Oud or agarwood has been popular amongst perfume houses for almost two decades ever since the launch of M7 (Yves Saint Laurent, 2002). This singular and complex material that combines the notes of ambergris, musks, woods, and balsams with a fruity and leathery facet can be difficult to render and mix beautifully in an accord. One of the tried-and-tested accords, derived from the Middle East, is the synergy between rose and oud. And, whilst it is no surprise that one could also find this accord well-rendered in 1001 Ouds (Annick Goutal, 2015) by perfumer Isabelle Doyen, there is a twist here that makes this perfume deserve a place in the crowded category of ouds.
1001 Ouds has this brash medicinal sharpness typical of many oud perfumes. I once sprayed it on a friend who is not used to oud at all, and he promptly recoiled and wrinkled the nose — that is a fair warning of its sharp edge to those new to oud. Soon, however, the honeyed note of rose takes over and sweetens. The rose is by no means as opulent as that in Oud Ispahan (Dior, 2012), but for a moment, the scale seems to tip over to the rose side.
As the plot thickens, the dusky combination of myrrh and papyrus present an earthy contrast to the opulent rose and oud. It remains dusky throughout, and late in the dry down, the smoky dryness of guaiac wood persists. It is rather well-mannered for a perfume of this style, and the sillage feels as though my skin were anointed by a ceremonial fragrant oil.
1001 Ouds is a familiar accord that offers a twist. The character is skewed towards the dusky resins of myrrh instead of the usual floral opulence or animalic musks. Even after a thousand oud perfumes, I would still be happy to add this to the one thousand and first oud.