Areej Le Doré Russian Musk

Today, I wanted to take a closer, more detailed look at Russian Musk, the new parfum from Areej Le Doré. Though my mini review in the New Releases post covered the broad basics, I always think specifics are more helpful, particularly for a fragrance like this one which will automatically, inevitably, be judged and compared to its much-admired, popular predecessor, Siberian Musk.

Russian Musk parfum. Photo & source: Russian Adam.

Russian Musk is a pure parfum with the following note list:

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 Musk opens on my skin with soft, foresty aromatics which are brisk but not too brisk or bracing, thanks to the deepness, mellowness, and well-rounded nature of the notes. First, there is a mountain accord composed out of fresh pine, fresh fir, and the beautifully fragrant, aromatic oil of their crushed needles and pine cones. Underneath them is a handful of dry earth, sprinkled with one or two deer musk grains. Bright, sunny splashes of yellow are poured atop this green and brown woodland, foresty bouquet: a succulent lemon note, smelling of warm juices which are tangy, sweet, and tart, just like a good Meyer’s lemon instead of the more acidulated regular variety. The foresty and citrus notes are then cocooned within a soft cloud of quasi-aldehydic whiteness. It’s neither soapy nor waxy like actual aldehydes, nor is it laundry clean like white musk; instead, it’s a sort of aerated lift similar to the cool, clean air which you might find on a mountain top. It’s merely a light touch, milder even than the quasi-aldehydes in Siberian Musk, and it’s quickly swallowed up by the growing, deepening layers of crushed pine needles and juicy, tangy lemons.

Photo: Jesus M. Garcia. Pano Awards Top 50 Image. Source: The Pano Awards (Direct website link embedded within.)

Other elements peek out from behind this central bouquet. In the earliest moments, there are flickers of deer musk, smelling of actual warm musk rather than just soft earth and musk grains. There are also a few rustling whispers of soft, fruited florals. Roughly 8-10 minutes in, the mandarin pushes them both aside to join the foresty and lemon notes on center stage. Trailing behind at a distance are: soft mosses, bitter nutmeg, and a quiet cedar-y/cypress-y woodiness. The nutmeg is a minor touch, but the others aren’t and they serve to accentuate even further the impression of a fresh, crisp, coniferous, and plush landscape which captures both the mountain and the forest in one.

What strikes me is the different feel of the two Areej fragrances, even though they have virtually identical notes and extremely similar openings. It’s because the balance of notes is different in the earliest moments. To me, Siberian Musk (“SM”) felt like a chypre right from the start because the florals appeared almost instantaneously amidst the citrus, aromatics, aldehydes, foresty notes, deer musk, and verdant mosses, although not all those notes were equal in prominence or strength.

Russian Musk, however, has no florals with which to dilute or split its focus during the first 20-25 minutes, at least not on my skin, so the impression of being on top of a mountain is purer. Having said that, this mountain top is different than the one in SM. It’s not enormously crisp, it doesn’t skew chilly or cold in feel, and it doesn’t have quite the bracing feel of its predecessor. The reasons why are probably because the aldehydes in Russian Musk are significantly milder and mellower on my skin; its citruses are sunnier, sweeter, and not bitter or brisk like the lime in SM could sometimes be; and the amount of greenness and deer musk earthiness in the first 20 minutes are less. The cumulative effect reads as a more refined, mellower version of Siberian Musk which has had some of its edges rounded out due to tweaks in the proportion of notes.

Photo: my own.

The florals finally arrive 25 minutes in, and they’re different, too. On my skin, Siberian Musk smelled predominantly of roses in its opening phase, followed by a frangipani-like tropicality and orange blossoms. With Russian Musk, it’s all about the orange blossoms right from the start, and they’re bright, sunny, lush, in full bloom, syrupy, and almost jammy, as though dollops of orange jam had been spooned onto their petals. There is only a whisper of something vaguely suggesting roses but it lurks behind orange blossoms, quite unlike SM. Roughly 5 minutes later, at the 30-minute mark, even that small whimper is drowned out when slicks of patchouli, cinnamon, dark resins, and vetiverish mossiness appear, staining the orange blossoms’ whiteness. In the base, the first signs of musky oud begin to pop up.

Photo: my own.

Together, the new arrivals spread across the mountain top like a wave, covering and muffling the pine trees, the fir trees, and much of the quasi-aldehydic aerated freshness. Chunks of tangy lemon pulp remain on the surface, along with a decent handful of crushed pine needles, oozing out their aromatic oil, but the olfactory focus has now shifted into full-on chypre territory. Instead of a mountain top, the bouquet is now centered almost entirely on sweet, lush, jammy orange blossoms splattered with tangy lemon and nestled amidst a bed of plush, mossy greenness which is streaked with spicy red patchouli and lesser amounts of dry-green-cedary woods, oud-ish woody musk, and resins.


The deer musk is present, but it veers between being a sideline note and a background one. It’s not a powerful central force. Instead, it ripples quietly, sending out soft puffs of fur to dangle around like orange blossom chypre bouquet, like dandelion puffs blowing in the wind. Nothing about it is animalic, dirty, skanky, or aggressive. It’s merely a soft earthiness and fuzziness which, at this point at least, typically smells like a fur coat that has been sprayed with a vintage chypre parfum.

Roughly 45 minutes in, Russian Musk shifts. The aldehydes disappear, replaced by an even thicker carpet of mossy greenness. The deer musk and its fur are now planted firmly in the background. The pine joins it there before disappearing about 20 minutes later. The most significant change, however, is that the orange blossoms grow sticky-sweet and heavy. The rose temporarily comes out to play, adding to the sense of jammy floralcy, while the oud begins to quickly seep up from the base, emitting lashings of dark musk along the way. When taken as a whole, it’s a rich, thick, deep, strong bouquet, even if it’s not the dense, chewy, super-charged beast that Siberian Musk was on my skin.

