readers. Then again, sometimes, one has to do something for oneself, either simply for the experience or to see what the fuss is about, so who knows. Maybe I’ll indulge myself for Part IV, much further down the line.

Four oils in the Sultan series, including Sultan Ahmet which is still available. Photo: my own.

I never took photos of the sandalwood oil samples which were sent to me and which will be the focus of Part II. I was so caught up in the rapture of smelling my ultimate, Holy Grail sandalwood, Sandal Sultan, that I simply forgot. By the time that I remember that I should probably photograph the vials to show, at the very least, the colour of the oils, it was too late and I’d gone through most of them in testing. But they are excellent, and if you’re a hardcore santal fan, you may want to consider the Sample Set which includes three oils and two sets of granules or powders, 15 grams each, to burn like incense.

As a side note, I know some of these prices are high to very, very high, and I also know that oud is not everyone’s comfort zone. It’s not particularly mine, either. But these are truly exceptional quality oils, many of which have an astounding range of notes, depth, smoothness, and complexity. They’re not only made from wood that is top-grade, rare, and of vintage age, but they’ve also been treated in a fashion intended to create “Art” with a capital “A,” by a man who is a legend and revered in his world to a degree that I think no-one — not even Serge Lutens — is revered in ours. My goal with this series is to open the door to his world, give you a glimpse inside, and to try to explain why oud at this level is something entirely different. My hope is that you will view the series as an educational trip into a very different universe and that it will be interesting on that level even to those who don’t actually like oud or who blink at the prices.

I know that, for many people, it would be far more useful or relevant if I wrote about the latest Masque releases, Lubin’s new Epidor, the gazillion new Roja Doves, Tom Ford’s Oud Minerale, the many Fragrance du Bois oils which have arrived in the U.S., or some other hot, trendy, new thing that has just released. I have samples of most of the scents I’ve mentioned (amongst many, many others), have tested a handful, and I’m afraid that, nothing I’ve tried thus far (particularly Roja Dove’s Qatar, Kuwait, and Elysium) inspires me to cover them right away instead of focusing on an artisanal brand that won’t be for everyone.

So, please, may beg your indulgence for now? Who knows, maybe you’ll be tempted by an oud oil that smells of lilacs, or one that layers peaty, smoky Islay scotch with leather, old books, patchouli, campfire smoke, red wine, and grilled portobello mushrooms. Or some other variation in these most unusual, complex oils. At the very least, you’ll never see the world of oud in quite the same way. I promise you that.

Disclosure: My samples were provided courtesy of Ensar Oud. That did not impact this post. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

18 thoughts on “Teaser: Upcoming Ensar Oud Series & Photos

  1. First – so glad that you have come through Harvey relatively unscathed. I feel very sad for all the poor souls who have lost their homes.

    Second – I will enjoy reading all your upcoming posts, no matter what you feature! And I certainly had no idea that oud was such a shape-shifter. Lilac? Wow!

    What a fascinating person Ensar is. To top it all, what a handsome chap!

    • Thank you, my sweets. For everything.

      And, yes, Ensar Oud is completely fascinating. He seems to have even more layers than his oils, and believe me, a number of his oils have more layers than many niche fragrances that I’ve smelled lately. I will never get over oud wood that smells of sweet lilacs and peaches, particularly given what it started out as initially.

      What he manages to bring out in his oils is really on a whole other level. The fuss about him is not just hype. I thought it might be before I tried the oils, but no, it’s not nonsense or exaggerated hype. It’s backed up by actual, real substance. I haven’t gotten through even half the oils yet, but it’s already been a real eye-opener into oud (at least at this level).

  2. ❤❤❤❤ everything about this.
    My ensars are kept in a wooden treasure box…with two in my personal bugout bag!

