June 2011 Top Ten Indian Ouds

When I first started smelling oud I didn’t understand how anyone could enjoy Indian oils. I don’t mind the smell of barnyards, but it certainly wasn’t something I wanted to put on my skin.

Over the last few years my taste has expanded and become more eclectic. The strong scents of leather and clean hay, even fecal smells that I first found offensive, now engage me. Their unabashedly primal fortitude speaks to an urge deep inside me- a part of me that is more lusty, uninhibited and free. There’s no way I’d wear these more animalic Indian ouds in public, but when I’m alone they stimulate and excite me and make me feel strong and secure.

My favorite Indian Ouds that fall under the “barnyard” category are:

Oriscent’s Oud Mostafa

*Uns Fine Crafts Assam Ultimate

*Oriscent’s Oud Sulaiman

One day I came across an Indian oud that I really liked, precisely because it did NOT have that barnyard element.  It was much more dignified and composed than the powerful ouds above. Since then I’ve acquired other Hindi oils that can be easily worn in public without fear of embarrassment. My favorite ouds in the “statesman” category are:

Al Qurashi’s Kalakassi

Oriscent’s Oud Nuh

Agar Aura’s Purana

*Tajal Bakshi’s 32 years old Hindi

Then there are some ouds that fall in between these 2 categories.  They are distinctly Indian but their animalic side is balanced by other notes  that either modify or overshadow the “barnyard” aspects.  In this category are:

Oudhasi’s Assam Flora (aptly named, although it’s not “floral” in the traditional sense)

Oudhasi’s Assam 15 (a sweet ethereal vapor tames the leather)

Areej Al Ammerat’s Hindi Manipouri (lots of thick,  juicy plums in this one)

I don’t think my collection would be complete without having at least one oil from each category. But if I could leave you with one thought, it is to please give “Hindi” ouds a chance. It may take time, but I’d be very surprised if there isn’t at least one Indian oil for every oud lover out there.

Please note: The oils with the * are no longer available. My next top 10 will only include oils that are currently for sale.

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49 Comments

  1. Yukti Shandillya said,

    November 22, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    hi,
    I wanted to know about the best oudh wood to buy from India (particularly the place to buy from in India) and also that is pure and more likely to be loved by Arabic people.
    Please help
    thanks.

    • Marian said,

      November 26, 2016 at 9:16 pm

      Hi, Yukti,
      I can not advise you of “the best” place to purchase Indian wood but I have been pleased with the wood I purchased from Assam Aromas- both the quality and price. You can check out their website here:
      http://www.assamaromas.com
      If you come across other honest vendors I hope you will share your experience here.
      With thanks and best wishes.

  2. Fakhruddin Attarwala said,

    November 26, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    But the market is flooded with synthetics. And some of it closely finish with naturals. It flourishes because of its economy.

    As such the question of authenticity arises.

    What type of judgement should be in place for differentiation?

    • Marian said,

      November 27, 2013 at 5:21 am

      You’re right. There are a lot of ouds that contain synthetics and there is no way for a consumer to determine the authenticity/purity of a particular oil without spending a lot of money and having access to a place that does scientific testing. I, personally, purchase oils from sellers who I have known for many years and have come to trust. These sellers commission distillations and visit the distillers on a regular basis. It is a gamble to buy from unknown sellers so one often has to rely on word of mouth.

  3. Maharani said,

    September 25, 2011 at 7:21 am

    I havent tried the Indian ouds you list but did recently receive as a gift from my mother a bottle of Dehn al oud attar/oil. She buys attars regularly in Bangalore when she visits family and this was the first time she had tried oud, primarily as a result of my talking about it. It was very expensive indeed-I was shocked she went for it-and is simply sumptuous…… The top note is astringent, with notes I cannot identify-something like pine but sweeter, giving way after a while to the deeper woody, warm ood notes that are familiar from incense and perfumes such as Tom Ford’s oud wood. It is very long lasting. On my skin 1 drop lasts all day, wafting up when I move, and is still quite strongly perceptible the next day. It has no fecal notes. One really good thing-I can wear it work, my annoying grumpy perfume phobic assistant does not seem to notice it! It is wonderful and I will treasure it-I doubt I will get any more unless I take a trip to Bangalore myself-which I hope to do. My mother, who is vey picky, loved it and even my 18 year old niece, who is more into the fruity florals created for her generation, raved about it. I do her an injustice though-her current fave is Antaeus by Chanel.

