There are so many things in perfumery which have started since the first number in the calendar year changed to 2. If there is an ingredient of the last 21 years which encapsulates the changes in Western fragrance it is the rise of oud from 2002 to the present day. To fragrance fans in the East oud is what many of them encounter in everyday life. For those of us who knew nothing of it the revelation was immediate. The craving for more almost insatiable, and so the brands gave us what we wanted. There was a time when it seemed every new release claimed oud in its ingredient list. In most of those cases it was an oud accord made up of less expensive materials given some texture with a tiny amount of the real thing. As perfume consumers became more sophisticated there were places to go encounter authentic oud essential oils. Once you smelled your first of those you could become lost in the pursuit of different varieties. One of my most prized perfume possessions is a little wooden box containing thirty single-sourced oud oils. I was one of those forever enchanted with the world of oud.
The unfortunate side effect is there are those who will claim to use real oud, who do not. Because relatively few have ever smelled the real thing most don’t know they aren’t. It has been something I have seen become more common in recent years. I’ve wanted to be able to point those who love oud to something where they can experience the real thing. Phoenecia Perfumes has given me that opportunity with the release of Oud Elegance Rose and Oud Elegance Incense.
Phoenecia Perfumes is the brand of independent perfumer David Falsberg. Ever since discovering his fragrances in 2013 he has been a perfumer who uncompromisingly brings his vision to life. Part of that is it takes time. He releases new things as they feel right to him. He also must find the right sources for the ingredients which complete his scents. What comes out of this process are perfumes which provide an emotional response as well as an olfactory one.
For both new ouds he chooses classic pairings oud and rose, oud and incense. They are excellent choices because it makes it easy to compare to all the other versions of these duos out there. It allows anyone the opportunity to compare an authentic experience. One of the smart things he does is the alcohol used in both extrait strength fragrances is prepped with a tincture of Africa stone or hyraceum. It is an invitation into a deeper world of oud.
Oud Elegance Rose is a duet of both the named ingredients. He uses two roses from Morocco and Persia. He blends four different ouds. In both fragrances he has sourced them from ethical and/or sustainable sources. I feel certain that if he just put the two roses and four ouds in a bottle this would have been quite good. He uses a set of complementary notes to bring out the best in both. The inherently spicy roses are given an herbal contrast through rosemary along with a leathery glow in saffron. The oud is given some cedar to remind us that it is a wood and some civet to amplify the animalic heart of these ouds. Mr. Falsberg uses cumin to stitch these two pieces together with amber to provide a warmth not unlike the braziers oud chips are burned in.
Oud Elegance Incense follows a similar path in its development. Although the incense does get a moment to stand on its own. He takes an austere olibanum swathing it in a citrusy floral veil. It is a lovely opening as Mr. Falsberg has another blend of five ouds with which he uses as the incense’s partner. This comes together more naturally because at the core both oud and olibanum are resins. The difference is oud also has a woody component and that is enhanced through sandalwood. It adds a comforting woodiness underneath the incense and oud. The animalic side of oud is less present than it is in Oud Elegance Rose. it is probably the biggest difference in the oud part of the experience between the two. Depending on what appeals to you that might be the best way to choose only one.
Both extraits have 24-hour longevity and wear very close to the skin. Because of that these are very personal perfumes which can be worn anywhere.
Mr. Falsberg is one of my favorite independent perfumers because he does not compromise. He asks perfume lovers meet him on his own terms. If you make the choice to do that a fantastic new world awaits.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Phoenecia Perfumes.