Perfume Review: “The People v. Xerjoff Zafar” – Prosecution & Defense

The People v. Xerjoff Zafar– Case # 13-276891XZ

[The Bailiff]: “All rise! The Court is now in session, The Honorable Charles Highblossom presiding. On the docket, The People v. Xerjoff Zafar, Case # 13-276891XZ. The charge is olfactory assault and battery. State your name and business before the Court.”

[A small, goat-like, balding man rises]: “I am the District Attorney, Luke Sneering.”

[A tiny, dark woman wearing a custom-made Chanel suit rises]: “I am Loverly Limburger from the firm of Wealthy Lawyers, Screw Them, & Howe representing the Defendant, Sheikh Zafar of Xerjoff.”

Source: "Black Gold" movie still.

Source: “Black Gold” movie still.

[She points to the table where a young, handsome Arab man sits with his dark beard, long robes, piles and piles of heavy gold chains, and a peculiar collage of rubbery pink bandages on his arm.]

[The white-wigged judge bangs his gavel]: “The Prosecution may proceed.”


Source: CaFleurBon

Source: CaFleurBon

[The D.A., Mr. Sneering]: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury. We are here to convict Zafar of Xerjoff with olfactory crimes. The case before you is limited only to the criminal issues of assault and battery. You may have heard in the news of the civil suits brought by the Blue Cheese Industry and the Barnyard Manure Lobby for defamation and misrepresentation, respectively, but you cannot consider those issues. All you are allowed to decide is whether Zafar is an assault on your nose.

oud_zafarpackLet us start at the beginning. Zafar, along with his siblings in the Oud Stars collection, was let loose upon the unsuspecting public in 2012. He comes from the prestigious, exclusive, uber-expensive Italian perfume house of Xerjoff and is the creation of Sergio MomoSonia Espelta and Laura Santander. His parts, according to Luckyscent, consist of:

Rose, Green Apple, Black Pepper, Neroli from Morocco, Oud Laos, White Flowers, Cedar, Incense, Vetyver Haiti, Musk.

Blue cheese close-up via

Blue cheese close-up via

Zafar’s character is revealed from the very first moment he sidles up against your skin. There is a blast of cheese. Specifically, the Italian blue cheese of his homeland, Gorgonzola. It’s oddly sweetened, yet also a little off, and quite rancid. Veins of metallics and pepper run through, with just the merest hint of florals. The whole thing sits atop a foundation of extremely rubbery, pink bandages — the sort you’d cheaply buy from a drugstore — and a strong tinge of rubbing alcohol.

By all accounts, Zafar then shifts into something even more frightening. I did not experience it for myself, but plenty of people have. You see, the blue cheese is but the start. Soon, within less than 10 minutes, Zafar takes you to the barnyard to roll around in sheep and horse manure. 



I see the look of skepticism on your face at the thought of rancid but slightly sweetened blue cheese and pink rubber, drugstore bandages being followed by wet mounds of animal feces. Well, let me present as witnesses some posters from Fragrantica.

[The court security guards escort in some very pale, wan looking witnesses, some of whom are still holding onto small buckets reeking of vomit. In between dry heaves, they vow to ‘tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,’ so help them God. And then they testify.]

  •  this is a roller coaster ride through the farm I think. This begins with a cheesy note and then goes right to the barnyard with a totally fecal smell. Sorry, folks, but that’s what it is. I grew up on a farm and I know that smell-this one is somewhere between horse and sheep manure. It lasts for almost 15 minutes, then the juice smells like maybe flowers growing in the manure, and then like rotten fruit left in the garbage too long. Manure
  • A blast of smoky agarwood opens this terrific composition bringing to mind of creamy bluecheese and animalic secrections. [¶] … It’s an assault to your senses in the meaning that unless you’re completely aware of what you’re just about to smell, you’ll probably be disgusted.
  • Strap yourself in and prepare for a bumpy…… This opens with a strong smell of cheese in a barnyard with a peppery apple freshness. […] this is imo definitely one for the Oud connoisseur as I cannot see many people getting past the first half hour.

