Oud is an extremely popular fragrance in the Middle East, but in recent years, it has increased in popularity worldwide. Famous for its musky and intense aroma, oud has been used for centuries, yet there are still many people who have never heard of it, and who have no idea what makes it so valuable. So, let’s take a closer look at oud’s origins and how it has been used for generations to make amazing oud perfumes.

Oud’s Origins

Oud originates from Asia and India in particular. Since as long ago as the 3rd century AD, it has been used as an ingredient in scents. Over the centuries, it began to be exported by traders who brought it to Japan, China, and to the Islamic world where it became prized as both a personal perfume and oil. It soon became a key element of Middle East culture along with agarwood, its source.

The high quality of its fragrance has rapidly become a sign of high status. However, since demand has continued to grow, prices have also increased significantly as oud in its natural form has become harder to obtain. For that reason, alternatives have been introduced to recreate this scent and allow its unique aroma to become available to everyone.

A Distinctive Aroma

The key reason for oud’s popularity is its unique aroma. While it can vary depending on its age and precise origin, it is highly pungent with an animal-like, musky quality. Although this strong scent isn’t to everybody’s taste, it is certainly instantly recognizable and draws attention.

For anyone who finds oud on its own to be far too intense, it’s possible to cut the scent by combining it with other staple perfumes using fragrance layering. Although connoisseurs of this fragrance find this combination of aromas an affront, it nevertheless gives more people an accessible entry point to this scent as it is less costly and easier to use.

Why Is Oud So Valuable?

A single pound of oud now sells for sums as high as £4,000. The reason for this high cost is down to the way in which agarwood is harvested. It comes Agar trees which have been infected by Phialophora Parasitica, a type of mould, and which have responded by creating a resin that is dark and fragrant to trap the parasite inside. When the resin hardens, oud is created, and it can be harvested.

This process is extremely specific since it relies on many factors. Firstly, Agar trees will grow only in certain areas of the globe. Secondly, the tree must be infected by the particular type of mould and only around 2% of Agar trees produce it. Thirdly, the longer the tree sustains the process, the more sought after the oud is, since it becomes more fragrant and complex with age. That means that the process also takes a long time to come to fruition.

As oud is very rare and also valuable, it is at risk from poachers. For this reason, measures are now being taken to protect and preserve Agar tree forests from over harvesting. This, in turn, leads to oud becoming even more difficult to obtain. Nevertheless, for those who can afford it, oud is a wonderfully unique and fragrant scent that results in delightfully complex aromas.