Ensar Oud EO No 2

It’s been a long time since a new release gave me a frisson of instant joy, longer still since one moved me to write reams of pages upon first sniff. Ensar Oud‘s newest fragrance, EO No 2 parfum, did precisely that. Within moments of spraying, I rushed to dig up a yellow legal pad, my head filled with the story of what the fragrance conjured up, so real that I practically saw the sentences in my head, saw the visions of what the notes evoked. It was a moment of pure olfactory delight, something which has been all too rare for me lately.

Photo: Ensar Oud.

The extent to which EO No 2 impacted me was both a surprise and a major relief. If you’ll forgive a personal digression, I’ll explain why. For me, it’s been an exceedingly difficult three months in an equally difficult year and I’ve struggled extensively with both a disinterest in perfumery and in writing, in addition to some other personal issues. In fact, fragrance has provided little interest, comfort, or distraction. Reviewing even less so. I approached analyzing a fragrance with the same enthusiasm I would feel for a root canal. Neither new releases nor my personal old vintage favourites motivated me to put pen to paper. I won’t get into blogging negatives nor the extent to which political events have taxed my psyche, but both were significant factors.

The Hairy German when he arrived home from the hospital.

Personal matters were of a more pressing concern, however, such as my beloved Hairy German whose health began to decline in an alarming way a few months ago. I rushed him to a slew of specialists in different fields, then had him undergo a grueling surgery which involved cutting off part of his femur bone, implanting joints and screws, cutting out a tumor, and more. I brought him home from the hospital the next afternoon only to see him experience a near comatose collapse later that evening. It was hell, for me just as much as him, although he’s thankfully recovered since then. (Me, not so much.)

The point: with so much else of genuine weight going on, fragrance lacked meaning for me and was easy to brush aside, because nothing I’ve tried lately excited me, inspired me, or moved me to write until I tried EO No 2. It has been a rare exception: first, it cut through the fog of my stress, fragrance malaise, disinterest in new releases, and political frustration; second, it made me seize a pen and start writing pages upon pages mere moments after sniffing it, which is the first time that’s happened in months; and, finally, it also gave me a moment of unfettered, pure joy where scent was almost more important than whatever other dreadful hellscape was occurring.

So, having explained the context for this review, lets move onto the specifics and then the olfactory description of EO No 2.

FRAGRANCE DETAILS & NOTES:

Ensar Oud released EO No 2 a few weeks ago in pure parfum and eau de parfum concentrations. It is a limited release. From what I’ve been told, the two concentrations share the same list of ingredients and the same formula. The difference is that the pure parfum has a much higher concentration in terms of richness (i.e., less dilution) and also more intense muskiness due to a deer musk tincture which was used as part of the dilution methodology. (More details on that towards the end.) This review is for the pure parfum version.

Ensar Oud EO No 2 bottles in their handmade leather casing. Source: Ensar Oud.

Ensar Oud created the blend himself, focusing on genuine deer musk as a significant, primary component in the composition. In that regard, it differs from the first sprayable blended fragrance in the line, EO No 1, which emphasized leather in its vintage-skewing, chypre-oriental bouquet. As a side note, I never wrote about that first release  because it was simply the sprayable, less concentrated version of the Sultan Leather Attar which I had previously reviewed and liked so much that I put it on my 2017 year-end “Best Of” list. But this latest fragrance, however, EO No 2, is completely new and it has no overlap with any attar, oil, or blend that he has previously done.

If you have concerns about animal cruelty, illegal poaching, or endangered species issues, please know that Ensar Oud used deer musk which was ethically sourced and legally obtained as part of the Russian government’s small annual allotment of Siberian deer which it allows hunters to sell at auction.

Inside a deer musk pod used in Ensar Oud’s EO No 2. Source: Ensar Oud.

In my opinion, EO No 2 should not be seen as a musk soliflore which merely happens to have tiny touches of other things subsumed within. That is not the case. On me, the musk is a large, overt presence, yes, but it is one of several, often co-equal, central elements. Partnering the musk are a slew of notes ranging from roses to leather, oud, sandalwood (four different types!), spices, and resins. Depending on the hour or stage of development, the parfum alternates between a chypre-oriental, floral leather, floral woody musk, a floral leather musk, a woody musk, or a woody ambered musk. I find it to be a nuanced shape-shifter that trips across different fragrance genres, perhaps even more so than Sultan Leather Attar, although I must emphasize that I’ve never tried the latter when diluted and slightly tweaked for its EO No 1 sprayable formulation.

The company’s long official scent description for EO No 2 singles out a few individual notes but does not provide an actual list of ingredients. It does, however, provide a few olfactory descriptive snippets:

Instead of going where all men have gone before, you’re thrown off the beaten track with musk drinking black tea under a canopy of cedar.

Himalayan rose and coriander waltz onto the floor with subtle wafts of rare sambac on top in a primal, peppery scent of steaming bedroom sweat, spent.

Full-grain, veg-tanned Italian calf hide hand-worked by leather legend Habib Dingle to add some proper animalis to the husky heart bulging with civet and spice.

Source: wallpaper-source.com

I detect many more elements than the handful referenced above. When testing the fragrance, I was operating blind as to the notes and, based on what appeared on my skin, tentatively guessed that the potential note list might include:

Pink peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, rose, bergamot, lime, jasmine sambac, deer musk, styrax, labdanum, Tolu balsam, leather accord (oud, birch tar), cedar, opoponax or sweet myrrh incense, patchouli, civet, and animalis.