The final testimony is that of the Complainant, a perfumista who shall only be known as “Kevin” and whose experience with this perfume led to the present court action. Unfortunately, “Kevin” has since suffered a complete black-out on this issue. His deeply traumatized mind refuses to return to the scene of the crime, if you wilI, so I will read to you his sworn testimony that was presented to the Grand Jury:

Upon dabbing on my sample of Zafar, I wretched. Audibly and continuously. Never in my life have I smelled anything so repulsive, and I have worked as a janitor and have performed animal dissections on week-old pigs.

Picture if you will, a filthy, heinous, broken and nightmarish Penn Station toilet. Then, picture filling it with pounds of the most rancid, pungent blue cheese you can imagine. Now picture blending the filth with an immersion blender and heating it on a stove. You now have only an inkling of the atrocities of Zafar.

Zafar struck a fear in me that made me doubt all perfume.  How could something so expensive, from such a prestigious house, smell so outrageously bad? […]

If there were a challenge to which required me to create the most outrageously bad perfume, I couldn’t even begin to imagine the horrors of Zafar. It is truly that repulsive. And while many claim perfumes shouldn’t be judged on their opening, there is no way any sane person could withstand the opening for a drydown that is only better in the sense that it doesn’t make you wretch, cower, and want to crawl out of your own skin and wish you had no sense of smell whatsoever.

You don’t believe Kevin, I can see it in your eyes. Well, we shall prove it to you. Guards! Bring in the testers!”

[The guards set up two, tiny canisters at each end of the room. The jury shifts in their chairs nervously. A small phalanx of the judge’s clerks tiptoe in and discreetly set up small garbage cans at intervals along the gallery and the jury box. The District Attorney dramatically puts on a giant gas mask, akin to those used by soldiers in the first Persian Gulf War when there were fears of Saddam Hussein using chemical warfare against American troops. Mr. Sneering points to the guards and nods.

Pfft. Pfft. Pfft.

Abstract Black Smoke via mobile-wallpapers

Three small whiffs of scent are released from each of the two canisters. Massive chunks of veiny blue cheese leap out, followed closely by limburger cheese in a slightly sweetened white robe. Rubber bandages dance around, one by one, on their bendy pink tails. Pink rubber bandaidCorked bottles of black pepper and rubbing alcohol run up to the jury — and explode in their face. A simpering rose swirls up like a pink genie to hover in the background. Awaiting its eventual turn in the spotlight, hours later, is a very gaunt specter of Incense robed in smoky black. Meanwhile, horses, cows and sheep run amok, their hooves dripping manure on the courtroom’s impeccable floors. One cow decides to defecate right before the Jury Foreman who turns his head and vomits into the lap of Juror #2 beside him. Who then promptly faints.

Incense stick. Source: Stock footage and

Incense stick. Source: Stock footage and

There is an audible gasp from the gallery. A few women reach hurriedly for the vomit pails lining the aisles. But not everyone has turned green with horror. A few men can’t see the animal specters at all. There is no manure whatsoever to their oblivious nose. They have a blissfully happy expression as they sniff the woody base. To them, Zafar is a wonderfully true, authentic oud with luxuriously strong black incense, peppery cedar and a whiff of florals. They don’t mind the medicinal nature of the agarwood and they admire the earthy vetiver, alongside that primal “noble rot.” Zafar sees their face and gives them a wink.

His Honour, the Judge, decides enough time has passed for evidentiary analysis. He orders the olfactory notes back into their cannisters, the windows opened, and the rather large piles of unpleasant droppings to be cleaned up, before banging for a recess. He contemplates ordering a Gorgonzola salad for lunch, but decides that may create an impression of bias. 

After lunch, the court reconvenes, and the District Attorney continues with the People’s case.]

“Ladies and gentlemen, I apologise most profusely for subjecting you to those horrors. And before lunch, no less! But you needed to experience Zafar for yourself. My final point about Zafar is this scoundrelly knave’s cost. Not only is he battering you with olfactory misery, but he’s fleecing your wallet while he’s doing it! Do you know how much he is charging your for this foray into trauma? Almost $400 for a small bottle! To be precise, $395 (before tax and/or shipping) for a 1.7 oz/50 ml bottle of eau de parfum. You can order it from Luckyscent or MinNewYork if you have money to burn, but would you really want to? To quote “Kevin” and his testimony to the Grand Jury:

The fact that Xerjoff dares to price this product of chemical warfare at $395 is absurd. It should be priced at $1 billion so that no one ever has enough money to smell it. In fact, making someone smell Zafar should be sufficient to get one charged with a war crime.

