Oud / oud burning / fragrance

(Photo : Unsplash/Ahmed Carter)

If you're passionate about perfumes, you're likely familiar with the highly sought-after oud note, particularly popular in Arabian fragrances. But what exactly is oud?

Oud, also known as agarwood, is a rare and precious resin obtained from the heartwood of the Aquilaria tree, native to Southeast Asia.

The tree produces these resins as a defense mechanism when it becomes infected with a specific type of mold, according to Amir Oud.

The result is a dark, fragrant, and highly coveted material that has been used for centuries in perfumes, incense, and traditional medicines. But what makes oud so special (and expensive!), and why has it garnered such a significant following in the world of fragrances?

Firstly, the rarity of oud contributes significantly to its popularity. The Aquilaria tree is not always infected by the mold needed to produce oud, and even when it is, the process takes many years. 

According to Cote Bougie, it takes 30 years for a tree to mature. Once infected by the fungus, it can take up to 5 years for the infection to become palpable, with the tree taking 6 months or more to finally secrete the resin in response.

This scarcity makes oud one of the most expensive raw fragrance materials in the world. Because of its limited availability, oud is often referred to as "liquid gold" in the perfume industry.

The scent of oud is unique and complex, which adds to its status. It is often described as rich, woody, and slightly sweet with nuances of leather, spices, and earth. 

The depth and intensity of oud make it a preferred choice for those who appreciate sophisticated and long-lasting fragrances. Its multifaceted aroma allows perfumers to create scents that are both exotic and luxurious, appealing to a wide range of fragrance enthusiasts.

In Arabic culture, oud is deeply embedded in the social and cultural fabric. The rich and intense aroma of oud is considered a symbol of luxury and hospitality. 

It is often used in important celebrations and gatherings, where burning oud chips is a common practice to welcome guests and create an inviting  and warm atmosphere, according to Arab News.  

The strong, long-lasting scent of oud aligns perfectly with the Arabic preference for potent fragrances that make a statement.

In addition to high-end perfumes, oud is now found in a variety of products, from candles to skincare items. 

Its versatility and enduring appeal have ensured that it remains a staple in the fragrance industry. Whether used on its own or as part of a complex blend, oud's distinct and captivating scent continues to attract a loyal following.