By Kilian Arabian Nights Pure Oud and Back to Black Aphrodisiac ~ fragrance reviews

By Kilian Pure Oud

Last week, I read an interesting article in the New York Times1 regarding the falling prices of “premium” blue jeans; reporter Eric Wilson wrote: “The $300 pair of designer jeans is now, courtesy of the recession, the $200 pair of designer jeans.” And what does “premium” mean exactly — “…you had to pay a premium to wear them (the jeans) …. Designers found they could charge a lot for the perception of prestige.”

Niche perfume prices have increased dramatically over the last several years, but the higher prices don't guarantee outstanding, strikingly original perfumes. Expensive fragrance lines justify their prices and lure consumers with: “rare” and “precious” ingredients; deluxe packaging; restricted availability; flattery (Connoisseurs of fine fragrance will recognize the brilliance of this perfume!); and prices so steep only the “Elite” (YOU!) can afford to buy them.

The NYT article concludes: “Like any commodity that becomes overpriced, there eventually comes a market correction.” While we’re waiting for that correction in the perfume realm, I’ll review two expensive By Kilian scents.

Pure Oud

Pure Oud is the first perfume in By Kilian’s “Arabian Nights” fragrance collection; it was developed by perfumer Calice Becker and lists notes of oud, saffron, copahu balm, amber, gaiac wood, cypriol, cistus labdanum, myrrh and animalic notes.

Pure Oud opens with strong notes of copahu balm (Copaifera Officinalis), myrrh, and oud; these notes combine to produce frankincense, leather and smoky incense aromas. Pure Oud’s oud note is more austere and natural smelling than Montale’s oud; it allows more “room” for accompanying notes to shine. Saffron is blended into Pure Oud’s formula in perfect quantity, providing “luster” to the composition. Pure Oud’s vibrant opening notes blur quickly and a faint aroma, reminiscent of cooked food, appears in mid-development (let’s call it “Yesterday’s-Fried-Potatoes-and-Onions Accord”); this accord morphs into ‘body-odor musk.’ On a Musk Scale of 1-10, “1” being “sheer/sweet/white” and “10” being “Super Funky-Donkey!”, Pure Oud’s musk is a “5” (“Armpits of Male Smoker in Old Leather Jacket – 48 Hours Without Bathing”). Pure Oud ends with a pleasant and talc-y incense note.

Pure Oud has minimal sillage and so-so lasting power; its bottle and lacquered wooden storage box (with key) are decorated with golden plaques and no doubt the packaging adds to the fragrance’s price-tag of $395 for 50 ml of Eau de Parfum.

By Kilian Back to Black

Back to Black

Back to Black (also by Calice Becker) contains notes of bergamot, blue chamomile, geranium, cardamom, coriander, honey, cedar, olibanum, patchouli, “gingerbread” absolute, benzoin, cistus labdanum, ambergris, tonka bean, a “sweet” note, vanilla, cherry stone accord, and raspberry.

Back to Black is a honeyed tobacco fragrance that opens with gauzy notes of bergamot and chamomile; there are “dessert” notes galore — vanilla, tonka, honey, cherry/almond — running through the fragrance from start to finish. Back to Black bears more than a passing resemblance to Serge Lutens “scented tobacco” perfume, Fumerie Turque. Back to Black is less dense than Fumerie Turque, its juice “thinned out” with citrus and fresh-marine ambergris notes. As Back to Black dries down, a warm milk-and-honey accord is prominent.

By Kilian Back to Black is $225 for 50 ml of Eau de Parfum — a bargain compared to Pure Oud’s cost. Back to Black has great lasting power and close-to-the-body sillage.

There may never be a market correction in the pricing of niche perfumes, but long ago I experienced a “perception correction” that guides me in my perfume purchases; I’m immune to talk of “prestige” and “exclusivity,” and I don’t collect perfume bottles so over-the-top packaging leaves me cold. For me to pay $200 or more for a fragrance, I must be dumbstruck at first sniff, and the perfume must haunt me — to the point of purchase. Pure Oud and Back to Black are high-quality, well-formulated, good-smelling fragrances; give them a try and decide for yourselves if they smell “worth” their prices. (Read Robin’s take on By Kilian pricing and packaging here).

