Areej Le Doré has just launched its fourth series of fragrances. There are four new parfums: Koh-i-Noor, Malik Al Taif, Oud Luwak, and Baikal Gris. Today, I’ll provide you with information on the scents, their notes, any relevant raw material information or perfume techniques that may have been used, packaging changes, price reductions, the sample situation, shipping changes, and retail information. I’ll include mini reviews for the fragrances and end by briefly covering the new sinking-grade oud incense offering.
The four new fragrances are, like their precursors, pure parfums or extraits which have been made in limited quantities. Unlike the earlier releases, however, all the fragrances have been produced in quantities greater than 100 bottles: between 400 to 500 each. In addition, Areej Le Doré has changed the bottle size for each from 50 ml to 30 ml. There has been a price drop per bottle or fragrance accordingly, as you’ll see when I cover each scent individually down below.
Just like before, each fragrance was created from the same batch of distilled materials, hand-done artisanal distillations, or hydrosols, so 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 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, next to a link to Luckyscent’s general Areej Le Doré section. Luckyscent does not have the new fragrances yet and has not listed them on their site at the time of this post, but they will probably do so shortly. I’ll try to update this post with more specific direct links once that happens.
[UPDATE 10/30: Luckyscent has now listed all the fragrances on their website, so I’ve added the direct, individual links in each section. The Areej sample set is available to go out now, but the four parfums are only available for pre-order at this time. They will ship out on approximately November 6th, and then be fully, generally available thereafter. ]
KOH I NOOR:
Russian Adam’s succinct nutshell summation for Koh-i-Noor and its list of notes are as follows:
A huge, animalic floral oriental that came to life in collaboration with Nikhil, known as Perfume Guru:
Top notes: Wild Siberian deer musk and lemon distilled by Russian Adam;
Heart notes: ylang ylang, gardenia, jasmine, champaka, patchouli, tonka bean, 30 years old Indian oud and The Mysore sandalwood distilled by Russian Adam;
Base notes: benzoin, crude Amber, tube rose attar and jasmine sambac absolute.
A few points of explanation might be useful regarding that official description. First, “tube rose” is not some sort of rose varietal but is actually tuberose. The spelling is an issue of language differences. (If it’s any comfort to tuberose haters, I experienced no discernible whiff of it on my skin, and it’s my favourite flower so I wouldn’t have missed it if it had appeared.) Second, a traditional method of preparation was used for the attar. Russian Adam explained that: it is a “traditional Indian type of attar, which is very rare these days. It is tube rose distilled/infused right in to pure mysore sandalwood oil. Now most attars in India produced in to DPG or DOP synthetic base. They do not last and lack the depth and creaminess of sandal based attars. It is because the market demands cheaper items, and also sandal oil use is restricted.” Finally, to be completely clear, the YouTube blogger Nikhil provided ideas for the fragrance, its name, and its broad concept, but he did not play a role in making the perfume and he received no financial consideration for his input. Russian Adam is the sole perfumer.
After testing Koh-i-Noor, I don’t think that the official description does credit to the number of olfactory genres it touches upon during its development. It is not merely a floral oriental. On my skin and depending on time, it traverses the spectrum from a floral woody musk to a floral oriental, an ambered woody fragrance with a strong gourmand streak, and then a vanillic amber oriental. Its opening floral bouquet is, indeed, “lush” on me, but I experienced no animalic qualities. Not even an iota. If anything, it has far more of a gourmand tonality from the middle stage onwards, while the early hours emphasize a beautiful, authentic-smelling and clearly expensive gardenia note, complete with decadent creaminess and even a mushroom undertone (which is very true to the flower). There’s also rich, buttery, and custardy ylang ylang, indolic jasmine, and tropical champaca, all gently, softly kissed by deer musk which is fluffy and mild.
One of the lovely parts of the later hours is the strong, driving, and central force of an accord centered on spicy sandalwood, oud, patchouli, and caramel-scented benzoin. It strongly resembles the central chord in Areej Le Doré’s Russian Oud, only here it’s accompanied by a lush white floral bouquet instead of chocolate, booziness, or leather. Plus, it’s not a permanent, immutable part of the fragrance as it was in Russian Oud but merely a segment of the scent, a segment which is never a strong feature right from the start on my skin as it was with the other Areej fragrance. Furthermore, the nature of the ouds is different as well in my opinion: I’d venture to say that the ones in Koh-i-Noor are gentler, milder, less smoky, and significantly less leathery.
Russian Oud was not the only fragrance which came to mind while testing Koh-i-Noor. Something about the various combinations in Koh-i-Noor reminded me at one point of the base in some versions of vintage L’Heure Bleue parfum where immensely candied and sticky caramel benzoin was slathered in thick slabs all over sandalwood, smoky birch tar leather, patchouli, smoky incense, and vanilla. Even more than LHB’s base layer, Koh-i-Noor’s middle stage reminded me of the heart phase in Britannia, Roja Dove‘s modern and gourmand-skewing reinterpretation of the Guerlain classic. For me, there is a strongly candied quality to both fragrances in their later hours, perhaps because they both have a whopping amount of benzoin in their bases. The difference, however, is that Koh-i-Noor has no powderiness, peach, or cocoa and that its floral bouquet is primarily a white one, rather than being rose driven.
In the days to come, I hope to post a detailed analytical breakdown of Koh-i-Noor, covering it from start to finish as opposed to talking mostly about key elements or basic aspects, but I want you to know now that it is not merely a floriental. It’s also more than a simple bouquet of white flowers with oud and amber. If the review goes ahead (there are external, personal factors which don’t make it automatic), then I’ll update this post with a link.
[UPDATE 11/4: the full review for Koh-i-Noor has now been posted.]