But we are not here to convict Zafar of being massively over-priced; grand larceny is not one of the charges, though perhaps it should be. No, we are here to judge Zafar on the merits, and the evidence clearly demands that you convict! Save the people of the world, leave blue cheese where it belongs, eradicate manure from perfumery, and CONVICT!”


[The defense attorney, Loverly Limburger, Esq.,rises and speaks]: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, thank you for taking the time out of your busy lives to be here today and to help settle this incredibly unjust charge against my client. You know, if I were just to listen to the District Attorney, I would convict too! But he has presented an extremely one-sided version of Zafar. In fact, I would go so far as to say his intentional omission of some key facts should warrant investigation by the Bar Ethics Committee!

Take, for example, the witness testimony from Fragrantica. My, my, what selective cropping and editing. What Mr. Sneering failed to add was how almost all of those comments ended with positive appreciation of Zafar’s luxurious nature. For example:

  • Finally after much patience, a pleasant oud, woody fragrance emerges, really smelling like fresh cut wood. To my utter amazement it was nice. This is definitely a man’s fragrance, but if any of you guys decide to wear this, please warn your significant other that this one will take a while before it smells good.
  • This takes at least thirty minutes to calm down into something acceptable and when it does a incense accord comes to the forefront with that apple freshness. Then woods and some florals start to come through the peppery incense apple freshness. In the drydown the woods & vetiver start to dominate over the incense accord. […] The ingredients are top notch as you would expect from Xerjoff and this does have real Oud in all its skanky glory.

No, the District Attorney has presented a very lopsided, distorted picture of Zafar. He even conveniently leaves out the positive reviews from sites like CaFleureBon and Perfume-Smellin’ Things. I call to the stand as an expert witness, Mark Behnke, the Managing Editor of CaFleureBon!

[The Bailiff administers the oath and the witness settles in to provide his testimony.]

This. Is. Oud. Period. If you have come to appreciate oud in all of its qualities and subtlety Zafar is a fragrance you must try. Not only is it Laotian oud it is Laotian oud from Malaysian Agarwoodold trees over 15 years old. That extra age adds a more resinous quality to what is already an intense note. If that was the only jewel on display in Zafar that would be great but a truly spectacular incense from Oman is also present to take the resinous quality off the scale, in a good way. Zafar opens with a rose note sprinkled with black pepper to accentuate the spicy. The old trees Laotian oud takes over the middle of Zafar and the incense then swirls out of the oud. In the middle part of this development I felt like I was in a meditation garden surrounded by the most expensive incense sticks ever. It truly felt like a religious experience for me. Eventually vetiver and cedar break the spell but not for a long while. The two stars of this Oud Star take hold and try not to let go.

Now, I can just see the D.A. spluttering in his chair about the nature of CaFleureBon as a site that never (ever) has one bad thing to say about any perfume, including cheap celebrity creations. I can see Mr. Sneering struggling to contain himself about how they are a site that caters to advertising dollars and PR teams, so they cannot be seen as anything but biased. Perhaps. That will be for you to evaluate. But, lest you think it’s just CaFleureBon, let me present to you another witness, the respected blogger from Perfume-Smellin’ Things:

“Zafar” means “victory” in Arabic and Xeroff has certainly succeeded in creating a perfume that is as sensuous, multifaceted and provocative as many of the Arabian perfume oils that are popular in the Middle East. Oud really stands out in this blend. No attempt has been made to tame or disguise it so its primal energy is unmistakable. To combine it with rose and musk is very much in the “Arabic” tradition, and for that reason this perfume seems especially “authentic”. The animalic snarliness of oud and the sweet earthiness of patchouli are the most prominent components of the scent, however they aren’t so strong as to obscure the crimson headiness of rose, the heavy sensuality of white flowers or the cool, herbal breeziness of vetiver. I began this review by saying that “oud can be challenging”. “Zafar” is a challenge worth meeting head on- it’s dark; it’s bold and it’s daring. Xerjoff has earned the laurels for creating this perfume, but I intend to share them by wearing it!

