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What Does Oud Smell Like?

Oud, better known as agarwood, is one of the most expensive wood products on planet earth. It is highly sought after for its rare unique fragrance that is often used as a base note in luxury perfumes. Any perfume containing oud is typically more expensive than one without it, as it is a rare and valuable ingredient. After personally purchasing Tom Ford ‘Oud Wood’ Eau de Parfum last summer , here is what oud smells like ?

Oud smells like incense and earthy. While not typically sweet, some of the finest distillations have a hint of sweetness, making it a luxurious and captivating scent for both men and women.

In this blog, I will be telling a brief history of Oud, it’s other benefits and why luxury brands choose to include it in their product lines . So, without further a do, let’s dive in and explore the unique characteristics of this fascinating fragrance.

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What is Oud?

Oud is a fragrant resinous wood used to make fragrances. It is produced when the heartwood of the agar tree becomes infected with a certain type of mold, which triggers a process of resinous secretion in the wood.

Surprisingly, it is the value of its oil is estimated to be 1.5 times that of gold. Due to its rarity and luxurious aroma, oud is often referred to as “liquid gold” in the fragrance industry.

Where Does Oud Come From and How Is It Produced?

Oud is the Arabic name that refers to both the type of wood and the essential oil produced from trees in the Aquilaria genus.

It has a mythic status and its origins are believed to have originated in Southeast Asia, specifically in the regions of Thailand, Laos, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Agarwood trees take 20-30 years to mature and are found in other parts of the world such as Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam.

The tree is a slow-growing evergreen tree that can grow up to 40 meters tall and prefers a tropical climate.

So how is it produced exactly? The production of oud is quiet a fascinating and intricate process. When the agar tree becomes infected with a specific parasitic mold called Phialophora parasitica, it reacts by producing a luxurious musky-scented resin.

The tree’s defence mechanism produces this resin as a way to protect itself from the mold. The resin is then collected from the infected tree and processed to extract the highly coveted oud oil.

The production process is time-consuming, which is why oud is considered to be one of the most expensive woods in the world.

Despite its high price tag, oud continues to be highly sought after for its unique fragrance and is used in many luxury perfumes and incense products.

With its mysterious origins and complex production process, oud remains a highly prized and fascinating fragrance ingredient.

What Does Oud Smell Like?

Oud has a strong and tenacious scent that is incensey, dark, and earthy, with hints of barnyard and damp earth.

It may also have a beet-like and slightly Smokey notes, along with a resinous and woody quality.

While it is rarely sweet, some expensive distillations marketed towards women may have a hint of sweetness.

Is it the best scent invented? Personally I agree but some people may find this debatable. Sandalwood and Vetiver are also appealing. But, Oud takes the lead for its charm.

Is Oud a Feminine or Masculine Smell?

Oud has become increasingly popular in men’s fragrances due to its strong and intense scent. It adds a masculine touch and is often used in men’s aftershaves and colognes.

However, some fragrance brands have started to create oud fragrances specifically for women.

These fragrances typically use softer notes and floral scents to balance the intensity of oud, creating a more feminine fragrance that still retains the exotic and luxurious qualities of oud.

When mixed with softer notes and roses, oud can make quite a striking and captivating fragrance for a feminine woman.

Oud’s versatility allows it to be used in a variety of ways . And , in fragrance making, it is a great choice for both men and women.

Why is Oud Used in Perfumery?

Oud is manly used in the perfume industry as a base note to give a a distinctive and sophisticated scent. You might be wondering why oud is used in perfumery. Here’s why;

1)Rarity and Exclusivity

The rarity and exclusivity of oud plays a significant factor in perfumery for several reasons.

For starters, the scarcity of the agarwood tree and the labour-intensive production process makes oud one of the most expensive raw materials used in perfumery.

This means that perfumes containing oud are often considered to be luxurious and exclusive, appealing to consumers who are seeking unique and high-end fragrances.

2)Depth and Complexity

Oud has a unique scent that is both deep and complex. Its scent is woody, smoky, and earthy, with notes of incense.

The scent of oud can also change over time, developing into different layers and becoming richer and more complex.

This makes it a popular choice for perfumers who want to create fragrances that are multi-dimensional and sophisticated.


Oud is a long-lasting scent that can linger on the skin for hours or even days. This is why many brands use it .

Another reason is that the molecules that make up oud are large and heavy, which means they are slow to evaporate.

