Ensar Oud — Part I: The Man & His World of Oud

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.

Ensar Oud and the banner on his site: agarwood.ensaroud.com

Continue reading

Areej Le Doré Ottoman Empire: Maharajahs, Heat & Sensuality (+Oud Zen)

Maharajah Singh of Patiala, wearing the Patiala diamond and platinum parade necklace created by Cartier in 1928. Photo source: NYTimes.com

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.

Continue reading

Areej Le Doré Siberian Musk: Vintage Grandeur & Sex Appeal

Lauren Bacall via Pinterest.

One of the best fragrances that I’ve tried this year is Siberian Musk by Areej Le Doré, which is the fragrance arm of Feel Oud‘s Russian Adam. A kaleidoscopic scent, it starts as a head-turning chypre with such a lavish greenness of spirit that it evoked not only fragrances like Chypre Palatin but, more importantly, vintage days long since lost. From there, it slowly transitions into a floral oriental with a strong kinship to the glorious vintage Bal à Versailles, a fruity floral vetiver, a smoky woody-oud oriental, and a sexy, cozy, inviting amber-musk that’s flecked by honeyed floral sweetness.

A central vein of deer musk runs throughout it all. While it varies in its animalics and intensity, it never rises to the level of some of the more famous (or infamous) animalic fragrances, like MAAI, Montecristo, or Muscs Koublai Khan on my skin. Some of the time, it simply evokes an expensive fur coat infused with vintage perfume, musky velvet, or even heated, musky, suede-like skin. But all of the time, it adds a very sensual and sexy touch to a glamorous, opulent, and sophisticated fragrance.

Continue reading

Parfum Satori Hana Hiraku, Satori, Iris Homme & Wasabon

Satori Osawa. Photo via the Satori website.

Today, I wanted to take you into the world of Japanese niche perfumery. Parfum Satori is a brand that has been around since 2000, but it only recently arrived in America and Europe.

Parfum Satori was founded by Satori Osawa, and she is also the nose behind the fragrances. According to her profile on the brand’s website, she is a member of La Société Française de la Parfumerie, and has a background in scent going back to 1988. Her goal is to make fragrances that are representative of Japanese culture, and thereby “oriental” in a very different sense of the word than it is typically used. Fragrantica lists 19 fragrances for the brand. I’ve only tried four, all eau de parfums in the Premium Black and White Collections: the eponymous Satori, Hana Hiraku, Iris Homme, and Wasabon. I’ll take a look at each one in turn.

Parfum Satori, Black Collection. Photo source: Parfum Satori website.

Hana Hiraku. Source: Satori website.

Continue reading