I don’t typically post about new or upcoming launches, but the fantastic debut collection from Areej Le Doré, the limited 100-bottle quantities for the trio, and the speed with which they sold out made me decide to make an exception to my usual rule. This is a brand where the particular circumstances make it worth having advance notice to order samples, having some time to spend getting to know the fragrances, and then deciding if one wants a bottle. Plus, I was once chastised for covering a fantastic Areej Le Doré fragrance soon after it sold out, albeit for completely understandable reasons because it’s frustrating to hear about great scents that come in limited quantities, but I’m not going to make that mistake again, so I’m telling all of you about their launch before I write even a word about them in an actual review.
There are four new Areej Le Doré fragrances and, like their precursors, there are only 100 full bottles of each. Each one was created from the same batch quantity of distilled materials, whether a rare Rose Alba Otto, a particular type of oud, a tincture of rare (but legally obtained) Siberian deer musk, or the like. All four fragrances are currently listed on the website but will become available for purchase early next week, so starting at some point on or after October 9th, October 10th, or October 11th.
Each fragrance comes from the same batch, but, once the 100 bottles are sold out, that’s it for the fragrance. It will not be remade or reproduced. Russian Adam has a particular ethical issue with fragrances having olfactory batch differences, or fragrances being put out under the same name while having different raw materials or ingredients. He doesn’t believe in it, and he won’t do it. One of the reasons for his insistence is that all his fragrances include personal, frequently hand-done artisanal distillations or hydrosols of very precise, particular, rare, top-grade, raw materials which, by definition, have a particular olfactory character. That character cannot be replicated in a second distillation. As he’s told me in the past, and as Part I of my Feel Oud series and Part I of my Ensar Oud series should have made clear, each time one distills artisanal oils at this level, there will be clear, distinct scent differences.
These are largely natural fragrances, mainly derived from rare and/or top-notch ingredients, and not from easily homogenized, uniform synthetics which can be replicated time and time again without a single olfactory divergence. Consequently, the minute one of the expensive, rare ingredients is changed, so will the entirety of the scent. That is one big reason for the reason for the limited bottles, along with Russian Adam’s scrupulous honesty about the technicalities. Sourcing, geography, materials, their rarity, and distillation differences are separate reasons why these fragrances are so different and also why, for many people, they are so remarkable.
Enough context and background, let’s move onto the four new releases and their notes:
Top notes: bergamot, cardamom and a touch of Russian pine
Heart notes: jasmine sambac, white champaka, ylang-ylang, white Irish ambergris, tonka bean absolute, clove and nutmeg
Base notes: violet leaf, orris root, sweet myrrh, oakmoss, nagarmotha and labdanum.
As a side note, the white Irish ambergris used here is from Pat Lillis whom I interviewed for the ambergris section of Part I of my Amber series. If there is one chap who has plentiful, gorgeous, high-end, genuine ambergris, it’s Mr. Lillis. The fact that Russian Adam not only used his stuff but so much of it as to center an entire composition around such an expensive ingredient is one more sign that these compositions are not the usual cheap, toxic aromachemical soup and if it says “ambergris,” it actually IS ambergris, not Ambroxan, Amber Xtreme, or some other ghastly synthetic.
Flux de Fleur:
Top notes: dissolved green and black frankincense; pink grapefruit
Heart notes: rooh** of jasmine sambac and yellow frangipani; tuberose absolute, Cambodian oud that is over 10 years old; dark Sumatran oud soaked in coconut water; and Indian amber shamama attar, aged for more than two decades
Base notes: legally obtained, wild Siberian deer musk; castoreum, blue lotus absolute, honeysuckle and henna infusion, vetiver, tolu balsam and benzoin.
**“Rooh” is not a typo. Russian Adam explained:
Rooh means a soul in Arabic.
Rooh Motia, Rooh gulab are famous oils in India. So “Rooh of Jasmine” basically means Jasmine Otto or hydro/steam distilled Jasmine.
I emphasize it on purpose, because it’s very rare and hard to find. However in India it is a well known practice (or at least it used to be) so I decided to call it Rooh of Jasmine… which means hydro/steam distilled Jasmine.