It’s a very different take on Zafar than what the District Attorney presented, no? Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I submit to you that this is the true picture of Zafar. Ignore the allegations of barnyard turds or rancid, heated Gorgonzola. Focus instead on the fact that this is not only the very rare Laotian oud, but super-aged rare oud at that! Consider the fact that genuine agarwood is meant to smell a certain way, right down to the rubbery pink bandages, and that this is meant to be a truly Arab fragrance. You can hardly blame Zafar for that, can you? He was born that way. There was no intent to batter you. And, without mens rea, there can be no crime.

In short, you must acquit!”

[The Defense sits down, and the jury leaves for its deliberations. There is no word from them for two days, until finally a message arrives that they are hopelessly deadlocked. The Judge even gives them an Allen Charge to make them try to resolve their differences. Then, finally on the third day, they return.]


Hung jury.

[Six jurors voted to convict the very second they set foot in the jury room. They refused to even try on the perfume for additional tests. The seventh was persuaded to their side after an extra-long bout with incredibly antiseptic, medicinal, rubbery, peppery oud that remained on her skin until the perfume faded away.

However, five jurors held out, stubbornly ignoring the issue of the rancid, moldy blue cheese. They didn’t want to blame Zafar for being, perhaps, what he was meant to be. Three of them actually enjoyed the fragrance after that difficult opening. None of them, however, were willing to spend $395 to buy it. ]


Disclosure: I am an attorney and former trial lawyer, but I never practiced criminal law, only civil. This is not intended to be a proper depiction of a trial or of the law. It is a parody that is meant only in fun, though the essence of the perfume or other opinions thereof is accurate.

57 thoughts on “Perfume Review: “The People v. Xerjoff Zafar” – Prosecution & Defense

  1. I do so enjoy these fragrance trials! You have me snickering now every time I see a bandage! Having written about being pleasantly surprised by Italian food notes earlier, I still can’t imagine wanting to smell like Gorgonzola, much less a barnyard. I really hope Kevin survived this; he seems far too good a guy to be felled by such an awful experience. Out of curiosity (sorry if I missed it, reading from phone), who is the nose?

    • The creator is Sergio Momo, the founder of Xerjoff, along with Sonia Espelta and Laura Santander. As for Kevin, I believe Zafar has now become the Gold Standard of horror by which he measures all other fragrances. For me, it is still Montale’s Aoud Lime… *bone-deep shudder*

  2. I really, really, really tried to look objectively at this, but I can’t. It’s horrific. By a factor of about a million, the worst thing I’ve ever tried. Nothing comes close in terms of sheer ghastliness. Aoud Lime *was* admittedly really horrific, but not in the same way. In all fairness, I also *hate* bleue cheese, and it too triggers my gag reflex (and it’s really the only food I can think of that I hate). So this would have not been a winner for me regardless.

    But my fear has long been that this is what oud is like, and if this is it, then I can count myself out out of most perfumes. It’s actually been the case that while most of the ouds I’ve tried have been quite different from one another, not a single one has really won me over. I think it’s just not an ingredient I like very much, but this particular concoction is egregiously bad. I know things smell different on everyone, but I simply can’t put myself in a headspace where I can believe this smells remotely decent on a single person. If I want freshly cut wood, I’ll take Antaeus or Oud Wood by Tom Ford. Or really anything. Hell, if I want freshly cut wood, I’ll take a splinter in the eye before I’ll take Zafar!

    It goes without saying, I loved this review! Thanks for taking the time to do it!

    • The blue cheese was painful but it wasn’t so extreme on me as that really intense agarwood. Perhaps because the blue cheese eventually ended up going away, while the agarwood did not. It was rather ghastly. I couldn’t believe how bad it was, even when it was somewhat faded. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some ISO E Super in this, as it had that definite alcohol, extreme peppered, scrrrrreeeeching, metallic undertone that remained for quite a while and definitely brought some flashbacks to Montale’s Aouds (though this was milder than those hellish things).

      As for your reply up above, well, every time I think you can’t make me laugh more — you do. You poor, poor thing. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anyone more deeply traumatized by a perfume. LOL! 😀

  3. Lolol! Keep these coming! I’m getting some priceless mental pictures reading these trial parody reviews. Farm animals and poo….

    • I tried, desperately hard, NOT to post some of the more… er…. graphic photos of animal manure. There was one that was oozing, steaming and watery which…. Well, I wanted to give an idea of the scent, but didn’t want readers vomiting on their laptops.