Rosewood. Photo: Toby Smith for ETA/Getty Images. Source: essentialoilslondon.com

I asked Ensar Oud what was in the EO No 2 and he kindly shared the details. The actual note list includes, among other things, the following:

Top: Cumin, French Cedar, Pink Pepper, Rosewood, Basmati Rice, Coriander

Heart: Black Tea, Turkish Rose, Clove, Papuan Sandal, Jasmin Sambac, Himalayan Rose

Base: Siberian Musk, Mysore Sandal, Rockrose Resin [i.e., labdanum resin], Papuan Oud, Timor Sandal, Australian Sandal, African Civet.

It’s quite a different list than what I experienced, noticeably the absence of any citrus component. I couldn’t figure out why I experienced so much citrus and lime on my skin, aromas which clearly go above and beyond mere coriander. (Ensar told me some other people had experienced lime on their skin as well, while a handful got grapefruit instead.) We put our heads together to try to figure out why. After discarding the Papuan Sandal (supposedly very fruity in aroma) as a possibility, we settled on the possible combination of the rosewood (a very citrusy wood) with the coriander.

Other aromas I detected seem to be similar indirect byproducts as well. For example, there is a strong chocolate note through most of EO No 2’s development on my skin. I had guessed it came from patchouli but there is no patchouli in EO No 2, so oud or possibly sandalwood is the more likely source. Oud is also the likely candidate for both the smoky styrax resin and the incense-like notes I experienced, although the one of the sandalwoods may have accentuated it as well.

At the end of the day, however, it’s impossible to determine with any certainty what comes from where. Just know that what I smell, experience, and describe below does not always correlate to the actual ingredients in the fragrance.

THE PARFUM & WHAT IT SMELLS LIKE:

I’m going to eschew my usual hour-by-hour analytical breakdown and instead describe EO No 2 by allegory or metaphor, relying on the story and imagery which popped into my head within moments of sniffing the fragrance.

“Pre-Raphaelite Passion” by Gillian Gamble on 500px. (Website link to her 500px page embedded within.)

Once upon a time, there was a princess who slept under an enchanted spell. Her dress was made out of red and green rose petals, their velvety skin coated with the juice, oil, and aromatically fragrant bitter rinds of sour limes and bergamot. Her hair was crowned with a headdress fashioned out of fruity pink peppercorns woven with cloves, cinnamon sticks, and lemony coriander, while her bed was made out of calf-skin leather. Shielding her like a wall of knights was a thicket of climbing rose bushes intertwined with dark cedar and oud. The earth below her was slick with chewy, slightly smoky, leathery, ambered resins, then covered with patchouli pebbles which smelled like dark chocolate.

What caught the eye and the nose, however, was the shimmering aura which lay above and all around the princess, the physical manifestation of the enchanted spell. It was a haze of deer musk, as fleecy and as fluffy as cotton wool clouds in a burnished, orange-pink sky at sunset.

Picture by Brianna Copeland. Source: aljanh.net

Like a magnet or swirling whirlpool, the enchanted musk absorbed the colours and smells of the roses, sour citruses, dark woods, spices, resins, and earthy chocolate around it, enveloping them and lending them its own texture and aroma. With one spray of perfume, the musk aroma was a mix of clean, dry soil with equally clean, crumbly white woods and heavily spiced sawdust, all lightly covered with a few handfuls of clean fur.

A very old bottle of Mitsouko parfum from the 1930s or 1940s. Photo: my own.

With 2 or 3 sprays from a bottle, however, those handfuls turned into an opulent fur coat scented with a woman’s spicy vintage chypre perfume and the warm musk of her body. It’s a combination which reminds me of vintage Mitsouko in its 1930s/1940s extrait formula where evaporation and concentration over the decades have amplified and accentuated the base notes, resulting in a rose chypre laden with semi-animalic musk, fur, resins, leather, warm skin, and spice. When you apply a large amount of EO No 2, the bouquet not only skews very vintage in feel and whispers of certain Mitsouko-ish elements, but its musk and dark base notes take on almost a tactile textural quality, just as super old vintage Mitsouko parfum does on my skin. It’s a texture which sometimes feels like thick velvet, but sometimes fluffy, snuggly, and soft like the finest cashmere sweater. It’s so lovely that I take long, deep sniffs of my arm with appreciation.

Pink peppercorns or Baie Rose. Source: worldflavorz.com

From a distance, the individual details of Sleeping Beauty and her resting place end up folding into a singular, soft, shimmering, and velvety cloud. (It skews more abstract with a light scent application of one spray, while a heavy application of two or more sprays yields a more delineated set of notes.) The bouquet which ripples on the scent trail is a swirl of sour limes, fruity peppercorn, green coriander roses, multi-faceted darkness, black chocolate, and earthy musk, all licked on the sides with soft smoke. Sometimes, the darkness skews towards lightly charred woods; sometimes, it brims with the aroma of styrax or oud, smelling smoky, chewy, and leathery; and every so often, it smells like black, faintly salty, licorice, much like what you find with some kinds of Tolu balsam absolute in its least diluted form.

Photo: Martin Zalba via Flickr (Direct website link embedded within.)

In our fairy tale allegory, the end of the third year (meaning: hour) and the start of the fourth marks a new phase. The princess’ surroundings change and now radiate a different scent: a rosy-ish, spicy, sweet-sour, woody, smoky, leathery, resinous, chocolate-y, and earthy musk bouquet, painted in large swathes of brown, red, gold, bronze, and black, then inlaid with pink and chocolate curlicues in varying degrees. It’s a bouquet which is significantly spicier, more resinous, and leathery than it was at the start. The musk fluctuates in its prominence: sometimes, it’s a supporting player, letting the various woods, leather, and resins shine on center stage; sometimes, it seizes the limelight for itself instead.

As a whole, the bouquet is polished but, unlike the first three hours where it was purely sophisticated and elegantly dressy in feel, it is now starting to take on more sultry, sexy, and snuggly vibes. In essence, the princess is en déshabillé, her clothes starting to slip off to reveal her dark undergarments and her naked, heated, musky, bronzed skin.