“Fluid Painting 116” by Mark Chadwick. Source: Mark Chadwick Art. (Direct link embedded within.)

The two fragrances’ balance of notes continues to be different on my skin: Russian Musk is more syrupy, more indolic, and warmer; its flowers are overwhelmingly orange blossom-based; the mossy greenness is comparatively less or, to put it another way, it doesn’t feel like a co-equal note the way that it did in SM; the deer musk is milder; and the fragrance’s muskiness turns oud-driven much sooner than it did in SM.

This is Russian Musk’s second stage, and it continues for several hours without any major twists or transformations, merely some minor ones. For example, the bouquet gradually begins to grow airier and more diffuse in feel at the 1.75 hour mark. At that point, the deer musk feels quite soft, almost literally so because it is increasingly more of a fuzzy texture than an overt, clear aroma. Russian Musk is, indeed, musky, but now it stems almost entirely from the various ouds.

The orange blossoms change a little around the same time as well, growing almost candied in feel. However, I think it’s important to note that, when I applied a small dosage of Russian Musk roughly equal to 1 small spray, the sweetness was much less, not so pronounced, and not so intensely syrupy. It also didn’t drown out the deer musk to quite the same degree quite so soon. As always with fragrances brimming with rich all-natural raw materials, how much you apply can make a big difference to the nuances you experience as well as the balance of notes. You will want to keep that in mind.

Regardless of quantity, the deer musk eventually re-emerges and starts to do a back-and-forth dance, fluctuating in both its placement and its prominence. Typically in my tests, this first starts roughly around the 2.25 hour mark. The deer musk smells of soft fluff imbued with a handful of warm, clean fur and a quiet earthiness. It’s nowhere as strong or as clear as it is in SM but the note is clearly there nonetheless, even if it doesn’t stay. It flits away after 15 minutes, comes back maybe 20 minutes after that, and then the whole cycle repeats itself once more.

Going back to Siberian Musk for a moment, the power, heft, and thickness of its chypre accord during the first half of its life can sometimes make one forget that it actually has an extremely strong oriental emphasis in its second half, and that the fragrance is therefore more accurately categorized as a chypre-oriental, rather than just a chypre or a musk fragrance. Russian Musk is the same way and has the same hybrid duality, but I find that the stages are more compressed. Moreover, the oriental part happens sooner in the process than it does in Siberian Musk.

Photo: ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory, Cygnus X. Source:

In Russian Musk, the transition towards the oriental side begins roughly 3.75 to 4 hours into the fragrance’s development. The bouquet is now focused primarily on ripe, indolic, syrupy orange blossoms layered with greenness,  then with varying degrees of spicy patchouli, sticky ambered resins, oud-based musk, and a mostly textural element of soft deer musk fuzziness. The oud’s muskiness is growing softer but also deeper and more velvety in feel. In addition, it’s beginning to waft wisps of wooded smokiness and, every now and then, subtle chocolate accents as well.

When taken as a whole, Russian Musk’s bouquet at this point is sweet and strong in aroma, but diffuse in body. Given the amount of dark, resinous and musky notes, you might expect its weight and density to be extremely dense or opaque, but it’s not. While this is not an “airy” fragrance as compared to almost any other brand’s extrait, when Russian Musk is compared to the attar-like heft of the original Areej trio, this one is “airy,” lighter, and milder. Again, it’s a purely relative thing. By objective standards, this is a strong, rich fragrance. I can’t imagine anyone on earth calling it a watery, diluted, bland milksop.

Photo: my own.

Roughly 5.75 hours in, Russian Musk’s third stage begins and is purely floral oriental in nature. The notes are a blur, a haze of orange, white, gold, brown, and black visuals derived from sweet, fruit floralcy, spicy resinousness, benzoin-ish amber, and dark musk. The diffuse, weightless cloud is smudged at the corners with greenness (though it is growing much softer and weaker), as well as touch of oud woodiness and a pinch of wood smoke. Then, it’s set against a backdrop of velvety fuzziness. I think the velvety feel comes primarily from the oud’s muskiness, but the deer musk undoubtedly plays an indirect role as well. It’s just that I can’t detect it now at all, not even in ghostly, occasional form.

Russian Musk changes its focus at the end of the 7th hour and the start of the 8th. In a nutshell, the emphasis is now on resinous (oud-derived) muskiness, not sweet, syrupy florals. They’re subsumed within the brown haze, along with cinnamon-ish benzoin amber, labdanum amber, and a touch of wood smoke. There is nothing mossy about the scent, nor, in fact, anything really floral-oriental about it, either. It is a pure oriental.

The bouquet is strong in terms of actual aroma if I bring my nose to my arm, but it feels even more diffuse and weightless in body than it was before. If you’re familiar with Bertrand Duchaufour’s old style, many of his creations combined olfactory richness with weightlesness. (Take, for example, MDCI’s Chypre Palatin.) Quite a few Vero Profumo parfums exhibit the same thing. Russian Musk is now similar. That doesn’t mean it’s a weak, insubstantial, or gossamer-light scent; it’s simply airier and softer as compared to SM which had an attar-like heft and room-filling reach at a similar point in time. On top of all that, Russian Musk’s textural feel is turning silky, as opposed to a pile of thick velvet. None of that is a bad thing and, in fact, were Russian Musk compared to most niche parfums, it would either be comparable or richer. It’s just that comparing it to its predecessor creates a distorted picture because Siberian Musk was such a behemoth.

“Âmes vagabondes,” by Photographer Dani Olivier via his website. (Direct link embedded within.)