      As for more of these reviews, there aren’t a lot of perfumes which trigger THAT degree of huge antipathy amongst people. Poor, poor Amarige by Givenchy is one, though I think that big, white floral scent was really just doomed by Luca Turin’s seething hatred and by circumstances. So, that was the other one I’ve done this sort of review for. But, if I find another much-hated or very extreme perfume, you can believe me, it will get a trial! 😉 🙂

  4. OMG, So hillarious. Thanks for making me laugh out loud at the beginning of a new week.
    I tried a several scents from Xerjoff bout neither of them justified the super-price with a magnificent juice. I like Irisss, but it’s not worth the money really.
    Thanks for the Zafar case today!

  5. I can’t imagine spending that kind of money to smell that bad. I’m all for a touch of skank. I love scents that stand out from the crowd. But this description reminds me of what an nursing home smells like on a hot summer day. Antiseptic, with rubber gloves and bandages, fecal incontinence, and the occasional whiff of something that may have been perfume years ago but is now a brownish floral sludge in the bottle that the owner still wears a few drops of to make her feel like a lady.
    I love the reviews by trial. I can tell I won’t side with the defense on this case. Lock it up and throw away the key.

    • HA, you may have come up with the exact scenario for a smell like this, though there is still no explanation for that rancid blue cheese. LOL. 😉 I have to admit, I was pretty stunned that some people liked the perfume — eventually. I can dismiss CFB, but the other blogger? I couldn’t believe it! Ah well, skin chemistry is a funny thing.

  6. Oh my, I almost want to smell it just to experience it… but then I’m reminded of my experiences with Montale Aouds and hm, maybe not….

    • I got these samples with a random eBay order, which is how I got the chance to smell it at all! I sort of wonder if they smelled it, then pawned off their misery to some unsuspecting buyer. 🙂 It is weirdly satisfying to have smelled it and lived to tell the tale – I was curious about the Montale Aouds and Secretions Magnifiques too, so I have tried those as well. Though in the case of Zafar, curiosity might just kill the cat. Tread lightly, and keep a bucket nearby! 🙂

    • What’s alarming about Kevin’s experience with Zafar is that: 1) he survived Secretions Magnifiques and didn’t think it was anywhere as bad as Zafar; 2) he has a cast-iron stomach (see point #1 about Secretions Magnifique) and almost vomited from Zafar. So, even ignoring the way the wood eventually turns into a (softer) version of the screeching oud in Montale perfumes, this is still not a pleasant experience. I’m lucky I didn’t smell the manure because I am a VERY suggestive vomiter….

  7. I have a hyperactive gag reflex in the worst possible way…poor hubby would have to clean the mess whenever the kids got hit with the stomach bug as I would literally be vomiting alongside them if I was responsible for the clean up….so I think I will stay away from this one with a ten foot pole!

  8. Hahahahaha. What a great way to start the day, with this hilarious post. And ugh, that smell. You conjured it up perfectly, but I wish you hadn’t. 🙂

  9. I have mat laughed hard enough to cry in a very, very long time, and as a perfumista, I like smelling things I may not wind up enjoying. This, however, will forever remain in the Unsmelled Category. All I need is to re -read Kevin’s testimony and I will be whisked back to my Ormonde Jayne Woman in a flash. Thank you for such evocative writing. You are a treasure. Safari, not so much!

    • Ugh, and I hate using my iPad to comment. That should be “I have NOT laughed this hard,” and a pox on Zafar to the end of time. No to oud in general, but this sounds atrocious.

    • I’m SO glad I could make you laugh, Gretchen! You should read the Amarige one, perhaps, as that courtroom parody is one of my favorite posts that I’ve ever written. 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing, but now, I have to ask? Did Ormonde Woman trigger the same sort of horror in you as the Zafar did in Kevin? Oh dear! What happened? Was it the hemlock? Do you have issues with ISO E Super?

      • Oh, no, the Ormonde Woman triggered precisely the OPPOSITE reaction. I got a sample of this from STC and after testing it, raced to my computer and placed an order. If I ever were to contemplate one perfume to take to my grave, this might possibly be it (but then I would surreptitiously throw in Alahine, L’Heure Bleue, Perle de Mousse, and Nahema to keep it company). I am seriously in love and don’t ever want to be without it. Considering I cannot get Enslaved (yet), OJ Woman may get used up faster than I would expect.

