What came first: the scent or the egg? Bear with us. This question will make more sense as we get into this story about one of the more distinctive niche brands to have emerged in recent years, The House of Oud (THoO).
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The point of difference starts with founder Andrea Casotti, a nuclear engineer, CEO of Creative Flavours & Fragrances and perfumer (the Italian has also created fragrances for Moresque Parfum, Jovoy and Anima Mundi).
Since its founding in 2016, THoO has given Andrea Casotti an abundant creative outlet for his love of raw materials, music and art.
Niche brand founders will often bang on about the artistry of perfumery and in the case of THoO, that comes through absolutely in the egg-shaped bottle designs (all hand-painted and clearly not to be chucked out when you’ve savoured every last drop of its contents).
The high standard of THoO releases through various collections (Universe THoO, The Crop, Royal Stones, Desert Days, Klem Garden and Crazy) dispels any notions of artifice at the expense of quality.
Coming back to our question at the start of this story, this is our (admittedly roundabout way) of saying both are equally important when it comes to this Italian company.
The oud part of the brand’s name reveals another intriguing element to the story: the role of THoO co-founder Mohammed Abu Nashi (aka the “Oud Hunter”), an Indonesian-based oud producer who brings his expertise in the precious ingredient to the equation.
While earlier releases mostly focused on it, other launches show the diversity of the house. Those that do feature oud do so without overpowering the other materials and assaulting your senses.
This selection should give you a good idea of the variety the house has to offer.
Our Shortlist For Best The House of Oud Fragrances
The House of Oud Blessing Silence EDP (Andrea Casotti)
How well do you know your classic combos? Black and white. Check. Tom and Jerry. Check. Caramel and salt. Check. Oud and rose…
Yip, this 2016 release from the Desert Days Collection (one of the house’s launch perfumes) is a variation on the ever-popular theme but has more quality than most.
Earthy hints of labdanum and patchouli give way to a harmonious musky-licious oud-rose combo, with the creaminess of sandalwood in support.
It’s a minimalist affair that allows the character of the ingredients to shine. The result is as serene as its name.
The House of Oud Breath of the Infinite EDP (Andrea Casotti)
At first, this 2016 release from the Desert Days Collection whispers the freshness of freesia and peony notes.
And then the powdery fruitiness of peach makes an appearance.
All the while there’s a deep and distinctive sensuality delivered through a blend of Cashmeran, musk, Ambroxan and a touch of Irian oud (sourced from Indonesia).
There’s something quite sombre about it and we keep on coming back for more to try to work it out. But sometimes mystery must be left alone to work its magic.
The House of Oud What About Pop EDP (Cristian Calabrò)
What about it, you might ask. This 2019 release from the Universe THoO Collection might not be the first popcorn fragrance – it, er, pops up in everything from Paco Rabanne Pure XS For Her EDP (2018) to Etat Libre d’Orange La Fin du Monde EDP (2013). But it certainly takes it to another level of indulgent deliciousness.
The note makes its presence felt from the beginning. It’s salty and caramelised.
What could be a one-dimensional trick is given floral touches of honeyed hawthorn and spicy night-blooming cereus. And then there’s the extras of creamy vanilla and an amber accord in which the warmth of benzoin stands out with its balsamic tones.
It’s so good, this is the one time we’ll tolerate you munching popcorn in our ears.
Want more gourmand treats in the style the house does so well? Then we also recommend the 2016 releases The House of Oud Almond Harmony EDP and The House of Oud Dates Delight EDP.
The House of Oud Neverending EDP (Douglas Morel)
An appropriate name for this 2021 release from the Universe THoO Collection that lingers on the skin long after application.
The opening sees a reserved take on fresh pink grapefruit mingling with the earthy spiciness of nutmeg and black pepper. Cumin can be problematic (some people experience it as sweaty), but perfumer Douglas Morel ensures it doesn’t steal the show from the white floral notes of tuberose and jasmine.
Their sensuality is enhanced with the powderiness of a suede accord and dollops of black vanilla.
The persistent aspect must be due to the presence of cypriol oil and guaiac wood, with their leathery properties, in the drydown. What could have been animalic overload is admirably restrained yet impactful.
The House of Oud Crop 22 EDP
Since the house’s founding in 2016, annual limited editions from The Crop Collection have featured quality certified oud from Mohammed Abu Nashi’s harvest.
“Limited editions” are open to interpretation but if all the “out of stocks” on the brand’s website and numbered editions on the bottom of the bottles are anything to go by, this is no deceptive marketing ploy.
The 2022 addition to the range (349 bottles and still available) presents the Arabic coffee tradition of qahwa in a rich and spicy style.
A brew of dark, cacao-ish coffee beans is infused with the contrasts of fresh spiciness (aromatic cardamom alert, earthy nutmeg) and warm spiciness (powdery cinnamon, softly sweet cloves). There’s an element of greenery from mint.
The oud (from Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo) never dominates but adds smoky woodiness to the blend.
Deeply satisfying stuff.
The House of Oud fragrances are available in the United States from ZGO Perfumery and Lucky Scent.
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Richard Goller is a fragrance and grooming blogger. His blog is called Fragroom. A senior editor with 20 years' experience, his blog allows him to combine two of his passions: engaging content and the always-intriguing world of fragrances. When he isn't blogging, you'll find Richard indulging in his newly found passion for balcony gardening.