Areej Le Doré Ottoman Empire: Maharajahs, Heat & Sensuality (+Oud Zen)

Maharajah Singh of Patiala, wearing the Patiala diamond and platinum parade necklace created by Cartier in 1928. Photo source:

Maharajahs dripping with diamonds, a trip back in time to India, narcotic opulence, heat, lust, and sensuality — Ottoman Empire is all those things and more. It is such an utterly over-the-top floral oriental and with such a hedonistic grandeur that it’s a pity the name “Shalimar” with its palatial Indian inspiration was already taken, because it would suit this one quite well. In fact, I find that vintage Shalimar parfum (in its oldest form) and Ottoman Empire have a few strands of DNA in common.

In the case of Ottoman Empire, I was swept off my feet with heady 3D roses married to honeyed jasmine, tropical frangipani, plush oakmoss, warm spices, buttery sandalwood, several different kinds of oud, smoldering vetiver, and gorgeously molten labdanum amber — all enveloped with a fur coat of muskiness.

It’s sybaritic, it’s divaesque on a grand scale, it’s got the heft of a tank, and it turned my head from the very first sniff all the way to the addictively cozy, sexy last. It impacted me immediately, instinctively, and on a visceral level, transporting me back in time to one of my favourite days and memories of India. Without a doubt, hands down, Ottoman Empire is one of my absolute favourite things that I’ve tried this year and will be high on my year-end list of “Best Fragrances of 2017.” It will be the focus of this review, but I’ll have a short review for Oud Zen, the third Areej le Doré release at the end as well.

Ottoman Empire by Areej Le Doré. Source: its website.

Ottoman Empire was released earlier this year and is basically a concentrated attar that has been diluted just enough to make it a sprayable extrait. That’s a degree of richness which gives Ottoman Empire a heft similar to the oldest, most highly concentrated, and expensive vintage Guerlain extraits, except this might be even richer. And, as you will soon see, the fragrance feels “vintage” in scent as well as body and might.

Unlike its sibling, Siberian Musk, Ottoman Empire is still available and comes in a 50 ml size. There are about 40 bottles remaining at the time of this post.

Shalimar parfum: 1970s parfum (front), and two Marly Horse Baccarat Crystal, probably 1960s, back row. Photo & bottles: my own.

Ottoman Empire is a fragrance heavily with about 5 different kinds of roses in addition to a variety of ouds. I’m someone who normally shudders and runs from the thought of a rose-centric fragrance, and I’m also bored to death with the endless, ubiquitous saffron-rose-oud combinations that have flooded the market over the last 6 or 7 years, so my love for Ottoman Empire should tell you something. This is far, FAR more than a mere rose-oud, let alone the typical sort that one encounters. To me, the way the many notes (particularly its jasmine and frangipani/plumeria) interact together turns Ottoman Empire into something which feels like the love-child of: the modern attar, Aurum d’Angkhor, really old vintage Shalimar extrait (1930s-1950s version), and the original version of my beloved Alahine (which has now been gutted by reformulation), with a splash of really old L’Heure Bleue extrait (1930s to 1960s) from the days when it was more about roses, jasmine, and dark, leathery, furry muskiness than the heliotrope for which it is known today. I feel a frisson merely writing those names.

Photo: my own.

On the Areej Le Doré website, Russian Adam describes Ottoman Empire as follows:

The essence of mysteries,
With a heart of extravagant richness,
A character of unmatchable diversity,
The blissful sensation of narcotic depth,
And a soul-healing impact.

Top notes: Jamaican pepper, cardamom, pure rose oil from Afghanistan, Georgia and Bulgaria, Indian rose absolute. Thai white rose, jasmine and frangipani water freshly co-distilled by Russian Adam.

Middle notes: infusion of frangipani flowers, saffron attar aged over twenty years, three types of Indian agarwood oil, including traces of an Assam oud that is nearly two decades old, clean Indian vetiver, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Base notes: seven year old sandalwood from Bangladesh, Indian oakmoss, crude amber resin oil and sweet myrrh.


Ottoman Empire opens on my skin with an utterly spectacular, head-turning, and heady floral bouquet. At the heart of it lies a jammy, fruity rose that is first coated in a thick mixture of saffron honey, honeyed indolic jasmine, amber resins, and very heated, tropical, heady frangipani, then sprinkled lightly with warm, fragrant cinnamon and a pinch of cardamom. The rose is so rich, deep, and authentically naturalistic in aroma that it smells as though it were growing in a garden, its velvety petals opened wide in bloom, wafting lemony, berried, honeyed, fresh, clean, spicy, and green aromas. It’s a three-dimensional flower rose that glows ruby-red and has the same naturalistic richness as the ones in Aurum d’Angkhor and in really, really old Shalimar parfum from the 1930s, 1940s, or 1950s. The jasmine smells like Sambac, the more fruity and indolic variety, while the frangipani comes across smelling like a mix of honeysuckle, indolic fruity jasmine, and creamy Tahitian gardenia. Above all else, though, the frangipani wafts an immensely tropical, heated, and humidity quality.

Jasmine Sambac. Source:

What’s crazy to me is the way that three flowers interact to create something bigger than the sum of their parts, a different flower entirely: orange blossom. Something about the way the sweet, fruity rose layers with the immensely indolic, syrupy, fruity, and tropical white flowers constantly recreates the aromas of orange blossom for me. I can’t explain it at all, but every time I wear Ottoman Empire, there is such an overlap with the scent characteristics of orange blossom that I’m taken aback.

Orange blossom. Photo: my own.

It’s like the olfactory version of a trompe l’oeil, an art technique which uses visual tricks which render small details into something three-dimensional and entirely different. In Ottoman Empire, I can always detect the fruity rose and fruity, indolic jasmine clearly, individually, and distinctly (the frangipani is usually more indirect), but they merge with the other notes, realign, and then reconstitute themselves in a way that, on my skin and to my nose, creates an “orange blossom” trompe l’oeil. (“Trompe nez” might be a more accurate phrasing.)

“Tropical Heat” (and frangipani) by Sean Davey on Fine Art America. (Direct website link embedded within.)

There are a few reasons I think for this trick of the mind. The first is the immensely heated quality of the floral bouquet, a tropicality and hot-house humidness that skews much closer to exotic or indolic white flowers rather than roses, at least not the typical rose by itself. The second is the immense fruitiness, sweetness, and ripeness of all three flowers. The third is their muskiness. Layered within the indolic, honeyed, spicy, and fruity mix is a powerful muskiness which is released by the three Indian ouds. It serves to further accentuate both the sense of heated, indolic lushness and the trompe l’oeil/nez perception of a bouquet that is made up of just as many white flowers as roses, sometimes even more so.

Bee on a tuberose. Photo: faixal_javaid via Flickr. (Website link embedded within photo.)

