Oud Smoke Woods

By Kilian Pure Oud

May 5, 2016

By Kilian Pure Oud is the racehorse of the Western oud-based fragrances; all sinew and nerve, and not an inch of fat to spare. Kilian could have easily named this Oud Noir or Dark Oud, because Pure Oud really does convey the inky, matte darkness of a moonless night sky.

It smells like a black leather jacket tinctured into a pool of black tar and then vaporized into a mist of gasoline.

Pure Oud draws a line around itself and stays within it. Real oud oil has a smell that spills messily out over every line you’ve drawn for yourself; the brazenly-named Pure Oud (it is purely synthetic) is self-contained. But they do share a common denominator – both smell other-worldly and somewhat stark.

For me, it is the Western-based oud fragrance that comes closest to mimicking the smell of real oud oil. Not a sour, fermented-smelling Hindi or Assam oud oil, but one of those aged, dry oud oils where you can pick out hints of leather, dried fruit, melting plastic lunch boxes, and smoke.

Caveat: Pure Oud is a minimalist take on a maximalist smell, i.e., it does not approach the complexity or range of aromas of real oud oil. Nothing this obviously synthetic can come close to copying something so rudely natural.

But the experience of using oud oils and attars is not interchangeable with or comparable to using traditional fragrance; one is a quiet, more private experience geared toward internal contemplation; the other is a projection of oneself to the wider world. We shouldn’t keep holding up one against the other in a race for authenticity. Prefer instead that benchmark of Guy Robert’s: Does it smell good? And yes, Pure Oud does smell good – very good indeed.

I find Pure Oud to be very quiet, but long-lasting. Sometimes, to turn up the volume a bit, I re-spray during the day, twice, or even three times. This way, it builds up on the skin in layers of translucent ink – leather upon rubber upon gasoline, until it finally pushes off the skin in a sulky swirl of woodsmoke.

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  • Undina May 6, 2016 at 4:36 am

    Since I’m not an agarwood fan, I didn’t try Pure Oud on my skin. If to think about it, it’s strange since I liked Amber Oud from the same collection. But I was probably too scared to test Pure Oud in the store and I’ve never got a sample to risk putting it on my skin in safety of my home.

    • Claire May 8, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      I don’t think it’s particularly animalic, Undina, so no fear of the stables or anything unpleasant like sour sweat, bile, or feces (some aspects of which you can definitely get in some of the more fermented oud oils, like Hindi). But it does have that smooth, rubbery darkness that I somehow associate with oud oil, the woodier/fruiter ones. I think if you like dark, crisp woody fragrances like Sycomore, you might like this? Did you try the MFK Oud? It’s a very non-scary version, a bright saffron instead of animalic or plasticky.

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