Areej Le Doré and Russian Adam have launched a new series of fragrances, including the long-anticipated upgraded version of his celebrated Siberian Musk. There are five fragrances in total, if one counts the concentrated attar version of one of them as a separate entity which, in my opinion, it really is. The five releases are: Russian Musk, Walimah Parfum, Walimah Attar, Russian Oud, and Indolis. Today, I’ll give you the basic run-down on launch, the scents, their notes, the sample situation, packaging upgrades, and even include mini reviews or pre-reviews for some of the fragrances.
Putting aside the special attar, there are four new Areej Le Doré sprayable fragrances and, like their precursors, they are pure parfums or extraits which were made in limited quantities. Unlike the last time, however, several of the fragrances were produced in quantities greater than 100 bottles. (The quantity is indicated in each fragrance’s section below.)
Each fragrance was created from the same batch of distilled materials, hand-done artisanal distillations, or hydrosols, whether it’s a rare magnolia otto, a “choco-wood” co-distillation of various ouds, a tincture of rare (but legally obtained) Siberian deer musk, or even the distilled oil of green tea leaves from a 100-year old tea tree which Russian Adam subsequently turned into a green tea absolute. Once the bottles for a scent are sold out, that’s it for the fragrance. It will not be remade or reproduced later on. Russian Adam has a particular ethical issue with fragrances being put out under the same name despite coming from different batches or having different raw materials.
In the interests of time and space, I won’t quote the lengthy official descriptions for the five fragrances, but you can read the full details on their individual Areej website pages. A direct link is provided at the end of each section below.
The old Siberian Musk, a fantastic fragrance, has been upgraded with richer, smoother, and more luxurious ingredients. Version 2.0 is called Russian Musk, not “Siberian Musk Intense” as had initially been speculated. The reason is because Russian Adam thought “Intense” would be misleading since this is not a more powerful scent or a “beast mode” version of the original.
Russian Musk’s notes are:
Top notes: Russian Fir and Pine, Lemon, Bergamot, and Mandarin;
Heart notes: Orange blossom from Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and France; Indian Sandalwood, Tonka bean, Nutmeg absolute, Clove and Cinnamon;
Base notes: legally-obtained wild Siberian deer musk, co-distilled by Russian Adam; Agarwood (oud) oil from Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Burma and Thailand; Rose absolute, fossil Amber, Patchouli, Vetiver, Cypress, Tree Moss resinoid and Oakmoss absolute.
Russian Adam sums up Russian Musk as: “Classical chypra full of fresh, foresty notes, driven by furry animalic character, touch of florals and unmistakable piny Russian feel.” If you’re unfamiliar with the original, you can read my review to get a basic idea of what the new version smells like since it was intentionally created to be extremely similar in terms of the overall outline and olfaction.
After testing it, I can say that the two fragrances are extremely close in terms of aroma and overall scent. However, I found Russian Musk to be significantly smoother, both in individual notes and overall body. In addition, the individual notes are much crisper and better delineated in terms of clarity. Aromatically or scent-wise, many of them feel deeper, more well-rounded, and/or mellower. In the case of the lemon, though, it was much brighter, richer, and more beautifully vivid. For example, the lemon has a rather mouth-watering richness whose sweet-tangy tartness resembles Meyer lemons rather than the shriller, more acidulated basic lemon variety. I’m not a huge citrus lover, but this lemon note was utterly succulent, bright, and gorgeously sunny.
There are several differences between the two fragrances. First, unlike the original, there is no lime in Russian Musk. Second, the mandarin is a much clearer, more distinct presence. Third, I thought the musk was significantly milder and more muted, there was little fur, and there were no animalics whatsoever. After 90 minutes, the musk was just a sotto voce note in the background, and it later grew so soft that it was mere texture and fuzziness (but very pretty fuzziness). Once in a while, it was so muted that it practically amounted to a subliminal suggestion. Fourth, on my skin, Russian Musk’s sillage and projection were softer, weaker, less powerful, and less diffusive. Finally, it’s also not particularly strong or heavy in terms of weight and body. It actually has quite an airy feel on my skin. In short, it’s milder, tamer, and quieter than the original in a number of ways.
