Montale Black Aoud ~ fragrance review

Montale Black Aoud perfume

I love deep wood fragrances, the deeper the better. I'm trying to think of a fragrance with too much wood for my taste, and probably one exists but offhand I can't think of what it would be. You can pile on the cedar or the redwoods or the sandalwood: bring it on, I'm happy. Few woods are deeper and richer than agarwood (aka aloeswood, and sometimes called oudh). Agarwood is now threatened in the wild due to overharvesting, and scarcity and high prices mean that much of the "oudh" used in incense and perfumery today is synthetic or adulterated to one degree or another.

The French niche line Montale specializes in oudh perfumes, and their Aoud Roses Petals is a favorite of mine. Aoud Roses Petals is a study in contrasts — a light, dewy rose brightens deeper wood notes of agarwood, teak and cedar. It is rich and spicy but not at all overwhelming, and the later dry down is beautifully soft and enveloping.

Black Aoud also features rose and oudh, but the notes are handled quite differently here. As with many agarwood perfumes, a bitter medicinal haze (rather like medicated bandages) seems to float over the top notes; here, the medicinal notes are joined by heavy leather. Unless you adore leather, and the more of it the better, you may find that the first 10 minutes are rather hard to take. The blend softens considerably as the opening notes dissipate and are joined by sandalwood and rose. In keeping with the general noir atmosphere, the rose here is a dark, murky rose, nothing at all like the fresh, rosewater-ish rose of Aoud Roses Petals.

Black Aoud is dark, earthy and dry, with light but dusty spice notes. It has a rawness about it — even late into the dry down it remains essentially undomesticated, and Aoud Roses Petals, while not exactly something you'd wear to tea, smells comparatively tame and well-mannered. I find anything with oudh sexy, but Black Aoud, with its animalic notes, is more overtly so than some of the others in the Montale line. I should add that my husband would most strenously disagree with "sexy": he finds anything with appreciable amounts of oudh intolerable. You can imagine his dismay as I walked around the house last night with Black Aoud and White Aoud on one arm, Aoud Roses Petals and Aoud Lime on the other. He swore he could smell me from anywhere in the house, and perhaps it was so.

Black Aoud in particular doesn't feel heavy, but it is potent stuff, and perhaps not for the faint-hearted. I still like Aoud Roses Petals better but it would be nice to have both, although for my husband's sake, perhaps it would be best to wear only one at a time.

Montale Black Aoud is approximately $150 for 50 ml, $210 for 100 ml of Eau de Parfum. The lasting power is excellent. For buying information, see the listing for Montale under Perfume Houses.

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36 Comments

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  1. Anonymous says:

    A wonderful review! Just wondering how it compares with Amaze — also rosy and medicinal to my nose (and I like it very much, although not convinced to splurge on a full bottle).

  2. Anonymous says:

    The proportions of rose to oudh are just about reversed: Amaze is a a rose scent with some oudh adding depth in the base; Black Aoud is all about oudh & leather, with a bit of rose decorating the heavier notes. You wouldn't even need to like rose, I don't think, to like Black Aoud.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It's actually the first ten minutes I love the most. I could use even more leather, but it's still heavenly. Have been living on a decant for a few centuries now, but am thinking I need a full bottle. At Perfume Shoppe it's actually only about $126 (shipping included) to the East coast for the 50 ml bottle. Woke up this morning thinking about purchasing it and your review seems like just the omen I needed to push me over the edge.

  4. Anonymous says:

    R: Black Aoud and Blue Amber are the only Montale scents I own in full bottles…sometimes I feel if you own one Montale scent from each line (perfumes/aouds) you own them all (I know that's an oversimplificaiton!) How did you find White Aoud? On me it's VERY similar to Black Aoud, but a bit lighter. I can't imagine someone needing both of them. K

  5. Anonymous says:

    It's one of my favorites from the line. Your poor husband :-) I have no doubt that he really could smell you from anywhere in the house, they strength and lasting power of these scent is astounding.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I have a strange relationship with both Aoud Roses Petals and Black Aoud. Once I start wearing them, I am deeply in love and can't seem to stop. I even love the medicinal haze–it feels like a tonic to me. But having been away from them for some weeks I can't bear to think of putting them back on — yet I know it will all begin again when the odd day comes (and I know it will) when craving overcomes reluctance. Aoud started out (in history) as a sacred scent to aid contemplation and prayer and is even believed by some to induce visions/hallucinations in large doses. Sometimes I wonder if I'm getting the faint ghost of this history…
    Part of the cycle, however, has to do simply with the lasting power of Black Aoud — I dare you to try getting it out of a wool sweater, even one that hasn't been sprayed directly, before the perfume damn well decides it is done and leaves on its own!

