Tom Ford’s Oud Wood, Acqua di Parma’s Colonia Oud, Creed’s Royal Oud—each of these are great examples of fragrances that seek to make oud pleasing to the masses, with very little (if any) oud. Standing in stark contrast to those tame beauties, Al Kimiya’s Hayat is an example of what can be crafted when a talented perfumer attempts to make an actual oud palatable.
Upon first spray, it is clear that Hayat is a different animal entirely. From the outset, I can smell the quality oud clearly and without obstruction. The oud note here smells similar to the one used heavily in the fragrance “Ilm”, also from Al Kimiya. The best I could describe it, which may sound a bit odd, is the smell of a piece of fragrant bleu cheese sitting on a wet, mossy log. For the uninitiated, it will smell strange, perhaps a bit weird, but never unpleasant or disturbing as the oud is always accompanied by other elements. To make it less conspicuous and enveloping (you’ll have to try Ilm for a pure oud in all its alien glory), Hayat buries the lovely oud in mounds of cedar, spices (cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron), patchouli, and cypriot, all rounded out with a traditional dash of lavender.