I shared my thoughts with Russian Adam and he said he “definitely agree[d] that Russian Musk is weaker… in term of strength, projection and sillage.” He explained that “Higher quality oils often tend to be weaker as the distillation must be done very gently to capture more delicate notes… So any high quality ingredients with complex, refined, well balanced notes can be quite weak in power…”
But power and density aren’t everything. I think Russian Musk makes up for it by being more refined, smoother, and silkier, and so does he. Adam called it “more refined, more rich smelling” and a higher quality composition.
For me, the word “silky” sums up a lot about Russian Musk and its feel. I need to give it a few more tests to be certain but I think I might possibly like it more than the original, the way Adam does. Its character is not glamorous or divaesque in my eyes, but it may be more refined, even if it’s in quite an understated way. It’s brighter in the opening, easier to wear later on, and one of those things that one could wear during the day, every day, while still maintaining an upscale elegance and not being casual. Basically, it’s modern-day Armani instead of vintage Balenciaga. Or Armani Day instead of Armani Couture Night. For that reason, I think some people will find Russian Musk to be more versatile and approachable than its predecessor. I like it a lot.
[UPDATE 2/3: a detailed review of Russian Musk has just been posted and it includes comparative scent analysis.]
WALIMAH — PARFUM & ATTAR:
Russian Adam got married at the end of last year, and he created Walimah in tribute to that wonderful event and his new bride. I’ve already posted a detailed review of both the Parfum and the Attar which you can read for a complex run-down of both scents and for close-up of the bottles. But, for the sake of having the basics of all five releases in one place or post, here is their shared note list:
Top notes: Yellow Champaca distilled by Russian Adam, Magnolia otto and absolute;
Heart notes: Wild Siberian deer musk, Royal Bengal oud, Tobacco absolute, Indonesian Cocoa extract, Saffron, and Cinnamon;
Base notes: Indonesian Vetiver absolute, aged from 2010, Indian Labdanum absolute, and Peru balsam.
As always, the price of an Areej Le Doré fragrance is determined by the cost of its materials, including any which might be scarce. In the case of Walimah, Russian Adam told me that the Bengali oud he used was a particularly expensive one and its grade was so high-end that it is not used for perfume purposes. In fact, Russian Adam said that his distiller friend made an oil out of it only as a personal favour to him. The cost of the wood was so much that the distilled oil is sold on Adam’s Feel Oud site for $450 for 2.5 grams.
For those who have not yet the full review of the two Walimahs, I can tell you that they’re both good but the attar is stupendous, although I think you need to love vetiver for it to be a perfect fit for you.
There are around 500 bottles of Waliwah sprayable parfum. There are only 100 of the Attar which comes in crystal bottles, each one engraved with its unique number in the series from 001 to 100. Russian Adam has said that, if the demand is very high, he might be able to produce more attars in the future, all from the same original batch. He has sufficient concentrate, but the bottles are not cheap to buy and they also take time to be made and to be engraved with the names and the number (ie, 101 to 200, etc.). So, it will take one month or two before a supply of additional attars would be available.
Russian Adam summed up his latest oud to me as: “an oud perfume with a gourmand heart and incensy base build around high quality agarwood oil distilled by Russian Adam according to an old traditional way yet with a unique modern twist.” I think that’s a rather good nutshell of its essence. The official scent description is too long to quote here but I want to highlight its conclusion which says: “Russian Oud is a grandfather of our previous sought-after compositions, Oud Zen and Oud Picante. It is richer in oud, resins and soothing, incensy base notes.”
The official note list is:
Top notes: multi-layered Choco-Borai Oud oil [mixed Thai ouds co-distilled by Russian Adam];
Heart notes: Indian oud, Russian Castoreum, Cocoa extract, and Siberian deer musk maceration, derived from a gigantic musk pod;
Base notes: Guggul resinoid, Indian Myrrh, Labdanum, Birch Tar, Sandalwood, and Cedarwood.
Guggul is apparently a type of Indian myrrh tree resin. Russian Adam described its aroma to me as: “very resinous, closer to labdanum but lighter and more refined, incensy and caramel like sweet.”