    • Marian said,

      September 25, 2011 at 9:02 am

      What a lovely gift and how thoughtful of your mother. Yes-it’s amazing how little is needed for enjoyment and how one continues to catch whiffs throughout the day. I hope you continue to experience many such delightful moments throughout the year!

      • Maharani said,

        September 25, 2011 at 9:20 am

        I definitely plan to explore oud further. I have a complete edition of the Arabian Nights-it mentions “Comorin lign-aloes” as an item of great rarity and price, and which I now know to be oud…..

        • Marian said,

          September 25, 2011 at 9:29 am

          I had no idea it was mentioned in Arabian nights. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising :-). Thanks so much for that sweet little tidbit!

          • Maharani said,

            September 25, 2011 at 10:25 am

            Yes-there are a number of stories that deal with trade as a theme and it is listed in merchants’ cargoes as something that will fetch a huge profit. I think I recall in the full version of Sindbad the Sailor, he notices great hunks of pure ambergris washed up at one point and bemoans the fact he cannot take advantage of it, being a castaway. The Nights in full version is replete with interesting detail.

            • Marian said,

              September 25, 2011 at 3:46 pm

              Although ambergris and oud don’t really smell alike they are similarly captivating and evocative in their distinctive way. I haven’t spent much time at the ocean but a single sniff of ambergris fires up so many fantasies. To me it is a very enlivening scent- it energizes and carries me away as strongly as an ocean breeze. If you like ambergris and haven’t het tried Ross’ ambergris incenses (one with sandalwood and another with avarwood) I highly recommend them.

  4. tacololo said,

    August 25, 2011 at 3:42 am

    oud is a dutch word. It literally means old. I just bought my first pack of oud incense. A 30 g pack of yam international oudh.
    Cost me about 6 dollar, not particularly cheap.
    And Yak it smells oud!
    This will take some getting used to if I ever do.
    Actually I read somewhere that this is supposed to be one of the first popular scents in incense, hence the name. I dont know wether that is true.

    • tacololo said,

      August 25, 2011 at 6:26 am

      actually this is a huge disappointment. Three sticks still dont produce much sent and the result is still bad. It smells like a underaverage charcoal ssandal wood without any specificity.
      Maybe my batch has been tampered with or is extremely old or they put the wrong sticks in it. I am not usually this paranoia but that is how disappointing this one is.

      • Marian said,

        August 25, 2011 at 10:18 am

        I’m sorry you had such a bad experience. Generally agarwood incense is somewhat pricey. Perhaps the sticks you purchased didn’t contain genuine agarwood. I would suggest that you do a search on this blog for “agarwood” and see if there are any sticks that are recommended that fall within your budget. I hope you don’t give up and that your next experience is more satisfying.

      • Mike said,

        August 25, 2011 at 1:19 pm

        Honestly, 6 dollars is very cheap for an aloeswood incense (especially for 30g), in fact at that price I’d very much doubt there’s much in the way of quality aloeswood in it at all. Good aloeswood’s definitely something you have to pay some money for.

    • Marian said,

      August 25, 2011 at 10:15 am

      I didn’t know it is a Dutch word, tacololo. It is also an Arabic word that means wood.

      • tacololo said,

        August 26, 2011 at 5:35 am

        Oh ok

        I just read this at a website of a UK webshop ( incense man)

        Agarwood, aloeswood, eaglewood, jinkoh, oudh and gaharu are just some of the many names for this most legendary and valuable incense.

        Well I have the pure incense absolute agarwood and that one is very good.
        I think 50 grams cost me about 12 dollars so not expensive for that quality.

        Ok I will find and try some others too.

        • Marian said,

          August 30, 2011 at 2:44 pm

          It’s unlikely that it’s real agarwood for that price. For me, personally, it’s important to know the reputation of the seller from whom I’m making a purchase.

