Mr. Aoud by Montale

*****
Year: 2013

Notes: lemon, citrus, black pepper, cinnamon, galbanum, violet, flowers, oud, labdanum, amber, vanilla, woods

Comment: Mr. Aoud is an exclusive to the Arab Gulf states
Mr. Aoud is an unremarkably soft oud creation, with a paradoxical feminine sweetness.

With a brisk citrus opening, the spices quickly meld with the florals. This stage is rather uplifting, yet one soon foresees a bland woody-oriental base on the horizon. Possessing a sweet resinous underlining, the oud is also surprisingly discreet.

All in all, it's a reasonable effort but that's not really saying much. Lasting power is below average.


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Aoud Legacy by Montale

*****
Year: 2013

Notes: bergamot, lemon, pepper, nutmeg, saffron, oud, sandalwood, musk

Comment: Aoud Legacy is an exclusive to the Arab Gulf states
Over the years, Montale has issued many 'aromatic' scents, with the marine aspect being either full-on (Vetiver des Sables, Embruns d'Essaouira, Sandflowers and Fougères Marines) or subdued (Boisé Fruité, Black Musk, Aoud Forest and Santal Wood). Aoud Legacy is the latest addition to the latter.

Opening with a spicy-citrus blast, its 'aromatic' aura is subtle but still discernible. After the top notes dissipate, all that remains is a saffron-infused oud accord, with a soft aquatic nuance. However, performance-wise, there's a grave deficit in both tenacity and sillage, when compared to the Western Montales offerings.

While it's a pleasantly fresh woody-aromatic, it's no different to a fresh designer sport fragrance. In other words, generic and highly disposable.


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Aoud Heritage by Montale

*****
Year: 2013

Notes: bergamot, orange, oud, patchouli, vetiver, vanilla, deer musk, ambergris

Comment: Aoud Heritage is an exclusive to the Arab Gulf states
With such an enticing array of notes, one was expecting Aoud Heritage to be a winner. But, alas, no.

Not only is the animalic musk overwhelmed by dark smoky woody accords, but everything about it smells very synthetic. Also, if it contains any real ambergris, it's pretty minuscule. When some vanilla eventually emerges, it only temporarily tampers the dry edginess of the oud.

After smelling some of the exclusives, one has to point out just how restrained they are, when compared to the Montales available outside of the Arab Gulf states, and Aoud Heritage is no exception.


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Aoud Mayyas by Montale

*****
Year: 2013

Notes: orange, oud, cedar

Comment: Aoud Mayyas is an exclusive to the Arab Gulf states
With so few notes, one wasn't expecting much from Aoud Mayyas.

Regardless of the oud, it's more of a cedar (or is that Iso E Super?) based creation, with the oud only playing a supporting complementary role. The fleeting orange note doesn't reveal itself straight away but, when it does, it briefly exudes a pulpy sweetness.

Overall, it's mostly linear, provides minimal sillage and has really poor staying power. Compared to the Western Montales, it's severely lacking.


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Aoud & Pine by Montale

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: red apple, pepper, neroli, lily of the valley, rose, amber, oud, pine, vetiver, musk

Comment: Aoud & Pine is an exclusive to the Arab Gulf states
Aoud & Pine is an interesting diversion from the typical Montale ouds.

Devoid of any citrus top notes, it starts out with an apple accord that surprisingly complements the woody pine premise. A slight pepperiness softly weaves in and out, and the most noticeable floral is the freshness from the lily of the valley.

The usual suspects are present (i.e. rose, amber and oud) but they all play supporting roles to the pine, which acts as the backbone to the composition. And when the vetiver later emerges, the pine (which isn't particularly overwhelming at any stage) effortlessly fuses with it to emit an earthy green sweetness.

With moderate sillage and average staying power, one gets the impression that Montale is deliberately making their newer releases lighter than before. Nevertheless, it's still respectable.


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Kabul Aoud by Montale

*****
Year: 2011

Notes: thyme, melilot, rose, oud, cedar, coffee, myrrh, labdanum, patchouli, guaiac wood, musk

Comment: Kabul Aoud is an exclusive to the Arab Gulf states
Named after the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul Aoud is one of the better Montale exclusives.

All in all, it's a balmy oud composition, featuring resin-infused swirls of coffee, oud, rose and cedar. Stylistically reminiscent of Dark Aoud, the roasted darkness of the coffee dominates, while the woody components linger in the background.

Any further development is minimal but it does become sweeter over time. As with many of the recent Montale ouds, the oud isn't the main player, with the guaiac wood being much more pronounced. During the drydown, a musky woody nuttiness becomes more perceptible.

