When I first became aware of Espresso coffee drinks, almost twenty years ago, I was astounded at the number of variations that could be coaxed from a single set of ingredients; coffee and milk. Espresso, breve, macchiato, cappuccino, café noisette, latte, and more. As I began my exploration it took me awhile to find the concoction that was just right for me; a cinnamon flavored latte as my regular barista will tell you.
Pierre Montale has become a Barista of Oud when it comes to fragrance as he continues to find new variations on the core note of agarwood. With over 26, and counting, aoud fragrances to choose from there is very likely one somewhere in there for everyone who wants to wear an oud based fragrance. The two newest releases, Dark Aoud and Moon Aoud, are very different from each other. Dark Aoud is an intense doppio of oud and sandalwood. Moon Aoud is a spice flavored cappuccino of oud. Depending on how you like your oud will depend on which you would like M Montale to deliver to your dresser.
Dark Aoud, like a simple espresso shot, contains much more complexity than it should. Dark Aoud is a simple linear exploration of oud and sandalwood. Both ingredients are combined with an intensity that at first masks any subtlety. In the early going it is the edgy side of both ingredients that I experience as the more medicinal qualities of agarwood and the drier austere qualities of sandalwood are in evidence, For about the first hour of wearing Dark Aoud I was thinking I needed something more than edginess to make me want to wear this. What then happened is Dark Aoud began to transform on my skin as the oud became smokier and the sandalwood became smoother and creamier and the edge became less sharp. The remainder of the day Dark Aoud was a pleasure to wear as it continued to become softer until it was washed away in the shower the next morning.
As I said above I like my espresso as part of other ingredients and I think that is also true of oud, for me. Moon Aoud is a mix of many things with oud in the center of the mix. One of the notes M Montale has used very successful with oud is saffron. Perhaps my favorite Montale oud is Red Aoud which also begins with saffron. The early moments of Moon Aoud remind me of that as saffron and rose open it up as the froth on the oud cappuccino. The middle layer is made up of a raw leather and even rawer vetiver which are smoothed out by patchouli. Moon Aoud closes with ambergris and sandalwood bringing Moon Aoud to a smooth landing.
Dark Aoud and Moon Aoud have 24 hours of longevity and are among the highest sillage fragrances I wear. A little of any Montale fragrance goes a long way.
If you haven’t found your ideal oud fragrance M Montale has added two new versions to the menu. If you want a bold strong shot of oud you should give Dark Aoud a try. If you like something more with your oud Moon Aoud might be your cup of espresso. If nothing else M Montale has shown once again that there are still plenty of oud concoctions up the Barista of Oud’s sleeve.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples received from Montale Paris at Esxence 2011.
–Mark Behnke, Managing Editor