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  12. I very rarely use this expression, but I must in this case: I am ROTL!

    Absolutely hysterical, dear Kafka! Oh, the Xerjoff line! They just make me mad when I look at the price tag and smell the fragrances. I have only ever liked three, maybe four total — and none from the Oud Stars series.

    I also must add the following:

    That poor immersion blender . . . !

    • ;P I’m so glad I could make you laugh! As for Xerjoff and/or the Oud Stars series, I have a few more to try but it may be a while before I can summon up the strength. Or the courage… 😉

      And, btw, figures that the chef in you would mourn the fate of that poor immersion blender. *grin*

  13. This has to be the most unique, novel, creative, and hilarious written fragrance review I’ve had the pleasure of reading! 🙂

    As for the fragrance itself, I actually just got in a small 15ml bottle of this one that was part of a friend’s Oud Stars Discovery Set. I ordered a sample of it when it came out last year. After some testing, I fell in love and needed more! You did an excellent job describing the notes and covering the broad range of impressions that Zafar leaves on people. For me, this might be the best oud fragrance that I have had the pleasure of smelling yet.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the review. Thank you for your kind words which mean a lot to me, David. 🙂 I always enjoy doing the Courtroom parodies but I need to find deeply polarizing scents for it to really work. Thus far, only Amarige and Zafar seem to have enough mass consensus or extreme reactions to warrant such an approach. Perhaps I need to try a Britney Spears perfume next…. 😉

      As for Zafar, I’m glad you’re enjoying it. There is another reader on the board who recently wrote to me about a bottle he got, how much he loved the scent and how glorious he found it. If I remember correctly, he found it (to paraphrase): the most over-the-top, rich, decadent, true and authentic oud he’s ever tried. Clearly, you two had the same reaction. 🙂 Have you tried MFK’s new Oud Moods collection? That was another one which was too much authentic, hyper-masculine, true oud for me, but given your love for that form of oud, I suspect you’d love it.

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  16. Hahahahahahahaha LMAO!
    its oudh from Laos which did the nasty. Laos oudhs are notoriously pungent, however you will find some decent oils that don’t smell like liquid ass… loas oudh chips when burnt the aroma is beautiful but when it comes to the oils its a totally different story. You have to bare in mind it’s the process used to process these oils which is a very complex one. One of the key processes is the soaking of the resin chips prior to distillation. According to a very good friend of mine who owns the website whose name is Adam it is this soaking process that imparts the barnyard fecal notes as some lazy distillers just leave the chips to ferment in their own filth for months on end and then they distill. However Adam has tried a different technique where by the chips are left to ferment for a certain amount of time however the water was replaced every day which effectively cleaned but fermented the chips each time. You also have to ensure the quality of the water is good too. The end result is you will have a oil which smelt even more amazing than the burning chips regardless of whether the chips were from Laos or India and was totally devoid of the typical barnyard characteristics.
    Anyway enough said…..this expensive monstrosity is a bad example of what top quality oudh is about and don’t let it prevent you from exploring oudhs in totality. ….because there are some truly magical mesmerising oudhs out there that will just blow your mind…..and I’m not exaggerating when saying all this.

    • You have a lot of very cool friends, Sultan, and I’d definitely like to try Adam’s handling of the oud. It seems very smart to change the water daily, instead of leaving it to essentially rot in its “filth” as you put it. Then again, some guys go totally nuts for the fecal barnyard aspect to scents like Zafar. I don’t get it myself, and would much prefer a really rich, concentrated version without them — the way your friend seems to have managed.

      • Its all thanks to websites such as basenotes, Fragrantica and bloggers such as yourself and Trebor that has opened up such possibilities. It’s all about meeting kindered spirits who are inflamed by similar passions and conviction to discover new aromas and compositions.
        Honestly K if you want to delve bit deeper in to oudh sites such as Adam’s Feeloud, Tahasyed’s Agaraura, Kayrazen, etc are great places to go to.

