Anyone who's read my reviews knows I'm not a big fan of niche fragrances. However, I feel I need to review them every once in a while to retain some credibility as a reviewer. I can't always be reviewing brain-bashing powerscents all the time.
I had low expectations for this scent, considering how disappointed I was with Montale's Patchouli Leaves, as well as my dislike of most niche fragrances. I think oud scents are overrated, and Montale seems to crank out a new oud fragrance every other day. I have no patience for that kind of pretentious silliness. Imagine my surprise then when I finally had a chance to wear Montale's flagship frag, Black Aoud, because this is really excellent.
First off, naming this "Black Aoud" is just wrong. This should have been called "Black Rose", because that's exactly what this is: a very dark, deep and brooding rose fragrance. I smell little to no oud in this. Oud is a multifaceted wood scent that can take on a lot of different smells, but typically it's a medicinal, musky wood scent. I smell nothing like that in Black Aoud.
Any oud in here is used to flesh out the rose note, preventing it from being too pungent and heady and giving it great transparency. There's also a healthy dose of patchouli in Black Aoud, which adds to the transparency of the rose and gives it some aromatic bite. By itself, rose can smell overbearing and dense as lead. By contrast, Black Aoud surrounds you in a dusky, bewitching cloud of floating scent. It's really a beautiful fragrance.
Don't worry about this being a floral fragrance, because this smells plenty masculine, even though a woman could wear this as well. For you guys who aren't familiar with rose, you should know that it's an ingredient in a lot of men's fragrances, whether you realize it or not. Perfumers don't add rose to a men's fragrance to make it smell wimpy or girly. They add it to a fragrance to make it smell dark and mysterious. Rose is a major ingredient in manly masterpieces like Van Cleef & Arpels Pour Homme, Ungaro III and Zino Davidoff, and it's the ingredient that gives those scents their melancholy and austere edge.
Black Aoud, like all of Montale's fragrances, has no gender designation, and is marketed as unisex. It's a scent that will smell manly on a guy, but it projects elegant masculinity, not nail-eating machismo.
I never thought I'd find a Montale scent I really like, never mind find one that I'd actually spend my hard earned money to buy. Black Aoud is a fragrance I'd shell out the 115 clams for.
MY RATING: 8.5/10
Fragrance House: Montale