It’s at this point that it might be worth a brief refresher on indoles and what exactly that term means in perfumery. The scientific story about indoles, in simple terms, is that bees can’t see white flowers like tuberose, jasmine, orange blossom, gardenia, frangipani, or the like. So the flowers have an extra-large amount of a natural organic substance called indoles which they release to signal the bees to their presence. It’s basically Nature’s form of a radar signal.

Their scent varies. In their undiluted, purest, and most concentrated form in perfumery, they can smell like musty mothballs. However, when diluted to just a few drops, they create a radiant richness in floral perfumes that is sometimes described as narcotic, heady, meaty, dense, voluptuous, or sensuous. When the indoles emanate naturally from really top-grade, rich, dense, heavy raw materials like, for example, jasmine or orange blossom the aromas can smell like: camphor, mentholated smokiness, regular smokiness, animalic muskiness, or smoky muskiness. For some people, very indolic white flowers can have an over-blown, ripe quality that smells sour, plastic-y, poo-like, urinous, or reminiscent of a cat’s litter box. The flowers’ richness and widespread use in classic, very opulent compositions is probably why some people find indolic fragrances to smell “old lady-ish” (a term I hate, by the way, even apart from its ageist aspects). Those who prefer clean, fresh scents are likely to struggle with indolic fragrances, and not merely because of their heavy feel.

Photo: “Javascapes” by Daniel G. Walczyk. Source: Behance. net (website link embedded within.)

Ottoman Empire is a very musky fragrance on my skin, but it’s not simply because of the indoles. I would say that the three types of Hindi ouds and the way that they interact with the indoles are just as responsible. The two elements essentially fuse together in a way that creates an effect similar to that in Siberian Musk, even if this fragrance has no deer musk. It’s simply a different sort of muskiness: it’s more resinous; it’s not evocative of the deer’s habitat; it’s smoky in a way that accentuates the indolic aspect of the flowers; and it’s subtly leathery. For the first 15-20 minutes, it smells merely like an amped up amount of indoles because the oud shares the same musky heatedness and flickers of smokiness, even if the smokiness isn’t camphorous on my skin the way that heavy indoles can be. It’s clearly the sort of smokiness which comes from Hindi agarwood instead, but it’s initially difficult to separate the two. Later, about 30 minutes in, the muskiness begins to take on a furry quality that is clearly driven by the agarwood alone, but the indoles are always there, somewhere, lurking about, rippling out quietly so long as the jasmine and frangipani exist.

Russian sable. Source:

As the blanket of smoke-tinged, indole-oud muskiness descends from on-high, the ground beneath the flowers is slowly shifting as well. The three Hindi ouds are flexing their muscles, wafting a furriness that gradually begins to expand like a fluffy carpet of expensive Russian sable coats laid beneath the feet of the roses, jasmine, frangipani, and their combined “orange blossom” trompe l’oeil.

Other changes are occurring at the same time. Clumps of greenness sprout up between the “fur,” smelling like emerald oakmoss and smoky vetiver. The saffron begins to ripple out rich fingers of red-gold that smell sweet, floral, and heated, rather than fiery, sharp, biting, peppery, or leathery. This is most clearly not the Safranal synthetic but something real, wonderfully fragrant, smooth, rounded, honeyed, and almost a little floral and savoury at times. It works beautifully with the labdanum’s toffee aroma and the sandalwood’s buttery quality, both of which lurk softly in the background.

Aishwarya Rai via Pinterest.

The cumulative effect is quite something. Layers upon layers of scent that add up to an oriental tsunami of rich, heavy, and very heated floral sensuality which is simultaneously: tropical, ripe, fruity, honeyed, spicy, smoky, woody, resinous, mossy, indolic, sexy, and musky. I constantly have the impression of a wall of multi-faceted perfumed musk descending upon rubied and diamond flowers with aromas that are so rich and opulent that they bear the weight, size, and virtual feel of a mountain of down duvets (or Russian sable). It won’t be for everyone, but I think it’s fabulous and a real head-turner.

By the end of the first hour, Ottoman Empire is a lush, tropical, multifaceted, and three-dimensional floral bouquet covered on top with an oud-indole smoke-flecked muskiness, a light layer of “fur” underneath, and sandwiched on all sides by honeyed sweetness, bright fruits, spices, and sticky balsamic resins. It’s a floral oriental on such a grand and exotic scale that it goes beyond mere richness or even the divaesque and enters instead into the imperial territory that is normally occupied for me by really old vintage Shalimar extrait. That fragrance was originally inspired by a king’s love for his queen, but this is the scent which actually takes me back to India, one of my favourite countries in the world, evoking the staggering opulence of its enormous, elaborately detailed palaces and conjuring up old photos of its Maharajahs, famously dripping in jewels:

Most of all, though, Ottoman Empire encapsulates and bottles the thick, fruity, spicy, muggy, hot, musky, and dusty atmosphere of India. In particular, it transports me back to one afternoon’s horseback ride up the tree-lined, red dust roads going up Matheran mountain in Maharashtra, while eating sticky fruits and honeyed saffron treats sold by vendors as monkeys chattered and clambered all about. I was filled with such joy on that ride up Matheran, the sort of happiness where you feel as though you’re walking on air. But when I got to the very top of Matheran and beheld the heart-stopping beauty stretching out before my eyes, I was literally lost for words. (And I’m rarely lost for words….) It was before that massive vista (which made America’s famed Grand Canyon seem almost paltry in comparison) that I fell well and truly in love with India. I’ve been fortunate to see a lot of beautiful places in my life — many in India but also in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia — but there was just something about Matheran, its beauty, and that entire day which stands out to me and which I hold close to my heart.

A tiny, tiny portion of what lies before you when you reach the very top. Photo: Peter Akkermans Photography. (Direct website link to his site embedded within.)

That day comes flooding back in both scent and feel when I wear Ottoman Empire. I had a sense of happy familiarity and comfort that was almost a visceral reaction the first time I wore the fragrance, and I have it each time thereafter. Siberian Musk is, like all chypres, more sophisticated in its vibe, and it’s the one which receives all the acclaim, but it’s Ottoman Empire and its lush, spicy, heated sensuality that turned my head, and it’s Ottoman Empire that hits me emotionally.

Trayee via

In the years that I’ve been testing and wearing modern niche fragrances, only one other scent has taken me back to Matheran, but it’s a completely different fragrance in its feel, vibe, and genre. It’s Neela Vermeire’s beautiful Trayee.