Russian Musk’s extensive, long-lasting drydown begins roughly at the end of the 8th hour, but it has parts to it, each with its own particular focal emphasis. From the 8th hour until the 11th, the fragrance is a duet of ambered resinousness and muskiness with thin strands of syrupy floralcy weaving the two together. It hovers just above the skin like a sheer but durable silk gauze, although it continues to be strong in aroma when I bring my nose to my arm. In the 11th hour, however, things shift yet again. A strong, clear, distinct labdanum note appears, temporarily becoming the start note, and the oud’s muskiness takes a back seat. All lingering traces of floralcy disappear. Russian Musk is now just silky-soft, bronzed-brown, ambered fuzziness and fluffiness with a quiet muskiness layered within. In the 16th hour, the deer musk briefly re-emerges to join the festivities, smelling of soft fur with a pinch of even softer, milder brown earth mixed in. It’s a minor note, though, and it doesn’t last long, maybe an hour at most. In the 18th hour, as Russian Musk starts to gradually wind down, all that’s left is golden warmth with a fuzzy softness about it. The fragrance dies that same way several hours later.

Russian Musk had low-ish projection, initially big sillage that shrank after 5.5 hours, and excellent longevity, even if it’s not the insane monster longevity of its predecessor. With several squirts from the sample atomizer, roughly equal to 2 good sprays from an actual bottle applied to a roughly 3-inch patch of skin, Russian Musk opened with about 2.5 to 3 inches of projection. The sillage was about 5 inches, then grew to 8-9 inches after 15 minutes. The numbers began to drop incrementally after three hours. 3.25 hours in, the projection was about 1 to 1.5 inches, and the sillage around 5-6 inches. At the 5.5-hour mark, the projection was 0.5 to 1 inch, and the sillage was around 4 inches. Russian Musk turned into a skin scent 8.75 hours into its development, but was easy to detect up close until the 13th hour, at which point I had to put my nose right on the skin. 17.5 hours in, I thought the fragrance was about to die, but the ambered, musky silkiness clung on tenaciously until just before the 21st hour.

I think those numbers are excellent by any objective standard. It’s only when you compare them to my figures for Siberian Musk that the scent seems weaker. With SM, when I dabbed a tiny amount, about two small drops worth, I got 16-24+ longevity, and that was an amount far, far less than amount I typically used in my tests here. With the 2-spray equivalent that I used here, Siberian Musk was still going on in the 36th hour when I finally gave up and took a shower.

But, let’s be honest, do any of us actually need 36 hours of longevity? It’s fantastic, yes — exceptional, in fact, and it always makes me jump up and down with glee — but that doesn’t mean 21 hours is peanuts or something to be scoffed at. Yes, Russian Musk is weaker, milder, and not as strong as the original, but it’s purely relative to the original which was such an absolute behemoth in terms of longevity, room-filling sillage, density, heft, and heaviness that it skewed the scale to an abnormal degree in every possible regard. But if you compare Russian Musk to an extrait from, say, Roja Dove or SHL 777, they’re comparable in weight, projection, sillage, and longevity. In fact, I think Russian Musk is stronger, richer, and heavier than some Vero Profumo and Serge Lutens parfums. It’s definitely greater in sillage than Lutens’ Section d’Or luxury extraits (which typically cost $250-$300 more for the exact same size bottle). In short, Russian Musk is not water, it just isn’t Goliath.

Having said all that, there are a few things I want to mention which I noticed in my tests. I had asked Russian Adam for a second set of samples in non-spray vial form, so that I would have sufficient quantity of juice to test for possible changes in aroma, nuances, sillage, or some other element if I applied different quantities or if I dabbed instead of spraying. After all, many of you will be getting non-spray samples from Luckyscent, and I think most people are aware that aerosolization typically increases the reach and power of a fragrance when compared to dabbing.

In playing about with quantity and methods of application, I observed a few things. First, the deer musk note was clearer, more overt, and more enduring when I applied a small amount of fragrance: several dabbed smears, roughly equal to 1 spray from an actual bottle, on the same 3-inch or 4-inch patch of skin. With that amount, the deer musk wasn’t swallowed up as quickly by the orange blossoms and it lasted longer. Plus, the flowers were better balanced and not so syrupy sweet. However, the sillage was much less in the first few hours, perhaps 5-6 inches instead of almost 9 in the opening hour, and the fragrance didn’t last as long, roughly 14.5 hours instead of 21.

Second, regardless of whether I dabbed or I spritzed, I noticed that when I applied too much fragrance to the same area — an amount roughly between 2.5 large sprays and 3 small ones from an actual bottle — then the orange blossoms went nuts. Like, overload nuts. There are, after all, four different types of orange blossom in Russian Musk (seemingly four times as much as Siberian Musk which only had one listed), and I think the flowers grow immensely concentrated in aroma, force, and power when you apply a lot of scent. What I didn’t like, at all, was the way the flowers turned into pure candy. Cloying candy. I have a low tolerance threshold for sweetness, so the syrupy nature of the flowers when I applied the Goldilocks/middle amount application was just about pushing my limits as it was, but the intensely candied version was too much for me. If you share my struggles with sweetness or cloying excess, you will want to be careful not to apply too much fragrance. This is one scent which I thought was actually prettier, more refined, and more appealing with the smallest scent application possible (the 1-spray equivalent), although one ends up sacrificing some degree of sillage as a result.

Russian Musk is too new for me to provide you with comparative reviews at the time of this post. The fragrance has not yet been added to Fragrantica’s Areej section, but I’ve provided the link for you to check in the weeks ahead. You’ll have better luck checking the Basenotes’ Areej discussion thread sometime in the week ahead. The link I’ve provided goes to the last page (currently page 31) at the time of this post, and no-one has received their samples to share any reviews but that will soon change.

For now, you’re stuck with me and my impressions. Overall, I think there is a lot to like about Russian Musk. However, after having tested it extensively and repeatedly, I think its predecessor works better for my personal tastes. It’s not because Siberian Musk is more of a powerhouse or a Goliath; Russian Musk actually feels more wearable and versatile in many regards, and it also rounds out some of Siberian Musk’s edges in a nice, mellower way. No, the main reason is due to the sweetness issue and my difficulty in getting the right sort of balance for my personal tastes without sacrificing reach and sillage. What I’m talking about specifically is the orange blossom’s syrupyness which is too much for me if I apply anything more than a 1-spray amount. I loved the deer musk note which appeared at that low dose and thought it smelled more delicate and refined than the comparable note in Siberian Musk with a low dosage, but then the sillage was affected. Normally, I can increase scent reach by increasing scent amount, but doing that saddles me with cloying, heavy amount of orange blossom candy.