Price/Links: $220 for 30 ml from Areej Le Doré. $225 from Luckyscent.
MALIK AL TAIF:
Malik Al Taif impressed me the most out of the four fragrances, which I had not unexpected given the fragrance genre — saffron rose oud — and the fact that roses are such a major part of the scent. Neither one is catnip to me normally. In fact, the glut of boring, generically executed saffron rose ouds on the market has left me quite cynical about this sort of composition, but Malik Al Taif does not feel ordinary and it most certainly isn’t run-of-the-mill in my eyes.
Russian Adam describes its essence and its note list as follows:
An untold story from a desert oasis,
An aromatic version of the Arabian Nights.
Top notes: Royal Taif rose and Indian Rose;
Heart notes: Indian oud, saffron and deer musk absolute;
Base notes: Mysore sandalwood, amber resin and Siam benzoin.
For all you ardent rose lovers out there, I have to say that I’m not usually one of your tribe but I lost my pantalones for the rose here, thanks to its extravagant opulence, its 3D naturalism and complexity, and its heady assault on the senses. In the opening hour, Malik Al Taif’s scent was not like a rose in bloom in a garden, not even the best Taif sort, but rather like thousands and thousands of Taif roses distilled and then reduced down to their most concentrated essence. The sheer baroque craziness of the rose note during the first 60 to 90 minutes made the overall composition so rich that it felt more like an attar than an extrait.
Granted, that heft and heaviness don’t last, but it was such a magnificent rose bouquet that I asked Russian Adam how he pulled it off. His answer was two-fold. First, there is a huge amount of rose oil in the fragrance. IFRA/EU restrictions limit the levels to 4% of the overall composition but, here, it exceeds 40%. Second: the ROYAL Taif rose. Since that response meant absolutely nothing to me, Adam elaborated. I thought I would share his explanation with the rest of you:
“Taif rose” is often used in perfume names, however even regular Taif rose is rarely used in its pure form. Royal Taif rose, I believe, never has been used in perfumes available to normal people.
Regular Taif (pink rose Damascena) rose is known for its superior scent to any other rose due to its natural habitant which is a desert in Saudi Arabia, the city called Taif. Extremely hot, dry weather.
It normally costs two times more than any other pure rose oil.
But Royal Taif rose is something that (till today=) only Royal Families were able to experience. It is twice more valuable than even regular Taif Rose.
The Royal Taif rose used in Malik al Taif was custom distilled by my friend specially for me. It is called Royal for a few reasons:
1) only petals were distilled, no green part that hold the petals. That is never done by any other distillers of rose because it decreases the yield hugely. However, it brings the sweetest, most amazing aroma to life.
2) the collection of rose buds and separation of petals were all done only by females. That’s because their fingers are known to be much softer than male ones there and that softness preserves the very gentle aroma molecules within the petals more. It sounds unbelievable but it does make a difference in the final aroma of an oil.
3) collection of the rose is done before dawn. Again the most fragrant molecules are present with in petals during this time. Any oil from rose collected after dawn is considered regular quality.
I would, indeed, find parts of that to be unbelievable (like the women’s-fingers-only bit) but, then again, it’s Saudi Arabia where the Ta’if rose is not only a beloved national symbol and source of pride for centuries now but also the basis for a large industry, complete with annuals fairs and festivals. Still, whatever the specifics about collection methodology, the larger and main point is that I thought the Taif rose in Malik Al Taif was exquisite and truly exceptional — and I’m someone for whom roses are almost at the very bottom of the list of favourite flowers in perfumery. But this rose, this rose… wow.
There is more to Malik Al Taif than mere roses, though. Depending on times, the rose cycles through a series of different partners: jammy fruits; practically candied gourmand sweetness similar to what you’d find in a Middle Eastern dessert and Loukhoum Turkish Delight; spicy saffron; and then, benzoin caramel amber. In the second half of the fragrance’s development, however, the focus shifts away from the saffron oud rose part of the equation and the flower takes a backseat to loads of sandalwood accompanied by musky oud.
After that, Malik Al Taif goes through a few minor permutations on the woody theme (as much gorgeous Mysore sandalwood as musky or smoky oud) before finally ending with a delicious drydown centered on semi-sweet, semi-dry, caramel-scented benzoin amber, lightly swirled with tonka vanilla. If the opening phase assails one’s sense with unbridled rose opulence and extravagance, the later stages and drydown nestle one within a loving, addictive, and cozily sweet, delectable embrace.
It’s wonderful. If I didn’t have such a low tolerance level for sweetness and dessert gourmandise (which I blame on Malik Al Taif’s veritable geyser of caramel-scented benzoin), this would be a rose fragrance which I would gladly wear myself. But even with the intense sweetness, a part of me still wants to buy a decant because, a few days after testing it, I can’t stop thinking about that beautiful rose. It’s whispering my name and calling to me — which I think says something given that I don’t like or wear rose fragrances for my personal use.
I hope to write a full, proper, and detailed scent analysis in the official review in the next week or so, if circumstances permit, and I’ll update this post with a link if that happens. In the meantime, I’ll say this to rose lovers: you must try this! And if you’re not a rose lover generally, you might find yourself surprised. I certainly was. I give Malik Al Taif a big thumbs up.
[UPDATE 10/31: the full review for Malik Al Taif has now been posted.]
Price/Links: $220 for 30 ml from Areej Le Doré. $225 from Luckyscent.
Russian Adam describes Oud Luwak and its notes as follows:
Oud perfume featuring the finest aspects of authentic, rare wild oud from Papua New Guinea:
Top notes: coffee Luwak, sinking Sumatra agarwood smoke infusion;
Heart notes: Maroke Noir oud oil, spikenard, carrot seeds, nutmeg;
Base notes: Indian oud, Indonesian vetiver absolute, cedarwood and Sumatran benzoin.