  7. Anonymous says:

    How funny that we both did Montale on the same day..
    Black Aoud sounds right up my alley- I may have to stop at ScentBar on the way home…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Robin, I LOVED Black Aoud…until I put it on myself :( I can't wear it…but your review is so great that I'm thinking about re-ordering a sample and trying again.

    I'm searching for the deepest, darkest Aoudh out there, and Black Aoudh would be it were it not for the headache it gives.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Great review. I'm curious if you will write about White Aoud??? I recently started wear W.A. and it has become my new favorite….it's smokey and creamy and the drydown is wonderful. Since you did a side-by-side comparison, I would love to hear your thoughts. (Black Aoud was one of the first niche fragrances I tried, and it was quite a shock to my novice smelling capabilities……me and my nose have matured since then….wonder if I would like it now as much as I like White Aoud)

  10. Anonymous says:

    I am living on decants of everything these days, or even just samples…would like to own this, Aoud Roses Petals & even possibly Patchouli Leaves. That's a good price at perfumeshoppe, thanks!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Funny, I find White Aoud VERY different. Will review it tomorrow! Still haven't tried the Blue Amber, but it doesn't sound like me, does it?

  12. Anonymous says:

    LOL — he was not pleased!

  13. Anonymous says:

    It does not shower off, that is for certain, and even this morning my husband asked if I had applied it again when I got up — I hadn't! But the traces of Black Aoud under a lighter perfume works well too :-)

  14. Anonymous says:

    Tom, yes it is — and skimmed your post very quickly but had to run out for the afternoon so will go back and read more carefully now!

  15. Anonymous says:

    I would guess the deepest, darkest oudh out there is something sold only in the Middle East and too heavy for Western consumers. Would love to know too!

  16. Anonymous says:

    White Aoud will be tomorrow then! Almost did them both today, but ran out of time and room :-)

    Black Aoud is quite an introduction to niche perfumery, LOL! I'm sure I would have washed it off (as best I could) almost immediately.

  17. Anonymous says:

    R, you know I love the deep woods as well, but I can not do a single one of the Montale Aouds (or any of the Montales, for that matter). Worse than that, every single Montale variant on Aoud smells just like all the others to me… But at those prices, I'm not sorry. By the way, thank you for pointing out the link to the D&G advertisement yesterday. And, I don't know what I was expecting to see exactly, but golly, Kevin was right on! What's up with the flatness? And, since when is it sexy for men to wear stretchy white panties, anyway?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Well, they are just variations on a theme, can't argue with that. Are there other oudh scents you like, by some other brand? And have to agree on the prices, they ain't cheap.

    Yep, he either has a problem or he has been seriously photoshopped. But I do think the style issue is very culture-bound. When I first saw it, I assumed he was in his undies ;-)

  19. Anonymous says:

    I have nothing intelligent to contribute to this discussion but would like to say I am giggling about your poor, long-suffering husband. He's probably hoping for NOT another repeat of yesterday any time soon.
    Mine says almost nothing, ever, about any of the fragrances, unless it's the rare something he absolutely loathes (Borneo, Le Labo Vetiver) or asking/suggesting I get all my %*%*(%@ samples out of our shared office, where I open the mail (and you know what THAT means.) They tend to creep all over everything and reproduce.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Mine rarely says anything unsolicited, and when he does, he just has a few catch phrases that he throws out nearly at random: “soapy”, “bug spray” (BA got the bug spray, which is ludicrous, it might smell bad to some people but no bug spray on earth smells like agarwood), “masculine” (invariably for something that isn't particularly). He also likes to say “old lady”, but that one I think only because he knows it will get a rise out of me :-)

  21. Anonymous says:

    I adore pretty much all the Montale Rose ouds, and given my general preferences, this should be at the very top of my list. But for some reason, it doesn't work that well on me. So my heart still belongs to Rose Petals (if I want this one even darker, I layer it with a leather scent, like Etro Gomma).