        • I will definitely keep your friend’s site in mind, my dear Sultan, because I truly am intrigued. In general, oudh doesn’t really rock my boat but I know that’s because I haven’t tried any of the really good, genuine kinds. Even Amouage tames it for a Western audience. Perhaps the real thing would make me ambivalent about the note. (Plus, I’m seriously oudh-ed out! There seems to be a new oud fragrance out every week!) On the other hand, there remains the very distinct possibility that I’m just a bit of a wimp…. hahaha! I’ll bow down before Amouage’s Tribute attar, but give me a hardcore, super fierce oud and I’ll kinda shake.

          You know, it’s all Montale’s fault. Montale and Aoud Lime. I realise Montale Ouds aren’t the real thing at all (plus, all that bloody ISO E Super!), but still, Aoud Lime kinda scarred me for life. A very, very, VERY bad first introduction to oudh!

          • Don’t get me started on Amouage Attars. …..I love them absolutely but there is a big secret that has not been revealed to the fellow consumers and thus the discontinuation of the attars …..I will be making an announcement on BN in the next few days so my friend await and see it will be shocking…. 😉

            interms of Montale they display very good examples of the power of novel usage of the unusual or even the odd common synthetics……loud, brash, linear even sometimes thought provokingly strange and abstract. …. However whatever the case they always use a signature synthetic agarwood base such is Black Agar by Givaudan or which ever synthetic rendition. ….the other day I received bottles from perfumers apprentice(I looove you!) and two of the bottles spilt a little. ….one was pure cashmeran and other black agar (G)……lo behold my room stinked exactly like Aoud Musk for the next week! Price of Montales Aoud musk 100ml: £90
            price of the ingredients which will make atleast 3 litres of parfum strength Aoud Musk: £25…..go figure…you are an ex litigator right? 😉

          • I don’t really hang around Basenotes, but perhaps you can let me know the link to the thread and put it in a comment to either the Tribute review or the one for the other 2 attars. If you have time, of course.

            As for the the Aoud Musk and those ingredients, I don’t know what to say. Part of me isn’t surprised one whit by the price differential, because we all know companies usually pay cents/pennies on the dollar/pound for ingredients vs. the final, total product’s retail price. That said, the differential — and your comment, “at least 3 litres of parfum strength” in particular — makes me stare. THREE BLOODY LITRES??!! Parfum strength?!! Good God, that’s bad. Forget about lawsuits and litigation, we should get ourselves in on this racket! 😛 😉

            Still, I know not every perfumer makes quite such a killing, and I know a few who have exceedingly high production costs that they don’t recoup in quite such a manner. They don’t have the huge financial resources of types like Kilian, etc., so I think the truly niche perfumers (Andy Tauer, Neela Vermeire, et al.) struggle much more than those for who are really taking advantage of the massive price differential between production costs and retail price. Sad, no?

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  20. Not long ago I was going through the Xerjoff line on Luckyscent and thought they are overpriced, but after reading “The People v. Xerjoff Zafar” , I will never test Zafar. Good Lord it sounds truly appalling and I’m sure that’s an understatement. Your trial was a brilliant piece, btw! I lmao. Barnyards, Penn Station, band aids soaking in excrement, Gorgonzola, and the testers omg. Lol Thanks K you made my day. I will have my partner/lawyer read this tonight. He’ll love the trial. ;D
    P.S. I’m beginning to worry because I really did like Secretions Magnifique. Is there something wrong with me??

    • There is nothing wrong with you if you like Secretions Magnifique. IMO, people’s interpretations and views of that scent are heavily influenced by the hype, by preconceived notions, by suggestive group psychology. The actual scent itself has streaks of challenging notes but they are small and the majority of the scent is really just a woody iris-y musk with milkiness.

      Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed the Xerjoff review. Stay warm, Don. It’s become cold even where I am, though obviously nothing to what you and those in other parts of the country are going through.

      • Very true about preconceived notions. I really do like the SM. And today is a balmy 28°. Spring IS just around the corner and the Siberian Express must have dipped into your part of the country!

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  22. Dear Kafkaesque,

    In spite of pretty broad varieties of odour classifications there is still a whole undiscovered universe in understanding the scent. Especially because perception of the scent is supremely personal experience and vary due to person’s belonging to one or another profession and !personal experience!
    So mean, if it were group of biologists or chemists, their explanations would have been different.
    So Kafkaesque, with all my respect, above mentioned post tells us about your personal scent experience and shows your level of odour education and scent imagination. I’d advise you to broad your scent experience, visit more places in the world, order essential oils samples so you can be more profound in describing the scent and have a healthy scent imagination, your examples may have had fragrance vocabulary that of an art then of a cattle farm.