          • tacololo said,

            August 31, 2011 at 11:20 am

            Well I will try some pure incense connoisseur agarwood. I just ordered some.
            For the time being pure-incense.com has has free shipping all over Europe. They come at 8$.18 per 10 grams there. There is a discount if you order 100 grams at once.

            Do you have a special tip of something else I should try?

            • Marian said,

              August 31, 2011 at 1:49 pm

              If search for “oud” and “agarwood” in the search box you can find a number of recommendations for both dhen al oud (the oil distilled from agarwood) and agarwood incenses. I hope you find something you like.

              • tacololo said,

                August 31, 2011 at 2:29 pm

                Most women seem to think that men and search funktions dont matchup or to put it differently men dont know how to search. Well matybe that is true but anyway I have been searching for oud and agarwood but the only thing about incense sticks I found somewhere is that the pure incense agarwoods are worth trying and that the connoiseur is really good. No other tips on oud incense sticks found.

                • Marian said,

                  August 31, 2011 at 3:08 pm

                  My apologies, tacololo. I I am happy to list some reasonably price incense sticks and chips I’ve enjoyed that contain aloeswood:
                  Baieido’s Kaden Kobunboku, Koh En, Tokusen Syukohkoku; Minorien’s Fu-In Aloeswood; Scented Mountain’s Scented Mountain sticks; Sejudo’s White Chrysanthemum. There are some aloeswood chips manufactured by Baiedo that are called “Excellent Jinko” that are more expensive but they will last a long time and will give you a different experience than burning a stick. Larger pieces of aloeswood are also available from Agar Aura, Oriscent and Oudimentary.

                  • tacololo said,

                    September 1, 2011 at 12:14 am

                    Ok thanks.
                    Well I read on this forum that pure incense connoisseur was the best available indian incense.
                    I have now some Japanese incense but they are all sandalwoods. I had a sample of kaden kobunboku and tokusen syukohkoku but only one or two sticks.
                    In time I am certainly going to try these.

                    • tacololo said,

                      September 1, 2011 at 1:38 am

                      Marian, you mentioned koh en. I have baiedo kai un koh coming. This should also contain aloeswood.
                      Is this the same thing?

                    • Marian said,

                      September 1, 2011 at 6:05 am

                      No. They are not the same.

                    • tacololo said,

                      September 2, 2011 at 4:18 am

                      I just read that koh is the same as sawayaka kobunboku.
                      I will try it later this month.

        • Marian said,

          September 2, 2011 at 5:21 am

          “Koh” means “incense” in Japanese.
          Here’s a link for Koh En:
          http://www.oller.net/premiums.htm
          Here’s a link for Kai En Koh:
          http://www.oller.net/shukohkoku.htm

          • tacololo said,

            September 2, 2011 at 1:32 pm

            ok thanks. I will check it out.

            There is actually a Baieido koh that seems to be the same as sawayaka kobunboku ( see HOF low end japanese incenses).

            Like I said I am fairly new to Japanese incenses and start to gradually work my way up.

    • Fakhruddin Attarwala said,

      November 27, 2013 at 3:25 am

      Oud in urdu/Arabic means benzoin,used as disinfectant/prayers/deodarant and derived from gum stryx tree,chiefly grown in belt of south east asia.

      Aquilara,now referred as oudh,is derived from the fungus of auilara (also known as agarwood) in north east of India ,bordering china.

      • Marian said,

        November 27, 2013 at 5:31 am

        Thank you for your comment. I have been told by Arabic speakers that “oud” in Arabic translates as “wood” into English.
        I like the vanillic scent of Benzoin. The benzoins used in perfumery is commonly “Siam benzoin” or “Benzoin Sumatara”. It is a very good fixative.

  5. Silahi said,

    August 24, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Hi. I was wondering how I can purchase some Hindi Manipouri by Areej?

    They dont seem to have an order facility on their website.