Trayee has a number of notes in common with Ottoman Empire — jasmine, sandalwood, oud, vetiver, myrrh, saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, oakmoss, and amber resins — and, yet, despite that, it’s completely different. First and foremost, Trayee does not have a strong, thick chord of roses running through it from start to finish. On top of that, Trayee is less humid, hardly tropical in its floralcy, and never so rich, thick, heavy, and powerful in its bouquet. Furthermore, there is not one iota of anything resembling furriness in Trayee. If anything, it is dustier and more wood-centric, and some people experience an ashy note as well because, on top of everything else, Trayee also has a profound and significant incense element.

The woods are also not the same. Trayee’s single Laotian oud bears no resemblance in either scent profile or complexity to the multifaceted Hindi trio here. In addition, Trayee also has a very prominent Mysore sandalwood element which is often front and center, whereas, in Ottoman Empire, the non-Mysore sandalwood is largely sublimated for the first half of the scent. When it does surge forward strongly in the late hours, it adds a textural plushness, creaminess, and butteriness to the other notes rather than reading purely like a woody note. For all these reasons, I would never classify Trayee as a floral oriental; the balance of notes is completely different. I would categorize it as an oriental that is primarily dominated by spices, woods, and incense; so the jasmine floralcy, amber, oakmoss, vetiver, etc., are ancillary notes in comparison.

In short, Trayee doesn’t closely resemble Ottoman Empire despite its Matheran trigger for me or some overlap in its notes. What I think is a closer analogy is a mix of vintage Shalimar, Aurum d’Angkhor, and original Alahine, with a splash of 1960s L’Heure Bleue in it. I mention the latter not because of the fluffy heliotrope for which it is known now, but because its oldest forms took sultry, jammy red roses and indolic, fruity white florals (orange blossom and jasmine) and then placed them within a cloud of balsamic, ambered, leathery and almost furry muskiness. No, it wasn’t remotely animalic, but that’s why I bring up Shalimar and Aurum d’Angkhor. Like Ottoman Empire, they both have rubied, three-dimensional roses with sultry, indolic white florals, myrrh, smoke, resins, and a dark muskiness that is quietly furry. Aurum d’Angkhor is obviously the closest match of the lot, due to its oud, sandalwood, and saffron, but it’s not identical to Ottoman Empire by any means.

Téo Cabanel’s Alahine in its original glass bottle version. Source: Lianne Tio, NL.

Nor is Teo Cabanel‘s Alahine, but it comes to mind because of its strong mix of French, vintage, and Middle Eastern styles. It takes a plethora of roses, adds indolic white florals, dunks them all in the spice vats of a Moroccan souk, then encases everything within thick amber resins. Or, at least, it did before the fragrance was changed into something so horrifying, I gave it away just to get it out of my house. Still, before it was changed, Alahine was all about opulent florals with the spices and amber of a Middle Eastern bazaar. And, like Ottoman Empire, it had also palatial, vintage, humid, sensuous, and exotic qualities. So, if one combines key elements of all four fragrances, then you’ll have a rough idea of the general universe in which Ottoman Empire inhabits.

Like Siberian Musk, Ottoman Empire has monster longevity, but it doesn’t seem to have stages in quite the same way. With Ottoman Empire, there are merely incremental ripples in degree that occur at a glacial past and are noticeable only in terms of the prominence or strength of certain notes and accords. So the rest of my scent analysis will try to chart the fluctuations that, eventually, over a long period of time, take the fragrance from one point to another.


For example, during the first two hours, one of the accords which ebbs and flows the most is the mossy greenness and, in particular, its vetiver component. Sometimes, it’s extremely prominent but, then, ten minutes later, it recedes to hide in-between the ouds’ “fur coats.” Then, 20 minutes after that, it returns, before repeating the cycle all over again. Throughout that time, it veers in scent from smelling like a plush type of oakmoss, similar to the way the vetiver does in Siberian Musk, to smelling more like a mixture of vetiver and oakmoss tied together with smoke.

“Night sea” by Viola Black Raven via

The muskiness shifts in a different fashion. After 40 minutes, its indolic component weakens, replaced by stronger oud, woody, and leathery facets. Thereafter, the muskiness veers between smelling either like: fur, smoky leather, oud, unrelated dark musk, or some combination of the above. It’s difficult to describe because, a lot of the times, each aroma feels like a separate, unrelated and different element, stemming from different sources, even though they’re all by-products of trio of Indian agarwood. They lap at the floral bouquet, sometimes in turns, frequently simultaneously, like a wave of brown darkness hitting the shores, turning the rubied and diamond flowers into something bronzed or golden in hue.


Roughly 2.75 hours in, all the notes realign themselves. The central chord can be summed up as: sweet, honeyed, spicy floral fur. Jasmine now joins the roses at the head of the floral charge, followed by that unexpected “orange blossom” trompe l’oeil recreation and then the frangipani. Yet, for the first time, the trio of ouds feels fully fused and intertwined around the flowers, wafting a soft furriness more than anything actually woody, leathery, or smoky. In fact, their “fur” bears a rather civet-like aroma at times. Their muskiness continues to hang over everything like a thick fog, infused with saffron, cinnamon, honeyed, and fruity tonalities. The vetiver-oakmoss green accord is now merely a quiet spectator on the sidelines. The base has changed as well. Instead of oud, there is now a molten river of sticky, balsamic, ambered resins. Having said all that, when taken as a whole, the changes feel merely like a shift in the balance of notes rather than an entirely new stage. All the same elements are here as in the opening, but the things being emphasized and highlighted are different than they were before.


The balance changes again midway during the 4th hour when Ottoman Empire turns creamier and significantly woodier in focus. The oud’s fur, muskiness, and soft animalics retreat to the background, letting it smell purely woody for once instead of all its other facets. But the sandalwood is now just as important. It arrives on center stage for the first time, lending a rich buttery, creamy undertone to the floral bouquet. In fact, there is such a noticeable creamy, spiced (and almost vanillic) sweetness running under the flowers that I kept thinking that some ylang-ylang had been incorporated into the mix as well. It has not, but odd sensation of a heady, spicy ylang-like creaminess remains with me for a while. Whatever its source or the reasons for that impression, I love it and find it’s particularly gorgeous next to the jasmine, sandalwood, and saffron.

“Storyboards,” painting by Elizabeth Chapman. Source: (Website link embedded within.)

It’s becoming difficult to distinguish the notes and pull them apart. The central ones that I’ve just described are growing extremely hazy, one bleeding into the next. All the rest are just ancillary elements that dart about like small bees, sometimes buzzing quietly (like the toffee’d labdanum and benzoin resins), sometimes quite loudly (like the smoky vetiver).

Photo: Martin Zalba via Flickr (Direct website link embedded within.)