Source: ngm.nationalgeographic.com

Roughly 5.25 hours in, the bouquet veers between two different scents and points of emphasis. One is dark, earthy musk laced with chocolate, rose, and leathery dark woods; the other is a more complex series of notes where a sour-sweet-citrusy ambered rose is surrounded by her ladies-in-waiting, comprised of leathery musk, deer musk, oud, spicy peppercorns, coriander, cedar, chewy labdanum amber, an incense-y note like nutty sweet myrrh, and patchouli-like chocolate earth. From afar, the scent trailing in the air is different still: a chocolate rose cocooned within an amorphous but plush and wonderfully velvety cloud of citrusy, fruity, spicy, smoky, woody, ambery musk. Whatever the variation, I love it, perhaps because labdanum, chocolate, and patchouli are amongst my favourite notes or perhaps because the combinations are so warm and inviting, beckoning at you with fingers of sweetness, then enveloping you within a cozy, cashmere-like softness.

Source: androidcentral.com

No prince ever comes to rescue this sleeping princess from her slumber. All that happens as the years pass (ten hours in my scented reality) is that the scenery changes. In the 10th year (read: the 10th hour when the drydown begins), the roses die and disappear, while the woody thicket around the princess grows, spreads, and multiplies, turning into a large forest made up of oud, cedar, and sandalwood. Reams of sandalwood, in fact, none of which is milky or green like Australian santal but which is instead red-black, resinous, chewy, musky, leathery, and smoky, like the sort found in Ensar Oud’s Santal Sultan. Actually, all the trees now smell smoky, tannic, musky, and even occasionally a little like incense. Their dark roots dig into earth composed of dark spices, musk, chocolate, and rivulets of dense, treacly resins.

When taken as a whole, all these elements transform the deer musk into something darker than it was originally. Instead of smelling like clean earth or spiced sawdust, it is now something meatier, spicier, more earthen, and smoky. Interestingly, as the hours pass, it also emits whiffs of earthy mushrooms and a sort of umami aroma, though I have to smell my arm up close to pull it up from the large, strong waves of santal, oud, chocolate, earth, resin, smoke, and peppercorn-coriander-cumin spice.

“Night sea” by Viola Black Raven via Indulgy.com

At the end of our tale, everything fades away and is absorbed into the musk of the enchanted spell. All that is left is a brown haze which is spicy, woody, resinous, chocolate-y, mushroomy, and earthy.

EO No 2’s longevity, projection, and sillage numbers depend on how much I apply. With a single spritz from a bottle, the parfum opens with roughly 2.5 inches of projection and 4 inches of sillage which grows to roughly 6-7 inches after 20 minutes. After 90 minutes, the numbers drop to about 1 to 1.5 inches for projection and about 4 for sillage. It stays that way for hours. In total, it took 9.5 hours for EO No. 2 to turn into a skin scent, though it was clearly detectable if I put my nose on my arm. From start to finish, the fragrance lasted just under 19 hours.

The numbers are significantly higher with a larger scent application. When I applied two or three sprays to the same patch of skin, the opening projection was 4 to 5 inches, but the scent trail extended more than a foot and a half. In fact, it left an actual trail behind me when I went from one room to the next, to the point that a family member detected it when they came over and asked, “what is this amazing smell filling up the corridor and entrance?” For what it’s worth, they took one sniff of my arm, roughly 2 hours into EO No 2’s development and said it reminded them of vintage Mitsouko. With the large scent application, EO No 2 took roughly 13-14 hours to turn into a skin scent. And it was still going strong more than 24 hours later. It was not a wispy, ghostly trace at that point, either. It was a full-on spicy, mushroomy, woody musk. In total, it lasted between 38 and 40 hours. (The range of time I’ve given is because the scent died away on most parts of the large stretch of skin where I had applied it, but not all parts and it lingered in small areas.)

Photo: Jennifer Lynn Photography via her Etsy shop. (Website link embedded within photo.)

One point which the fairy tale or allegory format didn’t permit me to easily explain at the time is just how much fragrance quantities impacted the scent experience. In fact, I was a little surprised by the degree to which different dosages changed the components of the actual bouquet during the first 3 hours. With a single small spritz (an amount roughly equivalent to 2 light to moderate swipes from a dab sample vial), the roses feel soft, airy, and rather quiet. After 90 minutes, they turn sheer and impressionistic, as though they were rosy-ish rather than truly beefy, hefty, distinct and clearly delineated roses. In fact, the chocolate, lime, coriander, pink peppercorns, deer musk, and musky woods are often more pervasive on my skin. In addition, with a small fragrance dosage, the deer musk skews towards the soft earth and spiced sawdust side instead of smelling like a fur coat laden with vintage chypre parfum. After three hours, the roses become muted, shadowy figures hidden behind an opaque wall of spice, leather, smoky woods, licorice/amber resins, and a chocolate-sawdust-scented musk. The notes are blurry, bleeding into each other in such a way that the end result feels a little like one of Turner’s amorphous, hazy cloud paintings. Lastly, when taken as a whole, the fragrance’s sillage was unexpectedly soft as compared to what happens with two or three sprays.

