Le Labo Oud 27 ~ fragrance review

Study for the Portrait of a Rocker After Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson

The word "oud" — when relating to perfume — always makes me think of...MONTALE. Montale has won the oud wars in the West by creating more oud-centered fragrances than any company in sight (or smell). When I heard that Le Labo was releasing an oud perfume, I thought: "Poor Le Labo you haven't a chance!"

Le Labo launches Oud 27 this month; it's Le Labo's first global launch since 2006. (Oud 27 will not be associated with one city — you can buy it at all Le Labo boutiques.) Le Labo divulges only a few components of Oud 27: incense, cedar, patchouli, saffron, gaiac wood and oud.

Oud 27 opens with astringent oud, forceful saffron and a strange wood aroma (the scent of a newly felled tree — 'roasted' on the outside, 'raw' at its center). Right out of the bottle, Oud 27 is probably too much for most people (me not included). There is a world of difference between the odor of Oud 27 up close, nose to skin (slightly piss-y, regurgitative-medicinal, pungent) and Oud 27's sillage (sweet, incense-y, floral). As my nose moves from close-up inspection of Oud 27 to far-away admiration, I smell honey, rose, a strawflower aroma, ambergris, and the scent of leather — all blending with oud. Oud 27 dries down to a lovely and soft woody musk, and it lasts for hours and hours without ever becoming grating. (A few sprays of Oud 27 go a long way.)

My main "problem" with most Montale oud fragrances (there are a few I love and own) is the feeling, after a day of wear, that I've been man-handled, "taken advantage of," by oud. Montale oud is powerful, and it often overwhelms all other notes in a Montale oud composition — leading to a sameness in the Montale oud line of perfumes. Le Labo Oud 27 is a different sort of oud: more refined and polite, willing to share its space with other notes. Though we've just met, Le Labo Oud 27 has seduced me — gently (without leaving me black and bl'oud) and it has become one of my favorite oud fragrances to date.

For buying information see the listing for Le Labo under Perfume Houses.

Update: Oud 27 was developed by perfumer Vincent Schaller.

Note: top right image is Study for the Portrait of a Rocker After Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com at flickr; some rights reserved.

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  1. sacre bleu says:

    Clever Kevin, not black and bl’oud. Your article tempts me to try it!

    • Carlos BFL 319 says:

      Hola Kev.

      Having been crowned the aoudmaster…I suppose this will have to be pushed up in line in the MUST try ( and probably BUY) list huh?

      Regurgitive and PISSY? Damn Kev…are you serious? Or should I say…..AM I Serious for even considering a scent with those adjectives?

      I suppose after not getting any of the “ANIMAL” notes in SL MKK after fearing it for so long…my EHEM nose will prob sniff past the vomit and piss.

      I’ll keep ya posted.

      And Buena Suerte mi amigo en su casa nueva.


      • Kevin says:

        C: Muchas gracias! I was expecting to see ‘Sebastion With Scarf’ as your gravatar! HA! I do believe you’ll like this one…and no doubt a bottle will come to roost in your perfume cabinet!

        • Carlos BFL 319 says:

          Oh yeah…thanks for reminding me! Love the image of the middle eastern man with guitar!

          • Kevin says:

            CUUUUUUUUUTE!!!!!!!!!!! HAHAHA!

  2. Kevin says:

    Sacre bleu! You must!

    • PolarBear2 says:

      Oh I remembered, I must use my Sacre Bleu again ! Thanks for the reminder. And if you recommend this, I´ll try this one too though am not a fan of oud.

  3. Sunski says:

    Is this the sign of a great writer or a perfume addict? You call something “piss-y” and “regurgitative” and I still want to try it. Very nice writing!

    • Kevin says:

      Sunski: let’s call it FULL DISCLOSURE?

      • PolarBear2 says:

        If it sounds dirty, I wanna try it :))

  4. violetnoir says:

    Black and bl’oud…I love it, Kevin!

    Will try this one soon. Thanks for the great review.

    • Kevin says:

      Violetnoir: you’re welcome!

  5. Jared says:

    I’ve been soooo excited to try this since I heard it was coming out.