There are two things worth knowing about Oud Luwak’s notes and materials. First, “coffee Luwak” refers to civet coffee (Kopi Luwak) which has frequently been called “the most expensive coffee in the world.” Russian Adam explained how he approached it from a perfume perspective:
Civet cats eat the beans (selecting only the best ones) then digest it (special fermentation process that enrich the flavour) … Then beans are collected, washed, dried, roasted and grinded.
I used 5kg of the fresh coffee luwak beans to make an absolute which I used in the composition.
This is one of its kind extract that I never seen any one extract in a form of pure absolute using this particular raw material. The result was one of the most complex coffee aroma I ever experienced.
The second important thing to know about Oud Luwak is Adam’s use of sinking grade oud and the special smoke infusion which he prepared and used. That type of oud is significant due to its rarity and cost. If you’re unfamiliar with the term and just what a big deal “sinking grade” is in the oud world, you can read more about it in my detailed guide to the world of oud via the lens of Ensar Oud.
Here, what Russian Adam did was to create a smoke infusion:
It is an innovative technic designed by me, a bit similar to enfleurage.
I used the perfume itself while still in oil form and infused it with the actual smoke of Sinking grade oud chips. This most likely never been done before in perfumery.
This material enable me to add the true scent of burning top quality oud wood in the top notes as oppose to cade or birch tar oils that are usually used for the smoky/incensy top notes.
In all frankness, this smoke infusion was a major problem for me. I’m no Oud Head, so maybe that’s why I couldn’t handle it, or perhaps it simply went south due to my skin chemistry but, whatever the reason, the end result proved too much for me to handle. On my skin, Oud Luwak opened with a rich, bitter, darkly roasted and almost burnt coffee note richly infused with dark, earthy spices, smoky oud, dark cedar, dark balsamic resins, a pinch of vetiver, and a chocolate-like note. It was a lovely bouquet but, unfortunately, it was quickly blanketed with a veritable tsunami of acrid, abrasively harsh and rasping black smoke. This wasn’t the sort of smoke which typically emanates from burnt woods, oud, incense, or even aromachemicals. At one point, it reminded me of the chem-trail that lingers when black rubber or plastic is burnt and melts. The only way I can properly describe its aroma as “acrid.”
Oud Luwak is not that way, however, when I spray it on paper. There, the smoke infusion is milder, less abrasively acrid, and less of an obliterating foghorn bulldozer. I can only conclude that my personal skin chemistry is to blame for sending it all into overdrive. That may be why it so quickly and thoroughly blankets the other notes, resulting in something which is aggressively burnt, harsh, jarring, and discordant to my nose. Within 15 minutes, my throat was sore and scratchy; within 40, the inside of my nose felt irritated. When I took a particularly long sniff of my arm at the end of the hour to try to pull out the coffee or other notes underneath, I ended up having a sneezing fit which lasted almost five straight minutes. I gave up after that and sadly scrubbed the fragrance.
I blame myself. I’m no die-hard oud addict with a penchant for the darkest, smokiest, or most intense types of oud and, as most of you know by now, I have strong sensitivities to certain types of materials or odorants, with smoke or smoky woods being high on the list. When you combine those two facts with what, as the scent strip test demonstrates, is clearly a personal skin chemistry issue, the end result must surely be idiosyncratic (what normal person has a violent sneezing fit from perfume?!) and a weird outlier.
I would be surprised if the average person had a similar experience. After all, few people have my degree of olfactory sensitivity to certain odorants. There have been plenty of fragrances out there that I’ve tried and been unable to handle which the vast majority of perfumistas have had no trouble with at all.
My only finding with universal applicability is that Oud Luwak is darker and smokier than any of Areej Le Doré’s previous ouds. I think most, if not all, the people who try it will find that to be the case as well. Russian Adam told me that he had, in fact, wanted to make it even smokier than it is because there are two things he really loves: sweet fragrances and really smoky ones. If you adore coffee notes, dark fragrances, loads of smoke, dark ouds, and masculine compositions, then you should give Oud Luwak a sniff for yourself.
Price/Retail Links: $190 for 30 ml from Areej Le Doré. $195 from Luckyscent.
Baikal Gris is inspired by Russia’s Lake Baikal which, Wikipedia tells me, is apparently the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume and is considered to be the world’s oldest lake at 25–30 million years.
Russian Adam has wonderfully practical summation cards for each fragrance in the new sample sets and the one for Baikal Gris had the following one-line synopsis and note list:
A rich, poetic tribute to Baikal
Top notes: Russian fir balsam, violet leaf, grey Indian ambergris;
Heart notes: Mysore sandalwood resinoid extracted by Russian Adam, vanilla, grey Indian ambergris;
Base notes: tonka, fossil resin amber, cypress absolute, cedarwood, oakmoss and nagarmotha [cypriol].
Baikal Gris is one of those fragrances that, for me, when I tried it, turned out to be about atmospherics and a mood more than an interplay of specific notes or concrete stages. Russian Adam’s official description conjures up a particular scenario which isn’t all that far off from the visuals, feel, and mood which struck me when wearing the scent, so I’ll quote part of his story and then describe my own further below:
Warm and cozy morning
Dew on violets cling
Baikal still waters
Sleeping like a king
Fir and piney sunshine
Heavy, fragrant air
Drops of melting amber
Tranquil, balsamic fare
Cedar sliced for breakfast
On a green and mossy floor
A sticky resin drizzle
That leaves me wanting more
I jump into calm waters
Baikal woken from a dream
Encircled by sweet forests
That are fresh and full of cream
Santal boat passing
Invitation for a ride
It is slow but gracious
Gliding to my side
For me, Baikal Gris evoked from first sniff a meadow: grassy, mossy, soft, and fresh, dappled by sunlight, and adjacent to small glade of fir trees dripping with sweet, piney sap. Dew-laden ferns grow wild and abundant at their base, next to herbal aromatics and clumps of wildflowers which, unexpectedly, smell like fresh chamomile.