Source: collectorsweekly.com

In contrast, two or more sprays created a more nuanced, complex, and opulent olfactory outcome on my skin, in addition to better note delineation, sillage, body, and heft. I might even argue that the entire character of the scent changes, because it feels strongly retro or vintage during large portions of the first 3 hours. There are a few reasons why. First, the duet of roses and sour lime-bergamot (or whatever is mimicking their aroma) continues to be strong, rich, clearly delineated, and distinctive. In addition, the deer musk skews primarily towards a fur coat scent, thereby giving me those occasional flashbacks to really aged vintage Mitsouko when combined with the quasi-chyprish rose and base notes. Because of the strength of the rose, citrus, and fur coat musk, the chocolate felt quite muted during this phase. Finally, the smoky, leathery, licorice-y, woody, resinous, earthy, and oud-ish elements felt harmoniously integrated as co-equal pieces of a larger or more panoramic landscape, rather than leading the charge as they sometimes did with a one spray amount.

The differences may simply be a function of my particular skin chemistry. Maybe my skin simply requires a larger scent application to show off top notes prominently when the base ones are so powerful or dark?

Regardless of quantity, however, I want to stress that both versions end up in the same olfactory place after the end of the third hour, which is when the heart phase begins, even if their sillage, power, and note delineation or clarity continue to be quite different. Purely on an olfactory basis, the differences largely fade away, the two versions dovetail into a uniform whole from the heart stage onwards, and the scent then develops and smells as I’ve described in the story.

PARFUM vs. EDP, PACKAGING, SAMPLES, GENDER CLASSIFICATION & OTHER REVIEWS:

I would like to briefly discuss the eau de parfum version. As I mentioned at the start of this review, the two concentrations have the same notes and formula. However, from what I’ve been told, the eau de parfum is milder, less powerful, and much less musky than the pure parfum. Ensar Oud explained it to me as follows: “The EDP and Parfum are identical in composition, with the sole difference in that a good part of the ethanol the Parfum is diluted in is proper deer musk tincture, whereas in the EDP it’s just plain ethanol.” In other words, not only does the eau de parfum have more ethanol to dilute its concentration, but it also lacks that extra element of a deer musk tincture that the parfum has. It’s been diluted solely with basic, unadulterated ethanol.

Power is apparently another difference. Ensar Oud explains on his website:

Some like their perfume strong, others prefer ’em mild. To accommodate both tastes, we’re offering two concentrations: Eau de Parfum and Pure Parfum. The Pure Parfum comes in a bottom covered leather case, while the EDP comes in the clear bottom edition, both in the new EO black box!

While I haven’t tried the EDP, I can tell you that the Parfum is an absolute monster by all performance criteria when you apply 2 or more sprays. Powerhouse par excellence.

As Ensar’s quote above mentions, there are minor packaging differences in the hand-sewn Italian leather casing for the two versions. The EDP’s casing has no leather on the bottom, so you can see the bottle’s glass.

Packaging differences between the EDP and Extrait/pure Parfum versions of EO No 2. The Pure Parfum has the leather go all the way to the bottom or base and around it. In contrast, the EDP has a clear base with no leather. Photo & source: Ensar Oud.

Photo & source: Ensar Oud.

The major difference between the two concentrations is price. The Pure Parfum is, as you might expect, a lot more expensive. It is $795 for a 50 ml bottle as opposed to $395 for the EDP. Neither one is cheap, but keep in mind that you get what you pay for. I’m not talking simply about the heavier, richer concentration; I’m also talking about the prices generally for something with large quantities of these particular high-end raw materials. To experience everything from aged, vintage agarwood oil to several different kinds of real sandalwood and, of course, the rarest of them all, Siberian deer musk, you’re going to have to shell out some money. Such scents will never be as affordable as those sold by big designers or the large niche houses, both of which frequently use large quantities of inexpensive aromachemicals in addition to having the benefit of economies of scale in production costs. As for the big niche luxury houses, well, these prices are certainly lower than what Roja Dove charges for many of his extraits or eau de parfums.

Having said that, I won’t lie to you: I could never afford to buy a bottle of the parfum. Not with my vet bills. (I’m not exaggerating when I say that the blood drained from my face and I actually felt a bit light-headed when I saw the final bill for The Hairy German Fluffy Bunny’s operation and hospital stay.) But would I buy a bottle for myself if I hadn’t been sent one by the company and if I had disposable income for scent indulgences? Yes, absolutely.

Ensar Oud does not normally sell samples of EO No 2 but, as a special favour to me and my readers, he’s offering a sample of the Pure Parfum. That way, you can test it before you commit to a big expenditure. I’m someone who insists on testing fragrances before shelling out money and, unless you’re a hardcore Ensar Oud fan, I think most people would feel the same way at the prices we’re talking about here, so I extend my thanks for his thoughtfulness and understanding.

In terms of the gender classification issue, regular readers probably know by now that I think it’s a highly subjective matter that depends on an individual’s personal style, the notes they love, their comfort level with certain materials, and other variables, including how a fragrance will smell on your skin as compared to someone else. Having said that, if EO No 2 presents itself on you as it did on me, I think most people would find it to be unisex, even if some of its elements do skew a little more to the masculine side.

However, if you’re a women who is not comfortable with dark woods, dark spices, balsamic resins, musky oud, or leather, then you may feel that the balance of notes falls completely on the “masculine” side of the spectrum.

Regardless of your gender, if you prefer your musk to smell like the sort of ubiquitous fresh, clean, Bounce dryer sheets, or sugary musk that one finds in mainstream and some niche fragrances, then EO No 2 is not for you, no matter where the scent might fall on the unisex-to-masculine spectrum. Although the deer musk and accompanying touches of animalics here do not amount to anything animalic, skanky, redolent of “Ho Panties,” barnyard, or the like, it is unquestionably a dark, earthy, sometimes furry or mushroomy musk rather than anything laundry clean, soapy, or sugary. (Thank God, if you ask me.)