    Today my bottle of Iris 30 arrived from Le Labo and in the box was a little sample of the new Oud, so imagine my excitement! However, when I sprayed the sample on myself, I was both confused and horrified. It smelled totally wrong. The faded label on the vial that reads “Musc 25” might have something to do with it.

    So, I’m bummed that I don’t get to try the Oud, but at least I have a new full bottle of Iris 39 to cheer me up.

    • Kevin says:

      Jared: that’s too bad! You know Oud 27 isn’t even on the Le Labo website yet….

  6. Joe says:

    Kevin: I wouldn’t pass up a chance to try this if it fell into my lap, but I’m not sure how much effort (or dollars!) I’ll expend to get my hands on it. I’m not sure I need another Oud now that I own and enjoy Montale Black & Red versions. Also, I find both of those to be powerhouses, but somehow the edges are smoothed a bit by the copious amounts of rose and/or saffron in each. You do make this Le Labo sound delicious though — will add a vial to my wish list.

    I’m curious: have you tried Micallef’s Gaiac? I received a decant this week and I think any lover of wood scents would enjoy it.

    • Kevin says:

      Joe: Oud 27 is more “balmy”, soft than Black or Red Aoud by Montale…so think it will be a nice change…though you might not need a bottle. And, I haven’t tried the Gaiac!

  7. Zazie says:

    This oud does sound interesting.
    I find the oud note in the Monatles quite (very) unrelated with the real thing (and, oud set aside, I haven’t fallen for any of their scents yet).
    I am getting this uncofortable feeling that “oud” is the new aquatic.
    Or, even worse, that if you’re niche you must title “oud something” whatever you’re launching…
    Well, you intrigued me with the Le labo Oud… Must try it…

    • Kevin says:

      Zazie: I’m one of those who’d celebrate an “oud takeover” of Fort Aquatic (but I’m not holding my breath). Let’s hope perfumers will learn to master oud…not letting it override everything else, or allowing it to hide in the corner.

      • Daisy says:

        oud does seem to be everywhere….oud and melons, so now it’s only a matter of time before : Oud Melon

        It is rather amazing how you make it seem so intriguing even though I know my eyes saw the words ‘piss-y’ and ‘regurgative’ ….hmmmm you aren’t swinging a shiny coin behind my computer screen are you?( Cuz if someone snaps their fingers and I start squawking like a chicken I’m gonna be so mad! )

        • Kevin says:

          Daisy: HA! Why does cantaloupe-oud not sound so bad to me at the moment? have YOU put a hex on me??????

          • Daisy says:

            you might be running a bit of a fever….

            trying to imagine cantaloupe in a cloud of oud….nope, I got nothin.

          • Kevin says:

            Daisy: just noted that CRYSTAL AOUD by Montale has MELON! (I’ve not tried it…yet)

      • I sent you some Crystal Aoud. If I remember correctly, you said you hated it and coudn’t wait to get if off your skin. HA!

  8. Parfumesse says:

    I do the very same,I hear the word “oud” and automatically think Montale,I have tried several and I just cannot do it I’m afraid,now I tend to shy away from any frags that mentions it. :-(

    • Kevin says:

      Parfumesse: do try oud in non-Montale lines…there may be the perfect oud for you “out there.”

  9. monkeytoe says:

    This sounds like it is right up my alley–somewhere between M7 and the Montales and I don’t have to go to Tokyo to get it. Thank you for the review.

    • Kevin says:

      Monkeytoe: yes, a relief this is widely available!

  10. Oana says:

    Have you tried Tom Ford Oud Wood? I wonder how it would compare to? :-)

    • Kevin says:

      Oana: I have tried TF Oud Wood…and apparently it made no impression on me — I can’t remember if I liked it or not…I don’t think it was very oud-y.

    • servus oana ;-) TF oud wood had nothing in common with the only oud I sniffed – Montale of course, the most knwon and best sold… I do not remember. The TF was presented to me from the sales rep as “sex on wheels” scent, but nobody even looked to me that day *lol*

  11. Dusan says:

    Want! You sold it to me with “refined and polite, willing to share its space with other notes” – that’s the kind of oud I like, not the pushy one that screams “ME! ME!” as he is elbowing his way to the soapbox.
    And joining Carlos in housewarming wishes :-)

    • Dusan says:

      Forgot to say – your gravatar is great!