Quite separate from that, please note that even if Flux de Fleur includes some legally-obtained Siberian deer musk, it is not to the degree or the quantity present in Siberian Musk, one of Areej Le Doré’s most highly acclaimed fragrances in the initial trio. What is included here is meant to be only a light touch. The new Siberian Musk Version 2.0 will not be released until December 2017, January 2018, or some time thereabouts. Flux de Fleur is a totally unrelated fragrance.
Top notes: rose alba otto and white pepper absolute extracted by Russian Adam
Heart notes: peach blossom and osmanthus co-absolute extracted by Russian Adam, white frankincense distilled by Russian Adam, white gardenia, white champaka, clove, cardamom, Indian sandalwood, tonka bean absolute, tincture of legally obtained, wild Siberian Musk pod and synthetic civet
Base notes: rare, wild Hainan agarwood oil, aged over 5 years; Indian oud oil, white Indonesian gaharu boya**, betel leaf, Virginian cedarwood and benzoin.
**Gahuru Boya is an Indonesian agarwood varietal that is sold as oud or as “white oud oil,” even though it’s a completely different species (Aetoxylon sympetalum) than agarwood’s main aqualaria type. Russian Adam said he intentionally used an oil distillation of Gahuru Boya “because it gives very soft, white, natural leather accord.”
Top notes: cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg
Heart notes: wild Borneo oud oil distilled by Russian Adam, carrot seed, spikenard, tobacco and coffee
Base notes: opoponax, Bengal sandalwood, Muhuhu (also known as African sandalwood), costus, fossil amber and labdanum.
I’ve skipped the detailed official descriptions for each fragrance in the interests of time, but feel free to read them on your own at the links above if you’re interested.
Each fragrance is 50 ml of highly concentrated extrait de parfum that actually has the richness of “CPO,” a concentrated attar oil, albeit in sprayable form. After trying the last 3 Areej releases, I can tell you that tiny spritzes or dabs of his attar-like fragrances have an astonishing depth, body, weight, and richness as compared to normal niche extraits on the market, not to mention a longevity that can sometimes equal 24+ hours, even reaching 36 hours on occasion, so keep that in mind when you hear the prices. A little goes a long, long way — much more than any regular, typical, or conventional fragrance, even those at extrait strength. These are something at a whole different level.
Like the prior releases, some of the new quartet start at $250 in price, some at $300, and one at $350. Like the prior releases, the specific ingredients within each fragrance determine the ultimate cost. Russian Adam told me he sought to make the packaging prettier but, more importantly, he sought to heighten the quality of the ingredients even further but without jacking up the prices beyond original price levels. In fact, he explicitly elaborated his price concerns to me, as well as his desire to make the fragrances more luxurious without making raising their price further (like so many other brands):
As for pricing, I really tried my best not to increase it as many of the brands do but instead to improve the packaging, ingredients and try to lower the price.
Oud Picante for instance will be only 250$ having some rare pure wild Borneo oud distilled by me. Flux de Fleur will be 350$ as it has my personal favorite over 10 years old Cambodian oud and Coco Zen Oud that been soaked in coconut water and also quite expensive over 20 years old amber shamama attar. Other 2 compositions will be 300$. All are the same concentration, Extrait de Parfum in 50ml bottles. This time I ordered metal plates instead of stickers for the bottles and each plate is stamped with individual number… from 001 to 100.
One of the many reasons why I’ve focused on Russian Adam this year (whether in his Feel Oud line or his Areej Le Doré creations) is not only because he makes great stuff but because everything he does shows that he wants to make great stuff for the love of perfumery and for the consumers. Not to become an acclaimed mainstream or over-hyped marketing phenomenon, not to make a ton of money and then sell out to Estee Lauder, and not to make fragrances the easy way. As Part I of my series on his Feel Oud oud oils tried to demonstrate, this is a chap who goes elbow-deep (literally) into macerating muck for months and months on end in order to create the purest, most authentic, luxury oils imaginable. And his ethos for his Areej blended fragrance line is just as intrinsic, authentic, up-to-the-elbow, and hands-on. His interest is primarily on making great fragrances for all the world to smell. And he knows that it hasn’t always been easy to order things from Thailand, to deal with the shipping costs or the vagaries of the cheapest Thai Mail options.