The meadow is composed of sweet grass, fresh mosses, gentle vetiver, and freshly cut sweet hay. It’s beautifully verdant and plush, the sort of idyllic meadow which is found in British stories where children frolic in summertime or lovers picnic under blue skies with nary a cloud in them. In the air, all around, is the scent of something so herbaceous and aromatic that it’s like lavender mixed with sprigs of thyme or sage. Heaven knows where it comes from, but it adds to the overall freshness, cleanness, and sense of something almost fougère-ish about the scent. For me, it’s what pushes Baikal Gris in the direction of fragrances like Dusita‘s Issara or St. Clair Scents‘ First Cut more than the chypre-skewing, sunlit grassy-mossy-vetiver-meadows encapsulated by AbdesSalaam Attar‘s Oakmoss/Tarzan/Muschio and Afterlier‘s Bergamoss.
If my mental visuals are not identical to Adam’s right at the start, they become much more so as Baikal Gris develops on my skin. Within the hour, there is indeed a strong sandalwood component in the heart, mixed with “sticky resin drizzle” and “sweet forests filled with cream.” Actually, I think my experience is even better than what those words might convey. In its heart phase, on my skin, Baikal Gris is a lovely mix of smoky and sweet, as grass, hay, herbal aromatics, and buttery, spicy, smoky, red-skewing resinous sandalwood are woven together with thick fingers of honeyed pine sap and puff trails of smoke. Tonka-vanilla fluff and cream run under them, next to thin rivulets of sticky ambered resins.
The mix of the smoky and sweet, of vaguely herbal-grassy greenness and invitingly spiced woods laced with honeyed sap, lasts for hours. They blur together more and more before they’re eventually overtaken by and enveloped within a cloud of ambergris goldenness. The drydown is a soft, snuggly haze of sweet-dry goldenness with lingering traces of spiciness and woodiness underneath.
I think Baikal Gris is going to be very popular because its fresh, aromatic, grassy, mossy, herbal, woody, sweet, and sunny qualities render it an extremely approachable, easy to wear fragrance. Quite separate from the smoothness and harmoniousness of its clearly high-quality materials, there is a naturalism to the scent as well as a peaceful serenity which I think will be very appealing. It’s not like wearing perfume perfume so much as being in a certain place and time and having those olfactory scenic attributes captured in a bottle or floating all around you. Very nice job.
Price/Links: $190 for 30 ml from Areej Le Doré. $195 from Luckyscent.
PACKAGING CHANGES, SAMPLES, LUCKYSCENT, SHIPPING & MORE:
There are a few packaging changes for Series Four. As I mentioned briefly up top, Areej Le Doré has changed its bottle size from 50 ml to 30 ml. In addition, there are changes to the look and placement of the labels. Now, the labels go around the side of the bottle rather than simply being in front. In addition, the front of the label has a large size logo while the perfume name is now on the back.
In terms of testing the fragrances before you buy, there are a few options. First, Russian Adam is offering a sample set: a 1 ml atomizer sample of each of the four new fragrances for $40. (The photo below and to the left shows two sets, so I want to be crystal clear that you only receive 4 atomizers in total and a single box, per order.)
In total, 500 sample sets have been produced. Luckyscent will receive 250, Russian Adam will have between 150 and 200, and the remainder will go to retailers in Russia, India, and the Middle East, as well as some bloggers/vloggers.
I don’t know if Luckyscent will offer solo samples of individual fragrances outside of the set and in their usual dab vials right away. They may do so only after their 250 sets have sold out.
The shipping options have changed for this series. Russian Adam is again offering the low-cost Thai Mail option in order to make things more affordable for people who might otherwise hesitate at the expedited 3-day shipping rate which costs between $35 and $45, depending on courier company. For Series Two and Three, courier shipping was the only option because the Thai Post frequently loses things or else delivery can take months. Those problems still exist, however, so the $9 Thai Mail option will be marked as high risk on the website at checkout in order to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion on that point. In other words, it’s BUYER BEWARE. Still, it’s being offered simply because Adam wanted to provide an affordable option for consumers in Europe, Australia, and the Middle East who might not typically order from Luckyscent and who might find $85 in total for a sample set to be much too expensive otherwise. The Thai Mail $9 rate is roughly equal to Luckyscent’s $8 USPS price for shipping samples overseas but, I must repeat, it is not anywhere close to being as safe as either US Mail or DHS three-day shipping. And it might take weeks or months to get to you, if it’s not lost completely.
There is another difference for Series Four. Unlike prior launches, Russian Adam is releasing both the sample sets and the full bottles at the same time. Previously, there was a gap of a week or two between the samples being made available and the time you could buy the bottles, although I think there may have been a pre-order option at one point for one of the launches. This time, however, everything is being released and made available for purchase simultaneously. At least on the Areej website. I believe that Luckyscent is getting the sample sets first and that the full bottles will be sent to them in a week from the date of this post.
Here is the link to Luckyscent’s overall Areej section where you will be able to find the individual fragrances and samples sets once they are added. At the time of this post, none of the new releases are there. For convenience sake, just to have everything listed in one place, here again is the link to Russian Adam’s sample set.
