Honeyed leather, spices and patchouli, dusted with cocoa, then infused with dark woods, tobacco, and a touch of smoke on a resinous amber base flecked by vanilla. That is one side to Nasomatto‘s Duro. The other might be the aroma-chemical bomb that is woven through every fiber of this perfume. Duro is one of those scents where I really wish I couldn’t detect a drop of aromachemicals a mile away, because I think I might like it otherwise. Unfortunately, Duro has such an enormous quantity of occasionally sharp, abrasive synthetics that it would probably drown a hound dog. And I’m not the only one who struggled with this issue.
Duro is an extrait de parfum created by the Dutch niche house, Nasomatto, a brand which is best known for their cult masculine favorite, Black Afgano. It’s not easy to find details on Duro, when it was launched, or what precisely is in it. On its website, the company provides no notes, and simply says that Duro is intended to “enhance all the manifestations of male power.” I find that to be an asinine, obnoxious, and immature comment on a variety of levels. Plus, someone better not tell the legion of women who wear patchouli or spiced wood fragrances that they are somehow swinging a male organ, because that is the olfactory essence of Duro and that is also one of the implications of the company’s chest-thumping statement.
Since there are no official notes for Duro, most sites simply list “leather, woods and spice,” as Luckyscent does. However, First in Fragrance always seems to have a company’s press release copy for a fragrance, and it provides the following description and olfactory notes for Duro:
Duro – The essence of male attraction
This composition concentrates the erotic essence of mythical masculinity and sexual attraction in itself.
Duro – A fragrance that directly and unequivocally shows the way with its overwhelming fragrance of sensuality.
Top Note: Agarwood (Oud)
Heart Note: Woods, Spices
Base Note: Leather, Resins
Duro opens on my skin with a blast of animalic, slightly urinous leather slathered in honey. It is followed by spices and several, different, sharp aromachemicals. There is a chemical oud that smells a touch antiseptic, then something vaguely ambered (Ambermax? Ambroxan?) which has a rubbing alcohol twang. Putting aside the large quantities of those two extremely sharp notes, the rest of Duro’s opening bouquet is lovely. The animalic note isn’t fecal nor reminiscent of a barnyard. It’s musky and a wee bit urinous, though in an extremely subtle way. As a whole, the honeyed leather feels a little raw, uncured, and butch, but in the pretty way of LM Parfums‘ Hard Leather.
The spices are interesting. I tested Duro twice and, the second time, there was merely a generalized “spice” accord. However, during my first test, the bouquet felt quite multi-faceted, even if the spices were so fused together that they weren’t always easy to pull apart. As best as I could tell, there seemed to be the lightest touch of saffron, cloves, and black pepper, followed by a much more significant tonality of red chili pepper. The latter felt like another aromachemical in the sharpness of its fiery bite, but it was an nice counterbalance to the honeyed leather. I think I detected ginger as well — candied, dusty, and freshly pungent — but it was very muted.
During that first test, Duro began manifesting a dusty sweetness and an increasing touch of creamy woods less than 15 minutes into the perfume’s development. The woods felt almost as if some Mysore substitute had been used, supplemented by the spices. The note had a distinct gingerbread undertone that some sandalwood fragrances can have, even through artificial means. One example would be Chanel‘s Bois des Iles which is Chanel’s successful homage to Mysore, despite never actually containing any of the rare wood. Here, Duro briefly reflected the same sweet, spicy, gingerbread characteristics, but it was very short-lived and generally overpowered by that very synthetic oud aromachemical.
The second time I tested Duro, I didn’t experience either the wide range of individual, clearly distinct spices nor the quasi-sandalwood impression. Instead, the main note apart from the honeyed leather and the fake oud was patchouli. Lovely, true, original patchouli with all its spicy, red-gold-brown, slightly smoky, sweet facets. It was a touch earthy, but never dusty. It also occasionally showed a glimmer of the note’s green, camphorous side, though that sharpness may again have been the various aromachemicals wafting all around.
I’ll be honest, at times, it was extremely hard for me to detect the subtle nuances of Duro because they felt hidden behind an advancing phalanx of aromachemicals that acted as a wall or barricade at the very top of Duro’s pyramids. The first time was really difficult indeed, and I almost scrubbed Duro, especially as it gave me a profound headache whenever I smelled the perfume up close. I was relieved that Duro was better the second time around when worn on a different arm, but it’s only a question of degree. That said, I fully concede that my nose is much more sensitive to aromachemicals than the average person, and some of you may have no problems at all. (Then again, judging by the comments on Fragrantica, perhaps you might….)
Duro continues to shift as time passes. First, there is the arrival of a tobacco note. It’s dry, sweet, a little bit smoky, and, once in a while, has a tinge of an ashtray-like note on my skin. After 20 minutes, there is also the first whiff of labdanum. It feels a little synthetic and reminds me of the note in Black Afgano because it has the same cherry cola or root beer nuance. It is accompanied by a slightly plummy undertone as well, almost as if the patchouli were manifesting its purple, jammy, dark molasses facet.
