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What is oud?

What is Oud?

Oud comes from the Agarwood tree which is found in Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Northeast India, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Borneo, and New Guinea. Thanks to its rarity and inaccessibility, the odorous wood has a long history as a luxurious and spiritual substance. The product of a microbial fungal infection, agarwood is actually a fragrant, dark, resinous wood formed in the heartwood of trees of the genus Aquilaria.  When a tree is injured or infected with fungus, an immune reaction sets in, producing stressed-induced aromatic resins, called aloes, in its heartwood.

The tree reacts to the mould, producing a dark and scented resin, saturating the wood, which can then be separated and used as Oud chips for burning incense. The remaining resinous wood is distilled into Oud/agarwood oil, often referred to as ‘liquid gold;’ which is then used for perfumery. This key ingredient is used in the form of Oud oil or resin, which is often blended in perfume compositions or applied directly on the skin for its opulent aroma.

What does Oud smell like?

Oud is admired by perfume connoisseurs for its distinct aroma, which varies depending on factors such as climate, age and origin. Some Ouds are sweet and woody, yet others are smokier.

Basic Fragrance

The basic fragrance of oud wood combines the following scent notes:

  • Wood: The warm and smooth woody scent is the dominant note of oud wood, often described as warm, intense, and soothing, providing a sense of relaxation and comfort.
  • Smoke: A subtle and refined smoky scent is also a characteristic note of oud wood, described as warm, sweet, and sensual, creating a sense of tranquility and serenity.
  • Tree Resin: The sweet and captivating scent of tree resin contributes to the distinctive fragrance of oud wood. This fragrance is often described as warm, luxurious, and sophisticated, evoking confidence and power.
  • Earth: A gentle and fresh earthy scent may also be found in the fragrance of oud wood, described as cozy, familiar, and warm, creating a sense of safety and peace.
  • Floral Notes: Delicate and subtle floral scents may also appear in the fragrance of oud wood, adding sweetness and allure. This fragrance is often described as fresh, gentle, and feminine, providing a sense of relaxation and comfort.
  • Spicy Notes: Warm and spicy notes can also be present in the fragrance of oud wood, creating a strong scent. This fragrance is often described as stimulating, captivating, and enticing, evoking confidence and success.

Factors Influencing Oud Smell

The most common species used to produce oud wood include:

  • Aquilaria malaccensis: This is the most common species used for oud wood production. Oud wood from this species often has a strong and intense fragrance, with notes of tree resin, rose, agarwood, and vanilla.
  • Aquilaria crassna: Found in Southeast Asia, oud wood from this species has a sweet and warm fragrance, with notes of agarwood, orange blossom, and agarwood.
  • Aquilaria sinensis: Found in China, oud wood from this species has a warm and sensual fragrance, with notes of agarwood, rose, and musk.


The age of the tree is a crucial factor influencing the richness and complexity of the fragrance. Older trees tend to produce a more intense and complex scent as they accumulate more essential oils and aromatic compounds over time. These compounds may react with each other, creating new and more complex fragrances.


Oud adds a rich, woody and sensual element to perfumes. It makes a scent intoxicating, sensual and makes you feel lavish and expensive.


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