Separate from all that, I liked how Siberian Musk’s chypre phase lasted longer and the mossy greenness was a stronger, heavier element in the composition, at least on my skin. Russian Musk’s greenness was not as hefty or enduring, and that was true no matter how much or how little I applied.

On the plus side, though, Russian Musk has a lovely, and rather addictive, drydown. It’s the sort of thing which reminds me of nuzzling the heated skin in the crook of a loved one’s neck, if that neck had been lightly coated with amber and musk. Siberian Musk’s drydown was equally lovely, but since that fragrance is no longer available, this is a wonderful substitute.

At the end of the day, many of these points are largely academic and of interest solely to owners of the original fragrance. They don’t change the fundamental bottom line which is that, taken on its own merits, Russian Musk is a very good fragrance with a refined, deep, smooth, and luxurious nature which will appeal to fans of both the chypre and floral oriental genre. I realize that it will always be compared to its predecessor amongst those who have tried both, and that’s quite natural, but Russian Musk has a lot to commend it if one just views it on its own or in a vacuum. If you’ve never experienced the original, you won’t be laden down by comparisons to the past. And if you’ve never experienced the wonderful textural fluffiness, fuzziness, and velvetiness created by real deer musk, then I think you’re in for a treat.

Disclosure: My sample was provided by Russian Adam. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.

Cost & Availability: Russian Musk costs $375 for 50 ml. 300 bottles were produced. The fragrance is available at Areej Le Doré and Luckyscent. The latter sells individual samples and ships worldwide.

23 thoughts on “Areej Le Doré Russian Musk

  1. Pingback: New Releases: Areej Le Doré Russian Musk, Russian Oud, Indolis, Walimah & Walimah Attar (+Mini Reviews) - Kafkaesque

  2. Oh Kafka, because I am desperate for something from the ” good old days” I am trying to read the last year of your reviews and am overwhelmed by so many new brands that I want to sample so many I am simply lost as to where to begin! After my bleh purchases from the mainstream mall fragrances, I deserve something better. I have Luckyscent to look at yet. I can only imagine what I’ll find there….oh my head will be reeling haha. Thanks for this review. 😉 Don

    • I know it’s overwhelming when there is so much which is new, Don. Some of the fragrances which I would have suggested for you are no longer available, like the earlier Areej Le Doré releases.

      The following suggestions are possibilities and my reviews would be a starting point in order for you to get a better idea of whether the fragrances would be a perfect, ideal match for your tastes: the upcoming Areej Russian Oud review, Rising Phoenix’s Musk Rose and Sicilian Vanille, and Unum’s Io Non Ho Mani. Those four fragrances are easy to sample and each one has something which is likely to suit your particular tastes. I would also recommend April Aromatic’s Pink Wood, but I’m not certain if it would last as long on your skin as you might like. I can’t recall if honey is a huge favourite note of yours but, if it is, then possibly a sample of Hiram Green’s Slowdive as well. It has a tobacco factor as well, but it doesn’t appear on everyone.

      Many of these are available in sample form via Luckyscent. However, the Rising Phoenix fragrances are only available via the brand’s Etsy website.

      • I like your suggestions for DON. Rising Phoenix’s Musk Rose and Sicilian Vanille, and Unum’s Io Non Ho Mani are top tier in my book, and I’m a good old days kind of guy. I won’t know about Russian Oud until tomorrow, but also a must sample.

        Just my opinion but I would skip Pink Wood. I recently discovered
        a new one I consider to be good old day awesome. It’s Tobacco Stick by SOIVOHLE. An oil parfum that has been added to my top tier winter rotation.

        I’ll also be sampling Russian Musk tomorrow.

          • No Pink Wood just didn’t work for me. I thought it was annoyingly dry, and the profile of the aged patchouli used didn’t agree with me. Funny, I like dry woods in general but this dry actually bothered me.
            Since I was a hippie in the late 60’s and early 70’s
            you would think aged patchouli would agree with me. It usually does, just not with Pink Wood. I still love the house of April Aromatics.

          • Interesting. It sounds as though the amber resins did not come out much on your skin, at least not anywhere to the degree where they might have ameliorated the woods with booze, sweetness and/or other traits. And it also sounds as though it was the oud and other woods which consequently skewed too dry on you, not the actual patchouli, per se. (I think one must separate and distinguish out specific olfactory traits to the extent possible, when possible. And patchouli consists of more than woodiness in terms of olfactory traits.) Since you haven’t mentioned the roses, I’m guessing there weren’t enough of them there to also counterbalance and soften the woods? Or enough to appeal your rose-loving side? Sounds like the answer is “No.”

            Either way, the bottom line is that this one wasn’t for you, and that’s perfectly fine but I enjoyed reading about the reasons therefor and why it was an issue. So thank you for sharing, The Beck.

  3. Thank you for the in depth comparison review. I really liked the musk more upfront in Siberian musk, and also the moss in it. I should add that I only tried it dabbed, not sprayed.
    But I am still curious about Russian Musk, and Russian Oud has also grabbed my attention.
    So I have ordered samples at luckyscent (the sample set on areejledore is sold out by the way). I am so curious! 🙂

    • You’re very welcome. Dabbing definitely makes a difference to sillage, imo, but not to the fundamentals of scent. Small nuances or subtexts here or there, sure, sometimes. Sillage definitely. But not the basics of how something smells. So, in that sense, you’ll be operating on a level playing field by dabbing both versions. Having said that, I think that you’ll unquestionably notice differences in the oakmoss and deer musk levels in Russian Musk vs. Siberian Musk. And, given what you’ve said in the past about Siberian Musk, I would be surprised if you thought the new version measured up. Quite simply, the things you like the most about SB are not present *to the same degree* in the sequel.

