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
A fantastic analysis of Oud and how much of it in contemporary perfumes is actually a synthetic molecule. Obviously, that impacts the nuances and smell. To quote one part of the fascinating post: “Nowadays, natural oud is rarely used in perfumery. Due to over-harvesting and the labourious process collecting the raw material, it is not feasible to use natural oud for mass market perfumery. Most fragrances on the market contain synthetic materials to replicate the natural oud scent. Vir Sanghvi (virsangvi.com) says that Firmenich’s Oud Synthetic 10760E is used in most oud fragrances on the mass market. Givaudan also has its own version of an oud synthetic. Elena Vosnaki (perfumeshrine.blogspot.ca) says that Oud Wood by Tom Ford is made with Givaudan’s Agarwood Arpur. Bond No. 9 New York Oud also contains the same synthetic.”
If you’re interested in Oud, make sure to read the whole thing. You can learn a lot, as I did. From Creed’s Royal Oud to others, there may be a market and commercial reason for why synthetic oud may be preferable for perfumers. Apart from the low(er) cost, naturally.