In terms of other reviews or perspectives, you can find a number of comments on Ensar Oud’s website. (Though he has a Fragrantica section, it only has a few entries and EO No 2 is not listed at the time of this review.) The website comments are positive, and I’ll quote chunks of some of them for you to get a general idea of other people’s scent experiences, then leave you to read everything in full on your own later if you should be so interested. To be helpful, I’ve included one review for the EDP version as well:

    • “I received my EO No 2 parfum edition today. Been wearing it all day and I adore this gem. I also own Russian Musk and Inverno Russo, which are also truly exceptional fragrances, but this one smells completely different with no overlap. The EO No 2 is a very sophisticated, rich and mesmerizing journey.” [Emphasis to perfume names added by me.]
    • “How intoxicating! The power behind just one spray of the EDP. Such an elegant fragrance. It’s as if I was transported back in time to the 1920’s and invited to a gentleman’s cigar lounge. The mixture of barbershop aftershave and suede leather. The lingering of pepper, clove, and lime in the air as I move about. The clouds of pipe tobacco that softly float in the air. The inviting warmth of bitter chocolate offered up with rye whiskey hidden under all the soft whispers of the scents before. This is a fragrance I don’t think I could ever get tired of. And the surprise on the inside!!!! How unique! I think it will only add to the uniqueness and the fragrance profile for years to come.”
    • “I applied the smallest drop from the bottle to my wrist fearfully expecting a pungent scent of the musc to overwhelm me. When I raise my wrist, to my surprise I am greeted with the most amazing fragrance! […] Warm spices, peppercorns and cloves to begin which fades into the background quite quickly to reveal the underlying musc which is intertwined with a rose that gives a musky sweet pipe tobacco vibe… absolutely magnificent and intoxicatingly beautiful.”
    • “EO 2 is simply amazing!!! Nothing like any parfum I’ve tried or owned. It smells so green and fresh at first. It’s got this undertone of musk but not overpowering. It lasted almost two days on my t-shirt. My wife who isn’t a huge fan of overbearing fragrances actually loved it. I love it… simply put!! […] It’s simply an amazing fragrance.”

OTHER FRAGRANCES & HOW THEY COMPARE:

Speaking of Areej Le Doré’s musk fragrances, Russian Musk and Inverno Russo, I completely agree with the commentator quoted up above (Peter from Sweden) that there is no fragrance overlap at all. EO No 2 does not smell like either Areej fragrance. Not even slightly.

Siberian Musk extrait de parfum. Source: Areej Le Dore website.

Nor does it smell anything like Areej’s Siberian Musk, in my opinion. EO No 2 is a very different animal. There are a few reasons why: EO No 2 doesn’t have such a wide range and heavy concentration of florals as Siberian Musk (which had powerful, distinct, and large amounts of jasmine, orange blossom, and frangipani); EO No 2  is only briefly a vintage-style chypre or chypre-oriental in its long lifespan and then it segues into other perfume genres or families; its musk smells denser, darker, meatier, and earthier; its oud and santals smell completely different and/or have different nuances; the leather is much more pervasive; and there is that repeated, strong “chocolate” note which appears on my skin instead of SM’s aromatic, slightly chilly pine. In terms of performance, however, EO No 2 is similar to Siberian Musk, except it might be even more powerful at commensurate two spray dosages.

While I’m making fragrance comparisons, I must say that I don’t find a huge degree of olfactory overlap with Ensar Oud’s Sultan Leather attar, either. (That was the basis for EO No 1.) Sure, both compositions have roses, leather, oud, spices, amber resins, and sandalwood, but the proportions are very different and there is the critical, dispositive difference of the deer musk. The sort of muskiness which is innate to some types or varietals of oud are nothing like the aroma of deer musk, and deer musk is a driving force in EO No 2, even if it’s co-equal partners with some other elements. On top of all that, Sultan Leather had a significant frankincense aroma at one stage and radiated “High Mass” or “High Church,” as well as all its concomitant soapy aspects on my skin. I’m not particularly enamoured by frankincense (and I’m not an admirer of soap in any shape, size, or form in perfumery), so the strength of that element was the big downside in the fragrance for me personally, no matter how much I liked it otherwise. There is no such issue here with EO No 2, indeed no frankincense whatsoever, which is one reason why I respond to this fragrance even more than I did to Sultan Leather.

FINALLY:

I’m not going to tax your patience further with a lengthy conclusion and will simply say that, if your tastes overlap with mine or if you love dark musk fragrances, then I hope you’ll try EO No 2. I realize it’s not ideal that the first fragrance I’ve reviewed positively in months is so expensive and therefore out of range for every reader, and I really wish that were not the case, but this was the first new release in ages to trigger an instant world in my head, a story in my mind, colours before my eyes, and words gushing like a waterfall on paper. For me, it’s just a heck of a fragrance.

Disclosure: My bottle was provided courtesy of the company. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: EO No 2 comes in pure parfum and eau de parfum concentrations, each in a 50 ml bottle size. This review is for the pure parfum which costs $790. The EDP costs $395. At this time, EO No 2 is only available from Ensar Oud. Luckyscent does carry a few items from the line, like EO No 1, but they do not have No 2 and there is no indication at the moment that they’ll place a future order. As a favour to me, Ensar Oud is offering samples of the scent, but only for the Pure Parfum because that is what I’m reviewing and also because the EDP is in more limited supply. Samples are 0.8 ml, which is in line with the size Luckyscent would offer, and they cost $15. You can find it listed on the page linked above. Go to the white box or bar next to the green “Add to Cart” sign, click on the white section which says “Eau de Parfum” and a dropdown menu should appear which has the sample listed as the third option.

45 thoughts on “Ensar Oud EO No 2

  1. Wow! This sounds so completely like something I would ADORE. And thanks to you, dear Kafkaesque, I’ll be ordering a sample as soon as I finish writing this comment. Again, my sincerest thanks for the amazing, erudite review and for making this sampling a possibility!

