How is Oud different from other Perfumes?
Oud is one of the most expensive and desirable perfume ingredients in the world. It has an intoxicating musky scent that can be quite potent and has been used for centuries in India, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Today, many perfumers in the West are using it as a base to create some amazing fragrances for men and women. Western perfumers are paying attention to its wild and intense aroma, be it derived from real or synthetic sources. Tom Ford's Oud Wood was one of the first, followed by Christian Dior's Oud Ispahan and Armani Privé's Oud Royal.
Known as the "Wood of the Gods", oud is the basis of some of the world's most extravagant perfumes. Oud comes from the wood of the tropical Agar (Aquilaria) tree that includes 15 different species. The tree is believed to have originated in the Assam region of India and from there spreading to populate Bangladesh and much of Southeast Asia. Wood chips off the trees are often burned as an incense, and it is common for them to be used during religious ceremonies and various celebrations throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East, including China, Japan, and India.
When the wood of this tree gets infected with a parasitic mold called Phialophora parasitica, it reacts by producing a precious, dark, and fragrant resin. This is the perfume ingredient oud, which is also called agarwood, oudh, agalocha, aloeswood, or eaglewood. Agarwood is a rarity on many fronts. Since the resin is only triggered by the mold, it is estimated that a total of 2 percent of these trees produce it. Not only does this raise the price of the oil, the wood is also one of the most expensive on the market. Additionally, many of these trees are now threatened species.
The oil of Oud can be extracted by distillation from the wood or by melting the resin. It's non-irritating and can be applied directly to the skin. However, the price is the real kicker; Forbes has reported that it can cost $5,000 per pound. Oud retailers often sell just a 3-gram bottle for $300 or more. The same retailers also note that you only need a little oil, so that bottle should last the average daily user an entire year.