Friday, 16 August 2013

Persolaise Review: Thirty Three from Ex Idolo (perfumer unknown; 2013)

This was one I approached with dread. "It's an oud," I was told.

'Just kill me now,' I thought to myself.

"It's exceptionally good," they said.

'Please, make it quick,' my brain responded.

"It's been made with an agar wood oil that's been aged for thirty-three years."

'Here, I'll sharpen the blade for you.' But then, the optimist in me defeated the cynic... and thank goodness he did, because this stuff deserves serious attention.

Yes, it's an oud. Yes, it makes no attempt to be original. Yes, it mixes rose, patchouli and musks with agar wood. But it's been created with more-than-decent materials and it offers a timely reminder of why the entire perfumery industry decided to jump on the oud bandwagon in the first place. I have no idea if this is the result of the age of the agar oil that's been used (certainly, some materials, such as sandalwood and patchouli, do improve with the passage of time) but this composition is as smooth as all the mainstream Arabian wannabes are coarse. The agar wood is inky and animalic, the florals are torrid and nocturnal, the woods glisten with haughty elegance and the musks complement the wearer's skin rather than dominating it.

By no means does it reinvent the wheel, but it does oh-so-politely point out that, given a choice, it's better to go for old Rolls Royce wheels rather than brand new Skoda ones. If you wish to have an authentically Arabian oud-y experience, Thirty Three is as close to the real deal as we're likely to get (which is curious, considering it comes from a UK brand.) So seek it out, hunt it down, procure a small sample for your collection, smell it, wear it, ingest it, if you must. Indulge yourself to your heart's content. And then, please, can we draw a thick line under all this and move on to something else.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum provided by Ex Idolo in 2013.]



  1. Thank you so much for reviewing this - especially as I had requested it in an earlier comment.

    One has to kiss so many oud frogs before a prince turns up - so I am happy this has your recommendation.

    I for one love all things oudy and will happily try out the umpteenth rose-oud combo... well, one lives in hope.

    I hope and pray Ex Idolo will improve their distribution of this (at least Europe-wide) before it sells out - the only British outlet has to charge a steep price shipping to us overseas types due to postal regulations.

    1. Gimmegreen, thanks for your comment. Yes, I believe availability is something of an issue with this particular scent... or is it that we've just come to expect everything to be available anywhere at any time? ;-)

  2. Dearest Persolaise
    "My name The Dandy and I like Oud".
    Yes, there you go, I've said it(which of course is half the battle).
    It's been a while since I bought a new one as I have two or three I like very much, but I've never understood why a whole olfactory group, for I feel that oud is shorthand for a style as well as simply noting the presence of a note, should be dismissed out of hand.
    In critical terms it's a little like saying "I don't like musical theatre" or "I don't like sci fi" they may be a partial reflections of personal taste, but in no way are they the basis for a review.
    So how refreshing to read this comment, where the things we should be concentrating on: quality of component parts and composition come to the fore.
    I'm glad you had your mind changed and have found something rather lovely, and I hope I'll be just as glad when I try it, which is what you've persuaded me to do!
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    1. Dandy, yes, you're absolutely right: we should remain as open-minded as we possibly can... even when faced with the nth instance of an exhausted cliche.

      I do hope you manage to find Thirty Three.

  3. Oh Persolaise, I was so interested to spot this post of yours, as I plan to review it myself shortly. I agree with everything you say and would add that Thirty Three was extremely evanescent on me, and I am not normally one to mind about such things. I actually thought 'evanescent oud perfume' was an oxymoron, but not so.

    1. Vanessa, thanks for stopping by. It's interesting that you had quite a different experience with this. I guess maybe it works differently on different people.

  4. Rarely does a perfume enchant me as much as Thirty Three. I got a sample of it because I liked the bottle and the color. Wearing it was an underwhelming experience. After a few minutes, however, I was wondering what smelled so good. I realized it was the perfume I put on earlier and was less than impressed with. Well, as I wore it again and again, I just had to have a full bottle, which rarely happens. When you first spray it, it is loud and sweet. Not sharp like ouds can be. One spray on your stomach is the most effective. It rises beautifully, opening as a dark rose. There is tea and spice and it literally lasts till you wash. Could not be happier with this new find.

    1. Perfume Veil, thanks for your comment. I absolutely agree that Thirty Three gets better and better as it approaches its drydown.


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