Genuine Mysore sandalwood oil is a rarity these days, but Ensar Oud offers three different takes on it that are worth trying if you are a sandalwood addict. One is an actual vintage oil dating back to the early 1980s, another is from 30-40 year-old red Mysore heartwood, while the third combines Mysore from Indonesia with centennial Tanzanian sandalwood for something utterly glorious that swept me off my feet.
Dedication to quality, an emphasis on olfactory authenticity, a passion for the materials, and a vision for how they can be presented in the very best, truest, and most beautiful fashion possible — these are some of the key traits common to the artisans who make the biggest splash in the fragrance world. These men and women put their products ahead of any price tag or marketing trends, desire for fame, or interest in the spotlight in the pages of glossy magazines. They do their own thing, by their own rules, following their own internal vision, and any plaudits which may ensue are merely a nice side recompense.
The world of luxury niche oud is a parallel but completely separate universe to the fragrance one and, while there are fewer artisan stars in its firmament, the same rules hold true for what makes them special. There are several names which stand out in this small niche world — Ensar Oud, Agar Aura, and Russian Adam of Feel Oud — but one seems to shine the brightest and is frequently spoken of in almost reverential tones: Ensar Oud.
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.
Maharajahs dripping with diamonds, a trip back in time to India, narcotic opulence, heat, lust, and sensuality — Ottoman Empire is all those things and more. It is such an utterly over-the-top floral oriental and with such a hedonistic grandeur that it’s a pity the name “Shalimar” with its palatial Indian inspiration was already taken, because it would suit this one quite well. In fact, I find that vintage Shalimar parfum (in its oldest form) and Ottoman Empire have a few strands of DNA in common.
In the case of Ottoman Empire, I was swept off my feet with heady 3D roses married to honeyed jasmine, tropical frangipani, plush oakmoss, warm spices, buttery sandalwood, several different kinds of oud, smoldering vetiver, and gorgeously molten labdanum amber — all enveloped with a fur coat of muskiness.
It’s sybaritic, it’s divaesque on a grand scale, it’s got the heft of a tank, and it turned my head from the very first sniff all the way to the addictively cozy, sexy last. It impacted me immediately, instinctively, and on a visceral level, transporting me back in time to one of my favourite days and memories of India. Without a doubt, hands down, Ottoman Empire is one of my absolute favourite things that I’ve tried this year and will be high on my year-end list of “Best Fragrances of 2017.” It will be the focus of this review, but I’ll have a short review for Oud Zen, the third Areej le Doré release at the end as well.