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Oud: revealing the mysteries of agarwood

Agarwood, also known as oud, is a highly valued raw material in the world of perfumery, due in part to its enormous olfactory complexity.

The olfactory accords of oud can vary greatly depending on its origin and quality, although they usually present woody smells with sensual animal nuances and a sweet, warm undertone with subtle earthy traits.

Oud is extracted from trees of the Aquilaria genus, of which there are dozens of species, some of which can reach forty meters in height.

They are found naturally in the Southeast Asia area, India and Bangladesh. Among the main exporters of agarwood are Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia, which can sell a kilo of top quality agarwood for more than €50,000.

The high price of this raw material is mainly due to its scarcity, since Aquilaria wood itself is practically odourless.

Only when these trees are infected by the fungus Phialophora parasitica do they begin to secrete a resin which is responsible for darkening the heartwood of the wood and producing that exquisite aroma, so appreciated by perfumers around the world.

Because the percentage of naturally infected Aquilaria trees is very low, artificial induction of this infection is commonly practiced.  Another variable that influences the quality of the oud to be always considered is that it is extracted from trees who are at least 25 years old.

Its essential oil can be extracted from this wood using methods such as steam distillation, although it is also common, especially in Arab countries, to burn oud fragments so that they give off their characteristic aroma.



Despite its popularity in the Middle East, the history of the oud begins in Asia, already appearing referenced in Sanskrit texts dating back to the 14th century BC.

In the year 65 BC, Dioscorides described in his book De Materia Medica various medicinal properties of oud and its use as incense.

Writings have also been found in China dating back to the 3rd century AD. about the collection of this matter. These records confirm that, at that time, it was already known that making cuts in an Aquilaria tree could cause, a few years later, the darkening of the internal wood of the tree and the production of agarwood.

Oud would later reach Japan and the Middle East, becoming completely rooted in the culture of countries like Saudi Arabia, where it is as representative of their perfumery as incense, myrrh and musk.

As the use of Oud spread across Europe, French royalty also adopted the use of this exotic fragrance. Louis XIV of France, nicknamed the Sun King, loved this scent so much that he insisted on scenting his clothes with a mixture that included oud, nutmeg, cloves, and rosewater.



Today, oud essence has become an extremely popular raw material in the production of fragrances and can be found in a wide variety of sectors.

It is used in a large number of fine perfumery compositions, giving oriental notes to these exotic creations, which combine perfectly with flowers such as rose and jasmine and are capable of remaining on the skin for hours.

It is also increasingly common to find oud notes in essences made for ambience that seek to differentiate themselves and offer an air of sophistication.

In order to supply the market demand by offering competitive prices and without falling into overexploitation of these trees, it is common to replicate the smell of oud through the use of natural ingredients and synthetic alternatives.

Synthetic molecules not only make it possible to lower manufacturing costs and offer a more sustainable alternative, but they also make it easier to replicate the smell, thus allowing it to not vary between manufactures.

At Destilerías Muñoz Gálvez we develop fragrances with oud essence for all types of applications, turning its oriental notes into the protagonists of unique aromatic compositions.

Would you like your product to have the depth that only oud can provide? Please, feel free to contact us without obligation.