To the extent that Ottoman Empire has concrete, discernible stages, I would say the second main one begins roughly at the end of the 7th hour and the start of the 8th. Essentially, the sandalwood and labdanum become central figures in the drama, leading the charge, followed by the ouds, rose, and jasmine (in that order). The sandalwood is beautifully warm, resinous, and spicy. The ouds are quietly smoky but they mostly waft a dark muskiness imbued with a civet-like aroma. When taken as a whole, Ottoman Empire is now primarily a spicy, resinous sandalwood-oud-amber, covered with red and yellow rose petals, drizzled with jasmine honey, and then enveloped within a dark, faintly animalic, softly furry musk. All of it has the texture of velvet — warm, plush, and thick — but the rose petals are particularly beautiful in their downy softness.

“Fire Storm” by Marina Petro. Source:

Ottoman Empire doesn’t change significantly beyond this point and the subsequent fluctuations are very small ones, mere shifts in the emphasis of one note over another. In its 12th hour, the labdanum resin (possibly accompanied by benzoin as well) becomes more prominent than the sandalwood and musky ouds, turning the fragrance more towards the amber side. By the start of the 18th hour and in the long drydown which follows, the resinous amber takes over completely as the star of the show. Ottoman Empire becomes a molten wave of beautifully toffee’d labdanum with small ripples of other things buried within, namely, sweet roses and a sexy, vaguely oud-ish dark muskiness. In its final hours, all that was left was a dark, ambered sweetness, warmth, and muskiness. It was lovely, cozy, inviting, and soothing.

Ottoman Empire had monster longevity, decent projection for an attar-like extrait, and big sillage, although not quite as much as Siberian Musk. Using a few spritzes equal to somewhere between 1.5 and 2 sprays from an actual bottle, Ottoman Empire opened with about 2.5 inches of projection and about 3 inches of sillage. However, after 10-15 minutes, the latter began to gradually expand as the oils melted on my skin. 30 minutes in, I was suddenly surrounded by a potent but weightless cloud that extended about 7-8 inches. It grew a bit further by the end of the first hour, perhaps 10 inches in total, and the projection actually grew a bit at that time, too. The numbers began to drop in the 3rd hour, but only a little. Roughly 5.5 hours in, the projection hovered about 0.5 inches above the skin, and the cloud was about 3-4 inches in radius. However, the actual scent was strong and highly concentrated up close. Ottoman Empire remained that way until roughly the 10th or 11th hour when the sillage died and the fragrance coated the skin. I wouldn’t call it a “skin scent,” per se, because I had no difficulty detecting the scent if I brought my nose to my arm. In fact, it took little to no effort to detect the rose-oud-musk-amber bouquet until well after the 18th hour. In total, Ottoman Empire lasted more than 30 hours on me, with some tiny patches of skin maintaining the scent even in the 36th hour. With a smaller quantity, a few smears dabbed on via the atomizer stick, the scent lasted roughly 24 hours. However, the projection and sillage were soft. Spraying has a major effect on the reach and power of this fragrance.

Siberian Musk may get all the acclaim, but Ottoman Empire is popular and liked as well, by both men and women. There are 4 reviews on Fragrantica, all positive, although one of them is accidentally about Siberian Musk instead. You’ll find much more detail in the Official Areej Le Doré discussion thread on Basenotes instead. “Diamondflame” posted one of the earliest reviews and, while it’s too long for me to quote in full, I’ll share some snippets and let you read the entire thing on your own later:

Exquisite. […][¶] A richly adorned tapestry of notes that wears on my skin like a living, breathing mythical creature of legend. I don’t pay particular attention to official list of notes but I do get warm jasmine-tinted sandalwood, wisps of saffron and rose petals seemingly scattered over glowing embers and smouldering myrrh resins. And in case anyone is wondering I don’t find it overwhelmingly floral or sweet.

The construction is sound, the composition somewhat conventional, nothing groundbreaking or controversial. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It makes Ottoman Empire easily wearable which is the sole reason why we wear fragrance in the first place, a fact some niche players seem to forget. The real stars of the show however are the raw ingredients used, a quality amplified quite brilliantly by the extrait-level 25-30% concentration. They bring impressive depth and nuanced complexity to a conventional composition. [….][¶]

If I don’t already have Siberian Musk, Ottoman Empire would have been my first pick. And if you miss wearing vintage florals, you have to try this. Perfectly suited for either gender IMO.

Later on, in a separate post, he wrote: “Ottoman Empire almost feels like a vintage French perfume with a Middle Eastern twist, incorporating ouds, resins and spices.”

I agree with all his comments. No, Ottoman Empire is not something new; it is entirely like a Middle Eastern twist on vintage and classical French legends, which is why I’ve brought up so many grand floral orientals in that tradition. But the classicism and the vintage feel are entirely positive attributes in my book, and the Middle East twist on them is the very reason why I love the fragrance so much. It’s the same reason why original version Alahine was once one of my favourite modern fragrances, back when it embodied Diamondflame’s last description (minus the oud part).

Now, I have Ottoman Empire instead, and it’s even better in its richness, smoothness, heft, opulence, and potency. This is a fragrance which is not only vintage and Middle Eastern in scent profile, but also in its density, power, and quality. You’d never find something rising to this degree except in the most expensive attars or if you took the oldest, most concentrated vintage Guerlain extraits and sprayed them (not dabbed them) with reckless abandon.

As compared to other fragrances at this same level and with this richness, Ottoman Empire is practically a steal in my book. 50 ml of an attar-strength extrait costs $250. It’s not inexpensive, but it is compared to many luxury or vintage fragrances of the same caliber. I’ve seen mere 10 ml bottles of vintage 1970s or 1980s Shalimar extrait going for $150 on eBay and bigger, older bottles listed for anywhere between $350 to 1,000. Fragrances in Roja Dove’s Imperial Collection — his only line which is uniformly at this same level of quality, natural raw materials, richness, and character — are over $1,000 in price. His special, magnificent, and vintage style Haute Luxe is around $3,500.

There are currently around 50 bottles of Ottoman Empire left, and then it will be gone, forever, never to come back in this same form. It’s why I’m getting a bottle for myself. But if you wish to sample before you buy (which I always think is a wise idea), Russian Adam offers a 2 ml spray atomizer for $20. Simply go to Ottoman Empire’s page, and click down on the size listing. Surrender to Chance does not have samples of this one.


Oud Zen. Source: Areej Le Doré.

Speaking of bottles left, I’d like to take a little bit some time to talk about Oud Zen, the third Areej Le Doré creation which is running quite low in stock, so I’m worried it may run out before I can test it again and write a detailed review. I wanted to give some of you a head-up while there are still bottles left, because I think a number of men (and maybe a few women) might enjoy it quite a bit. It’s also the simplest of the line on my skin, so it lends itself well to a broad, simplified overview.

Oud Zen is, as the name implies, an agarwood fragrance where wild, natural Sri Lankan oud and the Papua oud resin are joined by two types of vetiver, two types of sandalwood, a 20-year-old Indian saffron attar, tolu balsam resin, and traces of synthetic civet and castoreum.