For buying information, see the listing for By Kilian under Perfume Houses. Note that Pure Oud is available by phone order only; it is not sold online.

1. New York Times, October 29, 2009, “Preshrunk Prices,” by Eric Wilson.

Note: top images (1 and 2) and tobacco label image via Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. Grain de Musc makes these sound like they are to die for so I was eager to test them on my recent NYC trip. The oud–I don’t know what to say. Perhaps the SA didn’t spray enough on? Perhaps I am anosmic to something? I need to try it again…

    Totally agree with you about Fumerie Turque connection, in fact my next step is to try them side by side. My guess is that Back to Black has a much stronger honey/beeswax note (on my skin, anyway). It’s nice. Very nice. But it does make the Lutens look like a bargain. Though I think it’s available in those travel refill dealies…which would put it closer to the Lutens price point.

    • Kevin says:

      Sweetlife: BtoB is more “honeyed”…I prefer the Lutens of the two.

      • kjanicki says:

        I agree, Both are great tobacco scents, but the Kilian is much more gourmand, I get chocolate, and the Lutens tobacco is closer to a real pipe tobacco, with more of a bitter edge to balance the sweetness. I prefer the Lutens.

  2. mals86 says:

    I have so far refused to even try any of the By Kilians, for the reason of the ridiculously expensive packaging. I’m sure they’re well done, and someday I may spring for a decant. But “someday” isn’t anytime soon. Oud is nice, but doesn’t make me swoony, so Pure Oud isn’t even on my to-test list. Back to Black is closer to my taste, despite the Amy Winehouse reference, but why would I even bother with another tobacco scent when SSS Tabac Aurea bowled me over so completely?

    (“Armpits of Male Smoker…” cracked me up – thanks K!)

    • AnnS says:

      I agree totally with Mals here. I think no one will be surprised that I find Tabac Aurea the bees-knees… and it is a remarkably well priced fragrance to boot. Hello – SSS now has these lovely 5 ml vials now for less than $20!! ….. It’s not that the Killians don’t have a chance with me, but it better be the next Jesus if I’m going to pay that much. The only frags I’m going to pay that much for when the time arises is Lyric Woman or FM Noir Epices.

      And Kevin, I am now going to hold my breath for the release of Super Funky Donkey fragrance. Sounds like heaven to me!

      • Rictor07 says:

        Isnt one of the Six Scents fragrances in series 2 called Super Donkey Power?

        • AnnS says:

          That’s funny – I had no idea… thanks for the tip!

        • lilydale aka Natalie says:

          Yes — It’s called Solar Donkey Power, and it’s quite nice!

      • Aparatchick says:

        Back to Black sounds like something I’d love, but that pricing …. ! Count me in with Mals and Ann in finding Tabac Aurea all that and then some. I tested a sample and was on the interwebs buying a bottle before you could say “Super Funky-Donkey.”

    • Kevin says:

      Mals86: you’re welcome. I should try the tobacco scent you mention

    • Zeezee says:

      Agreed. I refuse to try the Kilians, Bonds and Amouages. I don’t care if they make my nostrils orgasm, I am NOT willing to spend that much on scent (while not passing judgement on anyone who is – it’s a budget thing).
      Despite believing myself impervious to high-end marketing, I find myself falling prey to *some* of it: I’m sometimes willing to give things I otherwise would dismiss out of hand a second chance, and if I question why, it’s because they wouldn’t slap that price on it if it wasn’t worth it… right? …I think? (Ignore my run-on sentence, please. Can’t be bothered to fix it.)

      • Zeezee says:

        Bah humbug. I do complain, no? :D
        Blame it on the mood – although the Funky Donkey defintiely made me crack a smile, thanks!

  3. Haidee says:

    The Back to Black sounds very nice (I love that beeswax/honey type note) though I haven’t bitten the bullet to get any samples of By Killian scents yet. This might push me over the edge to get some samples, and check out the ones I’ve been curious about. Not sure about that oud one, particularly as the eau-de-last-night’s-onions scares me a little. However I will say that I’d pay top dollar for someone (other than Etat Libre d’Orange) to market a scent named “Super Funky-Donkey” and smelling appropriately. Better still if it’s in an otherwise taking-itself-way-too-seriously lacquer box with a key.