The initial note list that I was provided did not mention sandalwood (or birch tar), but Russian Oud had such a powerful sandalwood note at one stage that the scent bouquet was filled with it. In fact, it utterly turned my head with its absolutely gorgeous resinousness and smokiness. Since it wasn’t mentioned in the note list I had, I thought it was merely an indirect recreation via overlapping, similar aromas from the other materials, but when I asked Adam, he said that the fragrance contains a special distillation of his Santal 100K. This one, however, is no green buttermilk sandal in its aroma. Instead, Russian Adam described its scent as something like a “sandal tar, similar to birch wood.”
It’s utterly fantastic, especially at one point when it combines with other notes to create the effect of a molten river of lava flowing over your skin, lava made out of toffee’d amber, sandalwood, smoke, myrrh, and musky, quietly growling oud. It’s not just addictive, but damn sexy as well. My sister used to have an expression for things that blew her away and also had great sex appeal: she used to say, he or it “is like sex on a stick.” I’m pretty sure she would sum up Russian Oud as “sex on a stick.” And I would agree, except I think this is primarily a cozy comfort scent and delectable semi-gourmand. But wowzer nonetheless.
Not only is Russian Oud my favourite out of the new series, hands-down, but the extent of my love for it may possibly surpass my feelings for Ottoman Empire. No, it’s nowhere as complex as either the latter or some of the new releases like Walimah, but Russian Oud is the ultimate “cozy comfort” scent for someone with my tastes. The fact that it can also be highly sexy and totally addictive is simply a cherry or two on the cake. My first sniff sent my head spinning like some possessed child from The Exorcist, albeit a happy child floating in the air from olfactory euphoria, not satanic possession. I wanted to lick my arm; I wished I could bathe in the stuff; and when some of the scent I was wearing on my arm for a test transferred to the cuffs of my sweater and later to my sheets, I couldn’t stop sniffing them. The indirect transfer onto my sheets couldn’t have been more than a small smear but it left my bedroom filled with the scent of Russian Oud’s delectable, addictive caramel-amber-chocolate drydown for two days straight, leaving me sniffing the air like a German Shepherd K9 looking for drugs. Bottom line: Russian Oud is olfactory crack to me, pure and simple.
The reasons have nothing to do with oud. I’m hardly an Oud Head. No, one reason why is because of a magic trick whereby various individual notes end up combining to mimic and recreate the most sumptuous and multi-faceted patchouli, one of my favourite raw materials. Another reason is because many of the notes have similar traits and each one serves to accentuate the next, amplifying it, enriching it, and thereby creating the absolute best version possible. Like, for example, the reddest, smokiest, most resinous, sandalwood heartwood, or the most luxurious chocolate-caramel bar made by the best chocolatier. While there are gourmand elements in Russian Oud, they’re never so sweet or excessive on my skin as to render things cloying or to turn off a gourmand hater like myself. Plus, they’re layered with loads upon loads of incense, resins, quietly animalic oud, dark muskiness, creamy woods, dry woods, and leathery castoreum.
But I think you must love chocolate (even if it’s just semi-sweetened chocolate) and labdanum for Russian Oud to sweep you off your feet to the extent that it did me. Preferably, you’d love patchouli as well, even if the aroma here is just an inadvertent mimicry of patchouli. (A virtually identical recreation and mimicry, if you ask me.) I happen to be a total labdanum junkie and a hardcore, salivating Patch Head; I also love chocolate in perfumery; and the red, smoky, heavily resinous sort of sandalwood used here is the exact sort I adore, not the milky green kind. So, for me, Russian Oud was a match made in heaven and a bottle lies in my future. Maybe two.
I can’t believe I’m going to say this because I almost never recommend blind-buys if I can help it, but there are one or two of you out there with tastes identical to mine who should do exactly that. If you love patchouli, chocolate, labdanum, toffee, caramel, dark musky ambers, myrrh, and resinous orientals even more than oud, and if you loved Ensar Oud‘s Santal Sultan, Sammarco‘s boozy black-chocolate-patchouli-amber-castoreum Bond-T, and Roja Dove‘s chocolate-amber Amber Extrait, I think you can skip the testing portion and go straight for a bottle because you will not be disappointed. However, if you’re neither a chocolate, patchouli, or labdanum lover, and if none of the fragrances mentioned above did anything for you, then test first.