    • I thought of you so much, Valerie, while testing it and writing the review. Seriously! This is a must test for you, so I’m really delighted that you’ll be ordering a sample.

  2. Sleeping Beauty is awake, thanks to the kiss of a charming perfume! I’m so happy that the Hairy German is healing and I hope that October brings you much happiness.
    Welcome back!

    • Thank you, my dear. The Hairy German currently looks like a badly shaved Poodle, but he’s so much better than he was. Those first days after the surgery were truly wretched.

  3. I got a 5 ml of the Pure Parfum from strifeknot of basenotes and I am so happy that I did.
    What a ride huh. Amazing journey.The kind where your eyebrows raise along with your widening smile. Yes it did go slightly sweet for sometime. Glad you mentioned the licorice. I love the spices and that rose that envelopes around them. Stunning. Quietly opulent. Never brash nor brutal. This is truly one of my favorite experiences from the world of perfumery. Great review Kafkaesque . Please say hello to The Hairy German for us.
    best wishes always
    eddie .

    • I’m so pleased to hear that you loved it too, Eddie. And I completely agree that it’s never brash nor brutal. As a side note, it was nice to know that you experienced licorice too and that I was not the only one. It’s like when I heard that other people were also experiencing “lime,” I was like “AH, YESSSSS!!! It was quite a relief to know it wasn’t just me.

      I hope you’ve been well and had a good summer and start of fall. I will tell King Floof that you extend your regards. 😉 😛

  4. I have ordered a small decant of the EO2 edp. I’m somewhat neutral towards deer musk so I thought I would play it safe with sampling the edp over the very expensive parfum. Its like twice a price of a Areej le Dore 🙁

    I did enjoy EO1 alot especially when I crave for a lighter and earthier version of Sultan Leather Attar.

    • Ordering a decant first sounds like a very sensible, wise decision at these prices and it is what I would have done, too. I hope you end up liking it. Maybe you can let me know what you think once you try it?

  5. It’s good to see a new post of your excellent writing. I might like EO2, considering that I very much enjoy Mitsouko, albeit I’ve only tried a recent version. I just wouldn’t spend so much on a perfume, so I’ll refrain from sampling this one. Then I’ve just discovered a fondness for several Tauer fragrances, so that’s more than enough for the time being.

    It is very difficult when our furry loved ones are ailing. I hope your Hairy German recovers well, and that he continues to have a good life with you for some time to come.

    • To avoid any confusion and to be completely clear and precise, the Mitsouko echoes only occur during a particular window of time, around the 2nd hour, and they don’t last throughout the lifespan of the scent. I just don’t want to be misleading or to create false expectations in anyone reading this.

      Having said that, I completely understand the concerns about cost and why they would render EO No 2 into a source of purely academic, theoretical interest. 🙂

      Thank you for your kind words on my Overlord and his health. How are your cats? I hope they’re in full feline splendour and doing well.

      • Thanks for the clarification. Whenever I see “Mitsouko”, I get a little excited.

        The kitties are purring along nicely, thank you for asking. All three of us were sneezing from allergies last month, but thankfully those have calmed down. Hopefully we will get some much-anticipated fall weather in the near future. That will lift our spirits!

    • Thank you! He has a long, complicated 3 to 4 month recovery ahead of him, but we’re taking it day by day. Right now, he’s plastered to my side and gently snoring from his evening medications. 🙂

      BTW, I’m glad to see the commenting problem has been resolved. WordPress is so weird sometimes!

  6. I got an EDP sample a couple of days ago. I’ve been raving about it since. I’m glad you seem to love it as much as I do. I’ve seen many dislike posts on this one, but their not mine.

  7. I went to order the .8ml Pure Parfum for $15. The shipping is $25 which is unacceptable to me for a tiny sample Should be no more than $5 IMHO.

    • The fragrances are shipped from Amman, Jordan. Do you know of a shipping service for 5 dollars to the continent from the middle east?

    • Same here. I went to order it but the shipping is too expensive!

      Great post and I hope you have happier days with your loving dog.

    • I think the shipping is expensive because it’s coming from overseas by DHL – international postage by express mail is like that even from the start date. Areej Le Dore is $35-45 shipping for a full bottle – not sure about samples but that’s why there’s Luckyscent.

    • Everything is sent from Jordan, which apparently prohibits by law the sending of any liquids, even in small sample form, by regular mail services. Because the company’s atelier and business center is based in Jordan, no fragrances or oils can be shipped out of the country unless a courier like DHL is used. Other Middle Eastern countries have different laws regarding the shipping of liquids. Ensar Oud doesn’t have a choice but to use DHL but even if, hypothetically, he could use The Royal Jordanian Mail, I highly doubt the shipping price would be as low as $5.

  8. What a fantastic review, very inspired! I placed my order for a sample immediately.

    All the best to the Hairy German for a speedy recovery and good health.

    • Ordered a sample on Saturday, received it today. It is everything you said. I am so excited, I don’t think I’ve ever smelled something quite like this parfum and I have been looking for a very long time.

      • Hurray! I’m thrilled to hear this. Tell me more. What’s it like on you? And in what way or ways does it smell different from things you’ve tried before? 🙂

  9. Dear Kafkaesque, I am so happy to read from you again, nobody writes as vivid as you. Though I am not into very heavy/vintage fragrances I am very curious how ‘real dear musk’ smells. I can only remember synthetic musks (I dislike those, as I dislike most ‘very synthetic’ fragrances). Or, perhaps there was deer musk in Nabucco by Amatys? I am not sure.