      I really think that this is a scent which newcomers might enjoy but which lovers of the original will never think measures up to the same degree. (I’m not talking about power or beast mode longevity, either.) Russian Musk will always and inevitably be compared to its predecessor by people who have tried or loved the latter. And the things which made SM stand out are the things which have been softened in the new version. So, it faces a long road ahead of it with one small segment of the perfume loving population.

  4. Got my Luckyscent samples yesterday. Immediately tried Russian Musk and Russian Oud. Both are incredibly rich and the quality is incredible as you would imagine. So complex and beautiful and a wonderful learning experience. On my skin unfortunately the cedar and lemon/citrus notes in Russian Musk combine to make a pine-sol-ish opening, obviously much more complex but still, that lasts for some time. The musk starts to come in and it is fantastic, maybe the first real deer musk I’ve ever smelled, with the exception of original Bal a Versailles parfum. But here it is much clearer and more singled out than in Versailles.

    Russian Oud is also awesome, it’s got that incredibly rich leather/smoke/Oud accord and it reminded me of Aroha Kyaku but more balanced and complex. Fuzzy musk also adds a beautiful layer.

    But I don’t think either warrants the investment for me. I have Aroha Kyaku for whenever I need/want that insanely deep leather/smoke/Oud fragrance. And a bottle of Ambre Loup (which shot right into my top 5 at first smell) on the way which satisfies the dirty-in-a-good-way spicy cocoa Oud fragrance. I just dabbed some of Indolis on. Wow the gardenia!! I’ll see how it develops because maybe it’s for me?

    Thank you Kafka this blog has given me an incredibly accelerated course on perfume and put me on to the good stuff straight away.

    • I so enjoyed reading about your experiences and how things developed on you, Matt. The thing which struck me first and foremost is how Ambre Loup manifests itself on you. This is a fragrance which is benzoin-heavy and, on me, that takes on a predominantly tobacco aroma. But, on you, Ambre Loup skewed to cocoa and oud which… wow! There is actually no cocoa or oud in the fragrance but I know full well how certain dark, resinous, or chewy base materials can mimic or completely impersonate other notes, so I can understand the logistics/mechanics of what happened here. And, I must say, Ambre Loup sounds rather delectable on your skin. I can also understand why you find parallels with Russian Oud. I find those parallels exist on my skin with Russian Oud, too. Probably not to the same degree as they appear on your skin, but Ambre Loup definitely shares a few olfactory parallels with Russian Oud.

      On a different but related topic, you’ve developed your nose well in such a remarkably short period of time in terms of the overall olfactory themes that appear in a scent. But What I think is important for you on your perfume journey is to start to take a bit more of a micro approach, rather than macro approach, to scent profiles. This is not meant in any way as a criticism, not even remotely, but it’s just a general suggestion for the future and for your continuing perfume education. You’re dead-on about the basics and the overall general olfactory similarities, DNA, and universes within which certain fragrances inhabit, but now you need to hone in and look closer at their specifics. Because, at the end of the day, there are only a handful of fragrance genres, so every leather-oud-smoke fragrance will resemble its compatriots when views broadly, every chypre-floral will resembles the others in its genre, every tobacco-labdanum or labdanum-oud or labdanum-chocolate or labdanum-patchouli will similarly… you get the idea.

      You’ve honed your nose extremely well for a guy who just started with niche 6 weeks ago, who was habituated to department store frags before then and who had no familiarity with some of these specific raw materials until recently. You’ve done EXCEPTIONALLY well, imo, and proceeded much further and faster than some others just starting out with niche. But now I think you need to take the next step and focus a bit more on the olfactory specifics of a fragrance, to smell and focus on the individual note differences to see how they separate one fragrance from another.

      Please know, I’m not saying this because of anything you’ve written about Aroya Hiyaku, Russian Oud, or any other specific fragrance. And it’s merely a general suggestion based on your last few posts about the crash course you’ve had in the last 5 weeks with the various niche and artisan stuff that you’ve tried. Please know as well that I would never make any of these suggestions if you hadn’t proceeded as far as you have or as quickly as you have. One suggestion that I have for you is to do a few side-by-side tests of fragrances that you find to be basically similar: put a decent smear of each on different arms, go back and forth constantly between the two, smell nonstop, take notes, and try to detect the differences in nuances, the overall balance of notes, the shifts, the supporting players, and the development. Compare and contrast to observe the specifics, not just the overall basics — and that will help to fine-tune your nose to the micro perspective, not just the macro one. You clearly have the nose to learn as much as you have this quickly, so it’s time for the next step now. 🙂

      • I do need to read more about the different genres and what makes each its own thing. Funny that you suggest the compare and contrast Kafka because I started to do that very thing last week. Oudh Lacquer on one arm, Ambre Loup on the other. Ambre Loup vs. Russian Oud later the same day that I wrote the above comment(quite a bit of difference there). Amouage Interlude vs SHL 777 Black Gemstone. Amouage Journey Man vs. SHL Une Nuit a Doha was earlier today. I don’t know if they are all fair compare and contrasts, but I have been going off of the idea that when I get a new sample, it now often times reminds me of something I’ve smelled over the last couple months. So I go to my sample stash (which has ballooned to around 100 samples since Dec!!) and find the one I’m reminded of, or one I thought I might want a full bottle of, to compare the two. Sometimes I’m struck by how similar they are, but more often than that I am struck by their differences, even though they have very similar bases or prevalent notes in them. It’s a great learning experience. What would be really huge would be to at some point smell the individual oils/notes without being in a perfume. I know it was helpful to smell sandalwood and oud oil. I am a huge whiskey guy and I know one thing that opened my eyes was tasting new make, unaged whiskey. Suddenly you see where the spirit comes from.