While longevity and sillage are both good, it's still lighter than the Western Montale releases, yet possesses a reasonable amount of presence on the skin.


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Cuir de R'Eve by David Jourquin

*****
Year: 2014

Notes: bergamot, red fruits, pink pepper, clove, Siberian iris, heliotrope, vanilla, patchouli, leather, musk
Cuir de R'Eve is the daytime version of Cuir Altesse and is classified as a feminine fragrance.

After a brief shaky start, from an imbalance in the citrus and spices, some red fruits emerge just before the iris. The iris is strong and slightly powdery, but lacks any earthy or rooty properties. As for the vanilla, it only serves to uphold its creamy premise, while the heliotrope adds a mild floral powderiness. However, whatever patchouli and leather that's been included is meagre, leading one to conclude that it's more about iris than leather.

For most of its lifespan, the iris gently purrs upon a clean musk-laden oriental base. Beyond the full unveiling of the iris, there's hardly much evolution. Interestingly enough, on the first wearing, one's skin emitted the iris very clearly (as well as the rest of the other accords) but, on the second wearing, the composition smelt murky and lacked any finesse (although the iris was still evident).

Like Cuir Mandarine, Cuir de R'Eve also had the potential to be something special. Unfortunately, its execution lets it down. With average sillage, its tenacity is impressive – easily persisting for at least eight hours.


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Cuir Altesse by David Jourquin

*****
Year: 2014

Notes: orange, pink pepper, cardamom, clove, cumin, rose, jasmine, coumarin, benzoin, vanilla, patchouli, leather, oakmoss
Intended as an evening fragrance for women, Cuir Altesse is a brutal disappointment.

The opening is lovely, with a flurry of orange, spices and florals, alongside a mild leathery accent. And although this stage is fleeting, it's both succulent and spritely while it lasts. However, after giving way to the mid notes, it all goes unexpectedly pear-shaped...

Initially coming across as anaemic, a bitter marzipan-like aroma rears its ugly head. As this aspect intensifies, one soon realises that it's actually the coumarin... and far too much of it. So overwhelming is the coumarin that it takes quite a while for some of the other accords to sufficiently breathe (particularly the florals).

By the drydown, the coumarin has yielded some of its dominance but is still very much perceptible, with subtle hints of patchouli, vanilla and oakmoss being present. And while the marzipan-like aroma has largely subsided, the coumarin's suggestive loukhoum properties continue to quietly pulsate.

Although all the David Jourquin creations assert a leather theme, Cuir Altesse can't really be considered a true leather fragrance. Personally, one can only see it appealing to those who enjoy the different facets of coumarin, as that's pretty much the prevailing note.

As always with this house, staying power is over six hours but its projection is too modest.


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Fiore di Riso by Farmacia SS. Annunziata

*****
Year: 2011

Notes: bergamot, mandarin, ginger, white flowers, marigold, davana, benzoin, tonka bean, vanilla, sandalwood, oakmoss
Fiore di Riso is a beguiling and elegant floral gourmand, which comes as an unexpected surprise.

With a citrus and vanilla opening, Profumum's Dulcis in Fundo vaguely springs to mind. But while there may be an initial similarity, Fiore di Riso isn't as dense, with the citruses being crisper, brighter and more ethereal. The differences become even clearer when the emergence of dainty white florals add a feminine touch – with neroli, orange blossom, jasmine and ylang-ylang being possible undisclosed contenders.

As the creamy zestiness persists, the floral tone intensifies with a touch of marigold. A faint booziness is also evident, from the davana, but its volume never increases. As it progresses, the white florals soon give way to an ambery-vanillic drydown, accompanied by some sandalwood and a hint of oakmoss.

In summary, it's a soft skin creation, with dreamy vanillic facets, which isn't syrupy sweet or overtly floral. Even though its lasting power is somewhat lacking, it's still a lovely olfactory experience that's harmoniously bended in a skilful manner.


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Aromadite by Farmacia SS. Annunziata

*****
Year: 2008

Notes: lemon, orange, dill, aromatic notes, ginger, spices, tea, flowers, amber, vanilla, powdery musk
There's something odd about Aromadite that just doesn't work...

Call it an abstract structural imbalance, if you will. Maybe it's the dill, maybe it's just the saccharine sweetness of the citrus accords, or maybe it's because the uncouth fruity-floral blending is extremely reminiscent of Tauer Perfumes' Une Rose Vermeille.

With prominent ginger-infused florals, resulting in a tea-like diffusion, it spends most of its time coming across as cheap-smelling and unpleasant. It's only several hours later, into the musky and spicy vanillic drydown, that it becomes a far less laborious experience.

Although it boasts exceptional longevity, with minimal sillage, it's sadly muddled and unfocused.


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