    • AnnS says:

      We could always masking tape a new Super Funky Donkey label over MH L’Air de Rien!!

    • Kevin says:

      Haidee: It would be fun to write the SuperFunkyDonkey song for the launch too, wouldn’t it?

  4. rickbr says:

    Kevin, your musk schale made me laught a lot. I think I don`t care so much about the price if I can pay the fragrance whithout compromising my budget. If the smell is good, complex and Interesting, even though it`s not original it`ll makes me want it at lest a 10ml sample.
    And talking about fragrances that you question it`s costs, i wonder why people buy and pay 250 dollars for indult tihota. It looks to me like a normal vanilla cake fragance, there`s nothing so special in it. It must be the exclusivity and package factor acting in this case.

    • Kevin says:

      Rick: I’m sure taste and yearly income! play a part in who buys what…no matter how much it costs.

  5. Jared says:

    If it weren’t for the outrageous price, I would buy Pure Oud in a SECOND. I love it!!! I wore it just the other night, merely while engaging in romantic activity in pure comfort around the house, and I felt like absolute luxury. While wearing it, I had instant desire to wear this for the rest of my days. But man…$395. What a twist of the knife. Maybe at least a decant…

    Back to Black I wasn’t very impressed with, which saddened me. I wasn’t expecting a bunch of honey. I thought, “This is an aphrodisiac? This doesn’t turn me on at all!” I certainly didn’t get the smoldering dark eyes beckoning me to come hither! All the better I suppose. I don’t need these mega-expensive perfumes breaking my bank.

    • Kevin says:

      Jared: I liked Pure Oud too…but there are LOTS of oud and incense fragrances out there of the same quality, or better!, for much less. SO, don’t get all depressed!

  6. rickbr says:

    Kevin, has back to black any similarties with rahat lokhoum and ambre narguile? For some reason, I`ve imagined at my mind with some elements of both fragrances. You have compared it to fumerie turquie, one of the most interesting lutens. Has back to black that new rope smell that fumerie turque has at its opening?

    • E says:

      Butting in…I can’t comment on Rahat, but when I was testing BtoB yesterday, the two fragrances that kept coming to mind as similar were Botrytis and Ambre Narguile. I kept thinking of it as a “less strident” AN, if that makes any sense…I like AN, but it’s louder.

    • Kevin says:

      BtoB smelled more like the Lutens as it dried down…and it didn’t remind me of the others you mention. I wish R.L. were in the export line…I love that one.

  7. jirish says:

    I’d be interested in smelling these, but I doubt I’d purchase. Not sure where my line in the sand is, but I do know Pure Oud is well over it. I’m anxiously awaiting that market correction for perfume. In the meantime, I love your musk scale. What are your 10s – your funky donkey scents?

    • Kevin says:

      Jirish: I’ll have to look at my notes, but Muscs Koublai Khan (the original formula anyway) became really “hairy”, stinky on me in mid-development before soothing me with tea and roses. CB I Hate Perfume musk also was very “ripe” on my body. But both of those would be around an “7-8” on my scale. I used to be able to buy musk oils at a shop here in Seattle that smelled like “oily rump of mastodon”…really something else! They were SuperFunkyDonkey….

      • miss kitty v. says:

        SL Chypre Rouge smelled like that on me. Actually, it smelled like the thing that would repel the oily-rumped mastodon.

  8. sneaky pie says:

    Kevin, thank you for the reviews!

    Is oud the new patchouli? (I like patchouli, btw, but it seems that everyone is jumping on the oud bangwagon the way they jumped on other trendy ingredients.)

    I tried Black to Back, and I liked the way it feels. It is very sweet, with a honey-like consistency. I see that the raspberry note is listed in the end, but on me, it was fairly dominant. This is my raspberry truffle fragrance.

    • Kevin says:

      SneakyPie: I like patchouli too…but I like oud even more…keep the ouds coming!