Changes to the Areej Le Doré sample situation reflect that interest in focusing on the customer experience and in facilitating people’s access to samples. Russian Adam has made an arrangement with the American decanting service, Surrender to Chance (“STC”), which is one of the two main resources that I use to buy my own samples for review. They ship to most place worldwide and, starting sometime next week, they will offer a sample set of the latest Areej Le Doré releases. The price is expected to be $40 for 4 samples of each extrait, each in either o.7 or 1 ml vials. There will be 50 sample sets in total. Here is a link to STC’s general Areej Le Doré section for you to use if you wish to look up the set in the upcoming days. (At the time of this post, STC only has samples of Oud Zen out of the prior trio that I reviewed.) Surrender to Chance has offered most or all of the prior trio that I covered, but this is a new, special arrangement that Russian Adam set up, in part to facilitate geographic access to his samples.
Russian Adam will offer a sample set separate from the limited 50 quartet provided by STC. It will be the same price ($40, I think) and there will be again 50 sets offered in total. The sole reason for the split in sources/options is because Russian Adam has had difficulties with the Thai post, the cheapest delivery option previously available at $15, and he was recently forced to discontinue it after some customers’ packages were lost. Having STC as a partner to provide American deliveries at a much more affordable rate ($3.95 for the US) or more reliable transnational service ($19.95 for most USPS international first class shipping) seemed like the best way to make his fragrances accessible to the largest audience without them paying through the nose for it.
Neither the STC nor the Areej sample sets are available for purchase at the moment of this post, Friday, October 6th. However, they should both be available some time next week. (On the Areej Le Doré website, everything I’ve mentioned is currently listed, up, and posted, but none are available for actual purchase at the time of this review. Things should change sometime on or after Tuesday October 10th, Wednesday October 11th, or thereabouts.)
I received samples of all four fragrances roughly two weeks ago, but I have only tested one of them thus far. As a reviewer, I face the constant, perpetual need to balance out indie, niche, artisanal, and mainstream fragrances, masculines and feminines, price ranges and fragrance genres. My long-stated goal to cover more vintage fragrances (at this point, any vintage fragrance whatsoever) has unfortunately gone out the window in the face of the tsunami of endless new annual releases (in all categories). I’m trying to do my best to manage an equilibrium in the types of new stuff I focus on, since many of you perk up at the bigger niche names and some of you understandably shy away from limited-edition indie or artisanal brands. To that end, my next review will be for the new Guerlain fragrance, LUI. But going so mainstream as to focus on the latest Tom Ford oud, Roja Dove’s Elysium rendition of a designer scent, or his utterly horrific cotton candy floss-and-cashmeran Gulf release will simply keel me in. I can’t do it. Roja Dove actually sent a signed, full bottle of his new Elysium by special courier a month ago, and I can’t summon up the interest or energy to write even a passing snippet about it.
So, I will talk about LUI, then either one or two niche brands like Fragrance Du Bois (if I can get motivated) or one of the new Mona di Orios, or perhaps skip them entirely in favour of a vintage fragrance, but then I will focus heavily on these four new releases. Because life is too short to focus on simply “okay” fragrances when Areej Le Doré has a solid track record of making fragrances that are a joy to smell. They either encompass Franco-Arabic or classical French perfumery, but always in their richest, most opulent form; an attar with the added benefits of being sprayable, where a tiny spritz not only lasts for ages also but feels like vintage perfume extraits from the best houses. Whether it’s the now sold-out, grandly elegant chypre, Siberian Musk; or Ottoman Empire, my personal favourite and a lush, heady, extravagant, chypre-floral-oriental; or the simpler but very sexy, inviting, cozy, masculine Oud Zen— I think they are ALL uniformly great to exceptional fragrances in both scent and quality.
Many of you read this site primarily because you have tastes similar to my own, and that’s why I wanted to break my usual rules in order to give you a heads-up about the new releases. Those of you who are already fans of the Areej fragrances will want to consider getting a sample set to test and explore before my reviews, so this post should serve as information on how to best to do that for your geographic region. For those of you who love vintage-style fragrances but who missed out on testing the prior limited-release trio, please consider this as a news alert of what is to come. For everyone else, thank you for your patience, good humour, and tolerance as I skew, once more, towards the artisanal/indie side.
Have a lovely weekend, everyone.
[UPDATE 10/13: my review of Flux de Fleur has just been posted. I’ll try to add links to the reviews for the other three fragrances when they are published. 10/16: the review for Atlantic Ambergris is also up. 10/18: Oud Picante. 10/21: Inverno Russo.]
Disclosure: My samples were provided courtesy of the company. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.