  10. Good to hear from you Beloved Kafka! You have been missed. I hope his Harriness enjoys his recovery, and you begin to breathe some sighs of relief yourself. I was so grateful to see this review because it is lovely to see you swooning over a fragrance again. Isn’t that the reason we are “Fragheads” in the first place? Sounds like it is truly a masterpiece! See, this is the perfect example of how I experience fragrance vicariously through you; because nobody, but nobody, writes about perfume like you do! Your reviews bring about a chain reaction of good kharma. They also let me know that I can safely leave the samples of this to those who will actually have the opportunity to wear and enjoy it. I thank you and wish you all of the best! Good news for us in Tampabay today…the heat index is only 99 today. It’s finally dipped below 103! It’s FALL!!! (woo hoo!) 😉 All the best to you and your, Dear Kafka!

  11. Dear Kafka,
    I read your twitter thread about a new perfume that brought you joy for the first time in a while, and I was eagerly waiting for the review!
    I am so very sorry you’ve been havibg such a hard time. You must have been so worried about your German, I hope he’s recovering well. I’m sure he couldn’t ask for a better caregiver than you.
    I’m glad that in the midst of bleak news, both private and public, this scent could bring you some joy. I am *swooning* at your review. Your writing is truly special and appreciated, and that perfume seems so thrilling. Ouffffff. So glad for the samples!

  12. I have been trying to explore real deer musk and hoping to find out if anyone has tried Sultan Musk Attar as a comparison to the way the Musk presents itself in EO2. Just purchased the sample EO2 but SMA is not available in sample form.

  13. Dear Kafka, I’ve been lurking on your wonderful site for awhile and am just now speaking up because I need serious perfume help. I’m one those people who didn’t wear perfume for 15 years becauseI thought it only existed at Macy’s and Dillards, and all of them gave me headaches.
    Then I stumbled across niche perfume lines and then I found your site and realized that I probably have an issue with certain synthetics, ISO E Super being one of the top troublemakers for me.
    My issue is this: I love florals, especially jasmine, tuberose, rose, tiare, orange blossoms, etc,. So I tried Hiram Green’s Moon Bloom and Dusita’s Melodie and both are awful on my skin. Both smell so beautiful in the bottle and when I first dab them on but then comes this awful indolic moth ball smell. I’ve tried Kilian’s Voulez Vous (sp?) which I really like, but it seems to fade after the 3-4 hour mark. So I was hoping you could maybe recommend some floral, non headache inducing perfumes to me if it’s not too much trouble. Anyway thank you for your knowledge and your website, both are very helpful.

    • Welcome Yvette! I fear I may not be able to help you because I think that the white florals you love are the cause of the “mothball” aroma that appears on your skin. It sounds to me as though your skin chemistry is interacting with things like jasmine, orange blossom, tuberose, etc., in such a way that it amplifies the innately indolic nature of the flowers. White florals have indoles because that is their way or nature’s way of alerting bees to their presence. If I remember correctly, bees can’t easily see white flowers, they’re invisible to them, so the flowers release indoles as a sort of signal or message to the bees to say “Hey, I’m over here!”

      Indoles are present in white floral essential oils or absolute to varying degrees, depending on the method of extraction or dilution, etc. Some are more indolic than others, particularly if they’re not heavily diluted to minimize their innate indolic characteristics. I think the problem here with you is that your skin chemistry is amping up the indolic character to an intense degree so that even some less indolic essential oils or absolutes are turns into the “mothball” aroma which characterizes heavily concentrated indoles. For example, I don’t experience a heavily indolic tuberose in Moon Bloom but you do, so your skin operates differently than mine.

      I fear that it’s going to take a trial and error approach to see which florals react well or badly with your personal skin chemistry. I worry that whatever I recommend will end up the same on you as the fragrances you’ve previously tried, and I don’t want you to incur huge expense in buying samples only for you to get more of the same thing.

      For what it’s worth, roses don’t have indoles so if you try fragrances only with roses as opposed to roses accompanied with a white flower like, say, jasmine, then you may be safe. Dusita’s Melodie de L’Amour is pure white flowers, while her Oudh Infini is roses with jasmine. You may have to stick just with roses, or else just risk a trial-and-error approach to floral combinations.

      I feel for you, I really do, and I’m sorry I can’t be of more assistance. This is just one of those things were there is no clear-cut absolute solution if you want to keep on wearing white florals. 🙁

      • Oh no! this is not what I wanted to hear. I may be purchasing Kilian’s Voulez Vous after all. I do have some of your faves in my cart at Luckyscent so maybe one of those will work out. Thanks for your thoughtful reply!

  14. Dear K, mrs. Merkel and myself are so very sorry about the trials HH and yourself had to endure. I hope that the operation will add years to his precious life.
    I am glad Ensar’s new perfume lifted the spirits!

  15. It’s great to read a new review by you! I hope the HG’s recovery continues well. I share your frustration with current events but am heartened by the many people I know who are working hard to bring about change. I’m glad you got so much pleasure and joy from a new fragrance!

  16. I’m going to see Cat Power/Chan Marshal , at the Agora the this Thursday. Wonder if I should wear Ensar’s Eo No 2 to the show ? I want to give Chan Diptique’s Tempo. It’s only a 10 ml from Diptique, but still. Her in that black dress screams Tempo. She can’t have my Ensar No 2 though.
    best wishes to you Kafkaesque and King Floof.

  17. Thanks for the review! I have EO’s Sultan Musk Attar but would love to try the edp and parfum… maybe one day. IMO Ensar has a real talent for perfumery and I hope he keeps it up.

    While EO2 is pricey Hajar Aswad is a total bargain for rose, musk and oud lovers. Kinda like a lite version of Sultan Red Rose Attar. It seems to be overlooked with the other more expensive fragrances coming out at the same time.

