Aquilaria Blossom is a collaboration between two of the top masters of oud fragrances and oud distillation, Russian Adam of Areej Le Doré (“ALD”) and Taha Syed of Agar Aura. It is a much lighter, more resinous, less oud-y, more amber-scentric fragrance (on my skin) than many of the things that I’ve tried from either brilliant auteur. That makes it a more approachable, easy-to-wear, and versatile scent in many ways, even if it comes across as more simplistic, linear, and less operatic in character on an olfactory level. I enjoyed it, particularly during its cozy, snuggalicious drydown phase.
Aquilaria Blossom is a limited-edition pure parfum or extrait that was released on May 28th, 2022. The name basically means “Oud Blossom.” (Aquilaria is the Latin name for the genus of agarwood or oud.)
While oud trees do have actual blossoms, their aroma is reportedly very weak, so the goal here was to imagine and create the ideal fictional scent of what oud-infused flowers would smell like.
OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION, NOTES & PERFUMERS’ DISCUSSION ON YOUTUBE:
The fragrance’s official description, note list, and other relevant information is as follows:
bitter mandarin leaves, Japanese yuzu, bergamot, orange and white ambergris
neroli, magnolia, tonka, touch of various ouds, frankincense, Mexican cedar, patchouli, Malaysian propolis
co-tincture of myrrh, vanilla, saffron and castoreum
Modern, resinous, fresh, floral and delicious oud fragrance crafted by two of the most known oud distillers of recent times.
Try to imagine the most precious of all trees – aquilaria (agarwood) trees – having huge and fragrant blossoms. We composed this perfume to smell exactly how we envisioned those imaginary aromatic flowers in a full bloom.
Far projecting top notes are surprisingly modern and juicy screaming bittersweet citruses supported by the depth and wild nature of different ouds.
Heart notes display one of the most exciting floral accords composed by sweet magnolia and bitter neroli singing in a complete harmony creating the scent of true olfactory bliss that well represents the scent of imaginary Aquilaria Blossom. Prickly pepper frosts the edges of the delicate petals, and sparkly frankincense adds a resinous facet to the citrusy florality.
The base of truly exceptional co-tincture of Yemen myrrh, Indonesian vanilla, Iranian saffron and Russian castoreum creating a perfect seal for this multilayered composition.
Myrrh and propolis adds the sticky resinous character that lasts for hours. Castoreum and saffron create luxurious, oriental, soft leather accord sweetened by the dark mouthwatering vanilla beans.
Aquilaria Blossom is our dream come true, the perfume that smells like a real Oud Blossom.
If you want to learn more about the collaboration of Russian Adam and Taha Syed, their thoughts on oud oils vs chips vs sprayable parfum, their discussion on different types or varietals of oud, and what they sought to do here with Aquilaria Blossom, you can turn to a YouTube video that they made. Details regarding the new release apparently start at the 21:47-minute mark. To be honest, I’ve only watched a few minutes of it thus far, primarily because I didn’t want anything to influence my thoughts during my testing phase and also because things are very chaotic here at the moment and my time is not my own. However, I definitely plan to watch it later for the initial broad discussion of oud by two masters; it can only be instructive and illuminating on the subject.
SILLAGE & LONGEVITY:
I usually try to apply a standard, set amount of fragrance in all my tests that is roughly equal to 2 sprays from a bottle, but the nozzle of the atomizer sample that I was sent was wonky in its spray. Either it didn’t really squirt out the juice or else things sorta went everywhere, including in the air, rather than on the usual, roughly 3-inch long patch of skin on my forearm that is how I test. In short, I tried to get the tentative squirts to amount to roughly 2 normal bottle sprays, but who knows? It might have been closer to 3.
With that amount, Aquilaria Blossom had initially moderate sillage and excellent longevity. The opening sillage was about 7-8 inches in trail, creating a small bubble that felt voluminously weightless in body, though strong in aroma up close. At the start of the 4th hour, the sillage was about 3-4 inches. There was no bubble or trail around me. At the end of the 8th hour or just over 7.75 hours in, Aquilaria Blossom became a skin scent, though it wasn’t difficult to detect if I put my nose on my arm. That changed around the 11.75-hour mark, requiring more effort. I thought the fragrance was going to die around the 14th hour but it coated the skin tenaciously in patches until the 18th hour in total.
