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domingo, 1 de maio de 2016

Antonio Visconti's Oud Maharaji: Much More Than Oud


Like almost all niche brands in Milan's Esxence, Antonio Visconti couldn't resist it and also launched a trio of oud fragrances. They are all within the trend of European oud fantasies, which means that they don't smell like real oud attars, but rather employ the note to intensify the compositions and have a Middle Eastern appeal for the brand. I still wonder if any Arabian fragrance lover buys the European ouds... The new oud-inspired fragrances from Antonio Visconti are Oud MaharajiOud Mohave and Oud Nomade. I happen to love the first one, Oud Maharaji.
Some perfumes are twisted by the name they carry. There is so much more to this new edition than just oud, even though the final result is not very far from a high quality modern mukhallat (diluted, of course). This is a complex fragrance that I have been studying for weeks since there is a plethora of notes going on at the same time. And the result is bigger than the sum of its parts. Tobacco, sandalwood, oud... A sweet and balmy, woody wonder lives inside the beautiful flacon.
Antonio Visconti is not a shy perfumer and he likes opulence without restraint in his signature fragrances. If we recall Fleur de Nuit, we can see that rich, oriental compositions are a staple of the brand. Unusual takes on traditional ingredients like the ones in the magnificent (and rather overlooked) perfumes Fleur et Feuille de Jasmin and La Divina Tubereuse are traits this man likes to deliver, with gravitas and grandeur. This Oud Maharaji reaches my nose in the same style. It is big, bold and sensuous. And it can also be elusive, due to its many layers.
When I spray Oud Maharaji on me, I am hit by an almost hearable blast of spices and woods. There is also a vibrating accord of a fizzy, harsh and chemical wave, which can come from real oud. The funky, strange, aggressive qualities of oud serve this concoction with a dramatic opening. But this initial shout comes with the mellowness and the sweet comfort of something that will keep us company for the rest of the development of the scent: tobacco and sandalwood. The tobacco note is one of the most comfortable and balanced ones I have met recently in fragrance. And when it fuses with the creaminess of sandalwood, it reassures you that this will be a smooth ride after the hostile but invigorating opening.
What comes after is a calm symphony of woody tones, which is a result of a very tame oud accord, woods of many kinds, especially cedar and sandalwood, the generous embrace of tobacco leaves and well kept cigars. There is the overall atmosphere of the gentleman's club, which comes from the introduction of vanilla in the already boozy/smoky theme and the zing of liquorish, a note that I saw coming as a trend in fragrances from Angelo Caroli, Angela Ciampagna and Sven Pritzkoleit at the Esxence and Global Art of Perfumery expo this year. Just to add another hint, I sometimes think that Oud Maharaji resembles some aspects of Jardins d'Écrivains Orlando, due to the woody sweetness. The final drop of ambergris only contributes to make it last a bit longer but all in all, this turns into a soft scent after the first couple of hours.
In conclusion, Oud Maharaji is not really an oud fragrance and it would be reductive to think it is. It is a solidly composed journey into honeyed, smoky and woody delights with a core strengthened by an Arabian resin that only makes it even more embodied. If you like tobacco, whiskey, smoke and creamy woods, this should make you moan like it did for me at first sniff.
Top notes: armoise, lemon, fenugreek
Heart notes: cedarwood, sandal Mysore, agarwood, patchouli
Base notes: absolute tobacco, vanilla, licorice root, musk, grey amber

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