    (Post Harvey I’m sure you can appreciate bugout bags. Mine is mostly useful and pleasure is useful)

  3. To say I’m excited to read your reviews and thoughts about Ensar would be an understatement to say the least.

    He broke every dirty myth I ever believed surrounding oud. I personally, on an unlimited budget, would purchase nearly every oil he would ever produce.

    He truly is a pioneer in his trade, I would go a step further and say he is revolutionary and one of those once in a lifetime prodigies, much like Beethoven or Van Gogh. Obviously artisanal oud is a smaller niche, but his vision and how he absolutely changed the world of oud has been no less brilliant.

    I own most of what you are sampling, and simply can’t wait for your thoughts. Coincidentally, the sampler with Purple Kinam and Borneo 50K was my introduction to real oud. Things have never been the same since.

    • I completely share your opinion of him. In fact, my profile piece actually uses several of the same terms/words as you’ve used in trying to explain why he was such a visionary and why he revolutionized the world of oud.

      What are some of your all-time favourite Ensar oils?

  4. Wonderfully friendly company.
    Ensar was having a rolling 2 Day only sales just recently .
    This may have been from Eid Mubarak.
    I did pick up Ensar’s Royal Santal Kit not to long ago, and I am glad I did.
    Why, I actually now know what real mysore smells like and it is gorgeous.
    I have Montale’s Santal Wood,and actually I tired of it very quickly .
    Why, well when I put it on I could smell it, then I couldn’t, then later on I could.
    It’s frustrating . I put more on during the day because of that,and that’s not always
    the best of idea. Specially for those around you.
    This was before I knew about the whole (Ghosting Effect) .
    With Ensar’s you’ll never have that problem.
    The smell of Ensar’s santal encens/powder is beautiful to breathe in, along with the chips.
    I’ve got my eyes peeled on a couple from Ensar, and I am excited to hopefully read your review about Borneo Zen Kafkaesque .
    BTW, I seem to like trat.
    Hopefully you could include what they mean about incense grade oud, or if anyone here has had the opportunity to experience them , if they would, comment about them.
    Feel Oud doesn’t offer the 5 oud for $50 sample special anymore.
    To bad I was going to order that along with some trat chips. Darn.
    I am so sorry about what happened with Harvey.
    May you and your hairy German always be safe.

  5. Dear Kafkaesque-

    Wonderful to know you are safe after the storm. And I hope that your beautiful dog is also well. I first experienced ouds after reading your series on Sultan Pasha, and I have a small bottle of Resine Precieux that I wear and enjoy. Will be looking forward to the upcoming series on Ensar Oud. Take care.

    • His Royal Hairiness is well, my dear, thank you for asking. He’s much better now than during Harvey and its aftermath. He was most certainly not thrilled by that situation! He hates even small storms or rain bursts, so I had to keep him drugged up to his eyeballs with Melatonin during the days that followed Harvey and, on one particularly rough day, a bit of Benadryl as well. It’s what his vet has suggested in the past since the Thunder Shirt and St. John’s Wort are completely ineffective in assuaging his anxiety. But he’s all better now!

      How great to know that you bought one of the Sultan Pasha attars and that you enjoy it! I’m so pleased.

    • His Royal Hairiness had a rough time during Harvey and the torrential rain that followed. He doesn’t deal well with storms, even minor ones, so you can imagine what this extreme weather was like for him. I had to keep him sedated in accordance with stuff his vet has suggested in the past but, even so, he was pretty stressed out. I think he was happier than any of us when it finally stopped raining and the sun came out! Thank you for asking about him, James. xo

  6. Glad to hear that you’re dry and safe! Harvey and its aftermath is devastating. I’m very much looking forward to your profile and reviews of Ensar Oud. I just received his sandal sample kit and can’t wait to test them and read about your dissections of them.

  7. I have also just splurge on the Ensar Royal Santal kit. I adore Neela Vermeire’s Trayee and I wanted to see if Ensar’s offering could provide the same magic to me (as a sandalwood solliflore of course).

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