        And I just checked out Rania J.s website, Agarwood/Oud is listed as a base note of Ambre Loup so that would explain it.

        • First, is there oud in Ambre Loup? Well, please accept my apologies then. I honestly never think of oud with regard to Ambre Loup because it’s not a factor on my skin and it’s been a few years since I looked at the official note list, but I’m glad you brought it to my attention. I mean that, thank you. It’s good to be reminded of what’s actually in there. 😀 heh. It may not appear in any significant or noticeable way on my skin, but this is something I clearly need to be more cognizant of when it comes to others, particularly since Ambre Loup will be one of the fragrances (along with Bond-T, Oud Picante, etc.) that I’ll be mentioning in my Russian Oud review. So, again, thank you. But just as an FYI if you want to smell a real Rania J. oud, I’d go straight for the Habanero T, even more than her other oud fragrance (Assam Oud, I think it’s called? It’s been a long day and my brain is a little fried. But her Habanero T. is an intriguing, interesting scent.) (On second thought, maybe it’s officially called T. Habanero? Something like that. As I said, I’m a little sleep deprived.)

          So, moving on, I’m SO happy to hear that you’re already doing the scent compare-contrast thing in order to hone in more on the specifics. And 100 samples alone since December… bravo! That’s impressive and an impressively true sign of your dedication. So, in terms of the next step and the raw materials, in situ, solo, and how they are naturally, I’d recommend to you what I just wrote to “Jay Tee” in another comment. I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t repeat it verbatim here but if you go to the post, you’ll see the details (with links) to Eden Botanicals and The Perfumer’s Apprentice. I’m going to assume that you’re located in the US, which will alleviate any shipping issues that he may have, but everything else applies in terms of natural and aromachemical materials. I really think you would love both sites given your voracious curiosity and intellectual thirst. I know that Perfumer’s Apprentice used to have a variety of sample sets (like, mixed naturals and synths, or all synths, or all naturals) but I haven’t looked at Eden Botanical’s ins-and-outs recently to remember if they have sample sets.

          In terms of pure solo sandalwood and oud oils, given the scarcity and cost of the materials, you’ll probably have to look elsewhere. I really doubt a more low-end, mixed blend focus place like The Perfumer’s Apprentice is the answer and even Eden Botanicals is unlikely to have really good oud. (Sandalwood, maybe. As I’ve said, it’s been ages since I looked at them and, even when I did, it was always for resins in the amber category because that’s my junkie addiction in terms of notes.)

          For the more high-end or expensive natural raw materials, I’d recommend looking at NY’s Enfleurage: They’re particularly tops in terms of frankincense, including the high-end Omani silver. (You might be surprised at the difference between expensive Somali and Omani frankincense oils. It’s a question of nuance, quality, and degree, but it’s unmistakable nonetheless, imo. At least, it was to my nose when I smelled them.) The old Amouage stellar hits used to use Omani silver frankincense, so if you’re interested in sniffing the raw materials at that grade of perfumery, Enfleurage is unquestionably the place to go.

          Gosh, I’m so impressed by your thirst for knowledge and how far you’ve come since you first wrote, such a short time ago! Bravo, Matt. Vraiment, bravo!!

          • Fantastic thanks so much for the recommendations Kafka. I put T. Habanero on my list of samples to get next and just checked out The Perfumers Apprentice website. Their Perfumery Notes Kit looks like a great place to start. Thanks again!

  5. Since you, Kafkaesque, have just kindly invited me on Facebook to also comment here, I’m doing my first post! 🙂

    As I’ve said before, unfortunately, I have never tried any Areej fragrance but I’m very eager to. The natural ingredients and whole approach of this brand really appear to me.

    I have, also unfortunately, never smelled real deer musk which is why I am very interested in Russian Musk (since SM isn’t available any more).

    Funny enough, some of the notes and parts of your description (pine, cypress, patchouli minus the citrus and oriental) actually remind me of my scent of the day: Pryn Parfum’s “Taiga” (e.g. like in the Russian Taiga forest). Which I really like and I’d like to see how Areej plays with this forest theme, combined with a florals, citrus and oriental/oud touch.

    Somehow need to sample it this year!

    • Welcome, Jay Tee. Nice to see you here. 🙂

      With regard to the forest theme, I think it’s essential that I dissuade you from thinking that either Russian Musk or its predecessor, Siberian Musk, played with those forest themes intensely — because they did NOT. Siberian Musk had some olfactory elements of that in its 30-45 minutes, but this is a fragrance which was predominantly a CHYPRE in its first half and the foresty notes were a tiny subset of that initially. In Russian Musk, they’re even milder. Furthermore, when taken as a whole from start to finish, I think the fragrance skews more floral oriental, then oriental. It’s foresty, mountainous elements are even shorter lived in context. From what little I’ve heard about Taiga, its balance of notes and its focal emphasis are completely different and they are predominantly centered on the foresty aromas. So, please, please don’t expect anything similar or a forest-heavy, forest-driven scent because I think you’ll be disappointed. That was never a major focus of the original and it’s even less so here.

      The way to frame the discussion, elements, and framework here is to see things as an interplay between a completely different set of genres: the chypre one, the floriental, the pure oriental, and the musk. Those are the fundamentals, regardless of any mountainous or foresty notes that the two fragrances may have in their earliest moments. Both of the two fragrances have stages which emphasizes one of those fragrance families. The difference is that the Russian Musk focuses on the floral oriental and oriental genres more intently and for longer than its greener, cooler, mossier and more deer musk obvious predecessor.

      I don’t know how you feel about a strong floral component or about syrupy orange blossoms, but both feature heavily in Russian Musk, so again, please lower your expectations and shift your anticipated framework or you may end up being horrified. LOL. You will NOT experience a Russian Taiga for long and it is far from being the primary focal emphasis of Russian Musk when taken as a whole, believe me. My advice: just go into this blindly and with no other expectation than t smell genuine deer musk for the first time. If you approach it that way, you enjoy it. But full-on Russian forests woven with just a touch of florals, citruses, and a modicum of orientalism… oh no. Forest themes are not the centerpiece of either Areej fragrance!