Given the ambered, resinous, and dark base materials, I suspect that Aquilaria Blossom would have bigger sillage and even more longevity is you applies several sprays all over.
PRICE, SIZE, SHIPPING, & AVAILABILITY:
Aquilaria Blossom was released Saturday, May 28th in two sizes: a 30 ml parfum bottle that costs $250 and a 10 ml parfum bottle that costs $90. The latter is currently on hold due to an excess of orders.
At the time of this review, Aquilaria Blossom is only available from Areej le Doré, not any of its retailers. Both perfumers wanted to give their regular customers a chance to buy the fragrance before sending whatever may be left to wholesalers. Given the the army of admirers that they both have, I think it’s unlikely that there will be any bottles left for stores like Luckyscent, but that’s just my personal guess.
Since you have to order from Areej Le Doré at the present time, you may want to know the shipping prices and times:
US: $15 (UPS)
UK: $15 (local post)
Europe: $20-23 (DHL/local post)
India: $25 (local post)
South East Asia**: $30 (DHL)
Canada: $35 (FedEx)
Rest of world: $45 (DHL/FedEx)
**except Thailand & Indonesia
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ALL IN ALL:
I think there are two ways of interpreting Aquilaria Blossom, and I also think that the lens through which you interpret it will depend significantly on your personal tastes regarding this category of fragrance and these particular notes.
The first interpretation is a blasé one that may be impacted by how much you love Russian Adam’s more typical styles or aesthetics as discussed in detail up above. Fans of those types of perfumery may conclude that Aquilaria Blossom is not groundbreaking, edgy, revolutionary, or operatic in character. And, to be quite honest, they’d be right.
They may prefer the smolder of things like War & Peace or the addictive, quasi-gourmand, infinitely layered Russian Oud (which I hear will soon have a successor version, by the way). Or perhaps they want an oud-driven scent that just happens to have the fictional portrayal of oud blossoms as a more major part rather than the fresher, comparatively milder and fresher, cleaner, resinous, shimmering ambergris goldenness here.
Perhaps they may also dismiss it as overly simplistic due to having a few central accord strands or they will find it lacking in complexity. Again, they would have a point, because it really isn’t a radiatingly prismatic scent on my skin as compared to prior fragrances by both of these auteurs. Few people have the time to pay close attention and sniff their arm frequently to detect shifts in nuances that slowly, only hours later, result in a new micro-stage. As a result, I suspect that some people will find Aquilaria Blossom to be a somewhat simplistic, overly linear composition that is, ultimately, at its heart, merely another spicy, smoky, woody amber which simply happens to have a juicy, astringent, bright and fresh citric juiciness, greenness, and freshly fragrant, non-indolic flowers for a few hours at the start.
There is, however, a second, completely different, way of interpreting Aquilaria Blossom, even when we take or accept some of the potential criticisms up above. First, Aquilaria Blossom is specifically intended to be an atypical, lighter, fresh, and PLAYFUL take on an imaginary situation, so it could be viewed as perfumers taking risks, growing, not stuck in a rut or churning out the same old aesthetic. By the same token: Do you really want Russian Adam to copy himself and do the same thing over and over again? Ditto for Taha Syed?
Second, as I have said repeatedly over the years, there is absolutely nothing wrong with simplicity or streamlined, linear minimalism in a scent so long as you love the notes in question and so long as the price is commensurate to the bouquet and its ingredients. Here, Aquilaria Blossom is comprised of lovely, predominantly natural, high-end raw materials that have been blended into a smooth, harmonious, layered but, yes, linear whole. How you feel about that is up to your personal tastes. But simplicity or linearity is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself.
Which brings me directly to my next and third point: There is a time and a place for everything – *including* simple “cozy comfort scents.” And their time may be now more than ever before. Sometimes you don’t want the “Ride of the Valkyries” operatic, black-tie, opulent intensity — and I say that as someone for whom divaesque creations like Ottoman Empire (I) or “Ride of the Valkyrie” scents like Bogue’s original MAAI are my absolute catnip!