    Sorry to hear about the vet bills and I hope he recovers quickly and fully! 🙂

  18. Dear K, for the sake of brevity this will be a short comment versus my long winded ones. I’m so sorry you’ve been dealing with everything, especially the hairy beloved Tetonhund. I’m glad he is getting better- it’s heartbreaking with pets who are ill which are like our family. I had a feeling something was going on by your abscence. Disillusionment aside, good to see this review!! I’m super excited that I am buying a sample. Wow. Just to attain one. Thank you so much. Don.

  19. Thank you, Kafka, for your extraordinary review and for having arranged the sampling for your readers. I’ll let you know what I think once DHL delivers. In the meantime, please know that we loyalists miss your writing (no pressure, though)… and that every one of us wishes your hairy German– and yourself!– a speedy and complete recovery.

  20. So pleased to be reading you’re work again, I’ve missed you! This certainly sounds like it’s worth buying a sample of! I hope you’re as excited about the new Areej le Dore releases as I am, I look forward to reading your thoughts!

  21. Hello Kafkaesque,
    I found your blog a few years ago when I was trying to find a way to track down a bottle of My Sin, one of the few perfumes my mother owned, along with White Shoulders and Joy…When she passed away, they were still on her dresser where they had resided for many years. I would say the bottle of My Sin was about half full and was a deep brown in color with an almost syrupy consistency. The scent was intoxicating–in fact, the way you describe the many different aspects of various bottles of vintage Shalimar in your possession remind me very much of how My Sin affected me. Somehow the bottle got lost on the way way to my house (the empty bottle of Joy made it, however, and still smells fabulous). I didn’t know much about perfumes then and nothing at all about reformulations, but for some reason I was obsessed with trying to find a replacement bottle…I’ve tried to purchase vintage bottles of My Sin a few times from EBay, but have mostly been disappointed–they smelled nothing like what I remembered. I recently bought a fairly large bottle (I’m guessing about two ounces) for a very modest amount of money that is about 7/8 full and the perfume is pretty dark but not at all viscous. The glass stopper was stuck tight but after trying many different strategies without success (oil, freezing, alcohol, even partly immersing it in one of those ultra-sonicators for jewelry, I finally handed it over to my husband in desperation, and he covered it with a soft cloth and took a pair of pliers to it and opened it in no time (with no damage)…I’m guessing it is the first time it has been opened in decades and it smells very close to what I remember from years ago, if not nearly as rich and enveloping…
    I’ve enjoyed reading your reviews (and I have to admit I was amazed at the obvious time and effort that went into each one) and I learned a lot.
    I am so sorry to hear about the suffering of your beloved dog. I hope his recovery continues and he is able to share your life for many more years. I thought I would share a story about our dog…Many years ago we had a lovely long-haired German Shepherd with the most beautiful markings (she was mostly black with golden/tan highlights). I am not sure if she was a gift or if my father purchased her, but the story is that she belonged to an acquaintance of his and she was the runt of the litter and chosen for how adorable she was…I still remember when she arrived as a scared little puppy in a crate & it took about 5 minutes for her to be named Glitter & to become part of the family. Years later we lived in a small town in another state. One afternoon my mother frantically called my father at work–someone was trying to entice our dog into their (rather fancy) car. My mom ran out to the car where a nicely dressed woman was not having much luck with the task…as it turned out, she and her husband were the owners of the sire (what are the odds?) and he (the dog, not the husband, ha, ha!) had somehow gotten away from her and run off. Her husband was not too pleased with the whole situation. Fortunately, my mom found the missing dog a short time later, and he really did resemble our dog very closely, although much more massive. He was truly a magnificent looking dog. His name was Hammer, which I thought was very appropriate. My tiny mother somehow managed to get him into the fenced back yard to hold him for the couple (who were now driving all over town trying to find their dog) while he was doing his darnedest to escape (he practically ate his way through her beautiful hand-carved wooden gate before the owners finally came back to claim him. So everyone ended up happy and my folks enjoyed become re-acquainted with the couple.
    Glitter did suffer from debilitating hip dysplasia as she aged and it was a sad and painful experience for all of us…that was over thirty five years ago; there have been many dogs since then, and they have all been special in their own way, but your devotion to your dog brought back many memories and there is definitely still a spot in my heart for Glitter.

    • Kafka is the best blogger around- I trust his/her opinion implicitly. And his/her love of perfume, passion in a world of reformulations and dismal fragrance releases. I’ve learned so much from him/her in since joining the blog.

      Sorry for interjecting. ☺

    • Welcome to the blog, SuLu! Thanks you for taking the time to share your stories of Glitter and My Sin. I enjoyed reading them both, but particularly Glitter and his dad. I was sorry to hear that Glitter had debilitating hip dysplasia because of how few options there were 35 years ago. :'(

      On a happier note, hurray for you finding a bottle that smelled like your mother’s original My Sin. Opening those vintage tops can be quite difficult, can’t it? I’m glad your husband managed at the end!

      Have a lovely Sunday and stop by again if you have the time. 🙂

  22. I’ve always enjoyed your reviews and thank you for the Ensar’s EO 1 and 2. However I did not find the drop-down menu had a sample. Hopefully Luckyscent will have it in the future. Also I hope ‘His Highness’ recovers soon.

    • Welcome to the blog, Elaine. With regard to EO No 2 samples, Ensar may be sold out. I think he’s also preparing to offer a joint EO No 1 and EO No 2 pure parfum sample set. The thing is, his website offerings change often. He has the EO No 2 samples at the time of my review but I think there was a bit of a deluge after that. The best thing, if you’re really interested, is to write to him to ask because I have the sense Luckyscent won’t necessarily and automatically carry the fragrance due to its cost. If you write to Ensar and tell him I sent you, I know he’ll hook you up. The only problem is that Jordanian law requires courier shipping of all liquids and that’s a bit expensive. :\

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