[UPDATE 10/30: as mentioned in the update up top, Luckyscent has now listed all four new releases on their website, along with the sample set. The fragrances are listed as being pre-orders at this time, but the sample set is available to go out now. I’ve changed the links so that they now go to each product’s specific Luckyscent page rather than to just their overall Areej section.]
Moving onto a different subject, in the past, Russian Adam has offered 10 ml travel decants of his fragrances several months after their launch. He won’t be doing so this time around because the bottle size has been reduced to 30 ml.
PURE SINKING-GRADE SRI LANKAN OUD INCENSE:
In addition to fragrances, Russian Adam has also released incense. It’s under his Feel Oud label but is sold at Luckyscent in the Areej section. He describes it on his Feel Oud website as follows:
Sinking Sri Lanka incense made of the most rare, the oldest, the highest quality pure sinking agarwood from Sri Lanka.
The square shape sticks are pressed using nothing but pure oud powder. No bamboo sticks, no makko powder, only the finest sinking agarwood dust.
This sticks provide the ultimate olfactory experience for everyone. No charcoal or expensive agarwood heater is required to enjoy the most praised aroma coming from the very best agarwood in the world.
No need to study a complex process of how to build ash pyramids to heat oud chips gently making it to release it’s true essence. Simply light up a stick and enjoy agarwood burning session experience that otherwise takes years of practice and a lot of skills.
The perfect size of powder and the high density of the sticks allows it to burn perfectly releasing the most rich, nuanced and intense aroma.
Usually sinking grade oud never used to make incense. It is too rare and expensive and also too dense, too resinous making it nearly impossible to be used for incense. Our pressed square shape sticks offering is possibly the very first in the world 100% pure sinking oud incense.
In an email to me, Russian Adam added that: “Most of the time oud incense is made of oud post distillation dust that cost less then a dollar per kg.” That is not the case here with his sticks. He’s used the most expensive grade and caliber of agarwood, and it has not been diluted with any additives or additional materials.
Adam sent me two vials, each of which contained two sticks of incense. I followed the advice listed on the Feel Oud website:
To ignite these sticks is a bit of a challenge. The resin content is so high that they not start to burn very easily. Apply gentle fire and place the stick upside down. It will help to start your incense session faster.
I had no problems lighting the stick and, within mere moments, the smoke wafted towards me. I’m not an incense expert and I’ve certainly never tried the oud variety, so I’m not sure how valuable or insightful my thoughts might be, but I’ll try my best. The smoke was delicate but much stronger and richer than I had expected. Yes, it smelled like burning wood but it was also fragrant, resinous, quietly spicy, and, to my surprise, quite nutty in aroma. Unlike olibanum incense, there was nothing soapy or dusty about it, and nothing which transported me to a Catholic church. Instead, it took me straight back to the Middle East. It is the scent of the Middle East in a nutshell. I thought it was beautiful and so evocative.
Details/Links: 32 incense sticks for $160. Feel Oud and Luckyscent.
My goal is to write proper reviews for Malik Al Taif and Koh-i-Noor, the two fragrances which I found to be the most complex and therefore the ones best served by a detailed, in-depth analysis, but it’s not a sure bet. For one thing, I think I’ve captured the essential points of both fragrances here already, enough so that you’ve gotten a good idea of what they’re about or what you might expect. A big part of me thinks that elaborating further would be redundant and indulgent. For another, I’m still acting as nursemaid to an invalided Hairy German; he will need a few more months to recover from major surgery and everything is a bit topsy-turvy as a result of his constant and many needs. You have no idea how exhausted I am.
Whichever way I go, please do not take the possible absence of full reviews or the omission of a particular fragrance as significant or as a reflection on Areej Le Doré, because there is absolutely no causality. At this point, regular readers know, or should know, that my Teutonic Overlord is basically like my child and that he comes above almost all else for me. If I do manage to carve out the time and, more importantly, the energy to write lengthy, proper reviews, I’ll update this post with links so that all information on the fourth Areej series is conveniently included or referenced in a single overview post.
[UPDATE: Full reviews for both Koh-i-Noor and Malik Al Taif have now been posted.]
Have a good Sunday evening and week ahead, everyone!
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.
Salut j’espère que ça va et félicitations pour ton article je comprends pas,tout,mais je fait des effort ! Il y en a un que tu peux me conseiller ?a bientôt
Cele, I’ve already responded on the blog’s FB page but I just wanted to say “thank you,” mon ami, for always being a loyal reader and one of the first to read a post, no matter how long and even if it’s in a different language.
Merci pour ces critiques qui nous font aimer encore plus les parfums que nous aimons déjà très fort…
Si vous habitez à Paris, Celestino, j’ai commandé trois des nouvelles créations. On peut se croiser pour que vous les sentiez.
Amitiés à vous deux,
Dear Kafka, thank you for the precious information and lovely mini-reviews of this new series! I would have loved reading your full reviews of Areej fragrances, which are usually kaleidoscopic and would benefit greatly from your erudite scent breakdown. But the health, happiness and serenity of you and Hairy German come first. Moreover, your mini-reviews are evocative and detailed enough to convey the general feelings of the scents for me. I hope things will soon get better for you both. 🙂
You’re so sweet, Stella! What a lovely message. I promise to do my best. It’s just everything has been so upside down for the last 6 weeks, and I have another 2 months to go! The Hairy German cannot go up any stairs and must have minimal movement so I’m currently sleeping on the floor beside him in what was once my living room. It’s been turned into a makeshift nursing ward. He won’t stay down, even if he’s so sedated that he totters about, and he insists on trying to follow me everywhere (even up the verboten stairs), which means that even basic aspects of daily life, like taking a shower, require an orchestrated, coordinated effort to keep him locked up so that he doesn’t injure himself and ruin the work of the operation. It’s quite exhausting all in all.