  9. miss kitty v. says:

    I appear to be in the minority in loving several of BK’s scents: Cruel Intentions and Liaisons Dangereuse for me, Straight to Heaven for my partner. I’m enough of a sucker to try Back to Black with high hopes, but there’s no point in even trying the oud one. As a social services employee, $395 is a student loan payment, not a bottle of perfume. Pity.

    • Kevin says:

      Miss Kitty V: yep, $400 buys a lot of fun, let alone NECESSARY, things.

  10. datura5750 says:

    I’t might be that I can’t smell an ingrediant in the Oud, but I don’t find it significantly better than M7….

    • Kevin says:

      Datura: I love M7, but on me it’s more linear than Pure Oud…whose opening and closing phases are great.

  11. Dzingnut says:

    Super-Funky-Donkey, LOL (or as Kevin would say “HA!”). I would love a scent that genuinely smelled like a horsey does when you put your nose right up to their shiny coat … and donkeys smell the same, so the name would be perfect. I just can’t justify ever spending that much on a bottle of perfume … the guilt would haunt me forever.

    • Kevin says:

      Dzingnut: in the “olden days”…$400 could buy at least four great bottles of scent!

    • PetronellaCJ says:

      On me Dior Fahrenheit and Chanel Cristalle smell like squeaky clean horses…

  12. Jill says:

    I sampled Back to Black and it didn’t do that much for me but I’d like to try it again now that the weather is colder. Pure Oud would be dangerous to love with that price tag, so I’ll probably pass on trying it. I like your “perception correction” in regard to price … I agree!

    • Kevin says:

      Jill: I do thin BtoB would wear better in cool weather.

  13. Joe says:

    Goodness knows I’m not opposed to expensive perfumes (looking at YOU, Amouage!), but I agree, Kevin, that I have to be dumbstruck AND haunted to really get all worked up about anything. And I do NOT see armpits of a male smoker getting me really worked up.

    Montale really has become sufficient for my oud fix, so I greet most new ouds with a “meh” (however, I’m dizzy with anticipation for L’Artisan Al-Oudh). I’ve been really curious to try Back to Black, though… but Fumerie Turque is a little too smoky for me. More citrus, marine/ambergris, milk, and honey might just work. I do generally glaze right over when it comes to the By Kilians, I have to admit.

    Also, I have a hard time spending even $80 or up for a pair of jeans. And at this point, as Daisy and I say, I’m ready to run around in burlap sacks just so I can buy more perfume.

    • Joe says:

      Oh, and I must add, speaking of donkey-musk-funkification: I’m testing a new decant of ELdO Vierges & Toreros and I LOVE it. I am in total musk heaven!

      • Daisy says:

        running about in burlap trousers and smelling like a donkey….well, that’s one way to figure out who your REAL friends are…. ;-)

        • Kevin says:

          Daisy: it’s ALL in the tailoring my dear…sew those burlaps more like Vivienne Westwood than HomeDepot!

      • Kevin says:

        Joe: how musky is that one? I’ve never tried it.

        • Joe says:

          It’s probably only 5 or 6 on the Donkey Scale… but very smooth. Induces none of the nose wrinkling and furrowed brow of MKK. More like Musc Ravageur with more varied notes. I’m really enjoying it and so happy I bought a decant. ELdO may redeem themselves yet!

    • AnnS says:

      Oh, you guys are in the New Burlap too?

      • Daisy says:

        with the right accessories you can wear it anywhere!

    • Kevin says:

      Joe: oh, no! I went thru that phase years ago…Clothes? Perfume?… PERFUME!

  14. claresparkle says:

    Holy cannoli, I gotta get me a new rich boyfriend! I’d love to smell both of these though.

    • Kevin says:

      ClareSparkle: just guy a few samples and chances are you’ll be satisfied.

  15. E says:

    What timing! I wore Back to Black from a sample yesterday. It’s nice, and I like it, but I don’t love it or need it (whew!).

    It started as a low, smooth cherry pipe tobacco on my skin and became very sweet as the day goes on. It smells quite similar to Botrytis on me, actually. I already have Botrytis, so don’t need this one.

    I’m curious about Pure Oud, but it’s far too rich for my blood.

    • Kevin says:

      E: it’s rich in price but NOT in lasting power. Back to Black lasted thru a SHOWER on me! Quite something.

