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 opens with the brash sharpness typical of oud accords. 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 medicinal edge to those new to oud accord. Soon, however, the honeyed note of rose takes over and sweetens the sharp bitterness of oud. 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 sharp oud and opulent rose. 1001 Ouds remains as a quiet dusky balsamic incense throughout. Late in the dry down, the smoky dryness of guaiac wood persists and even lingers on after a warm shower. 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 well-balanced accord at first, but quickly tweaks and twists the composition for an interesting quality. The character is skewed towards the dusky resins of myrrh instead of the usual floral opulence or animalic musks. It blends well with oud, accentuating the facet of dusky woods. Even after a thousand oud perfumes, I would still be happy to have this add to the one thousand and first oud. Nicely done.