The more significant change always occurs about 40 minutes into Duro’s development, when the leather loses its honeyed touch and sinks fully into the base. There, it remains as a constant undercurrent to the scent, waxing and waning in terms of its prominence. In one of my tests, Duro at this stage had shifted to a very oud-y, aromachemical woody fragrance with dark, fruited patchouli, a touch of chili pepper pimento, hints of gingerbread spices, and a rootbeer-like sweetness over a thin leather base. In the other, Duro was a brown (not fruited) patchouli scent with earthiness, sweetened tobacco, spices, abstract woodiness, aromachemical oud, amber, and spices on a leathered foundation.
Duro is a very concentrated fragrance in its overall bouquet, much as you’d expect from a pure parfum extrait. It is, however, much airier and softer than the notes would have you realise. There is a lightness to the scent, and the sillage is only moderate at first, before dropping to hover just an inch, at best, above my skin at the end of the 1st hour. It remains there for another hour, before turning into a skin scent. Yet, Duro’s overall bouquet remains largely unchanged as a whole.
In fact, Duro is an extremely linear scent, though I always say that there is nothing wrong with linearity if you love the notes in question. The individual elements fluctuate in terms of their prominence or order, but Duro itself doesn’t change for a few hours. For the most part, it merely turns more resinous, ambered, and golden in feel.
The biggest change occurs at the start of the 4th hour when new notes arrive on scene. There is, without any doubt in my mind, vetiver in Duro and I noticed it on both occasions when I wore the scent. There is also cedar. None of this is particularly surprising, as both elements are common companions to patchouli in European fragrances. Here, the vetiver is somewhat smoky and dark. In one test, Duro turned primarily into a vetiver-patchouli fragrance at the start of the 6th hour, lying atop a very arid aromachemical, ambered base that was resinous and a little plummy. The perfume felt simultaneously woody, sharp, smoky, and slightly leathered.
It was a very different story the second time around when I tried Duro on my other arm. In that case, the patchouli remained as the dominant note from the end of the 2nd hour onwards, not the smoky vetiver. Duro was a blend of earthy patchouli with abstract spices and a hint of tobacco, lightly flecked by vetiver and cedar atop a warmly resinous amber base with a leather undercurrent. The scent was sweet, spicy, warm, a touch smoky, and very golden in feel. It became even better around the middle of the 3rd hour when the patchouli started wafting a cocoa powder heart. Vanilla started to stir in the base, adding to the prettiness. By the start of the 5th hour, Duro was patchouli, cocoa, amber, vanilla and aromachemicals, lightly flecked by vetiver and with a hint of cedar, atop a resinous, slightly leathered base.
In both versions, the long, final drydown phase of Duro was largely the same: woody sweetness dominated by patchouli and abstract ambered warmth. There were differences in terms of how distinct or clear the individual notes might be, but as a whole Duro simply turned into some variation of a patchouli woody scent with different forms of sweetness (amber resins, vanilla, or both). The woods became increasingly amorphous, the leather largely faded away on my skin, and the spices melted into the patchouli which, in turn, became more fuzzy, warm, sweet, and vanillic. It was pretty, and lasted for ages. As a whole, Duro lasted just short of 8.75 hours in one test, and just over 9.75 in the other. The sillage was always soft after 90 minutes, and it generally turned into a skin scent after about 2.5 hours with 3 very large smears (or the equivalent of 2 small sprays from a bottle).
On Fragrantica, reviews for Duro are mixed, with some people calling it a woody, resinous “masterpiece,” while others find it nice but far from unique, and a handful note Duro’s very chemical nature. A good number of people seem to have encountered the same sillage and softness issues that I did, as they had difficulty detecting Duro after a few hours. Here are a selection of the negative or conflicted reviews for the scent, many of which echo a common theme:
- megachemical blast of wood…lasts nothing… the hole in your wallet will last longer!
- Very synthetic smell. Didn’t project at all. Longevity was maybe 6 hours. I really can’t stand that sharp, medicinal, chemical oud scent you get from fake agarwood. I wore it a few times but it was no better than Montale [….]
- Smells like vix rub … woody musky like a incense burning on wood in a hindu temple not something i would wear … drydown is a little better but all i can smell is that wood note
- Duro, like the name suggests, is extremely hard on the nose. At least for the first hour or two it smells like a medicinal syrup with heavy woods. However, the dry down is fairly pleasant.
- Oo no, I really don’t like this one, very strong and heavy woods of the bitter type. Also detect strange medicinal notes [….] Definitely prefer B Afgano.
- I bought this bottle Dec 2012, at first i felt it was too medicinal, the oud and spice really strong, almost felt like i was in the operating room, but after several months i began to love the scent,,you have to get used to it, its a strong masculine spicey, leathery, oudy bomb!!