  16. mikeperez23 says:

    This made me giggle: Armpits of Male Smoker in Old Leather Jacket – 48 Hours Without Bathing

    Pure Oud bored me and I cannot stand Back To Black, it’s just TOO TOO powdery. Almost matronly (think vintage Emeraude with tobacco).

    My wallet smiles.

    • norjunma1 says:

      See, it just goes to show how greatly people’s nasal receptors will vary. The idea of vintage Emeraude (vintage mind you) with a healthy smattering of tobacco makes me absolutely giddy.

      • AnnS says:

        That makes me think of Habanita now…..

        • norjunma1 says:

          Now that’s a vintage I haven’t gotten around to trying yet. And the list gets longer…

        • Kevin says:

          Anns: a great favorite of mine and FINE for men!

      • Kevin says:

        Norjunma1: and I’m ALL for powder on men in winter.

    • Kevin says:

      Mike: “SAFE” (for now….)

  17. norjunma1 says:

    That price tag on Pure Oud is as hard to swallow as the $500 sticker on a pair of Prps Jeans. It’s even worse when you add a “Cocina” (kitchen) accord to the whole equation.

    Back to Black though, sounds pretty delish. Thanks for the lovely review Kevin!

    • Kevin says:

      Norjunma1: you’re welcome.

  18. Kankuro says:

    Here is my coming out: I’m a fan of the By Kilian perfumes :-D I already own A taste of Heaven and I’m going to buy Cruel Intentions next month. I’ve heard so much negative about these fragrances that I hadn’t high hopes. But after testing the entire line I fell in love with 3 of them (and the others are very nice, too). If there wasn’t the high price tag…

    • Kevin says:

      Kankuro: if only they’d ditch that BOX too!

      • Kankuro says:

        Yes you’re right! The first thing I thought after buying A taste of Heaven was: ‘Who needs a lacquered box with key?’ But the fragrance is so gorgeous, I had to purchase it *sigh*

  19. lilydale aka Natalie says:

    Oooh, I have to admit that I swooned over Pure Oud, but the way my finances are at the moment, it’s food vs. Oud! So until I can derive nutritional benefits from perfume, I’m going to content myself with the fat sample the Bergdorfs SA so graciously made for me. My skin tends to damp down sweat and funk, so it’s just a lovely, smoky-medicinal skin scent on me. Vaguely reminiscent of my beloved Black Tourmaline, but not as dry and cumin-y. Back to Black made no impression whatsoever, but I’m not a honey or tobacco fan, so not surprising.

    • Kevin says:

      Lilydale: ALWAYS nice to find an SA who makes big ole samples.

      • Kankuro says:

        Last week I went to Douglas (germany) and asked for a sample of Insolence Guerlain. The SA told me that they aren’t allowed to decant samples anymore. Isn’t that weird?

        • lilydale aka Natalie says:

          That’s what several SAs told me the other week — the SA for the Cartier Les Heures collection told me they weren’t allowed to spray them into any container. And she claimed they didn’t have pre-made samples, which I’m SO sure was a lie!

  20. Kelly Red says:

    I have a major confession: I’m heading to NY and Aedes this weekend and plan on buying Back to Black. I LOVE IT! I sampled both BTB and Oud, Oud was lovely but BTB really smelled stunning. The price tag? I have difficult skin, lovely lovely things turn horrible on me, my hubby hates almost everything even when I find something I like. BTB sent him swooning and kissing my neck, it lasted all day and I turn 50 on Sunday and damn it I deserve a treat! LOL. So it may seem like an odd statement, but BTB will be a good buy for me. So there, I come out of the perfume closet and fess up.

    • Rappleyea says:

      Happy early birthday, and remember – 50 is the new 30!

    • Kevin says:

      KellyRed: you’re among friends here…let he/she who’s never bought an expensive perfume toss the first wad of ambergris.

    • mals86 says:

      No, if it’s a good investment and you can wear the heck out of it (with swoony results), no condemnation. Enjoy it!

      Just sayin’ it’s too rich for me (I admit to being very cheap).