But I rarely want to wear them after a really long, brutal week when I’m just curling up on a sofa with an oversized German Shepherd teenager and a glass of wine. We all have the need sometimes for the fragrance equivalent of “Netflix and Chill.” In fact, I’d argue that one needs easy comfort and slightly more casual versatility more than even these days as a counterbalance to the endlessly dreadful, grim, stressful news or to today’s down-scaled, work-from-home life.
You might be wondering where I fall between the two camps outlined above? Well, I’ll be blunt: I liked Aquilaria Blossom, particularly in its drydown phase, but I wasn’t wow’d and it wasn’t love at first sniff, even though the composition has a number of notes that I love and even though I would absolutely wear the scent for myself on occasion. But I don’t love it enough to buy it, and my eyes did not roll out of my head with orgasmic joy like several Areej fragrances have done to me in the past.
Purely subjective, individual reasons lie behind all of that. My personal fragrance style tends towards the Valkyries, the operatic extravaganzas, and the intensely old, hefty vintage oriental masterpieces of yore – preferably when they’re at least 65+ years old. Even my “cozy comfort” alternatives tend towards something more striking, rich, and nose-grabbing during its cozy oriental embrace. I guess they all have a certain indescribable je ne said quoi spark to it.
I didn’t feel that with Aquilaria Blossom, even in the end during its cashmere caramel embrace, because it was too ordinary and commonly average on my skin. Plus, I had just tested a much more appealing incense, sweet myrrh, floral, spiced vanillic, amber oriental just a few days before.
So Oud Blossom? It’s really nice to wear, I like it, it’s enjoyable, and I would wear it if a bottle fell on my head, but I’m not going to scale Mount Kilimanjaro to obtain a bottle.
Lest you think the streamlined simplicity or lack of bombastic boldness are the issue, let me point you to my highly positive review for ALD’s Chinese Oud which also had a weightlessness, non-blocky character, an easy-to-wear approachability, linearity, and situation versatility, like this one.
The reason why that one blew me away and this one didn’t comes down to, ultimately, I think, the very specific type of agarwood varietal(s) used. I’ve concluded that rare, wild Chinese Hainan oud is perhaps the single most mind-blowing type that I’ve ever tried and no matter HOW it’s treated or presented in a composition, it shines with memorable impact and inundates you with a va-va-voom olfactory complexity. The ones here, comparatively speaking… eh. Eh and Meh, actually.
But, to be perfectly fair, the reason why the ouds here may be so… bland and demure goes right back to the explicit goal or mission for the fragrance: Aquilaria Blossom’s recreated, imagined, build-from-the-ground-up floralcy. So, I’m guessing the perfumers felt they had to use “a touch of ” relatively fresher, milder, softer, more refined oud distillations in order not to detract from the magnolia and neroli.
I don’t know how see-sawing between the competing floral and woody factors was intended but, all I can say is that, on my skin: 1) the floralcy was a tertiary note when the fragrance was taken from start to finish; and 2) the ouds lacked, as noted up above, any “Wham, Bam, Thank you Ma’am” pizzazz on my skin.
So the TL/DR gist is: Aquilaria Blossom is a high-quality and a thoroughly enjoyable fragrance with a truly delicious, delectable, sniffalicious drydown that hits the perfect sweet spot for people (including me) who want refined, approachable, easy to wear, cozy-comfort oriental amber woody compositions with a slew of other benefits. BUT… the charm of Aquilaria Blossom lies in familiar comfort than magic or oud boldness. Your personal aesthetic style and note tastes will ultimately determine how you feel about the creation.
I will add one last thing, though: these times are absolute [expletive deleted] right now and we all could do with as much mental escape, comfort (olfactory or otherwise), stress release, and/or self-care as we can manage. Aquilaria Blossom hits that sweet spot.
Sometimes, simple but uncomplicated is what is needed, including in scent. The operatic Valkyries that have been my decades-long catnip and personal style… they’re a bit much – too much -when you’ve collapsed on your sofa after a long day with just incessantly awful news from around the world and when you just want the olfactory equivalent of sweet, spicy, golden, plush, woody ambered hug.
If that’s you right now, Aquilaria Blossom might be that cozy, comforting hug you’re looking for.
Disclosure: My 2 ml sample was provided courtesy of Russian Adam. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews and my opinions are my own.