Monday, 26 September 2016

Why We Love Oud Hindi and Oud Cambodi (And You Should, Too!)

It is what helps to define Arabian Luxury.  In a part of the world, where perfume absolutes have a concrete place in the market, and in history – the biggie, the oud fragrance is the Attar which over the past decade or so, has turned heads in western perfume niche markets, like London and Paris.  It has been the new note on the block for perfumes produced by brands like Gucci and niche fragrance houses like Roja Dove, for some time now.  But what do we really know about this still-mysterious oud note?  We hear phrases such as oud Cambodi and oud Hindi but what’s the difference?

In Arabia, where oud is so steeply ingrained into the culture, oud Hindi and oud Cambodi are considered the de facto oud, even though there are so many other countries within the surrounding regions of Cambodia and India, where oud-producing trees are planted – such as Indonesia, Burma and Thailand.  But what sets both Indian and Cambodian oud apart, is the ability to test the quality of these ouds, and then the grades. 

 Think of a barnyard.  Maybe there’s also a horse stable.  Imagine you are stood in the middle of the yard, with some noisy chickens crossing by you, ducks mucking around playfully in the pond to your right hand side, in front of you is the small stable of horses feeding on water and grazing on hay.  You then have to your left the chicken cage, where it seems like chickens are laying their eggs.  The air is clear and the smell?  Well.  Take a wild guess.  The smell of sun dried hay, whilst the teeth of the horse’s munch through them, and the general waft of farmyard faecal matter of many animals put together.  Cow, sheep’s, donkey’s, you name it, you got it.  But mingling amongst that you have the teasing waft of freshly cut grass, and the distance scent of a freshly preserved musk gland from a local deer, punctuated by fragrance notes of that field of roses maybe 5 or 10 miles away, lazily languishing in the air as it drifts towards you.  And then topped with a nice dollop of freshly cut hay.  This is what you can describe to be good quality pure oud hindi.  And it’s this type of oud, that is sought after in the Middle Eastern fragrance markets.

And then your suddenly transported, maybe to the Disney’s Jungle Book type forest, maybe a rainforest? You see mountain high water fountains, feeding into a highly fertile earth, and lush greenery surrounding you, possibly with still ponds of water decorated with waterlilies and some other fragrant flower species around it.  The air is fresh and breezy and the trees around you are near-black fertile trunks, giving off fresh oxygen through its emerald green leaves.  But don’t be deluded into thinking that here what you have is the fresh scent of the rainforest in Cambodian oud.  Quite the opposite actually.

This type of environment produces a very bitter woody scent, topped off with a very intense grassy note.  The intensity value gets higher and higher, the better quality the oud is.  This is the bitter characteristic of oud Cambodi, as opposed to the rather earthy and more animalistic woody notes of oud found in oud Hindi.  Many of the western niche fragrances that carry the oud note, feature the Cambodian oud for the fact that it has lasting power and its ability to pave its way to the top of other fragrance notes, swimming through from the base, through the middle to the top notes.  The oud Cambodi has resistance and has the distinguished ability to keep its identity when competing with other strong fragrance notes like rose and amber.  Oud Hindi on the other hand blends very well and has the ability to enhance and bring out the essence of other fragrance notes, as oppose to keeping in with its identity.  This is why we love our ouds – the versatility and, range and its ability to blend into the crowd, whilst still remaining special, and if you have not done so already, there are plenty to try out on the market.  The main favourites include Terryific Oud by Terry de Gunzberg and Gucci Oud Intense – which is marketed as a male fragrance but of course it is totally useable by us female species!  Others of course include Jo Malone and Tom Ford.

Want to try some yourself from a more authentic source?
The Scented Souq usually carries excellent high quality pure oud Cambodi and Hindi oils and can usually take special orders.  Find out more at

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Shaneela Rowah Al-Qamar is a London based Fragrance Connoisseur and writer, specialising in Niche Arabian Fragrances.  Check out her website

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