Al Oudh by L’Artisan Parfumeur

Hi there Posse! Remember Al Oudh by L’Artisan? Sure you do. I was happy to see it’s made it to the current bottle, so many have not. (UPDATE: Seems to be gone from the website, replaced by Ode à l’Oudh in 2021. Still available on some discounters though) My bottle is the older style. Clear glass, Middle Eastern style arches painted on. Can’t remember exactly when I bought it but think it was in the closing down of a Sydney store that was getting rid of all its testers for about half the cost of the real deal. That would put it somewhere around 2010/11. This was the heart of oudh becoming mainstream and I admit to being a little meh about it at the time. Over the last year or so though it has been getting regular spritzes and I’ve found it a surprisingly beautiful wear.

I’d paid little (read NO) attention to the Al Oudh notes list pre writing this post. O M G! Well, it’s a kitchen sink-er. Fortunately my nose doesn’t read every note during the wear. Most of them show up in some form and thanks to the power of suggestion I’m noting a lot more as I write. Also, I’d forgotten it being a Bertrand Duchaufour perfume, extra YAY!

As most things L’Artisan, they are either groundbreakingly new like L’Eau d’Amber, Premier Figuier & Mure et Musc or they are easy wear versions of modern tropes. Al Oudh falls squarely in category two. By 2009 we were well into the height of the oudh craze and it was already showing its face on the lower end of mass market designer fragrance. Many hard core perfumistas were already meh or in outright combative mode to anything with the new wonder base note inside. To be fair, we were hit with a deluge.

The pooh pooh-ers missed out on something lovely though.

Al Oudh by L’Artisan Parfumeur 2009

Al Oudh L'Artisan Parfumeur

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Caraway Dates Dried Fruits Cardamom Pink Pepper Orange Blossom
Heart: Agarwood (Oud) Leather Incense Saffron Rose iris Neroli
Base: Civetta Myrrh Sandalwood Patchouli Musk Tonka Bean Virginia Cedar Vanilla

Funnily as I finished writing this piece one of the perfume people whose nose I respect highly happened also to bring up Al Oudh. It was a very spooky serendipitous moment. It did solidify my thoughts though and gave me some insight into how Al Oudh may smell on others. My experience is a very pretty, slightly barnyard, medicinal oudh.

It’s the central note of the perfume but the way Bertrand Duchaufour has sweetened and herbalist the opening is a toned down version of the way I would have expected a Serge Lutens oudh would feel. All stewed fruit and greenery with the familiar scratch of saffron. This drizzled heavily with a slightly breathy white floral bouquet and a warm, vanilla centric woods dry down. All overlaid by the oudh, in differing levels throughout the wear. This is an oudh hit with a glamour, as if we are smelling oudh for fairies.

Al Oudh L'Artisan Parfumeur

My mate talks lovingly of the cumin within but it completely passes me by. Judging by the reactions of some commenters on his FB post many others found the cumin in large doses also. Sop, obviously, your mileage may vary.

March wrote about Al Oudh over a decade ago. The post is excellent and has 149 responses!! Those were the days.

Do you remember, or have, Al Oudh? Memories?
Portia xx

  • Musette says:

    I have never been a huge oudh fan but I remember falling in love with that bottle (the original) – the octagonal/hexagonal (?) bottle shape worked so well with the painted-on arches. Reminds me of the gorgeous ….. crap, what’s the one I loved so much … YOU KNOW… the one… yeah, THAT one… (I loved it but then didn’t adore it, so I gave it to March) – it, too, has painted on arches. Guerlain… hang on… Encens Mythique d’Orient!!!

    sigh. I really need to get a grip. Beautiful bottle, though – reminds me of the L’Artisan. So there!


    • Portia says:

      Yes, that Guerlain Orient line was spectacular. I think I have a couple of them around here. Definitely Songe.
      Portia xx

  • HemlockSillage says:

    You encouraged me to dig out my bottle and wear this today, in 96F heat! I love it, but up top it does have a lot of cumin. Hours later, it purrs. I don’t think this would do well for my work, but days off and evenings, I want to smell like THIS. Actually, I’d love a male partner to smell like the this, but for now, it’s just for me. Now, tonight, I need to dig out the Mona do Orio Oud for comparison. Be well.

    • Portia says:

      OHHHH Hemlocksillage!
      I’m so happy to have inspired your spritz.
      Jin wears MdO Oud and I love to swim in the wake of his sillage .
      Portia xx

  • Maya says:

    I am not an oud fan with the exception of Ex Idolo Thirty Three – love at first sniff. Al Oudh also contains saffron which I recently recognized as the note that has ruined some otherwise lovely perfumes for me. So it’s oud sometimes, saffron, even small amounts, never.

  • Holly says:

    I was gifted a full bottle of Al Oudh…I WISH it smelled on me the way you describe it on you! On me it smells like musty oniony armpits mixed with chicken noodle soup! I am an oud lover for the most part, but this one goes hard in the cumin area on me and smells horrid!

    • Portia says:

      OH NOOOO Holly. what a shame.
      Thank goodness you have thousands of other oudh perfumes to get your sniff on.
      Have you got a couple of favourites?
      Portia xx

  • Tara C says:

    Not a fan of oud or cumin, this was way too stanky on me, hard pass.

  • Kathleen says:

    You described Al Oudh perfectly and spot on! I have a hardly worn bottle, only a rare spritz in the cold winter. I get a subtle coziness from it that time of year; however I am just not a fan of wearing Oudh fragrance. I can appreciate this fragrance but just not my style. Thank you for the review! xoxo

    • Portia says:

      Hey Kathleen,
      Not everyone is going to love oudh, especially after living through the monumental oudh phase.
      I think the next generation will think of it like any base note that is in a lot of perfumes.
      For us it was overkill.
      Portia x

  • March says:

    Hahaha I WROTE that review and don’t remember it at all … I used to be snarkier. Life’s better now, though. <3

  • alityke says:

    Oud just ain’t my jam. The one Oud I enjoy, by a tiny independent house based in the wilds of Northumberland UK is having to tweak the formula due to cost & supply problems post Brexit. Though if this is Oud dressed up to be presented to Uncle Serge in his pomp, I may need to source a sample.

  • My excitement was tempered when i returned home years ago and was promptly requested by my partner to never wear it…THAT CUMIN THO! To this day it’s something i rarely wear…as much as i love it.

    • Portia says:

      That’s a terrible but all too often heard story Matt. The glamour leaves after that kind of attack.
      Maybe wear it a few time in the near future, you might be lulled back.
      Portia xx

  • cinnamon says:

    Those top and middle notes (particularly the saffron) sound right up my alley. Maybe will see what the discounters or eBay have. I’ve yet to find ‘my’ oud. I thought about looking for stuff at the Doha airport on the way back from the Maldives but it was around 2 AM and I just didn’t have the oomph. Lost opportunity.

    • Portia says:

      Bummer Cinnamon.
      To be fair to you though, maybe a lost opportunity but also it might have resulted in a LOT of worn once bottles. 2am is hardly peak sniffing time during travels.
      Portia xx

  • Tom says:

    I kind of remember it? I didn’t buy it, I know that. I like cumin but didn’t get a lot from this one and yes, it was at the point where Oudh had become like “spam” in that Monty Python sketch: I half expected to find Mickey D’s to have offered an Oudh McFlurry or to see Count Oudhula with extra Oudhberries in the breakfast cereal aisle..