- This is unique, bold, very strong, but sadly utterly unenjoyable to my nose. I smell some of the same dark (opaque!) resin notes in Duro as I do in Slumberhouse’s Norne… But with an additional cherry cough syrup accord layered on top.
- A solid woody spicy and completely masculine fragrance which is very simple but well-made at the same time. [¶] The opening is a heavy and dark combination of smoky woods, some spices and a little bit of sweetness completely in the background. [¶] The smoky woody/leathery smell remind me of the smell of oud and there are noticeable amount of spices and some sweetness beside it. [¶] In the mid you have exactly the same smell which only gets smokier and woodier. [¶] Smell very masculine and bitter smoky woody, but smell very familiar too! nothing new or unique about it.
Others, however, adore what they think is the super-sized masculinity and testosterone of the scent:
- A fantastic masculine perfume. Women scare of it I think! […][¶] Shortly a perfume not for human maybe, gorillas deserve it. You either hate it or love it and there’s nothing in between. This is one of the manliest fragrances I’ve ever smelt. Seems is made out of pure testosterone. [¶] For men who drink beer at morning and work with axe.
- This is the most explosively masculine perfume I’ve ever smelled!! You couldn’t stop this from projecting if you held it at gunpoint and threatened it’s bottle. [¶][…] This perfume says: “WOOD, SPICE, LEATHER…B@TCH!!!! I’M A MAN!!!”
- DURO!!!! [¶] The HARD ON of male perfumery! […][¶] If you like wood up the wazzoo this is the fragrance for you! [¶] Loud woodiness of dank strong Oud and a harder denser wood combined with it. [¶] Then there’s the spice it’s hard but not in a cooking spice type of way or even a hot chili kind of way, it’s dry woody spice…almost like the natural spicey scent that would come from a piece of exotic wood. [¶] This fragrance for me is absolutely everything I look for in a masculine powerhouse. The spice perfectly tones down the unpleasant quality oud can have. You know? that bit when it takes a nosedive after the initial almost sweet strange amber quality. [¶] Anyway…the price of this juice is high, extortionately high some might say but I still felt Duro was a worthy purchase because of how bold and strong this juice is. [¶] Longevity and projection are massive as you’d expect from extrait de parfum. [¶] It’s not especially unique smelling this one but what can I say? It has a certain appeal & I was charmed by it.
As you can tell from that last comment, Nasomatto fan boys love the brand’s macho reputation, though even they have to admit that Duro is not particularly unique.
What is more interesting to me is the fact that a lot of commentators find Duro to be comparable to Montale‘s Aoud Musk. Nay, actually “identical to” the latter, in several people’s opinions. I haven’t tried Montale’s Aoud Musk, but if it’s true, then that would certainly be a much cheaper purchase. Duro costs $185 for a mere 30 ml, while Luckyscent sells Montale’s Aoud Musk for $120 for a 50 ml bottle and for $170 in the 100 ml size. In addition, you can find Aoud Musk on numerous discount retailers for much less, making the price differential all the greater.
The other thing that I found noteworthy is a comment about Nasomatto’s dilution of its scents. I’m pretty sure the version of Black Afgano that I tried was altered to be much sweeter and less smokier than the fragrance of legend, but it seems that it isn’t the only one in the line to be so changed. A Fragrantica commentator called “Aphexacid” wrote in August 2013:
First, let me say that the rumor of Nasomatto watering down their perfumes is unfortunately TRUE. [¶] I purchased Duro and Pardon together, and they were both completely a shadow of their former selves. [¶] I got maybe 1 hour of moderate projection out of each, then it became skin scents. 6-8 hours later, gone.
What does Duro smell like? Its basically a weaker, less interesting version of Montales EPIC masterpiece “AOUD MUSK”.
Duro is lacking backbone.
If Duro has been diluted, that may explain why the scent I tested did not seem wildly masculine but, rather, felt like something that women could appreciate as well, if they had a taste for resinous, woody, patchouli, oud fragrances. I truly don’t think Duro is that much of a chest-thumping fragrance, though a number of men on Fragrantica would clearly disagree.
What a number of people would not disagree with is my view that Duro is as aromachemical as hell. Judging by all those references to synthetic, medicinal, antiseptic, “vix,” cough syrup, or “operating room” aromas, quite a few people picked up on it. In short, it’s not merely a question of me being abnormally sensitive. There’s nothing wrong with the judicious, light use of aromachemicals in a fragrance, but to have such a vast quantity in a tiny bottle that costs $185 when the fragrance supposedly is “identical to” a Montale? That’s a problem.
I really wanted to like Duro, especially as its notes should be right up my “patch head” alley, but it’s a complete pass for me. However, if you enjoy very resinous, woody fragrances centered on oud, patchouli, spices and amber, with a light streak of leather, then you may want to give Duro a sniff for yourself.