    • CynthiaW says:

      Hey, and you’ll be eligible for the more reasonably priced refills! At least you know that you love it – I’ve spent significant cash on stuff that either I hated after a few wearings or were unsniffed and turned into total scrubbers.

      The whole refill policy is what really chaps my hide – I would pay the refill prices, but I’m not buying overpriced packaging to get the “privilege” of refilling at a lower price. Especially since I’d be hard pressed to finish a whole bottle of anything at this point.

  21. Rappleyea says:

    Your musk scale was hysterical and I loved your commentary on the whole “luxe” trend. Great review, but somehow, without damning either one of them, you managed to tamp down my desire to try these. Thanks!

    • Kevin says:

      Rappleyea: glad to oblige.

  22. teachesofpeaches says:

    i am so curious about oud , i mean i know i am going to sound silly but i have never smelled anything remotely like that , even though where i live there is a sacks the selection is not that wide and i would love to smell something similar , can someone please help me find a fragrance that resembles an oud , there is jo malone , l’artisan , bond no 9 , but no montale or caron so i wanna know if there is something out there in the more mainstream lines that resembles a fragrance like oud , sorry if i was redundant ! :P

    • Kevin says:

      teachesofpeaches: off the top of my head I can only think of Oud Wood in the Tom Ford Private Blend collection…IF your Saks carries it. Where do you live? Juliette Has a Gun just released a new oud fragrance. I know The Perfumed Court sells oud/aoud sample sets for around twenty bucks. Hope that helps a little….

      • teachesofpeaches says:

        kevin yey!!!!!!
        they have juliette has a gun , thanks !
        i am going tomorrow , i will finally find out the smell , so happy and i live in mexico , LOL!!!

  23. lovethescents says:

    I tried the Back to Black and find it root-canal-producingly sweet. Honey can be tricky because, as I’m not a fan of animalics, it can have that animal feel to it, something feral. I detect not the slightest hint of honey….more white kitchen sugar.

    • Kevin says:

      lovethescents…wow…it got MORE honeyed on me as the day passed…then the night…then the next day!

  24. Momlady says:

    Hi Kevin. Not sure where to post this question so I guess I’ll jump in here. Have you tried any of the ouds/agarwood samples from Oriscent? I’m contemplating their sampler set..ouch, ouch, ouch$! I love Patchouli and the few things I’ve smelled with oud in them just send me, you know? So,with that in mind I don’t think it would be a complete waste but it would be nice to hear an assessment not related to their website.

    • Kevin says:

      Momlady: Mamma Mia! A sample set for two hundred bucks?! That is steep. I haven’t tried any of the ouds myself, but let’s hope SOMEONE will jump in with a comment. I’m interested too!

  25. Tama says:

    Oooh I tried BTB yesterday and fell pretty hard, I have to say. I was enjoying myself all day and into the night. It is a bit Habanita-esque, I guess, and I’ll have to compare the Serge. I’m doing a side-by-side of BTB with Tabac Aurea as we speak and although they are similar, the BTB is has a bit more tang and is more powdery. I love TA and will buy some but am not sure I may not need at least a decant of BTB. Staying away from the Oud, though.

    And you know, the RIGHT leather-jacketed, 48-hours showerless guy who smokes could smell pretty great.

    • Kevin says:

      Tama; yes, especially if he had doused himself with Back to Black at some point.

  26. zaheer says:

    It is said that people in Arabia can only truly appreciate the scent of Oud after reaching a high spiritual plane. It is not uncommon to find a grand Mufti ( ruling judge) wearing Oud on a daily bases.

    Personally i can’t seem to appreciate it as it is Gucci Men ten fold and then some. Which spells out ASPIRIN.

    • Kevin says:

      Zaheer: it can be overwhelming in some formulations…but Pure Oud is waaaaaay toned down.

  27. hongkongmom says:

    hey kevin
    now i love fumerie but find it a thinnish scent ,so if btob is thinner, i think it hopefully would not be for me…i would love to try them both though…but luckily…they are not available here…and that budget would mean i have to REALLY fall hard and then have a long wait and cut other stuff out in order to purchase…
    so i’lle just keep loving fumerie

  28. zaheer says:

    Kevin i’ve grown up around pure Oud, it’s definitley tolerable before the oil additive ( Arabians preserve with oil not alchohol)

    I still find it very Gucci pour homme.