  6. Apsara said,

    July 2, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Hi again, here I am back as well, a dozen oud samples later. You said to share likes and dislikes…so I feel invited: that 15 year old Assam was truly and thoroughly disliked by me, so much so that the sample landed in the trash without delay. And no, I did not ponder to take a second swipe for even a moment. Whatever is being called sweetness here is not my cup of Oud. Purana has some of the same quality, hence not a favorite. I have an Assam that I like, it’s not available anymore, so I won’t say where I got it.

    • Marian said,

      July 3, 2011 at 6:23 am

      I’m sorry you didn’t like it. I wonder what you’d think of the truly fecal Hindis if the 15 Yr Assam didn’t appeal to you 😦 I’m sorry you threw the sample away, though. Sometimes if you come back to an oud months later you have a different opinion. What was it you didn’t like about it? Did you smell it after it had been on your skin for a while or was the first whiff so distasteful that you didn’t revisit it? How is the one you do like different?

      • apsara said,

        July 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm

        Hi, Marian. Yes of course I swiped it on my arm, and hoped for something pleasing to develop. And no, I still don’t regret having disposed of it. It was repulsive to me.
        I hit the bull’s eye with my first Assam, which was my first agarwood, period. The barnyard dissipates within 20 minutes, and from there on it is dark and complex magic. But, won’t wear this out in public either, especially not in summer. And again, it is not available any longer. There is an oil with the same name, from the same company, which is different and less intriguing, hence I won’t give the name.

        Batches of agarwood oil are so small that I have come to believe that once an oil has a good name, and is fetching the price that an accepted agarwood can command, a different (inferior) batch is sold thereafter under that very name. I have not been too impressed with KSSS, for example. Got it this winter, this must be a couple of years after KSSS was considered a superior oil. But I feel whatever I got is too flat for the price. This is a Cambodian of course. Still kind of nice, and way more accessible than the Indian Assams.
        It still find it utterly amazing that a wood that smells so utterly delicious when burned can stink so much when distilled.

        • Marian said,

          July 4, 2011 at 2:47 pm

          I smelled a recent version of KSSS and it’s nothing like the original. That’s not surprising since the oils I smelled were years apart. What’s more upsetting is when a bottle of oud purchased a month later than the “original” oud of the same name is different. There are some sellers who tell buyers not to expect the bottles to be identical and I appreciate that but none the less I wish there was more standardization. I understand why that’s impossible, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

          The oils I recommended are those that have gotten “good” reviews from a number of experienced “users” basenotes so I didn’t hesitate to mention them. I feel really bad you wasted your money, Aspara. I’m glad you posted your thoughts. Perhaps they will prevent other people from making a purchase they regret.

          • apsara said,

            July 4, 2011 at 9:31 pm

            Oh, don’t feel sorry, don’t feel bad. I have been reading through some of the discussion on basenotes this past winter, and am very grateful for everyone who shares their opinions. It is very clear when getting into agarwood that it is a journey, and it can be expensive. Plus one person likes what another dislikes. But I am glad that you concur about the different oils sold under the same name, it was something that I concluded, based on how I perceived KSSS versus how it is rated.

            At one point I also tried to get another bottle of “my” original Assam, and asked that company beforehand if I can be sure to receive the very same oil that I had purchased earlier. “Yes” they said, and it was not the same oil, it was different and inferior. One that I like it Lao Super from Enfleurage – not for the faint hearted. It’s strong, but also evolves away from the initial barnyardy-ness. It’s (to me) the kind that speaks to the soul…it has that certain je ne sais quoi…

            • Marian said,

              July 4, 2011 at 9:57 pm

              I don’t have the Super but I have Keo and another marked “Lao” which people speculate was an oil Enfleruage sourced from Bolistat. They are both a little rude, so I never walk out the door with them. The Keo is dryer, soapier and earthier; the plain “Lao” is more penetrating bandaid-y. Both have a nice hum.

              It’s so disturbing when companies aren’t honest because they want to make a sale. I personally think it’s better to be honest and lose one sale but keep a good reputation and an appreciative customer.