      I hope that helps and prepares you a little, Jay. 🙂

      • Thanks a lot for the elaborate reply! I might’ve also phrased it wrong (I am from Germany and English is not my native tongue which might sometimes lead to being a bit imprecise on what I actually want to say, especially when it comes to describing smells), since I actually don’t really expect RM to be forest-centric themed, just parts of your description reminded me of Taiga and more so probably just because I was wearing it for the first time and trying to dissect it and focusing on it’s pine note. Mostly, when thinking about and looking forward to trying RM I am excited on smelling genuine deer musk for the first time 🙂

        Maybe a bit about myself, seeing as how personal this blog and your interaction with the readers is:
        I’m 30 and “into fragrances” probably since roughly 20 years. I remember often sniffing and putting on my dad’s aftershave (Yves Rocher’s Antartic). Then getting my first drugstore fragrance etc. Burberry’s London for Man and Dior’s Fahrenheit moved me away from the typical crowd pleasers and “clean” smells to a bit more challenging ones, when i was around 18-20. Traveling in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, India and volunteering in Cameroon made me more aware of other cultures specific smells (incense, certain plants and foods etc.). When I was working for 6 months in Saudi Arabia I got in touch with Arabian perfumes/smells, not really using it myself but smelling it on people and burned Oud in people’s houses. But at that time it didn’t really interest me. It was still just more the cultural uniqueness than me ever considering that I myself could wear these kind of fragrances. After Saudi, I moved to Thailand and lived there for 3.5 years and it was here that I got more and more into perfumes. First powerhouses like Quorum and Green Flannel, then learning about gourmand(ish) (with LIDGE, still one of my favorite perfumes). Since 3 years I am living in Malaysia now and it was here where my fascination with heavy, oriental perfumes rekindled. I think mainly because there are a few Arabian Oud shops here in Kuala Lumpur, where I have bought Kalemat and smelled on Oud oils for the first time. In an Amouage boutique I smelled Interlude Man for the first time and completely fell for it and bought it. Also, there are other small shops around, selling Oud chips and oils (it is still hard for me rate of what quality they are, some are decent, some are not, none of them matches Ensar Oud or Feel Oud, I assume). I love the different facets of Oud, the burned Oud smell in Kalemat’s or Interlude”s drydown, the fecal/barnyard-y aspect of it in The Night or Al Jawahara but also the green, woody/forest-y or sweet aspects of different oils that I have smelled so far. Currently, I am waiting for a partial of Oudh Infini. I definitely want to smell more quality oils, also from China and PNG, since I mostly have smelled Thai, Hindi or Cambodi Ouds. Besides that I’m trying to sample more niche and indie houses like Beaufort London ( e.g. 1805 Tonnerre aka “Eau de Salami”, like someone on Fragrantica called it), Baruti, Nishane etc. A lot more to try but it’s difficult in Malaysia. Shipping is expensive or can get lost… In general, I also want to hone my nose more, being able to really distinguish on a micro level (e.g. between different resins, so I don’t just have to say “Smells resinous”), similar like you’ve suggested to reader Matt, I guess. One of the reasons I enjoy reading your blog so much is to learn how you describe a smell. I have to try and smell more pure and raw materials or oils.

        In a nutshell: I love oriental, heavy, sometimes gourmandish fragrances and Oud in all its forms and challenging perfumes. But also, recently have added a few selected citrus-centred fragrances to my wardrobe (Nio, Oltremare, Petit Matin) and alos enjoy chypre and fougere now and then, if I’m in the mood.

        Just finishing of with my profil on Fragrantica (Tosef): if you should be interested which fragrances I like especially…

        Wow, what a long text! I hope this won’t bore you to death! 😀

        Have a great day (or evening, I’m not sure which time zone you’re in)! I’m really looking forward to reading more from you, commenting and learning! 🙂


        • I loved this. Not even REMOTELY “bored to death.” NOOOOOOOO, this was beyond fantastic. Every little bit of it! I simply loved it, because it told me so, so, so, SOOO much about you — from your fragrance origins to your scent travels, your scent development, the notes you responded to (or totally didn’t respond to due to circumstances), and so much more. There was Arabian Oud and Kalemat (HA!, so glad!), LIDGE (hurrah!), your falling hard for the shape-shifter Interlude, and the comment you shared about Beaufort resembling salami which just made me flat-out snort up my coffee. (Goddamn, that was hilarious. My past experiences with Beaufort weren’t the best, so I’ve avoided it since then and the comment… pure gold.)

          If you’ve read me for any amount of time, you’ll know I love details and specifics, but this was an utterly glorious scent/history summation and I absolutely LOVED every iota of it! Fantastic!

          So, most irrelevant and basic things first, thank you for letting me know about the language issue because that helps and it obviously makes a difference in terms of nuances or how I will read your comments. But that’s the most irrelevant part. Moving onto the important things: you’ve given me a great sense of where your perfume history but you also, unknowingly, told me something else important that I think you may want to consider when reading my reviews or anyone else’s reviews: your location and its weather. Being in a climate like Malaysia will automatically mean that some fragrances are eaten up quickly, both in terms of sillage, weight, and longevity. So what something smells like to me or performs on my skin in my area (admittedly, a very humid and hot locale, even if it’s nowhere as tropical as yours) will never be the same as on you. Same for someone testing fragrances in, say, Sweden, England, or Russia as compared to you. You will want to keep that in mind as a general rule going forward when people talk out longevity, weight, and sillage. I’ve had readers in Singapore or Thailand tell me that fragrances regarded as “heavy” or “powerful” elsewhere simply vanish on their skin in their climates. That’s one big reason why so many of my readers in Asia, India, or the Gulf Emirates countries prefer attars; they’re the only things with a chance of barreling through the wall of moisture and heat.