Source: GQ at

The fragrance opens on my skin with Indian oud’s creamy, cheesy, skanky, animalic, and barnyard funk, but they’re quickly overshadowed by a glorious, molten, spicy and boozy wave that smells like rich, dense, expensive tobacco drenched in cognac atop a base of smoky leather. I’m guessing it’s the ouds combined with the saffron attar which have so perfectly recreated the scent of spicy, almost gingerbread-like tobacco leaves, fruited cognac liqueur, and leather, but whatever the reason, man, is it an addictive mix. I couldn’t stop sniffing my arm. Sweet, fragrant, warm saffron and a Laphraoig-like peatiness are layered within, while a smoky, mossy vetiver darts about the sidelines, which is also where the Indian oud funk retreats after 40 minutes.

In its middle stage, Oud Zen shifts directions and turns into a trio of smoky oud leather, smoky vetiver, and heavily resinous, saffron-scented spiciness. They lie over a base of creamy sandalwood and civet-y, animalic muskiness. In its visuals and feel, the scent skews brown, black, and very green.

Photo: Nasim Mansurov at his site, Photography Life. (Direct website link embedded within.)

In its final stage, Oud Zen is an amorphous haze of spiciness, buttery calf-skin leatheriness, creamy woodiness, and slightly buzzing, peppery, civet muskiness. The blurry bouquet is veined with spicy, ambered, resinous, and vaguely vetiver-ish green tonalities, but they’re minor and heavily muffled. In its final hours, Oud Zen turns into a simple spicy, animalic muskiness.

Its longevity, sillage, and projection were roughly in line with the other Areej Le Doré fragrances, although I’d say it was stronger, denser, and heftier than Ottoman Empire. It is the only one of the Areej trio that I would firmly classify as skanky. In addition, I think it’s the only one whose oud has an unquestionably barnyard aroma in the opening with goat and cow poo aromas. It’s the Hindi oud which is to blame, but I want to stress that it isn’t as central to the fragrance as the main oud types, it is a challenging factor only in the first 30-40 minutes, and that the gorgeous mix of the main ouds and saffron attar are far greater influences in the bouquet.

I personally don’t believe in gender classifications in perfumery but, if I absolutely had to categorize these two fragrances, I’d say that Oud Zen plants itself heavily in masculine territory, while Ottoman Empire (like Siberian Musk) is firmly unisex.

There are only 10 bottles of Oud Zen left at the time of this post. A 50 ml bottle of attar-strength extrait costs $350. A 2 ml atomiser sample is $25. On Surrender to Chance, prices start at $6.99 for a 1/4 ml vial and go up in price and quantity from there. A 2 ml atomiser costs $55.92; a 5 ml one is $130.71.

Once Oud Zen is gone, I think that’s it. I have not heard of any plans to make a second version.


Each of the Areej Le Doré fragrances were beautifully done, decadently rich, and enjoyable to wear. Oud Zen is the dark, skanky, cozy comfort masculine brother, and the simplest one out of the lot. Siberian Musk is the grand, sophisticated, and complex older sister, traversing a wide range of scent profiles and genres in her expensive fur coat, but her fundamental character is that of a vintage chypre.

Mata Hari. Source: Wikipedia

Ottoman Empire is the sensuous, sensual, and sultry one, brimming over with heady, ripe lushness and exoticism, an Indian princess with Mata Hari’s seductive allure. I’ve read that it is Russian Adam’s personal favourite out of the trio, and I can see why. For all its sensuality, Ottoman Empire is also incredibly comforting in its warmth, heat, and cozy, nuzzling, ambered velvet. Interestingly, a few people who bought Siberian Musk first have said that they ended up actually preferring Ottoman Empire. I think it comes down to the particular notes and fragrance genre to which one responds most instinctively, emotionally, and passionately.

If you’re interested in buying or sampling either (or both) of the two fragrances still remaining, please know that Russian Adam has just left on a 6-7 day trip. He shipped most or all of the prior orders before getting on the plane, but any subsequent ones will have to wait until his return, on or about August 24th.

I hope that some of you will get to try at least one of the three fragrances. If you’re a lover of vintage floral orientals, then Ottoman Empire is a must-try. I loved it from the first sniff.

Disclosure: My samples were provided courtesy of Russian Adam. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

43 thoughts on “Areej Le Doré Ottoman Empire: Maharajahs, Heat & Sensuality (+Oud Zen)

    • Oh, I think you’re going to love this one, RVB. Its rose note is right up your alley. Nice to see you, by the way. I hope you’ve had a good summer and year.

      • Thanks! I’m sure i will love it.I just got back from another divine month in Italy.I hope all is well with you 🙂 It’s great to have you back writing again.You were missed 🙂 BTW have you tried L’animal Sauvage by Marlou?

        • Back to Italy? Funny, I was thinking about you just a few weeks ago during all the Lucifer heat wave articles. I was thinking how it was unbearably hot even when I was there a few years ago, and that led me to think of various other people who were there at that time, including you, and wondering if you had gone back this year. Do you go to Italy every year?

          I haven’t tried anything by Marlou, I’m afraid, but I’ve read a few things about L’Animal Sauvage. Do you like it?

          • Yes I usually go to Italy every Summer for about a month.I combine vacation with a little work I was on the Amalfi Coast for 2 weeks and then spent some time at the bottom of Italy in the Basilicata province.I was in the ancient cave town of Matera an utterly spectacular ancient town with a section cut completely from caves called the Sassi.My hotel was in a cave complex where each room had its own cave or cave complex.The entire town is cut from a light colored rock called tufa and the streets are paved with its stones.During the day the sun reflects off the street casting a radiant shimmer and at night they glow almost gold like from the lights.I highly recommend a visit here for anyone traveling to Southern Italy,And yes it was very hot.One day in Matera it topped out at 106f.Thankfully the cave was quite cool! But as hot as it was it wasn’t consistently as hot as 3 years ago.And I think L’animal Sauvage is worth a try.It’s a lovely dirty furry little musk with a sweet side kind of like a combination of vintage Musc Ravageur and less cuminy MKK

  1. I was first attracted by the buzz of Siberian Musk and become enamoured, but I too unexpectedly ended up fallen for Ottoman Empire. I was not impressed by Trayee, but the depth of Ottoman Empire showed me what a good sandalwood can do. The smoothness of the peach rose and the complexity and voluptuousness of this perfume is amazing! <3

    • It’s definitely “voluptuous.” And that aspect combined with the rich sandalwood reminds me a bit of Oudh Infini, at least during Oudh Infini’s later stages, hours in. Are you going to succumb to a bottle of Ottoman Empire?