[UPDATE 2/11: a full review for Russian Oud with scent comparisons to prior Areej oud fragrances has just been posted.]
Russian Adam’s summary of the fragrance is as follows: “Full of indolic Indonesian florals, Indolis is an aromatic oriental creation with an unusual blue character.” The official scent description is too long for me to quote in full, but I think the following excerpts reveal the high-quality or rarity of some of the materials as well as what Russian Adam means by “blue”:
The composition opens with the rarest, most costly jasmine extract known to man: Indonesian jasmine enfleurage. Delicate, soft and virginal… yet with an indolic, almost animalic touch… this enfleurage represents the scent that is closest to the true aroma of a night-blooming jasmine flower. It is further boosted with distilled oil of gardenia blossoms. Wild, piercing and even more animalic, this adds unmatchable layers to the top notes. Sharp, Indonesian jasmine absolute and soft neroli from Tunisia provide a foundation for the bouquet of top notes, causing them to last and shine through the entire composition. [¶][….][snip]
Perfectly blended, co-existing notes gradually take us to a base that is silky smooth, with a green and blue character. Green Indonesian sandal oil, distilled by Russian Adam from sandal roots nearly 100 years old, provide a silky smooth, elegant platform for the base. [¶][….] The combination of chamomile oil from various regions contributes a distinctive aroma. It is herbal, slightly medicinal and extremely soft and creamy, producing an unusual, blue floral scent. Oakmoss resinoid adds a thick, foresty layer, soothing and tying together all the surrounding notes. An unmatchable green nuance is conveyed by one-of-a-kind Chinese green tea absolute, extracted by Russian Adam. Harvested from a green tea tree, over a century old, it adds a highly-matured, yet fresh, herbal touch to the composition.
The official note list is:
Top notes: Indonesian Jasmine enfleurage, Gardenia, Orange Blossom, and Jasmine absolute
Heart notes: Green hojary Frankincense, Ginger, Lime, Tangerine and Pineapple, all co-distilled by Russian Adam.
Base notes: Indonesian green sandalwood and wild Australian sandalwood, both distilled by Russian Adam. Benzoin, Tonka bean absolute, Oakmoss resinoid and Indian galbanum. Chinese green tea from 100 years old tree extract and Lavender absolute, both made by Russian Adam.
From the name, I had anticipated Indolis to be an indolic floral, but it wasn’t. Not on my skin. It is a cool and prodigiously green (or green-white) fragrance which conjured up a tale of white angels fallen and imprisoned in a green underworld before they escape and find sanctuary. Otherworldly green-white flowers fall from the sky, so ethereal in their aroma, so exquisitely tender and hauntingly delicate in their beauty that they’re like basically floral angels. The devil traps them and tries to drown them in a hellish pit of crushed green floral stems which ooze bitter green sap, crushed green leaves, crushed green tea leaves, a few gentle aromatics, and loads of venomously bitter, oily, green-black galbanum.
The angels eventually escape, using thin ropes made out of barely sweetened pineapple and bitter ginger to climb out of their prison, and they flee to the safety of a monastery made out of frankincense. It’s intensely dusty and soapy, cool, dryly woody, and filled with the musty, fusty aroma of ancient churches and their High Mass catholic ceremonies. Soft moss curls up the walls and the floors are made out of creamy sandalwood, but the incense hangs like a thick haze in the air, enveloping the florals to such an extent that it almost acts like a shroud. Later, tonka joins the festivities, softening the incense, fusing with the sandalwood, and turning Indolis into lovely green, floral-laced cream.
Indolis is both beautifully done and beautiful, but it’s not for me. I want it to be, I want it to be so badly because its white florals are so beautiful that I’d call them heartbreakingly exquisite. They’re so ethereal, tender, lush and, yet, also so fragile and petal-soft that they are quite haunting and it’s difficult to pull away. The issue for me, though, is not the florals. It’s first the greenness and then the frankincense. Regular readers know that the green grenre of perfumery is not my favourite, and that galbanum is, in fact, one of my most hated materials. Here, it is accompanied by a slew of other green and bitter elements, which perhaps I could have struggled through for the sake of those exquite florals, but the frankincense was one challenge too far for me. I can’t deal with copious amounts of it, especially when it goes all High Mass/High Church, soapy and dusty, which is exactly what it does here on my skin. That’s my kryptonite and that’s where I draw the line.