  29. Zazie says:

    I simply love honey-based scents: from cuir ottoman to feminité du bois, from l’amoureuse to the rose chypré, From Beige to 31 rue cambon, I adore the note.
    By Kilian hasn’t done much for me yet, except producing the most beautiful tuberose soliflore I ever met: beyond love.
    But you can imagine how curious I was about the Back to Black.
    Big deception: the honey is just too much, too bright, the opening is too sweet, and the smoke…I don’t get it. I don’t get any comparison with Fumerie turque, BTW.
    However, on the price point… well. Nobody on the blogs seems to complain about perfume houses with steep pricing, like Amouage, Le labo, Guerlain, etc, etc… By kilian travel sprays are not *that* expensive and are as beautiful and refined as it gets.
    If I ever stumble on pure oud, you can bet I’ll try it!!

    • Kevin says:

      Zazie: I’ve read “complaints” galore about all those lines of fragrance, esp. the Guerlains and Amouage…and these days Le Labo is rather inexpensive compared to others of its type for 50 ml. I think there’s a psychological “barrier” when pefumes go over $200…it’s the line that makes you want WAAAAY more than “nice” “very nice” “pretty”, etc. I did wear BtoB side by side with Fumerie Turque and at a few points they seemed to “merge” they were so similar. I’ve never seen the travel sprays in person for By Kilian but they look great online.

  30. platinum14 says:

    Wow! When having a bad day, there’s nothing like reading a revue by you Kevin to cheer me up! You always have “le mot juste”!
    I love your revues!!!
    I guess I have an “allergic reaction” no niche lines to begin with, but the Pure Oud had all my attention…. That is until I saw your musk scale! On a -35 Canadian winter day, I MAY tolerate a Musk level 1, so level 5 pretty much killed Pure Oud for me… and the price tag was obviously the coup de grâce!!!

    • Kevin says:

      Plat14: if your limit is a Musk Level 1…then the mid section of Pure Oud would upset you! I guarantee it. (And THANKS!)

  31. teri says:

    B2B is gorgeous on me and were it available for $120, I’d already have it. Unfortunately, I’m just too much of a Recessionista to spend more than that amount on a luxury item at this time. A necessary luxury item, granted (lol), but a luxury item all the same. Luckily, I’m so well supplied that I can go into perfume siege mode for a few months and wear what I already own. The really good scents will still be around in 12-18 months and hopefully my economic picture will be brighter.

    • Kevin says:

      Teri: here’s to that!

  32. cazaubon says:

    I am not crazy about the over-the-top expensive packaging, but it does appear you can order the 100ml refills from without owning the fancy original bottle.

    As for B2B and Pure Oud, I love both and have purchased both. I prefer to buy one expensive thing I really love than a few cheaper ones I merely like, and I really loved both of these enough to purchase.

    • Kevin says:

      Cazaubon: that’s been my philosophy this year too…and I’ll probably make it to the end of the year with only four full bottles purchased. Perfume “Love” is hard to come by at any price for me….

  33. Absolute Scentualist says:

    Kevin, I seriously LOLed over your specific musk descriptions with regard to Pure Oud. And humorous and refreshingly honest review as always. Thank you! As someone who *may* go up to a 4 on the musk scale, I don’t think I’m quite brave enough to try the oud. Back to Black, otoh, sounds dreamy. I never got to sample or pick up either of the MAC honey frags, but do adore a good honey, particularly if it’s blended with tobacco. The very idea just sets my heart aflutter, and I’m still stalking the net for the MACs since they just sounded so lovely and full of layering possibilities.

    While the price point is disheartening, I will confess to owning both Indult Tihota and Manacara. Tihota is simply the best vanilla I’ve found next to Guerlain’s SDV which I also own, and Manacara isn’t complex but it is very good at what it does. That being lifting my spirits every time I wear it simply for the bright and juicy joyfulness of it. I think of it as a fruity floral for grown-ups. And Tihota is simply vanilla bliss with impossibly amazing staying power.