      • Kevin says:

        Thanks, Dusan…and it’s good to ‘SEE’ you too! So far, this fragrance is my favorite Le Labo.

  12. divinemama says:

    Thanks Kevin! This may be the first Le Labo that I sample.

    “I smell honey, rose, a strawflower aroma, ambergris, and the scent of leather — all blending with oud.” This is the part of your review that really reached me.

    • Kevin says:

      Divine M: and that’s the part you’ll smell more than any other…

  13. Bela says:

    It certainly was too much for *me*. I tried it on a ‘mouillette’, the other day in Liberty. It made me recoil. I had to ask the SA to keep the mouillette as I couldn’t bear to have it near me a moment longer. It was bitter and acrid – just shrill and unpleasant. And I’m someone who is addicted to Tubéreuse Criminelle’s top notes.

    • Kevin says:

      Bela! HA! The word RECOIL says it all! (But I Do wish you had taken the mouillette home and let it “sit” for a few hours)

      • Bela says:

        I truly couldn’t, Kevin: if I’d been going straight home, I might have, but I had other errands to run and couldn’t bear the thought of having *that smell* (LOL!) in my handbag.

  14. March says:

    Hmmmm. This sounds like one I should definitely try. Welcome back! I hope the transition to the new site is going okay.

    • Kevin says:

      March, Thanks! (You look lovely in your gravitar, dahling)

      • Kevin says:

        March: I must retract my statement about your gravatar…you are looking so sharp and “blank” in the center these days! HA!

  15. Perfume Sniffer says:

    Thanks for the review.

    I’ve never found an oud I truly love. And, oddly, I’ve never even sniffed Le Labo – something about the exclusivity and expense has always turned me off – but this one sounds worthy of a sample at least… ;-)

    • Kevin says:

      Perfume Sniffer…give this one a try then…at least Le Labo sells TINY bottles in this age of expen$ive $cent$.

  16. krokodilgena says:

    I haven’t tried anything with oud
    I’ve been meaning to get a sample of something from Montale, but there are so many and they all kind of sound the same (even though they might smell different) so I have a hard time selecting
    I think I’m leaning towards Red Aoud

    I want to try this too

    • Kevin says:

      krokodilgena…Red Aoud is very nice.

      • krokodilgena says:

        What kind of characteristics are gaiac and oud wood supposed to have?
        Is gaiac wood also called aloeswood, because my mom burns aloeswood incense sometimes

        • Kevin says:

          Krokodilgena: gaiac is not aloeswood…gaiac (which I’ve TASTED in a Brazilian toothpaste!) is a sweet wood aroma; it smells rich and reminds me a bit of rosewood. Lots of people compare it to sandalwood.

    • Daisy says:

      Krok! I’m delighted to see your gravatar! (still smiling!)

  17. cazaubon says:

    I love oud – Red and White Aoud from Montale are probably my favorites, although Tom Ford Oud Wood and MPG Soir d’Orient are up there on the list too. Can’t wait to sniff this in Paris next month. I find a lot of ouds are overwhelming for the first 15 mins, but then they dry down nicely. I’ll be sure to give this one a good long skin test. Thanks so much for the review!!

    • Kevin says:

      Cazaubon; you’re welcome…you know I’ve never tried Soir d’Orient!

      • cazaubon says:

        Sadly, it was a regional limited edition, sold only in the middle east a few years ago. I believe it doesn’t exist any more. Such a pity – it is a beautiful masculine oud.

  18. SmokeyToes says:

    This sounds mighty interesting. I tend to like dryer wood scents. I’m not familiar with the Oud genre, must give it a look! I’m such a sucker for the bottles too.

    • Kevin says:

      Smokeytoes: this is a good oud to start with I think if you’re new to oud (that is, after those top notes start calming! HA!)

  19. mikeperez23 says:

    Sounds delish.

    Any idea who the perfumer is Kevin?

    • Kevin says:

      Mike: I haven’t heard the perfumer mentioned anywhere (Robin…you?)

