Willy Wonka would probably have loved Areej Le Doré‘s new Russian Oud. The chocolate and candy magician in Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s book was noted for transforming sweet items into something fun outside of its usual structure. The same can be said for Russian Oud which puts an oriental twist on the famed sweets factory or, to view it in a different light, takes Willy Wonka’s magic factory and places it firmly in the Orient. Imagine Willy’s river of chocolate, but now slash it through with caramel and treacly labdanum toffee and transport it to Ali Baba’s cave of oriental treasures. The cave lies deep in the heart of a Hindi oud mountain, its carved walls emitting gusts of black smoke and heavy brown muskiness. Willy Wonka’s gourmand river now runs alongside tall river beds made out of resinous, smoky red sandalwood and brown-red earthy patchouli, and is watched over by Oompa Loompas clad in birch tar leather, their skin orange from a thin patina of spices, and Ali Baba’s forty thieves clad in myrrh and more leather. Together, they stir the molten river of chocolate, toffee, and caramel with long paddles made out of creamy sandalwood, oud wood, and buttered oud calfskin, sending it down into the heart of the mountain where it finally winds its way into an ambered pool of caramel muskiness flecked with a pinch of cocoa.
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.
Today, I wanted to give a quick look at the two latest sandalwood oils from Feel Oud, Bengal Sandal Aira and Sandal 100K Hybrid. I know a number of you have either sampled or blind-bought one of the oils, so I’ll provide a comparison between the two. To me, they’re different in vibe and aroma nuances during their first four hours, but they eventually move closer and become more similar on my skin. Both, however, take a rather airy approach to sandalwood.
On a mountain top in Rajasthan grows a Tree of Life whose mighty body is made of smoky sandalwood. Gnarled roots of oak and rosewood dig into patchouli earthiness, while its limbs bear bright, yellow citruses. Higher up, hidden amidst a canopy of more patchouli leaves, lie rosy flowers that drip a dark plummy liqueur. Natives come from far and wide, bearing gifts of incense that they burn in tribute to the magnificent tree that they call “Richwood.”
Richwood is a stunning sandalwood fragrance that grabs your attention from the start with its smoky woods, spicy patchouli, and an aromatic booziness that veers between oak-soaked cognac and plummy liqueur. It is an eau de parfum from the Italian luxury house of Xerjoff (pronounced as “Zer-joff”), which was founded in 2004 by Sergio Momo. Officially called “XJ Richwood,” the fragrance was release in 2010 as part of the XJ 17/17 Stone Label Collection whose name refers to the stone labels on the handcrafted bottles. It is intended to be a more affordable option than the collection’s original packaging which consisted of extremely expensive, limited-edition Murano glass art or quartz. According to Now Smell This, XJ Richwood (hereinafter just “Richwood“) was created by Jacques Flori, the nose behind Amouage’s Opus IV and Jovoy’s Psychedelique, among other scents. And it is really quite something.