Anyway, enough moaning. I’ll see what I can manage. Maybe if I could actually get some sleep… lol
I hope you’ve been well, my dear. And, really, thank you for the sweet, affectionate words. xoxo
Thank you for your lovely write up. I’ve not clicked on a review link as fast as I did for this one. I am quite excited to sample these when they are available on Luckyscent. I hope the Hairy German will recover soon. All the best!
Ha, a rush to click is always great to hear! 😉 😀
Thank you so much for this wonderful overview of Areej le Dore’s latest! I love the ways in which you express each perfume’s strengths and weaknesses and how much these qualities may pertain to your own (or others) individual likes and dislikes. I am always so impressed by the thoroughness and clarity with which you think and write. I’ll definitely be getting samples of these because of your review.
Thank you, Valerie. I appreciate it, because I think that not enough people recognize or understand the critical importance of reviewers stating their individual preferences or, indeed, the importance of the role of subjectivity of fragrance reviews as a whole. Far too often I see comments which are posited on the firm belief that there is a right or wrong in a person’s scent perceptions and, even worse, an ultimate *universal* truth about perfumes. There isn’t. And it drives me absolutely crazy to hear it. Perfume and reviews thereof are not akin to mathematics. This is a field which is so incredibly dependent on a whole host of subjective factors that there is only a *personal* truth, not an objective universal one.
I think far, far too many fragrance reviewers and critics elide over their personal likes and dislikes, both in terms of individual notes and general fragrance genres. But such information provides a critical, essential context for their conclusions. Luca Turin’s opinion on an iris fragrance is bound to be heavily impacted by the fact that iris is one of his all-time favourite notes and he likes almost anything halfway decent which includes it. My opinion on a cozy amber fragrance is bound to be different than that of someone who loathes labdanum, benzoin, ambergris, or similar, related materials. An oud lover’s opinion on Basenotes about an oud is obviously going to be influenced by his love in the same way that an oud hater’s might be.
What I don’t understand is why more people — whether actual reviewers or just the average commentator on Fragrantica — don’t acknowledge just how damn personal and individualistic their conclusions actually are? Okay, fine, the average commentator may not realize the importance of it, but reviewers should.
And they absolutely SHOULD state their likes and dislikes in every review because it is an ESSENTIAL context or framework within which to assess their conclusions and, more importantly for the consumer, to assess the applicability of the review to the person’s own taste and to their subsequent financial decisions. Just as the FCC requires disclosure of free samples so too should blogging guidelines demand disclosure of a reviewer’s subjective preferences. It shouldn’t be something which a reader might possibly, eventually, deduce if they read a reviewer long enough; it should be stated upfront right from the start and in the text so that it’s clear even to someone who just stumbles upon a post. How else can they know whether the review’s statements or conclusions will apply to them?
As you can see, I have rather strong feelings about this. lol. 😉 I hope you don’t think I was lecturing you, because that was not my intention at all. It’s just that the widespread belief or pretense that there is some sort of absolute, universal truth in scent is one of the main things which drives how I write and shapes how I discuss things. It is, in fact, one of the reasons why I started blogging in the first place. And your recognition of what I do (and actual appreciation thereof!) meant a lot, so thank you.
Anyway, enough on the theoretical methodology, principles, or ideals of fragrance reviews and scent discussion. 😀 Tell me what you thought of the EO No 2. I know you planned on getting a sample. Did it work for you? How was it on your skin?
I didn’t feel lectured to at all! I always love the fact that you state so clearly your own likes and dislikes, whereas, someone like Luca doesn’t seem to take his own personal bent into account when reviewing. Regardless, I bought 10 mls of EO No 2 and found it fascinating, and decidedly, authentically musky. What I hadn’t counted on (and here my own particular perfume likes and dislikes show!) was how “masculine” it felt. And as a lover of MKK and other dark, unisex, animalic frags, I was surprised by my attitude. Anyway, my husband has stolen it from me, so all’s well!
Ha, don’t you love it when you can pawn off fragrances on family members or friends who love them properly and fully? If remember correctly, I remembering reading that there was an Areej fragrance in the second or third series that your husband took over as well and preferred more than you did. LOL. Whatever the particular scent, it’s clear you’re one beautifully scented household. 😀 😛
In terms of the masculinity of EO, I’d bet that the ouds were responsible, not the actual “animalic” ingredients like the deer musk. In fact, my memory of the comment you left on the other fragrance you gave to your husband (the Areej) was about how the oud went a bit too hardcore on your skin. It happens to me, too, particularly since my skin always amplifies base notes. When we’re talking about Ensar’s stuff with real ouds, there is a real potential for them to go SUPER dark, musky, leathery, and tarry if one’s skin accentuates base notes and if they’re of a varietal which skews super dark, masculine, and leathery to begin with. Once that happens, it comes down to how much masculine darkness each person likes or can tolerate. I think neither you nor I are the hardcore Oud Heads, so our tolerance or appreciation levels are lower.
But, hey, at least your husband smells great and is enjoying it! Heh. 😛
Thanks again for this review!
How is the projection and longevity, compare to other Areej?
I think the performance is comparable to the prior series. Not Series 1, because none of the Areej fragrances have been monsters in sillage or longevity in quite the same way, but comparable to the other Areej’s since then. It’s important to note, though, that sillage and longevity are going to depend on how much you apply and what your skin is like.
I applied 3 squirts from the atomizer for each of the fragrances, which I estimate is an amount roughly equal to 1 big spray or 2 small ones from an actual bottle. I tested three of the fragrances all the way through to the end. (As I explained, I had to scrub the fourth one, Oud Luwak.) For the three: I had 14 hour minimum. One lasted roughly 18 hours. Koh-i-Noor and Malik Al Taif lasted the longest of the three that I tested all the way through to the end.