As a result, perfumes that contain oud are often highly concentrated, with a little going a long way.

4)Cultural Significance

Oud has been used in traditional Arabic and Indian perfumery for centuries, and it holds significant cultural and spiritual significance in these regions.

In a asocial context, It is often used in ceremonies and as a symbol of wealth and status.

Using oud in perfumery allows for a connection to these cultural traditions and adds a layer of meaning to the fragrance.


Besides its strong and complex scent, oud is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many ways.

To make feminine notes, it can be blended with other notes, such as floral or citrus scents. Which is why perfumers who want to create unisex scents go with oud .

How Much Does Oud Cost?

Agarwood is priced at $25,000 per kilogram while a litre of oud oil can cost as much as $50,000 to $80,000 (£36,000 to £58,000) .

90% of agarwood international trade is in the perfume production industry, as it is a highly sought-after and prized ingredient( Source).

The yearly market for oud is valued at approximately $6 billion (over £4 billion), which is about 1 ½ times the value of gold, earning it the nickname “liquid gold”.

Its oil typically costs $5,000 (£3,600) per pound, while some retailers sell a 3-gram bottle for $300 (£200) or more.

Other Benefits of Oud You Should Know?

Oud can be used in various forms; oil, wood, powder, plant etc powder form, oil, Here are some of the benefits of oud:

  • Traditional Medicine: Oud has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat a range of ailments, including digestive issues, asthma, and arthritis. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help with healing and promote overall health.
  • Spiritual Practices: In many cultures, oud is considered to have spiritual properties and is used in various rituals and ceremonies. Burning oud incense is believed to have a calming effect and can help to create a peaceful and meditative environment (Source).
  • Woodworking: The high-quality wood produced by the Aquilaria tree is prized for its durability, density, and beautiful grain. It is used to make a range of high-end products, including furniture, decorative items, and musical instruments.
  • Aromatherapy: Oud essential oil is used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation, relieve stress, and enhance mood. During relaxation, it gives one a grounding and has a calming effect on the mind and body.
  • Personal Care: Oud oil is also used in personal care products such as soaps, lotions, and hair care products due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. On skin, it solves various skin issues such as acne and eczema.

The Rise of Synthetic Oud: Are Fragrance Brands Using Synthetic Oud?

it’s true that many perfume brands are using synthetic oud more than original oud.

Top reason is that genuine oud is rare , expensive and costly to source. It is also unsustainable, putting a strain on the environment.

Whereas, synthetic oud is a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly alternative. It can be produced in a lab, allowing perfumers to create a consistent and standardized scent.

Synthetic oud also has a longer shelf life and is less prone to contamination than natural oud.

Synthetic oud is also produced through a chemical process known as fractional distillation.

This process involves taking a complex mixture of chemicals and separating them into their individual components by boiling them at different temperatures.

One of the key components used to create synthetic oud is called “iso-e-super,” which is a synthetic molecule that has a woody, musky aroma.

Other chemicals, such as patchouli and cypriol, are also used to enhance the scent profile and create a more complex and nuanced fragrance.

Once the individual components have been extracted, they are blended together in a specific ratio to create the final synthetic oud fragrance.

The result is a scent that is similar to natural oud, but with a more consistent aroma and greater control over the final product.

Best Oud Perfumes To Try Out in 2023

Now that you have understood what oud is, it’s time to try out a few fragrances without breaking the bank.

1) Tom Ford ‘Oud Wood’ Eau de Parfum 3.4,Black ( Unisex)

  • Tom Ford ‘Oud Wood’ Eau de Parfum 3.4,Black

I recently had the pleasure of trying the Tom Ford Private Blend Oud Wood Eau De Parfum Spray after

I saw Harry styles wearing it and I must say, it’s an extraordinary fragrance. Perfect for both men and women, it gives off a warm and inviting aroma that is sure to captivate anyone in its vicinity.

The 100 millilitre spray bottle is also convenient to use, allowing me to spritz a little or a lot, depending on the occasion.

What really sets this fragrance apart is its blend of oud and wood notes.

The oud gives the scent a rich and slightly spicy undertone, while the wood notes add a touch of earthiness and depth.

It’s a complex scent that is both sophisticated and alluring, making it perfect for evening events or special occasions.

As an eau de parfum concentration, the scent also lasts for hours on end, which is impressive.