But these are purely personal and subjective issues regarding note specifics and genres, and the objective view is different. Looking at Indolis objectively, I’d be the first to say that it is a fascinating, intriguing, sometimes haunting, and completely original fragrance which is extremely high-quality and beautifully done. And its white florals are exceptional — so exceptional, exquisite, and softly delicate that I don’t think I have words adequate enough to describe their beauty. (Indolis’ green tea note is also exquisite and quite captivating.)
I think Indolis will appeal to lovers of the classical 1970s green genre, particularly if they also love High Mass-style incense and enjoy the classical conventions being given an oriental twist. I think Indolis will also be a big hit with fans of modern deconstructed white florals, specifically Naomi Goodsir’s Nuit de Bakelite with its bitter green sap, crushed green stems, bitter galbanum, green leafiness, and abstract, airy, breezy white floralcy in its opening stage. Nuit de Bakelite is a completely different fragrance when taken as a whole and has different florals, but the two fragrance’s opening stages are similar in terms of the green and floral accords. (But Nuit de Bakelite’s tuberose doesn’t have one-thousandth of the beauty of Indolis’ flowers.)
If you love green fragrances, green-white florals, and incense fragrances, then I think Indolis might really blow you away.
BOTTLE PACKAGING CHANGES:
Russian Adam has also changed the look of the packaging for this third series. As he explained to me in an email:
The new bottles will be shaped like the bottles I used for the 1st collection. Oval rounded form just like your bottle of Ottoman Empire. It’s for several reasons, one of which was the comment of one customer who said this shape feels better in the hand. In general, it matches the soothing notes more rather then a bottle with sharp edges.
The label on the bottle also will be rounded and made of a real leather this time. They smell so amazing.
The caps will be hand made out of teak wood. That convey an amazing feeling and aroma.
There also will be individual colour natural stones attached to the top of the cap. Each colour represents the smell.
Then silk boxes which also match the colour of the scent… all the materials were chosen by us and each box design is made by us also.
The combination of clear rounded glass, leather, teak wood, stone and silk… I believe that I have found my personal style/design. There were so many old variations … from a simple paper sticker (1st collection) to a fancy metal plate (2nd). But this 3rd collection I feel to be complete, and I am so happy and excited about it. [Bolding emphasis added by me, and some edits were made to the text for reasons of grammar, clarity or concision.]
SAMPLE SETS, SAMPLES, LUCKYSCENT & DECANTS:
There are two ways in which to obtain samples. First, Russian Adam is offering sample sets. Each one will contain samples of all 5 new releases: the 4 new spray parfums will come in atomizers that contain 1 ml of each scent. There will also be a dab vial with a sample of the fascinating, impressive Walimah Attar, roughly 3-5 drops worth. I think that amount is sufficient for 2 or 3 full tests or wearings. Or, if you want to go hardcore and have the scent last on you for 27 to 36 hours, apply 3 small drops in one go as I did and watch your head spin off its axis with awe and reverie.
The set costs $45. Only 80 sets have been produced and no additional sets will be offered. After that, you’ll have to resort to the second option (see much below) in order to sample/test the fragrances. The one exception to that will be the Attar: Russian Adam said he would be happy to offer individual samples later on for anyone willing to pay the DSH shipping price.
The packaging has changed for this series’ sample set. The box has a sort of textured black silk on its lid, the samples inside come in a silky black pouch, and the atomizers are now an opaque black with a fairly decent-sized aperture nozzle.
You can wriggle off the top of the atomizer if you prefer to dab the contents or to peer inside to see how much juice is left. My advice is to be careful how much you spray the first time around because I could not tell the amount that remained inside.