    I got my Indults from Lucky Scent and still have no idea how the bottle refilling situation will work (they didn’t include any info/bottle numbers), but given how hard I fell for them, it is a comforting thought to know they’ll be there for a while since I waited several months to purchase Tihota, and the same for Manacara. I typically don’t like paying much more than The New Free for a frag unless it develops into a full-blown obsession. And I know this usually seems to happen at least once a year so I try to choose very carefully. But when you fall in love with a frag, sometimes a decant just won’t do if you’re sneaking off for a spritz here and there throughout the day like a hardcore lush stealing into the kitchen to hit the cooking sherry again when no one’s looking. :D

    Most times, I’m happy with decants since my collection’s large enough that it takes me a while to even work through those.
    Decanting seems like the way to go with this line anyway, particularly if you like a few of them. I’m afraid to even try them, same as I am with Amouage. So thank you for at least helping me rule out Pure Oud. Now if I can forget the description for Back to Black. No. I will not leave this site and go buy a sample. The idea never crossed my mind. *looks the other way, whistles and sits on hands* :)

    • Kevin says:

      Absolute Scent.: do as I do…WAIT long enough and you’ll forget about it! OR it will seem OLD by the time the next truckload of releases hits your consciousness!

  34. Zootgator says:

    I’m coming to this thread late as I’ve just received a sample of Back to Black from Luck Scent and was having a look to remind myself what your take on it was.

    I’m a bit perplexed because I was soooo looking forward to this – I think I’d expected something along the lines of a more oriental Bandit (having not clocked that ‘honey’ note), and on me this smells like someone has poured vanilla essence and honey into an ashtray – and I don’t mean that in a good way!

  35. Buttercup says:

    I’m also a latecomer to this thread.
    There really is no alternative to Pure Oud Oil! The first and most prestigious company to offer Oud to the Western World is Oriscent. I have sampled many of their Pure Oud Oils and there is nothing like them. You might think that Oud isn’t for everyone and you’re not mistaken but companies like Oriscent have such a variety to choose from you’ll know what’s best suited to you.
    Someone mentioned their sampler set. There are only 8 left – I highly recommend Blue Brunei for the women! A tropical paradise.
    The price tags might look a tad daunting but the oil lasts a long time. I still have my samples intact from last year.

    Nothing beast pure oud oil (and i mean the REAL stuff)

  36. lsprin2 says:

    I just stumbled on this review, and I have to say it is the FUNNIEST one I’ve read! Very witty, Kevin, thanks for brightening my morning :) Super Funky Donkey! Ha!

  37. Shoegal says:

    I’ve just received my set of 10 samples of By Kilian frags from Lucky Scent and Pure Oud is the first one that I’ve tried. I really didn’t think that I would like it as I’m a bit of a sucker for fresh/floral scents but as I can’t stop sniffing my wrist I think I may be a convert.

  38. dolcesarah says:

    Why would anyone want to smell like this? I’m staying away from this brand. This nose has the most open of minds, but please, seriously? This would make my lover have to take a shower, though I do love the smell of him when he is sweating, but that is a sexual thing. Reminds me when we first got married. We went to Barbados. No TV, no Phone, only 14 rooms and our on private beach bound by two huge rocks. It was cooler outside so we would make love then sit outside. We need to go back there. It’s been 13 years. This coming year will be great. But you can’t bottle that. Never even close.. Just get some Byredo, seven veils and you’re good!!

  39. knightswhosaybeep says:

    Again, I’m a bit late to the game, so please accept my apologies in advance.

    I’ve heard quite a bit about Back to Black for some time, and I’ve just gotten around to trying it – and I have to say I really like it.

    The tobacco note reminds me of a hippie shop about thirty minutes from where I live, and they sell organic tobacco to burn as incense. It’s definitely head, earthy, with a slight sweetness. Whenever I’m down there, I always take a big whiff of it, I like it that much.
    The addition of the honey and the fruits brings it into Swisher Sweets territory, but I like it. Plus, on my the cherry comes out more on the dry down and gets spicy, and I love it!

    As far as purchases go, I went for the travel size spray. Granted, the box is cute, but unnecessary. If I had the extra cash, I probably wouldn’t blink an eye.

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