August 29, 2020 6 min read

Dear friend


Last week, a lady named JM asked me if I had any oud smell like a perfume that she tried: "X Oud" fragrance (you can replace the X with Royal, Pure, Dark, Black, Magic, Just … or any name)

She said "Finally, I found 'my oud fragrance'. I love Oud so much." And she asked if I do have something like that for her.


"So is it the first time you have tried Oud fragrance?"


"Yes"

"Have you ever tried oud before?"

"No"

"You may not like Oud, and it could shock you. It might not what you expected".

Why?


JM may have seen some fragrance ads or read some posts about some fragrances that contain Oud. These ads are everywhere, so she decides to give these fragrances a try.


She may visit a department store or a niche fragrance house. Upon arrival, she looks for the X fragrance that she saw in the ad. 


"Ah there you go" she finds what she is looking for.


She picks up the test bottle on one hand while holding the testing strip away from her on the other hand.  She sprays the perfume on the strip.

While waiting for it to settle, she read the label, and she sees the word "Oud". It was one part of the perfume name as well as an ingredient of the perfume.

She got a good impression of this perfume within the first 5 minutes. She remembers the ad and the word Oud keep appearing on her mind. As a result, she loves it even more.

And in her mind, she thinks this is how Oud smells like.

After trying some perfumes that have "pure, royal oud" in parts of their names, she decides to get some real oud. 

So she ordered some.


Days later, when she received her order, she opens your parcels, takes a 3ml Oud bottle out and tries with excitement.


Then


Suddenly she feels disgusted. She says to herself "this is disgusting, this is not Oud. And this is certainly not what I want. It does not smell woody or floral; it is weird and appalling, I want a refund, that seller is a joke."


To back you her case, she posts her experience online, in some groups, forums, telling everyone about her ordeal.

If you are a vendor, I am sure you have seen many customers like JM. And it is a constant battle to explain to someone like her. I know it is not fair for you but "it is what it is". In some case, you better off not to sell at all.


If you are a new oud user, you may have the same feeling with JM. You think the seller is dishonest and selling you SH!T.


And


If you are an experienced oud consumer, you will understand how JM feels. Because you see a version of your early self. You will also sympathise with the vendor.


JM may not realise, but what she smells is not Oud but perfume - a blend of different ingredients, and maybe, real Oud is one of the ingredients.


Hang on Trent. "What do you mean by 'maybe'?"


Genuine oud oil is distilled from agarwood. And with natural ingredients, the quality will vary batch by batch. Although the scent profile does not change much, it differs slightly from one batch to another. 

Because of this reason, commercial perfumers do not like to use it. Commercial products require consistency in large quantities, and for quality control, the ingredients need to be identical from batch to batch. To ensure this, they prefer synthetic oil. 

Secondly, synthetic Oud is more cost-effective; hence there will not be real Oud in the perfume after all.  Just like strawberry milk, there is no actual strawberry in the milk. "XX Oud" fragrance does not have Oud in it.


Just like strawberry as a fruit and strawberry milk, one likes the strawberry milk may not like the actual strawberry fruit because they are very different products. Oud and oud perfume are two different things. 


"Ok, I get it. But does that I mean if I like oud perfume, I may not like Oud?"

The answer is " it depends". It is all about the experience you have associated with Oud.

If you tried many Oud oil before, then you would be likely to have your own preference.

If this was your first time trying Oud oil, then you may find it overwhelming, or even discusting.

So why the same Oud, one finds it disgusting, while others enjoy it?

It depends on your background and it is all about familiarity.


You see, if you are like most people, you would love your mom's cooking because it reminds you of her unconditional love to you.


When you travel to a different state or different countries, you are going to spend some nights in a hotel or Airbnb. Let's say you sleep in a 5-star hotel, do you feel that you do not sleep as well as you are at home?


You know the bed in a 5-star hotel is better than your own bed in term of quality, but you still prefer your own one. Why? 


Maybe it is part of our human survival skill. When we were at the stone age, we "sleep with one eye open" because there were predators around us. We only sleep well when we know it is safe. So when we are in an unfamiliar place, subconsciously, we don't feel safe so we don't sleep quite well. We have not used to our "new" beds yet. However, if you travel frequently, you will overcome this issue. Your body adapts, and you can sleep anywhere.


People who grow up with Oud will generally prefer smelling Oud alone. As pure oud oil is potent, if you have not tried it before, you may not like it initially because you are not familiar with it.

If you ask people who have the Middle East background, you will find they would be likely familiar with Oud. My friends even told me he knows someone who keeps one bottle of pure Oud in the car, one at home, and one in his pocket so he can have access to them all the time. 

Many young people living in some countries where Agarwood is not so popular. If you gave an oud oil sample to them and asked for their feedback after trying, they may ask why you are giving them "sewerage water". They may shake their heads and give you a big NO.

So the same Oud oil, there are many people love and at the same time, many people hate. It all boils down to familiarity.  

But if you are openminded, over time, this potent scent is no longer a threat to your subconscious mind. You know it is safe to smell, and you will find that Oud oil is not bad after all. 


You will discover there are many varieties of oud oils, and who knows one day you might fall in love with many of them.

 

So currently, if you had a bad experience with Oud Oil before, you would be on the fence. You will think all Oud smelled bad, all Oud smelled like sewerage.

 

If you are one of those people who do not like Oud Oil, then I would like to make a suggestion. 

Get Agarwood chips and heat them and you will discover that it would be a completely different experience from using the Agarwood Oil (Oud).

 

The reason

To distil Oud Oil, the distillers will use treated Oud Chip. 

To treat Oud chip, the distillers need to pulverise and soak them underwater. When soaking wood underwater, bacteria microorganisms start developing. This is called fermentation.

When this happens, the Oud aroma changes and it becomes complicated. 

So if you are new to Oud, you will have a better experience of enjoying Agarwood chips than smelling Agarwood Oil.

Once you are familiar with how chips smell and learn more about it, then you can try Oud oil next.  You will find your nose improve dramatically.


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