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.]