      • Yes, I ordered it along with Siberian Musk. Speaking of Oudh Infini, I too thought about it while wearing Ottoman Empire. But with its kaleidoscopic chypre elements at play, Ottoman Empire feels even grander like a mysterious palace, and almost makes Oudh Infini look like a nice villa.

  2. Hello 🙂
    I have waited for this review after reading the previous one about Siberian Musk and I must thank you for this as I have just discovered my love for floral oriental fragrances. I must thank you because you made me discover a new brand of pure quality ingredients (quality over quantity is my motto as of lately) and because, most of all, you instilled a doubt in my mind as to whether buy or not a fragrance by Royal Crown, called Absolute, which I have really “lost my nose” on, making me want to spend 4 times as much the price of this Ottoman Empire.
    I can call Absolute a floral otiemtal, too, with Tuberose and jasmine playing the orchestra over layers of ambergris and Oud. Its sublime… but 950 euro is out of this world. I have questioned the company about such a price and they justified it saying that they have used tipo quality ingredients and in a high concentration.
    Not enough for me.
    I will surely order Ottoman Empire when I am back from holidays. You have described it in such a way that I am 100% sure I will love it.

    • First, welcome to the blog, Ruggero! 🙂 Second, I’ve heard grand things about Royal Crown (their “Noor” was one fragrance that a friend raved to me about) and some scathing things about their pricing, so I understand where you’re coming from in feeling conflicted.

      The thing with companies like Royal Crown (or Henri Jacques or Roja Dove), they can say all they like about the quality of their raw materials and they are no doubt correct that they cost a lot, but… *BUT*… what they never say is that a big (perhaps even significant) cost of their fragrances is due to packaging. Roja Dove’s fancy lacquered bottles lined in satin, Royal Crown’s caps set with crystals or even more expensive things over heavy crystal bottles — none of those things come cheap. At all.

      On top of all that, these brands go a step further by engaging in what is called “Aspirational Pricing.” In simple terms, prices so sky high as to give their fragrances the allure of pure luxury and hauteur. What that does for some people (not all, but some) is to make ownership of the bottles a sign that they have arrived and live a certain lifestyle in a certain social class. So, it’s about the social aspiration and symbol more than the actual olfactory scent. And companies know that some people the higher the prices, the higher the cache, the more some people want it, and the more it will sell. I heard a story about either the Pitti or Esxence show a year or so ago where Roja Dove was telling brands that they should raise their prices HIGHER if they really wanted to sell.

      The point of all this is *not* to say that you think about perfume like these socially aspiring people but that the COMPANIES will often set prices for reasons *unrelated* to the cost of the raw materials in their fragrances. Yes, based on what I have heard about several Royal Crown fragrances, I have no doubt that they use some top-notch, high-quality, expensive naturals and essences. But I doubt that that is the ONLY reason for their prices. I think they mark up the price for reasons similar to Roja Dove or other super-luxury brands.

      Does that mean you shouldn’t buy a fragrance which you really, truly love? No, I’m not saying that at all. If you can afford something and passionately love it, then buy away. I’m simply saying that you were right to raise an eyebrow at Royal Crown’s claim that they were charging €950 *SOLELY* because of the cost of their materials. I give a big snort and eyeroll to that.

      In the case of Ottoman Empire, if you’re tempted and if you really love floral orientals passionately, then you may want to consider buying a bottle before too long. Supplies are running low after my review and there aren’t a ton of bottles left. I don’t know when you’re coming back from your holidays, but it’s something to consider if you’re going to be away for a while. I think there are only about 15 bottles left, maybe less, at the moment.

      • Thank you so much for your kind response.
        I have a news: I purchased Oud Zen .
        I read again your note after the review of Ottoman and the fear that it was running out of availability made me click to buy.
        I am keeping an eye on Ottoman as well, but I want to leave a door open also for Absolute (which I consider floral-oriental too).
        It is true what you stated about the packaging and stuff, together with the will of Royal crown of putting itself on top and passing by as luxury house fragrance.
        If it’s true about Roja Dove, well, I didn’t consider his fragrances before this supposed “do increase prices” claim and I will consider them even less now (I have tried some of his creations and they didn’t impress me at all).

        I will speak again to Royal crown in person very soon. All other fragrances from the house cost Half the price of Absolute and the packaging is luxurious as well .

        Hoping to have things cleared soon with those guys, I still have an option for Ottoman.
        The fact that all those natural ingredients have been used is for me a plus. The fact that they have been supremely well crafted it is another plus.
        Thank you for making me discover Areej Le Dorè
        (Ps: I tried Noor.. didn’t ring any bell)

  3. I really loved your description of your journey up Matheran mountain and the way you shared your experience of that day. It was very striking to me how those memories of yours were released, revived, and made new again by Ottoman Empire. This instant recollection is perhaps the most powerful quality of fragrance and is among the most wonderful qualities of perfume. Usually it is terribly difficult to relate the scent to the memory and then make it all accessible to a reader. But you had a Proustian Madeline moment and you did it perfectly; Maharajas, diamonds, elephants, mountains, and tropical gardens all brought to life in oils sprayed from a bottle onto our arms. Thank you. I’m going to try from now on to recognize the story a perfume is telling, and whether the perfumer is a good author or a poor one.

  4. Hi
    Totally agreed with your assessment of ottomon Empire . I am crazy abiutnottoman Empire and considering a second bottle. I agreed that it remind me sultan pasha attar . One more attar that it remind me in dry down is sultan Pasha reve narcotique.

    • You’re right, it does have some similarities in the final parts of its drydown to Reve Narcotique, Mustafa. It’s the deeply resinous aspect of the musk and amber combination, laced with quiet floralcy and sweetness. Prior to that, I think one could also bring up Oudh Infini’s middle and later stages where the sandalwood is layered with indolic white florals and resins.

      I’ve been thinking about your comments that you loved Ottoman Empire so much more than Siberian Musk that you would have bought two bottles of Ottoman Empire if you had tried it first. It sounds to me as though you’re one of those people (like myself) who reacts instinctively to orientals or floral orientals more than the chypre category of fragrance. I like chypres quite a bit as a fragrance genre and I actually love one or two of them immensely, but if you gave me a choice between a chypre and an oriental, floral oriental, or amber, 8 out of 10 times I will take something in the second category over the chypre. Some fragrance families or genres are simply more instinctive, natural, automatic, and comfortable fits over other families. Reve Narcotique, Aurum d’Angkhor, Ottoman Empire… these are all floral orientals. It sounds like it is your comfort fit more than the chypre (and much greener) category. Mine, too.

      • Since you tried both oud infini and ottomon Empire . What preform and projects better on you? Which you like the most ?

        My skin is like yours very oil consuming and nothing last more tha 10 hours.

        I am considering infini but also considering another bottle of Ottoman Empire . I heard great things about Oudh infini. Tough decision!!

