Oud Wood by Tom Ford

Oud is a particularly daunting note in fragrances – and this fragrance serves as a great introduction into the mysterious world of oud.


Oud Wood by Tom Ford photo by Liam Sardea

© 2014 Liam Sardea


I will be reviewing Oud Wood in the updated grey bottle. Whether or not this juice was reformulated is subject to speculation.

Tom Ford, the purveyor of all things ‘sexy’, creates suits and ties that are known to be the paramount of luxury. Wide lapels, strong shoulders and shoes with an impressive heel are for men of power and men of opulent style. And unlike the playfulness of Hermès or Marc Jacobs (both fragrance and fashion-wise), Tom Ford is pure classical elegance and his fragrances reflect that without dubiousness. Tom Ford presents his own scent collection: The Private Blend.

Oud Wood, whilst marketed as a unisex fragrance, would probably sit best on a male. I envisage a man in a suit wearing this fragrance and in that respect, not just any suit, but a well-fitting suit.

This EdP is bold and mature, like a smokey liquor or a cognac and not a Midori or something sweet and childlike. In this instance the oud is blended perfectly with other ingredients, including (rose)wood, peppercorn and amber to provide an underlying smoke note.

Upfront you get the wonderfully smokey notes amongst the spice, but also this intriguing medicinal note. Whilst this is something of a paradigm in oud fragrances, I feel it is more herbal than synthetic; other than raspberry cough syrup notes which are sickly and frankly putrid; fetid, even.

The herbal note I am referring to may be due to the underlying vetiver in the composition that I profess reminds me of dried oregano. I state my incredulity because I have not read anything about an oregano note, but I swear I can smell it. It’s a notable hybrid of oregano and rosemary.

The opening is sweet yet smokey, dark yet inviting, and morishly warm; undeniably exotic thanks to the oud, rosewood and cardamon (amongst other things).

Gradually, ever so slowly, the heat and smoke of spices and woods subdues and the sweeter notes become upfront and apparent. Vanilla, sandalwood, tonka bean and honey. I detect striking similarities to YSL’s M7 Oud Absolu (which, was also conceived at the time of Tom Ford as creative director) with a mandarin/citrus note in the mix.

As described by Tom Ford:

RARE. EXOTIC. DISTINCTIVE.

ONE OF THE MOST RARE, PRECIOUS, AND EXPENSIVE INGREDIENTS IN A PERFUMER’S ARSENAL, OUD WOOD IS OFTEN BURNED IN THE INCENSE-FILLED TEMPLES OF BHUTAN. EXOTIC ROSE WOOD AND CARDAMOM GIVE WAY TO A SMOKY BLEND OF RARE OUD WOOD, SANDALWOOD AND VETIVER. TONKA BEAN AND AMBER ADD WARMTH AND SENSUALITY.

I understand the sensual note. I understand why it’s distinctive. It’s an oud with a new appearance. It’s designed for a man with many facets. Mysterious and distinctive, yes…however eventually you get the welcoming side. The case is this same for this fragrance. The drydown becomes sweeter and new facets are discovered, however the valiant facet that is a dirty musk and smoke will always be present.

The oud lingers throughout the lifetime of wear, as does the vetiver. I love the idea of how a revered dark oud note coexists with the common ingredient of soapy vetiver (opposites attract, they say). I like to imagine that this fragrance is suitable for evenings in the forest or autumn grassy planes, but that would be silly, especially with such an exorbitant expected price tag.

Overall, the sillage is powerful, but not the most powerful in the private line range. The longevity of this baby will last a good 6 to 12 hours and that means less sprays and more money saved!

Tom Ford has done a magnificent job in adapting oud into a western market after it virtually not existing in any contemporary fragrances (move over Acqua di Gio- We want dark and dirty, not a watered down, ‘christmas light’ jollity of a fragrance!). Seamlessly Mr. Ford provides a new fragrance profile for oud after it virtually being a synonymous, one sided smell, by working in tandem with the harshness of oud, not against it.

Sexy. Provocative. Voyeuristic? 

Subjective rating : 5/5

Objective rating: 4/5

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