Their sillage was initially average to strong but I found that, when taken as a whole and from start to finish, the Malik performed more like an attar on my skin than an extrait.
If I had an actual bottle and sprayed the way I do for my personal use, I think both Koh-i-Noor and Malik Al Taif might end up with huge, huge sillage and even greater longevity.
You have to keep in mind that I applied a small amount equal to what I though the average person would apply if they bought the set and wanted to get several uses out of each atomiser. They wouldn’t be applying a lot. In fact, I think many would probably only apply a squirt or two, not three. I don’t think the amount I applied would be equal to what someone with a full bottle might generally use, so it’s important to keep that in mind. You can definitely amp up the performance and scent cloud of the fragrances if you don’t apply a stingy, miserly amount. They’re very rich in aroma and have the potential to have broad diffuseness.
Malik Al Taif and Baikal Gris sound like the 2 I would sample. Thank.you for these reviews! Wishing the best for the German.
If I remember correctly, you love a good rose mixed with some darkness, so I think the Malik Al Taif might be a hit for you.
Yes, you do remember!! I do believe this may be what I’ve been looking for. I’ve sampled a plethora of rose based scents but none dark enough. I’m gearing up for a big sample haul shortly.
I also love with all my heart my (mighty son) long coated German Shepherd; I do hope yours gets better very soon.
Talking about these new Areejes, Is there any outstanding work in this new range of fragrances? I recently purchased the goldenpiece that EO2 Parfum is, along with some other compositions from AgarwoodAssam and the Rising Phoenix («Bushido», a scent to escape and fly; you should wear this attar once), and well… I can’t get in my bank this month without being followed by its surveillance cameras.
Thanks for dedication.
Big hugs for your Lord,
Another worshipful slave to the German Princes? Another “mighty son”? Where have you been all this time???!!! LOL 😉 😛 Welcome, welcome!
With regard to your question, it’s really impossible for me to answer without knowing something about the notes you love and hate and the genres you gravitate towards or prefer. This is too subjective a field. A die-hard oud addict is likely to differ in his/her perceptions of what is a standout than a floriental lover or an amber lover. Your comfort zone with certain styles of perfumery are just as important as the notes you love or hate. Are you a guy/girl who adores to wear huge florientals or someone who is uncomfortable with that genre? Are you a woman who loves the darkest, woodiest and smokiest of scents, or is that a style which you feel you can’t pull off? I have some male readers who write to me to ask if the inclusion of some floralcy renders a fragrance “too femme” because they want only the most masculine of fragrances and view a strong floral element as being prissy or girlie.
So you see, it’s impossible for me to estimate what you might think is the showstopper in the series without knowing anything about your personal tastes. If you love the smokiest, darkest fragrances or ouds, you might find it to be the Oud Luwak. If you love roses, you’re bound to think it’s the Malik. If you love lush, creamy, white florientals and gardenia accompanied by amber and santal, you would probably find the Koh-i-Noor to stand out the most.
For me, personally, the Malik Al Taif is the star and the really impressive one in the series — and I say that as someone who isn’t typically keen on rose-heavy fragrances, let alone the done-to-death saffron rose oud genre. If I had to take a guess about which fragrance the greatest number of people would be impressed by, it would be the Malik, then the Koh-i-Noor. Unless the person was a diehard smoke and oud junkie, in which case they would probably gravitate towards the Oud Luwak. But Oud Heads are in a class all by themselves. My choice would be the Malik.
The safest bet, imo, is to get a sample set and see which one calls your name the loudest. 🙂
Give a kiss to your mighty German son from me and a few genuflecting bows before his paws. Hell, give him about ten minutes worth. The Hairy Germans must be worshiped! 😛 😀 😉
Thank you very much for extense answer. Not only fragrances have a subtle language; you have soo much to express inside, Kafkaesque… Again, thank you.
My preferences goes for indonesian sandalwood and Ruh Khus, in that order. Then, jasmin and night-blooming cestrum; lime, cumin, civet and deer musk. Rose in private.
My favorite gender? B O L D.
I wear some vintage glories like Égoïste and its CC flanker, YSL Pour Homme, mighty Kouros (although I’m allergic, and I don’t care) and my little Eau d’Hermès; Givenchy’s Eau de Vetyver is also extraordinary. And all of them cacht me in the same way as other recent creations do, like Ladamo, Oumma, Musc Tonkin, Mona’s Cuir or EO2 Parfum, for example. The only note that doesn’t fit me is amber, not ambergris per se, but the commercial mix used in Grand Soir and all its brownish peers. Too nichestream. Too cozy. Too plain after a while. I love this note in women, yes. And got strangely underwhelmed by some previous Areejs like Russian Oud, Indolis or Inverno Russo, along with all Bortnikoffs; but well, «truth is out there» [into the samples].
I alwais call my GDS the seventh Mapogo. Such a wonderful being…
Grand Soir’s “amber” is actually Ambroxan. It’s the same thing you can find in many Creeds, to name just one brand example.
I don’t like it either, and it actually gives me a major headache if too much is used. You’re right that it can be a very one-dimensional smell. I think the “amber” created out if a mix or out of an accord of real, actual resins, vanilla, and the like is something quite different in quality, scent, and enjoyability. I’m very much a labdanum junkie actually. Lol. But we’re all different and have different tastes, so I have no problem if someone doesn’t share my amber love. 🙂 Ambroxan, though… blech.
Yes, I can imagine your home as the ultimate pagoda of Werther’s Original(!).
You allways make me empty my pockets dear, I am still under the spell of Areej’s Outtomon empire and now this….
Salman, my dear friend! It’s so good to see you. It’s been far, far too long and we seriously need to catch up at some point.
