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Article: Behind the notes: understanding oud


Behind the notes: understanding oud


It’s only fitting that the scent of oud is a complex one – it carries millennia of history and culture in its wake. In the Middle East, where its wood chips and fragrance oils have been used for centuries, it’s known as the Wood of the Gods. In Japan, it’s become embedded into ritual as an integral part of Kōdō, the Japanese fragrance ceremony.

Also known as agarwood, oud is produced as a defence mechanism by the aquilaria tree, an evergreen that’s native to the tropical rainforests of southeast Asia. Any time the aquilaria is damaged by a strike of lightning or an infestation of insects, the resinous agarwood pours from its wound, solidifying into a strong and durable heartwood and protecting the tree itself. This natural cycle of attack and repair can go on for decades, each time giving rise to a new crop of agarwood.

With each passing year, the scent of an aquilaria tree’s agarwood becomes richer, more pungent – and more highly prized. 

Oud’s magical qualities

As with any natural scent, oud has a multifaceted fragrance, by turns sweet and woody, musty and nutty. But above all it has a noble presence that’s befitting of the role it plays in many centuries-old scent rituals. 

In Japan, traditional samurai would burn agarwood incense to purify their minds and bodies before each battle. It’s believed to eliminate impurities and sharpen the senses. While it has an enlivening effect on the mind, it’s also calming.

This chameleonic quality makes oud suitable for day or night and all year round, inviting you to create your own fragrance ritual.

Our oud essential oil

Oud has become increasingly prized globally, to the extent that kilo for kilo, it’s now more costly than gold. Sadly, this has given rise to agarwood poaching and other unscrupulous harvesting practices that have led to the aquilaria tree becoming dangerously close to extinction in the wild.

For this reason, we use only oud essential oil that’s sustainably harvested from plantation aquilaria. This not only helps protect this precious natural resource, it also ensures that the farmers and other workers at each step of our supply chain are fairly compensated by our suppliers.

Discover the Arabian Oud scent family

Arabian Oud Essenza for the Sphera Diffuser 

Arabian Oud Perfume Oil

Arabian Oud Scented Candle

Arabian Oud Eau de Parfum




Written by Michelle Bateman