As some of you may know, Luckyscent became an Areej Le Doré retailer late last year. So, for this third series, they will be the official alternative for samples, not Surrender to Chance. Luckyscent will offer individual samples of each fragrance in the usual LS dab vials. Russian Adam sent them 100 ml of each fragrance intended solely to be used for making samples, so that should be sufficient for 100 vials of each. Prices are expected to be somewhere between $8 to $10 a vial. I don’t know the amount that they’ll have in each vial, but it should hopefully be the usual 0.7 ml and not 0.5 ml. As you know, Luckyscent ships worldwide, so having them as a partner seemed like the best way to provide dependable shipping at a more affordable rate than courier shipping from Asia. (Areej Le Dore’s expedited DHS shipping rate from Thailand is $40 or $45. That’s the only option because the Thai Post either loses things or takes months.)
There are a few things that you should know about the Luckyscent situation. First, they will only have the four parfums, not have the attar because that’s exclusive to the Areej website. So, you won’t be able to sample the attar via LS either. Second, they will not have the official sample sets which has 5 fragrances, including the attar. Moreover, from what I’ve been told, Luckyscent will not offering in-house Areej sample packs. They’ev decided to sell each one individually, priced somewhere between $8 or $10 each. Third, Luckyscent will probably offer a pre-order option for the first seven to ten days after the official January 31st fragrance launch. However, they will not have the fragrances in stock to send out either bottles or samples right away. Russian Adam will be sending them the fragrances (and the juice for samples) roughly 7-10 days after his launch. Basically, for very understandable reasons, Areej Le Doré is giving itself first shot at selling its fragrances and samples and shipping them out.
Finally, you should be aware that Luckyscent did not place a big initial order with Areej. They only asked for 5 bottles of each parfum, and they are therefore likely to sell out of quickly even once they do receive their stock. I assume that they will place a second order afterwards or at some point. My point is, when LS does end up getting its bottles, the numbers will be limited. They will, however, receive ample supply of juice for samples.
Here is the link to Luckyscent’s overall Areej section where you will be able to find the individual parfums (and samples thereof) once they are added. At the time of this post, none of the new releases are there. [UPDATE: moments ago, Luckyscent listed the fragrances for bottle or sample pre-order with an anticipated shipping date of February 15th. Samples are $10 each.] And, for convenience sake, to have everything in one place, here again is the link to Russian Adam’s sample set.
Moving onto a different subject, late last year, Russian Adam started offering 10 ml travel decants of his second series of fragrances. It has not yet been decided whether he will do the same for this series or in what sizes. It depends on how these fragrances sell and how much juice is left. If the full bottles go at a steady pace and not much juice is left, there may be smaller decants (i.e, 5 ml or 7 ml in lieu of 10 ml), or there may not be. One thing is certain: if he does offer decants, it won’t be right away and it will probably be several months after the launch.
I hadn’t originally planned to write any mini-reviews here, but I simply couldn’t help myself when it came to Russian Oud. After that, everything snowballed. It seemed worth saying a few words about Russian Musk, given how many people are familiar with the original. I’d only planned to write a few sentences but, well, you saw how that ended up. Then, after Russian Musk, it seemed as though I should also talk about Indolis, lest my silence on that one be inadvertently taken the wrong way or as an indictment of the scent when the simple fact of the matter is that I have longstanding struggles with several of the raw materials.
I haven’t decided yet if my descriptions negate the need for actual formal reviews in the future. I will probably write a review for Russian Oud, simply because I can wear and wax rhapsodic about that fragrance (and my immense love for it) all week long. I may write something for Russian Musk, but it would be simple and would consist largely of a compare-contrast analysis since you can read the original Siberian Musk review for the fragrance’s basic essence and character. I’ve already covered the Walimah Parfum and Attar at great length. But I don’t think I will review Indolis any further. I think I will leave Indolis to a green lover to talk about elsewhere. I have no doubt that green floral and frankincense fans will go simply nuts for it.
I will update this post with links to any reviews which are posted.
[UPDATE 2/3: a detailed review of Russian Musk has just been posted and it includes comparative scent analysis.]
[UPDATE 2/11: a full review for Russian Oud with scent comparisons to prior Areej oud fragrances has just been posted.]
Disclosure: My samples were provided courtesy of the company. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.