Regarding Areej fragrances, I’d completely forgotten you’d ordered Ottoman Empire and I’m delighted to hear you love it. I think the Malik Al Taif is so completely up your alley, you have no idea! The Koh-i-Noor as well, particularly given that it has deer musk, but I don’t think you’ll be bowled over in quite the same way as you would be by the Malik. I remember all too well how much you love your roses, after all, and this one is a knockout. I hope you’ll let me know what you think when you receive your samples (or whatever it is that you’ve ordered). A big hug to you, my dear friend.
BTW, I can still picture you sniffing the deer musk pods in your hand that day! And the look on your face! 😀
🙂 ordered two of Malik al taif, your description of it was enough to order. Waiting for it now. Yes we need to catchup. Missing you guys and our teacher as well . Will ping you seperately.
love and hugs.
I cannot wait for my sample set! Thank you very much for another enjoyable read, K. 🙂
Re incense, they smell even better on a temperature adjustable heater. For those who don’t want to spend too much on a temperature adjustable heater, I highly recommend making your own following KyaraZen’s instructions. https://www.kyarazen.com/build-electric-incense-heater/
Mine cost me around £12-14 pounds with the adjustable power adapter. And one doesn’t need any technical expertise. I’ve mentioned some issue that one may face here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BjWQZLsAbjF/?taken-by=ashfaque_1
Again I cannot everyone to make their own enough!
Thank you for the links, Ashfaque. I think some readers will find them very useful!
Malik Al Taif sounds incredible, despite the fact that rose is not at the top of my list either, but the caramel benzoin is calling my name (as long as it’s not too sweet)! I have to give it a try. I love the new design as well, and it’s a smart move to offer 30 ml bottles. As for civet-pooped coffee beans….I’ll never look at a Payday candy bar the same way again. Your shorter reviews are just as compelling as your longer ones, and just as enjoyable.
You must give the Malik a try, Ed!! And I doubt you’d think the caramel was too sweet.
As for the Payday candy bars, haha, you’re so right about the identical visuals. (Blech.) Thanks to you, I’ll never look at one the same way either. Just as well we’re not Trick-or-Treating kids any longer because I remember getting most of my Payday candy that way. lol
Foremost,well wishes go first to the Hairy Teutonic Overload.
Secondly, excellent article Kafkaesque and always thank you.
Myself , I am going with Strifeknots bundle package deal instead of the
LuckyScent’s way. It is is a great way in discovering Russian Adam’s work,
but I enjoy Areej Le Dore perfumes enough to warrant the 4x5ml for $172.50.
I already ordered a 5 ml of Malik Al Taif separately , plus I will be making a bottle purchases of it.
Why, this most likely will be my only chance to appreciate The Royal Taif Rose.
I also know I most likely will be getting a bottle of Baikal Gris .
Why ? They do a really great job with sandalwood. I love sandalwood.
KOH I NOOR sounds incredible too. Mushroom, whites , and spicy sandalwood/
Heck, I love smoke a lot too.
best wishes always,
Here’s strifeknots Areej Le Dore 4th bundle package deal link if anyone’s interested.
again, thank you .
Eddie, thanks so much for the Strifeknot link and pricing information. I’m positive it will be a huge boon to several readers. BTW, how did that concert of your go? I didn’t have the time to respond when you initially wrote, but I thought of you that weekend and I hope you had a blast.
Ah… the new Arrej releases! Wonderful to get a sense of their olfactory details from your always-personal yet specific reviews. Your efforts to educate and inform your readers and the integrity with which you do so are only surpassed, however, by the dedication and devotion to your canine companion. Caring for a invalided loved one is truly an exhausting labor of love no matter the species. Best wishes for a speedy recovery and quality sleep for you both, our supportive and understanding thoughts are with you and His Highness.
Jody, my dear, I can only send you a big, huge hug for your constant sweetness, kindness, and generous, affectionate support. You’re such a darling.
I’ve had two surprises reading the reviews. One for Malik Al Taif because you like it so much despite it being an oud/rose/saffron and second for Oud Luwak that is so smoky.
I must admit that they sound lovely from you’ve wrote about them.
I always love reading your reviews. And the sweet HG is very blessed to have you!
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Regarding the smokiness of the Luwak, I have an oil by Feel Oud called ‘Si Lani’ which is way too smokey, I can tolerate smoke to some degree but this just flat-out ruins the scent. I can only imagine how the spray smells! Shame.
From the catalogue, I have Russian Oud, I’d like Siberian Musk but I’m in a transition period of only wearing ouds and attars, it’s close to 3 months since I’ve worn any spray at all. Thankfully I can get all these complexities and nuances from ouds and attars nowadays.
Welcome to the blog, Mr. Sproat. Was “Si Lani” one of the ones which used the same oud smoke infusion technique? Russian Adam told me that he’d used it before for one (or more?) of his Feel Oud oud oils, but never mentioned any specific names. If Si Lani did incorporate the same smoke infusion, then we definitely encountered the same thing. When Adam told me that he had wanted to make it even stronger (!), I actually started laughing. But, again, I’m very sensitive to smoke and wood smoke notes, and most people aren’t. Still, very interesting about the Si Lani. Thank you for sharing.
Is Oud Luwak detailed review coming soon? You bought me with those ‘dark smokey oud & coffee’ lines. I haven’t sampled Russian oud and Oud Picante and it’s shame cause Rania’s Ambre Loup is one of my favourite fragrances. And you made some excellent references with Areej ouds.
Great article as always. Best regards from Montenegro!
I’m sorry, there will be no Oud Luwak review for the reasons explained in the post.
Sorry to hear that. But I understand.. skin chemistry sucks sometimes..