Overall, I highly recommend the Tom Ford Private Blend Oud Wood Eau De Parfum Spray to anyone looking for a unique and luxurious fragrance that will leave a lasting impression.

2)Versace Oud Pour Femme Oriental Eau de Parfum Spray( For Women)

  • Versace Oud Pour Femme Oriental Eau de Parfum Spray 3.4 Ounce

If you’re looking for a fragrance with oud that exudes elegance and sophistication, try out Versace Oud Pour Femme Oriental Eau de Parfum Spray.

This luxurious scent is perfect for the confident, modern woman who wants to make a statement. With its rich and warm oriental notes, this fragrance is both exotic and alluring

I like that you can wear this fragrance with any attire.

The 3.4 fluid ounce spray bottle is also convenient to use, allowing you to spritz a little or a lot depending on your preference.

Trust me, when you wear Versace Oud Pour Femme Oriental Eau de Parfum Spray, you’ll feel confident, powerful, and unforgettable.

3)Gucci Intense Oud By Gucci Eau De Parfum Spray (Unisex)

Gucci Intense Oud is a luxurious unisex fragrance that was launched in January 2020. This Eau De Parfum Spray is a masterpiece that was created by Aurelien Guichard, a renowned perfumer, to cater to the fragrance needs of both men and women.

It features a unique blend of oud, leather, amber, and other exotic notes that make it an alluring and sophisticated scent.

The fragrance is perfect for special occasions or everyday use. With Gucci Intense Oud’s complexity , you are guaranteed of charm plus the ability to evoke emotions.

4) Atkinsons Oud Save Eau de Parfum Spray, The King

  • Atkinsons Oud Save Eau de Parfum Spray, The King, 3.3 / 3.4 fl oz 100ml

You should definitely consider purchasing Atkinsons’ The King Eau De Parfum Spray for several reasons.

But the main reason is the unique blend of fragrance notes, including Earl Gray tea, bergamot,root, suede accords, sandalwood, and oud.

I haven’t personally purchased The King, but my Ex did and he smelt damn good. With just 2-3 spritzes, I can tell you that the brand Atkinsons is known for their exceptional quality and attention to detail when it comes to their fragrances.

The packaging is also sleek and elegant. If you’re looking for a unique and memorable scent that is both refined and elegant, then The King by Atkinsons is definitely worth considering.

5) Jo Malone Velvet Rose and Oud Cologne Intense 

  • Jo Malone Velvet Rose and Oud Cologne Intense Travel Size 9ml / 0.3 oz

Jo Malone is a luxury fragrance brand known for its high-quality scents. The Rose and Oud version is a classic, timeless scent.

This item is a sample size, which allows you to try out the fragrance before committing to a full-size bottle.

At 0.3 fluid ounces, it is perfect for on-the-go use or for those who like to switch up their scents frequently.

The modern style of the brand and the age range of “Adult” make it a sophisticated choice for anyone looking for a new fragrance.

How to Tell if Oud Is Synthetic or Original?

It can be difficult to determine whether oud is synthetic or natural just by smelling it, as the scents can be very similar. However, you can use these to help you distinguish between the two:

  • Price: Genuine oud is a rare and expensive ingredient, so perfumes or colognes that contain natural oud will often be more expensive than those that use synthetic oud.
  • Labeling: Some perfume brands will indicate on the label whether the oud used in the fragrance is natural or synthetic. Check out terms like “natural oud,” “genuine oud,” or “wild-harvested oud” to indicate that the fragrance contains real oud. So always check out the label.
  • Sustainability: If a brand is committed to environmental sustainability and ethical sourcing, they may be more likely to use synthetic oud as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to natural oud.
  • Scent profile: While synthetic oud can mimic the scent of natural oud, there are some nuances that can be detected by experienced perfumers. Natural oud can have a slightly more complex and earthy aroma, while synthetic oud may be more linear and predictable in its scent profile.


If you’re curious about oud and want to try it out, I think you should.

Whether you would rather go for natural or synthetic oud, there’s sure to be an oud fragrance that will pique your interest and help you discover the mysterious and alluring scent of oud.


By It's Bhet

Hi, I'm Bhet ... I am both a writer, fragrance lover and a painter. When I'm not writing or painting, I travel around, mostly on weekends . You can follow me on Instagram and Twitter @ It's Bhet. Shoot me a message!

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