Before I launch into a review of Montale Aoud Cuir d’Arabie, some background is in order.
Montale is not an ages-old perfumer, having been around only since 2003, but it has amassed a reputation for producing very high quality scents during that period. While crtitics may choose to identify much of their product as “derivative”, there’s not much dispute that they have quickly become the de facto reference standard for any Oud-based fragrance. Their work in the manufacture of and development of fragrances around this element stands alone among peers who may have one or two scents based on Agarwood. Montale?
Yes, you read that correctly. 27 different fragrance variations centered around that central note. When you consider that all of them have been developed and marketed only in the last nine years, that’s an even tougher act to follow. It’s a very aggressive schedule. Montale has also mastered the notion of fragrance storage by decanting all of his scents in an aluminum container to keep out light and heat. Clever and effective, as well as an interesting marketing strategy.
With a line-up of 27 different variations on Oud, some are bound to be stand-outs while others will simply be derivative and others puzzling. On more than one occasion, people smelling a Montale have asked the question of “where is the Oud” in one of his Oud-named scents, as often it can seem to be simply a side-note. More on that in a future review. Given the new-found popularity of Oud, it has tended to become in many cases a very unisex or universal note, not given completely to either a traditionally male or female olfactory profile; for most of Montale’s fragrance line, this is equally the case with specific exceptions.
For this review, I’ve chosen the most masculine of Montale’s Aoud line: Cuir D’Arabie.
Montale Aoud Cuir d’Arabie (~2009): To understand Cuir d’Arabie is to understand the power behind each of the elements, all of which are unbridled in this composition. Tobacco, Oud, Birch, with the subtle accompanyment of leather throughout. This is not for the faint of heart, as it is deep, strong, and captivating. It is a very linear composition that both builds and mellows from the sharpness at opening to a more subtle and defined leather. Cuir d’Arabie is a powerful and masculine statement: The leather from a tack room juxtaposed against a very raw yet pure tobacco, a rich birch, and the very unqiue scent of Oud.
It is the ‘bad boy’ of fragrances, as it makes a very potent impression on both the wearer and anyone within the reach of it’s boldly and unapologetic sillage. It’s spicy and animalic, it carries a very raw attraction that could be interpreted as very off-putting, or — in most cases — very rugged and sensual.
This is also one of the few fragrances from which people have literally stood downwind from me and commented on how incredible the room smells. I must say that it is not for the faint of heart. Longevity in its EDP form is full-day — meaning from 5AM through to the same time the next day. It’s a scent that can be quickly overdone, so potential wearers should simply spray or apply at pulse points; the scent will do the rest very well.
All of this said, this is not a fragrance long on formalities or subtlety. Imagine, if you will, Tom Ford Tuscan Leather (for those familiar). Take that feeling and multiply is exponentially. That will give you some idea of the type of scent Cuir d’Arabie represents. Wearers will fall into one of a few camps:
- They’ll like it.
- They’ll LOVE it.
- They’ll be intrigued or captivated by it.
- They’ll run scared from it.
This review obviously isn’t skewed toward the last audience.
Rating: 4.75/5. Highly recommended with caveats. This is NOT a blind-buy. It’s also not widely available, so my best advice is to order a sample decant from LuckyScent or The Perfumed Court, try it, and decide whether this is a fragrance that you feel suits your tastes and skin chemistry. This is strong enough, even in EDP, for even dry skin types to not completely absorb the scent. It is also decidedly masculine. Given some of the current androgyny in fragrances, this is not a scent that easily translates to a feminine profile.
Bottom-line: You’re seeking a single fragrance that captures the essence of Oud, creates a bold statement, has a unique character, is masculine, rugged, and will likely evoke a reaction. Aoud Cuir d’Arabie is that fragrance. It’s not easily found, but is it ever worth the search.