  20. melisand61 says:

    Yum! This goes on the must-try list. I wear a number of the Montales, but yes, they do tend to overpower. I like the Le Labo line in general, putting aside my irritation at the city exclusives. It will be interesting to see what Le Labo does with this fascinating note. So hooray for a global launch of what sounds to be a marvelous composition.

    • Kevin says:

      Melisand61: hope you enjoy it.

  21. I am definitely looking forward to this. I am a huge fan of Le Labo and an even bigger fan of scents that are “different.”

    • Kevin says:

      Fragrantmoments: I think the opening will give you something “different!”

  22. datura5750 says:

    Well Kevin, this is sorely tempting me, I have no Oud in my collection, and I like a touch of dirty…

    • Kevin says:

      datura5750: no oud? you’re lucky these days…many to choose from!

  23. This sounds intriguing. I’m a big fan of Montale’s aoud perfumes. I really enjoy their White Aoud, and lately I’ve been enjoying the Original Aouds, but I wouldn’t mind something a bit softer and more subtle. Maybe I’ll have to look into this.


    • Kevin says:

      Arrantthief: there are those days when a SOFT oud is best…days you don’t want to stand OUT (as with Montales)

  24. platinum14 says:

    There goes another one for the 2009 list…

    • Kevin says:

      Platinum14: my list is SMALL so far…but as luck would have it, what’s ON the list is about $200 a bottle….

  25. Bee says:

    help everybody, I’ve never tried ouds: what ones would you recommend first, ouds for dummies , you know?

    • Kevin says:

      Bee: that’s not an easy question to answer. The quality of aoud/oud perfumes varies widely…whether you buy from Western brands or brands based in the Middle East (easy to do these days online). Just get a bunch of oud perfume samples and see what you think…a classic formula is Montale Black Aoud.

  26. helenviolette says:

    Thanks for the review Kevin! Finally a non-exclusive! I wholly agree about being manhandled by Aoud…

    • Kevin says:

      helenviolette: you’re welcome…(aoud can be crude).

  27. cazaubon says:

    Pssst… here’s your hot tip for the day – just heard from Franco of Luckyscent that starting next week, they will be carrying the Le Labo line (minus the city exclusives of course). Woohoo! They will have Oud 27 for sale…

    • Kevin says:

      cazaubon: thanks for the info.

  28. rubaiyat says:

    Lovely and soft woody musk…yes.
    Pissy and regurgitative…that scares me.
    But I’ve loved the Le Labo scents that I’ve tried!

    • Kevin says:

      rubaiyat: don’t worry, if you keep your nose far from skin, you will bypass much of the urinous/etc phase.

  29. Tama says:

    Holy Crap, Kevin! I got that big Le Labo sample set from LS today and as I was checking them out and logging everything into my spreadsheet, I touched the little stick in this one to my skin. So I have what, 10 molecules worth on my wrist? I was sillaging like mad. This stuff is strong! But I like it. I have an art opening to go to for a guy who works in wood and I think I have to wear it.

    • Kevin says:

      One gets their money’s worth with this one…15 ml would be perfect!

  30. Fernando says:

    I’m late to this thread… but surprised that no one has commented on Luca Turin’s claim that this one is “really raunchy”. What do folks think?

    I haven’t had a chance to smell this yet, but I’m quite curious.

  31. Blimunda says:

    Kevin – I couldn’t agree with you more! I’ve tried many of the Montale Ouds, and they all end up smelling pretty much the same on me. I just tried a spray of Le Labo’s at Liberty’s, in the crook of my right arm, and it has been gorgeous from start to finish. It is ever so slightly reminiscent of Tom Ford’s Oud Wood, but with much less sweetness from the cardamom. I much prefer to the TF.
    I also sprayed Poivre on the left arm crook! It is absolutely marvelous! It’s so skanky yet manages to sophisticated with it, and I can smell a whisper of pepper well into the dry down (which is a lot like Oud dry down, but with pepper!) I also browsed through the L’Artisan line while i was there. I was a total glutton. There was no way I could find enough available skin to spray as many as I wanted……….

    • Kevin says:

      Blimunda…YES…still thinking about Le Labo Oud 27! And there’s NEVER enough skin to test on, is there?

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