        • Both are lovely, but I prefer Ottoman Empire. And, no question, it lasts longer with less. Oudh Infini feels as though it’s got initially greater sillage and projection. HOWEVER, I never once used the same amounts that I did for Oudh Infini. It’s simply a richer, more concentrated fragrance that I applied more like an attar or ittr than I did an regular fragrance. If I applied Ottoman Empire in the same way as Oudh Infini, I have no doubts it would have massive sillage that extended several feet.

          In all honesty, were I in your shoes and trying to decide between the two, I’d get Ottoman Empire. It’s a better value for the money, a better price, and it won’t be around forever. Oudh Infini will be. Get a sample atomizer from Surrender to Chance, test it, and if you love it, then it’s always there. I know you already have one bottle of Ottoman Empire but that’s just 50 ml, and how long will it last? Say 2 years. Then what? If you truly love it, there is no future buying option like there is for Oudh Infini. To me, that makes such a huge difference.

  5. Since this review came out, Ottoman Empire has hit the LOW SUPPLY status .
    Completely surprised and impressed with Russian Adams’s work.
    I did get a 10 ml of this one and a 10 ml of Oud Zen, and hopefully a 5 ml of
    Siberian Musk. I have been getting some of Feel Oud’s attar’s ,but I would love to
    get Ottoman in the full 50 ml too.I do believe the best is yet from Areej Le Dore .
    It’s a very exciting time when we get releases like these in the perfume world.

    Gorgeous write up Kafkaesque.
    Every time I put Ottoman Empire on, or any of the three ,
    I’ll come back to reread .
    Thank you always for what you do here for us,

    • Dearest Eddie, thank *YOU* for always being such a loyal, kind, and supportive reader. So, which one of the three moved you the most? Or which one out of the two, Ottoman Empire and Oud Zen, if you haven’t gotten the sample of Siberian Musk yet?

      They’re all so different in scent and fragrance genre that it’s a little unfair to ask you to make a comparison, so I’m really asking which one impacted you the most on a gut level thus far? And for what reason?

  6. Dear Kafka,
    Although (as you know) I adore Siberian Musk, your gorgeous review provided me with the impetus to re-test my sample of Ottoman Empire and now I have a full bottle winging its way toward me! Thank you so much for taking such care in writing these incredibly detailed and evocative reviews. I am always moved and inspired after reading each one; they are like educational texts and beautiful short stories, both!

    • You’re very welcome! I’m so pleased the reviews are of some benefit and also that this one inspired you to give Ottoman Empire further consideration. That’s wonderful news and the biggest compliment of all, so thank *YOU* for that.

  7. I have to stop reading your blog You make me want to spend all my money!
    The review was beautifully written, as always. Despite my aversion to rose I’m going to try Ottoman Empire. And I love your description of Oud Zen so that’s on my list, too.

  8. Hi dear Kafka, Pete from Melbourne dropping by….so happy you’re back and blowing our gaskets again with your marvellous insights . I succombed today to a full bottle of OE after receiving my sample only this morning ! Adam kindly enclosed a dreg (but what a dreg ) of Oud Zen in a spray vial which I thought very charming. My skin is perfume quicksand so it’s gotta be strong to last on me and this , Maai , La Nuit , Salome, and Mardi Gras by Olympic Orchid all satisfy me … many ways……much love to you and your Renaissance .

  9. Dear Kafka

    Thankyou for such an amazing and beautiful review, i was only halfway through reading when i started salivating at the descriptions of heavy, jammy, opulent Roses etc, its unique and giftedly worded reviews like these that again demonstrate why you were so missed during your break, and how much your return is welcomed!

    One thing id like to hear from you or your readers, how does this Ottoman Empire rich rose Floral Oriental compare with another heavy rich rose fragrance i have, which is Tom Ford Noir de Noir? I love it, but Alas, it doesnt last long on me, or project much.

    Id love to hear if Ottoman Empire has more heft/staying power etc, i pray it has, because the O.E ingredients list on paper has me falling in love, and i so want that push to make go ahead and purchase a bottle while i can!

    • Welcome to the blog, and thank you for the kind words on the reviews.

      To me, Ottoman Empire can’t be compared to Noir de Noir because there is so much more going on than mere roses (like jasmine, to give just one example) and because it doesn’t end in a powdery, sweet finish. But, if we were to take the roses alone, then Noir de Noir would be like water in comparison. Ottoman Empire is a whole other galaxy of complexity, nuance, depth, body, and richness.

      It also has significantly greater intensity and heft on me than Noir de Noir, even if I use half or a quarter of the same amount. After 5-7 hours, the fragrance turns a little quieter, more in keeping with how an attar is on the skin as opposed to a mere eau de parfum. If you want the bigness of the cloud to be longer lasting, I think you’d just have to apply 3 full bottle sprays at the start and you’d be set. Well, 2 might be a better idea because this is an extremely potent and concentrated scent!

      In terms of longevity, Ottoman Empire beats Noir de Noir hands down. It lasted more than 4 times as long on me as Noir de Noir. You may have to put your nose on your arm after the 16th hour to smell it, but I’ve consistently had the scent lingering on me for more than 24 hours with a few small atomizer spritzes and 36 with a larger amount.

      I think you’d be very happy with the smell and performance as compared to Noir de Noir.

  10. Thankyou thankyou! Thats what i realy wanted to hear! I do like T.F Noir de Noir, but more for the hefty rose at the start, its a brief pleasure on me though, but i agree with you about the sweet powdery ending, it can leave me feeling paranoid that im smelling almost like im wearing some childrens Disney type fragrance! O.E. sounds amazing quality and the ingredients are like a tick box of my wish lists, so il certainly be buying a bottle now!

    P.S. thanks for welcoming me, but iv actualy been around a while, though quiet (spectre at the feast) your help and advice has been invaluable to me in the past, and im still so grateful for you introducing me to amazing fragrances, not least one of my all time favourite amber ouds, Kalemat.

    Thankyou again!

    • Yay, Eddie. You have it, arrived safe and sound. So, how is it on you? Does it suit your tastes? How does it compare to the Siberian Musk that you tried earlier, both as a whole and in terms of your personal, individual tastes?

      Btw, bottle #37 for me. They’re sent out of order, but wonderful no matter the number, imo. And they should all smell the same. No batch variances when 100 were produced in one go, all from the same materials. Adam’s one, personal special bottle for Siberian Musk was precisely that — HIS special bottle. But there are no batch variances for the publicly sold, general Areej le Doré fragrances. It’s the entire reason why something like Siberian Musk’s future bottling won’t have the same name; because everything with THIS precise name is the same but future bottles won’t be. Not 100% identical.