    Best wishes,

    • And with all due respect, the above comment tells me plenty about your sense of humour, as well as a possible lack thereof and how frequently you read this site in general. My entire approach is about the subjectivity of scent and the individuality of personal experiences. Why else would I focus so much on other people’s experiences and reviews in a way other bloggers do not? Furthermore, for your information, I’ve smelt/own a huge amount of essential oil samples and even taken a summer peefume course dealing solely in naturals. And I’ve lived in more than 25 places around the world and on many continents before I gave up on counting. So, with all due respect, your opinion is your opinion. And since you clearly do not understand satire, I’m even further amused. Cattle farm? ROFL. Hilarious. Might I suggest not reading me at all? Goodbye.

      • Dear Kafkaeque,

        Once again, with all my respect, most of the times I adore reading your blog and vigorously anticipating new articles as well as appreciate your ability to discern the scent, albeit above mentioned post has arisen plenty of disrespect to your scent imagination and vocabulary used. I believe it wasn’t you.
        If, as you mentioned, you have tried/own lots of oils then you might have definitely tried aged Oud from Laos (as well as procedure of obtaining essential oil from it) but if you didn’t I highly advise to do it so you may have the great opportunity to know what is Resinous, Animalic,yes, Pungent, but Creamy, slightly Fatty/Waxy with sweety tint scent.

        Apologising for being rough but it is exactly the way you’ve used.


        • Once again, with all due respect, I don’t think you understand satire. Or the point of this piece. In my Courtroom Satire pieces, I take a very notorious fragrance and present it as if it were a person on trial in the American legal system. I do not give my own opinion. I present the two sides, the prosecutor and defense, with witnesses giving testimony. That testimony, those sides, are reviews or other people’s experiences with the scent, but it’s being presented as if it were witness, defense, or a prosecutor’s position in a trial under America law. Do you understand that? It’s a satire, a humorous parallel to a judicial court, right down to a jury verdict. I’ve done this sort of presentation 3 or 4 times in the past for brands ranging from État Libre to Givenchy. None of them are traditional reviews. All of them take a satirical approach to examine the perfume’s reputation in the larger context.

          You only comment on Xerjoff stuff and you’re clearly obsessed with them, which is fine, but you also have demonstrated that you don’t understand the point of this post at all or what it is about. So you’re coming to the defense of your beloved Xerjoff. And you don’t seem to have any sense of humour when they are involved. Fine, great. I’m glad you worship the brand so much. They should hire you. Let’s leave it at that. This will be the last time I respond to you on the matter.

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  24. I got a sample of this today. I too recoiled at first sniff and went straight to this site, and to my delight you had this courtroom scene on it. I get it completely. I can imagine there being two sides to this olfactory story. Hahaha.
    After only 10 minutes I actually started to like it. Matter of fact, I like it a lot. But that first sniff? Dang! It wasnt of animal feces to me, but of actual human shit. Crazy stuff. But if I ever buy it, I will put it on after showering. My shave ritual takes about 45 mins because I use a proper blade and strop it first. So that will give it time to calm down and shine nicely. At the moment on my wrist I am smelling black milled pepper and leather with incense. I used to work in a secure unit in a psychiatric hospital, so I do know what other peoples feces smell like. Hahaha.
    Thanks for the laugh on your review. I will let you know if I get a full bottle. There is a shop right here in Arnhem, NL that sells all things Xerjoff and Sospiro. I perform sgavibg workshops and whisky tastings there. So might just manage to get a good deal on it

  25. I’ve finally sampled this infamous scent. In a nut shell, it smells like one part of Masque Milano’s Montecristo on my skin. Montecristo was more complex, but it had a woody incense ash tray accord and that’s what Zafar smells like. I get the cheesy thing at the beginning but honestly it was no scarier then Rania J’s Oud Assam. The cheesy phase didn’t last long on my skin at all. I don’t get any manure close up on my skin but I think this scent may suggest manure in the sillage for other people. It’s then ash try linear all the way. This notion scares me a bit as maybe I might be too used to skanky smells?

    Perhaps it has since been reformulated. In any case, there’s no way I would pay anything to smell like ash tray 🙂

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