          You’re right that you face a big challenge in sampling things due to your location and the postal services but, judging by the brands that you’ve mentioned thus far, you’ve done fairly well under the circumstances, Josef. You’ve sampled a range of niche it seems and several good artisanal brands (like Ensar Oud) as well. I can’t say I’m particularly enamoured of either Nishane or Beaufort, but *EVERYTHING* is good, useful, and informative when one is learning and moving beyond the mainstream into the niche field.

          In terms of further scent education, one thing that you might be interested in is buying some essential oils in order to learn how they smell on their own, unblended with other things. When I took a long perfume seminar, I was astounded by how different some natural essences could be in their rawest form as compared to how they manifested themselves when diluted and then taken a step further by being blended with other materials in a larger composition. Basically, the notes which we’re familiar with in blended, mixed, and semi-synthetical compositions are just the tiniest tip of the olfactory iceberg, so smelling them in solo and/or concentrated form was an eye-opening and critical for learning all the nuances of a material.

          There are two sites that come immediately to mind as something for you to look into:
          Eden Botanticals:
          The Perfumer’s Apprentice:

          Perfumistas from all around the world order from both sites. The Perfumer’s Apprentice is a particularly popular source with people seeking to educate their noses on aromachemicals as well as naturals. Eden Botanicals only has the natural raw materials. Not just essential oils, but absolutes and other forms. (They also have different concentrations of essential oils, which basically means that some are diluted with more perfumer’s alcohol than others. Some things like, for example, benzoin, labdanum, or oakmoss can occasionally come in such a thick form that it’s basically like a sludge and you have to dilute it with perfumer’s alcohol in order to put it on a scent strip or skin.)

          I almost certain both sites ship overseas, although I admit it’s been ages since I looked at their shipping page for international shipping details, but the problem is obviously what will happen on the Malaysian postal end. If you’re willing to take the risk, if you want to learn further about raw materials in all of their varied individual facets or aromas, and if you’re interested in also sniffing some of the most popular or frequently used aromachemicals (ISO E Super, Ambermax, Cedarmax, Ambroxan, Norlimbanol, Amber Xtreme, Animalis for animalics, vanillin or ethyl maltol varieties for vanilla-praline-candy-caramel aromas, etc.) then I suggest just taking a peek at both sites. At the very least, it will give you an idea of the range of olfactives out there and some starting points for taking your scent education to the next step (assuming that you’re so interested). Again, you’re absolutely right that shipping to Malaysia is neither cheap nor a sure bet, but I wanted you at least to *KNOW* that there are some educational scent options and sites out there if you want to hone your nose further.

          Beyond that, just do what you’re doing and keep on sniffing everything you can. One learns from everything — and one ALWAYS learns, no matter how long or how short of a period of time that one has been sniffing. 🙂

          I hope that helps a little, Josef. (By the way, I much prefer calling you “Josef” than “Jay Tee,” if that’s okay with you. One reminds me of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, the other one reminds me of a t-shirt. 😛 😉 Heh. (Mea Culpa, I can’t help it.) 😀

          • Thank you so much for your reply and sorry for my late reply! The last days have been too busy with traveling for work etc.!

            First of all, yes of course, please call me Josef! That’s why I mentioned my real name. Nobody ever calls me Jay Tee, I just didn’t want to use my full/real name on FB.

            Of course, yes, the issue of living in a very different climate then other reviewers is an important one to consider! Additionally, I have quite dry skin which also doesn’t let many fragrances last that long on my skin, even in colder climates. In fact, I’d say that comparing when I wear some of my scents when I go back home to Germany (any season) and wearing them here in 85-95% humidity, I think sometimes they even last longer here. Maybe due to the humidity having it’s effect on the skin? I don’t know. But anyway, most of the time under the week I spent in an air-conditioned office 😀

            Thank you so much for the recommendations for sampling the raw materials/oil etc.! I will definitely check that out in detail and hope that it’ll work with the shopping. Or maybe I let them ship it to Germany, if that’s maybe less risky.

            As someone who’s involved in education and training (on the policy, implementation and organizational side), I am so glad about your comment that one always learns! Yes, that is so true. Especially thanks to people like you, who are taking the time to educating others! 🙂

            Thank you very much again and have a nice weekend ahead! 🙂

  6. One thing I might add, in a new comment, because the thread us getting so “thin”, on the whole location weather etc. Issue is this: definitely, the life of a fragrance is shorter here. Some scents that you describe where you describe developments after 3 hrs, then 5, then 8, then 10 up to 15-20 hrs or whatever happen for me all within 5-8 hrs 😀

  7. Absolutely need to check this fragrance out! I missed a chance for the original Siberian musk, and this one sounds just as lovely! It’ll be fun to smell deer musk again, the only point of reference I have is a 60’s BaV Parfum (a 15ml with a type of gold-foil bullseye on the back) it melds seamlessly with the other animal essences, and on my skin it is very faintly detectable after the fragrance dies out (I have to really dig my nose in), it is very strange to me. If I tilt my wrist at one angle it has a very faint sweetness to it, chocolatey vanilla with the faint sweetness of a chestnut. Tilted the other way it’s like you can smell it hitting soft earth, not the smell of soil but you can just visualise something musky just kiss a patch of soil. When the perfume is alive though it adds a texture, not a rough kind of furriness but an extremely delicate movement, like if there was a fur scarf brushing against the cheek. IIRC there is an archive of a “New Scientist” article that mentions deer musk being used in a handful of perfumes at the time still, around the mid 70s-80s. Someone told me that JD used musk from the Tonkin area of Vietnam, supposedly superior to the closely related Himalayan musk and then Siberian breed.

    Based on your review the dilution of the musk in this perfume still sounds absolutely exquisite, although others might prefer more overt detectability in SM, I think I would prefer RM’s approach. Excellent review as always!

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