              • apsara said,

                July 7, 2011 at 6:29 pm

                I have always wondered how far along the chemists in Kannauj (the synthetic scent capital of the world) are with regard to synthetic agarwood. I have wondered if I’d be able to detect a synthetic ingredient in the “natural agarwood”, and there are some oils which I consider suspects. Give my nose a synthetic and I get a head ache.

                Well, today, I put a swipe on my wrist of this agarwood (from Kannauj, yes), it’s an oil that has always felt odd. So an hour later, I want to get it off me, scrubbed my wrist with soap, and scrubbed it again, and that smell is still there. Now this is a surefire sign of a synthetic component, you just can’t get it off. Another sign is a one-dimensionality. The company is ‘essential oils company’ , it has been mentioned on the basenotes discussion (but not negatively). Out of curiosity, I had gotten a sample of an “essential oil” from them which is usually rare and expensive – and wow, what these chemists fabricated with this one was truly an olfactory insult (apart from the fraud of course).

                Have you seen, in the Q & A section of Oriscent (now called Ensar Oud?), they say they will mix different oils for their ouds. That’s ok by me, but of one thing I am pretty sure, that you can trust them when they say there are no synthetics in their products.

  7. omer said,

    June 27, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    hi marian,
    How can you order Tajul Bakshi’s oud…i know the one you mentioned is sold out but does he have a website?
    thanks

    • Marian said,

      June 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm

      You can contact Tajul at:
      tajbakshiAThotmail.com

      • omer said,

        June 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm

        thanks./
        btw ur blog is very informative lol

  8. Artgo said,

    June 27, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    I’ve tried a Cambodian and a Borneo oud but I’ve been reluctant to try an Indian oil. Which would you recommend for an Indian newbie to try?

    • Marian said,

      June 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm

      I don’t think you can go wrong with either Purana or Nuh. Nuh sings at a higher pitch and is clearer and more vapour-y. Purana is deeper and more robust. Agar Aura offers samples so it’s possible to try an oil before committing to a full bottle, which is something I very much appreciate.

  9. bluemoonlune said,

    June 26, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Please feel free to share your experiences with Indian oud

  10. Taran said,

    June 26, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Love the Oud reviews great extension onto ORS.. Oudhasi’s Assam 15 is the only one on this list I have tried but love it oh so much. Almost has a recreational effect on me! Do you know if Oud is similar to perfume in shelf life? I cant seem to find any information.

    • Marian said,

      June 26, 2011 at 5:43 pm

      Hi, Taran,
      Thanks very much 🙂 I’m glad to hear that 🙂
      My personal experience has been that ouds actually improve with age (I keep mine dark and cool) . There’s been some discussion about whether oxygen improves the scent; opinion seems to be divided. I have heard of a couple of ouds that have “gone bad” after a number of years but they’ve been the exception.
      Some people believe that it’s not good to keep the plastic dipstick in the bottle and they cut the dipstick off. Oudhasi’s oils have glass dipsticks so it shouldn’t be a problem.
      I’m glad your enjoying Assam 15. It was one of my first Hindi purchases and I continue to enjoy it. I hope you’ll continue to share your likes and dislikes in subsequent discussions.

      • omer said,

        June 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm

        hi ,marian
        does oud improve even if it is in the bottle sealed? or does it need to be left opened to get”aired”?
        thanks

        • Marian said,

          June 28, 2011 at 4:57 pm

          Hi, Omer,
          After ouds are distilled it is my understanding that distillers leave them in the sun to remove unpleasant “still notes”. There are some sellers who suggest that a particular oud they are selling be left in the sun, or under a lamp, to remove these same notes.
          I know of a couple of people who carry around very small amounts of oud in 1 ml vials. The rest of the vial is filled with oxygen. Those people say that the oud in those vials smells better than the remaining oil in the bottle. And some people say the oil on the bottom of a bottle smells better. There have also been reports of cases where oil at the bottom of a bottle has spoiled but it’ impossible to know why- it could be totally unrelated to the fact that it’s been exposed to oxygen over a long period of time.
          The only thing I can tell you for sure is that the oils I personally own that are in sealed bottles in a dark cabinet have all improved with age. Weather they would improve more if they were left open isn’t something I can answer. Please accept my apologies.


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