      I know you weren’t saying anything about this, but one Basenoter was attributing differences in what appeared on his skin to his thoughts on batch differences, so I thought it was worth the explanation. Areej is not Creed. The 100 bottles are all the same batch; it’s not like 1,000 bottles produced at different times from different batches.

      What people don’t understand, imo, is that fragrances with a whopping concentration of naturals will inevitably manifest different facets on different skins. The chemical structure of natural absolutes and essences is significantly greater than a synthetic, lab-made aromachemical. In some instances, it can have tens upon tens more facets. That’s for one single essential oil. Now, imagine if it was an absolute, and that 4-5 of them were used for the “rose” note alone. Then imagine that numerous other absolutes or essential oils were used on top of all that, adding up more than 18 to 20 in total.

      The complex molecules in just one of those absolutes could lead to the fragrance skewing one way or another on one person’s skin versus another, let alone with a compilation of 15+ powerful, rich naturals all together, at once.

      Whatever you smell, however things go, it’s purely the result of materials complexity interacting with individual skin chemistry, imo. Just because one single guy on Basenotes thinks there are batches (a valid assessment if this were Creed or the old Amouage Attars) doesn’t mean it’s true. There is only ONE SINGLE BATCH per Areej fragrance, period. Each of the 100 bottles is identical in make up. That is precisely the reason why won’t be made under the same name, to AVOID batch inconsistencies.

      So when you smell your bottle of Ottoman Empire, focus on what YOU smell, feel, detect, or experience. Don’t listen to that one guy describing his experience in terms of what he thinks are numerous purported batches. There is no right or wrong, Eddie. I know you well enough by now to know you don’t have the greatest confidence in your own nose, but believe in yourself, give yourself some credit, and try to understand that each experience is different, okay?

      Also, I want to emphasize that, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how one describes something, how lyrical or pretty one can be in describing one’s emotions, or how many notes or nuances one can detect. *ALLLLLLLL” that matters at the end of the day is whether someone loves something based on how it is on their skin, to their nose, and by their standards. Everything else is merely academic, interesting discussion.

      I hope you love your bottle #55, Eddie, on your skin, to your nose, and by your standards. But whatever you think, please remember that the ONLY thing that matters at the end of the day is what *you* think, not me or anyone else. And, based on what I’ve seen you say here and elsewhere, don’t be so disparaging about your nose or what you smell, okay? We all start somewhere, and I think you’ve come a long way since you first started commenting and talking about fragrances. A hug, my dear.

      • I got a very small sample from Adam’s special bottle of SM.
        It has more deer musk in it. Wahoo , yippee, holy kookamunga.

        Ottoman Empire, mmmm, how to describe what I feel .
        There’s a video on You Tube

        Vitalic-Poison Lips (True Full HD) on Mashup33 channel
        There’s a guy screaming ” You Got It, You Got it “.

        Russian Adam certainly does have it.

  11. Baby did a mad, bad thing. And I don’t regret it at all. 😀 It went on hold, then popped up with 10 left and one of them is all mine! Baby’s first blind buy, and what a leap of faith it is. Fingers crossed, but expectations high.

    • “Baby did a mad, bad thing” made me smile like few things have today. Or in recent days. I’m grinning just re-reading it. Thank you for letting me know. I thoroughly approve of Baby’s mad, bad style (sounds very Byronesque) and I hope beyond measure that it ends up being worthy the risk of a blind buy. You will let me know, won’t you?

      • I’m told it will ship out on Monday, and then we’ll see how international shipping goes. But yes, I plan to squee about it way too much.
        So glad to hear you made it through (hopefully) the worst of it, and good thoughts for the long slog of recovery as well.

        • oh
          Couldn’t resist a baby spray last night with a few hours before bed. Initial blast was . . . troubling. Sharp and mossy? Woodsy? Something dreadfully vintage in a way I am neither young enough to pull off confidently nor old enough to own proudly. Oh dear, I spent how much on this? Then came an oily, headshopesque moment that I liked even less.
          But it kept puffing around me. The honeyed, naughty, enticing heart of it started to bloom.
          And then I went to bed.
          Today, I put it on before work. My experience of the opening was . . . pretty much the same. Then I biked 10 miles in mildly warm weather. My commute takes me two miles through a park that was recently mown and smelled of wildflowers and hay, cut grass and sunshine. I slowed down enough to breathe through my nose, and the way this melded with the smell of nature made me want to stop and experience what must be nirvana.
          I worked 8 hours in an environment that tends to destroy or distort smell. Kept sniffing myself. The scent became powdery musk: warm, sensual and inviting. Then 10 more miles home.
          It still smells divine. I don’t want to take a shower and instead am writing this because I don’t want it to end.
          I want to wear it again tomorrow. And the next day, and–
          I never finish FBs. This? This is suspect I will regret not buying a backup of.

          • I absolutely loved reading your wonderfully vivid, humorous, and delightful journey with the fragrance, Ami, and it brought a big smile to my face. I’m just sorry it’s taken me some time to reply, but I had a family member in the ICU from early Friday morning until Monday so I haven’t had the opportunity until now.

            I’m so glad you ended up loving Ottoman Empire, and that you gave it a chance despite struggling through the opening. How absolutely fantastic that this may actually turn out to be one of the few scents where you may actually finish the bottle! Do you think you’ve pinpointed the notes or issues which gave you such difficulty in the beginning phases? Might it be the animalic muskiness from the oud and the indoles, or was it perhaps the vetiver’s mossiness which felt too heavy and vintage for your tastes? Something else perhaps?

          • No worries at all–I hope your family is doing better.

            As to the opening, I tend to blame vetiver for all the bad things these days. Despite getting on well with Akawa, this last year almost anything I’ve tried with prominent vetiver has slipped sideways on me. And Gestes’ “Stones” can be nominated for all the awards in the world, but it will still remain the only perfume to ever makes me nauseated.
            Though sadly, I also suspect sandalwood. I may end up trying Ensar’s just to figure it out. I potentially associate it with my mother and her faux-hippie friends, and this may account for my standoffishness. Not only am I straight in the middle of the “awkward stage between cougar and jailbait,” but anything that reminds me of them reads as “headshop” and “nope.”

            But in all honesty, to truly love something, I think I need to dislike it at least a little. Otherwise it would bore me. Yes, it’s a personality flaw. 😀

  12. Hi guys, I’m fairly new to the blog so may i first express how much I admire your work Kafkaesque. I thoroughly enjoy reading your articles. Thank you!

    I have recently begun to build a collection of fragrances, my most recent purchase; SHL Black Gemstone (You influenced that one and wow!). I’ll be looking to acquire MAAI and Salome at some point in the future too, simply because I enjoy the animalic purr of a perfumes personality.

    Regarding any potential purchases from Areej, with price being a deciding factor, would you know if I will be taxed as a UK customer on purchases directly from their website?

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