  22. Anonymous says:

    Adding–And since my husband's favorite fragrance (on himself) is Oud Cuir d'Arabie (which I love as well), he doesn't mind at all!:)

  23. Anonymous says:

    I find agarwood sexy too, and my favourite so far has been M7 by Saint Laurent.

    So you have given me something new I want to try ;-)

    Nice review and now I am watining for the white aoud too. :)

    I understand your husband but at the same time I totally get you trying everithing on for comparison purposes!!!

    If it does not give you a headache, then its ok…. if it does.. RUN TO THE SHOWER! perfume induced headaches are terrible and they make me nauseous too. (the first time I sprayed on Joop for man comes to mind)

  24. Anonymous says:

    I have both AMAZE and Black Aoud Montale. I love them both. I do prefer Black Aoud more though. It's more masculine. But they are equally unisex to me though.
    I actually created a rose/agarwood type of scent that will be available in the very near future on First in Fragrance. Benefactor is it's name. Look out for it!

  25. Anonymous says:

    I like Roses Petals better too, have to say. Black Aoud is a great scent, but would also find fewer occasions to wear it, I think.

    LOL — don't think Oud Cuir d'Arabie would fly in my house ;-)

  26. Anonymous says:

    M7 is a really great scent, and massively underappreciated. Luckily I almost never get perfume headaches, although I have had a few times where I had chemical reactions where my throat closed up and I had mild breathing difficulty.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Hey, congrats to you! If you'd like me to announce it, email the details & a pic.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Izzy! I heard from the guys from FIF that I should hopefully be up on their site this Sunday, June 17th, evening. I can't wait. I'd be happy to send you a sample of it to try out as well. If interested, send me an IM, I think you can do that on this blog somehow, somewhere? If not, my email:mandocmartinez@yahoo.com. I'm always looking for opinions and open for criticisms. It's important in the growth of a budding perfumer, I hope, I hope, I hope! I have a few others they will be selling as well. You'll see them soon!

  29. Anonymous says:

    There had been a mention of leather-loving oudh lovers, and I wanted to mention that, having just tried Montale Aoud Cuir d'Arabie, it is right on the money! Not heavy, not dirty-saddle, nothing like that; in fact, it's got — believe it or not — a certain Kelly Caleche-ish refinement to it! I'm serious!!! But that's only for confirmed and experienced oudh lovers, without a doubt. These frags fall squarely into the Acquired Taste category, so proceed with caution if you haven't yet felt the magic. . .

  30. Anonymous says:

    Would so agree on “Acquired Taste” category, but the CdA is one cool scent.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Great shnozzes smell alike.

    Hey, R., have you done a leather column yet? Well, of course you have, and so how would a directionally-challenged dame find it? Leathers are starting to, how you say, get under my skin — tee hee — in a very good way. Or, if you haven't yet, would you be able to name a handful of reasonably-easy-to-procure, gorgeous ones? Thanks.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I haven't, really — I like leather, but I'm not a huge leather fiend. Marina over at Perfume Smellin' Things has a very long “leather list” worth checking out. I tend to like the softer, closer to “suede” scents than the knock-em-dead leathers. On the suede front, Serge Lutens Daim Blond is gorgeous.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Mmmm. Agreed on the DB!! Thanks for the tip about Marina's leather fetish. . .er, list~

  34. Anonymous says:

    I'm wearing my sample of Black Aoud today and it reminds me a bit of l'Artisan's Timbuktu – which i like actually and have a bottle of. It has a kind of strength and is quite potent as you said in your review Robin.

    I wonder do i have space in my fragrance wardrobe for it? Hmmm..

  35. Anonymous says:

    I own Timbuktu also, but have yet to buy a full-sized Montale — perhaps because I managed to get Timbuktu in the little travel size, and can never find the smaller Montales, which I think in the US you only get as “extras” if you order a full-sized directly from Montale. It's too bad they don't sell them here!

  36. dolcesarah says:

    I cannot wait to try this.

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