By Kilian Amber Oud : Perfume Review



Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

When I read about the niche perfume line by Kilian coming out with Amber Oud, a new fragrance for its Arabian Nights Collection, I did not feel at all excited. Another oud, another amber, another overplayed trendy note. So, when a helpful sales associate at Saks asked me if I wanted to try the new fragrance, I reluctantly reached for the blotter. I gingerly sniffed the white paper, and suddenly I was charmed. As I was drawn deeper into the spicy warmth of Amber Oud, I could not even hear the din of Saks’s beauty department, nor did I realize that I was blocking someone’s way. I was only conscious of the dark sweetness coming off the blotter, a mélange of spices, vanilla liqueur and smoky woods.

Sure enough, by Kilian’s prices brought me to the ground with a thud. Still I walked away with a sample, with which I have been living for the past couple of weeks. The beguiling moment of my first encounter with Amber Oud comes back whenever I wear it, which is a rare delight. There is nothing tired about this idea—the dense and rich oud is interspersed with the dry, crisp amber, which cuts through the richness and heft. The medicinal, “band aid” impression disliked by oud detractors is not obvious here. Like perfumer Calice Becker’s other ouds for by Kilian, Rose Oud and Pure Oud, it is similarly luminous. However, Amber Oud is the softest of her oud interpretations, a perfume with a suave, caressing character.

One of my favorite aspects of Amber Oud is its spicy floral accent. I envision it as a flourish of red petals, and as the composition develops, this illusion keeps drawing me back. The dark carnation effect is suggested by the combination of allspice and bay leaf. The bay leaf with its green mango note is particularly appealing against the caramel richness of benzoin, amber and woods.

In its drydown, Amber Oud leaves Scheherazade’s boudoir and enters into her pastry kitchen. The vanilla note is similar to the smoky, cured vanilla bean of Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille, but without the latter’s density. In contrast to another vanilla and oud idea I love, L’Artisan Vanille Absolument, Amber Oud is more nuanced. It settles into the base of cinnamon spiced chocolate, roasted almonds and a light drizzle of caramel. The sweetness is tempered by the lingering smoky incense, while the dryness of the amber accord keeps the richness in check.

By Kilian Amber Oud (Arabian Nights Collection) includes notes of cedarwood, vanilla, bay leaf, and benzoin. By Kilian fragrances are sold from Aedes, MiN, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks5thAvenue. $235, 4 x .25oz spray refills and portable flacon; $395, 50ml spray bottle.

Sample: my own acquisition



  • Olfactoria: Oh my, this sounds absolutely perfect. I wish (at these prices) you had written a damning review of Amber Oud.
    But alas… 🙂 January 25, 2012 at 5:51am Reply

  • Victoria: I enjoy it very much. In fact, I was surprised how much I liked it. Yes, at these prices I wish I didn't. I like everything about by Kilian's line but the prices. They make Lutens seem like a bargain. January 25, 2012 at 7:53am Reply

  • Parfymerad: I love Pure Oud and Rose Oud in this line, but like you thought ‘Amber Oud’ sounded too trite for words, so hadn’t been tempted…now I am 🙂 Btw, do you know the ‘nose’ for the ouds? The Kilian website lists Calice Becker as creator of a number of the ‘Oeuvre Noir’ scents, but there are no names attached to the ‘Arabian Nights’ series. January 25, 2012 at 8:42am Reply

  • Victoria: I was also tempted by Back to Black once again, but resisted. 🙂
    All ouds but Incense Oud are by Calice Becker. By Kilian announced it, but then they never updated their website.

    Rose Oud is my favorite so far, but Amber Oud is a close rival. January 25, 2012 at 9:17am Reply

  • Suzanna: If anything is going to make me like oud, it is this review. I can almost smell how this fragrance comes together, and mention of lack of the medicinal note has more than intrigued me.

    The price: More than a Band-Aid’s worth. January 25, 2012 at 9:46am Reply

  • Victoria: The question of price that bugs me aside, I think that it is a beautiful perfume. The contrast between the spices, gourmand and animalic notes makes me realize that delicious things like chocolate and vanilla also have some of those raunchy, dark elements. Or do I now have a dirty mind (thanks to March of Perfume Posse!) and see animalic in everything? 🙂 January 25, 2012 at 10:16am Reply

  • kjanicki: WOW. This sounds amazing. I’m not a big Oud fan but I loved and bought their Incense Oud this fall. It has only a second or two of the Band-aid nte at the top and then it is mostly incense and sandalwood to me. I love it. I look forward to trying Amber Oud.

    To help with the cost, I bought the refill bottle which comes with a cute little funnel, and filled my own decant bottle. It’s much cheaper that way. January 25, 2012 at 10:47am Reply

  • Victoria: Krista, if you liked the softness of Incense Oud, you might like this take as well. You can smell the animalic-woody part of oud, but the searing sharpness is absent. I like the bitter chocolate- vanilla impression of the drydown very much. It does a lot to soften the oud part. January 25, 2012 at 10:57am Reply

  • Olga: Thank you, this is definitely getting to the top of my to-sniff list! Your description makes it sound as if it has my name on it. January 25, 2012 at 12:09pm Reply

  • Marko: This sounds intriguing….I will have to try this next time I’m near Saks.

    Rose Oud has been at the very top of my “to buy” list for a year now, but no matter how disciplined I am about saving money for a “slice of fragrance Heaven”, I just can’t justify the price. Alas, the By Killian line makes me feel like the “99 percent-er” that I am (I might even vote for Mitt if he bought me a bottle….heehee….) January 25, 2012 at 1:42pm Reply

  • Rina: Thanks for this V, I have a sample that my more than generous Saks Kilian rep gave me but I’m disappointed with the staying power (or serious lack therof). Did you find this one to last longer than Straight to Heaven or Love and Tears (my current go-tos)? They last as long as the Hermessences, which isn’t saying much, IMHO… January 25, 2012 at 1:54pm Reply

  • Liz: Definitely sounds intriguing! Though I find the L’Artisan Vanilla you referenced too sweet. But I’m very much enjoying some amber samples these days.

    By the way, I just started a new perfume blog: January 25, 2012 at 2:47pm Reply

  • Lynn Morgan: Sounds utterly scrumptious! I love a dark, sexy, resinous scent and this sounds perfect- the touch of vanilla sweetening and smoothing out the woody, incense notes. Must scamper over to Scent Bar and sniff posthaste! January 25, 2012 at 4:28pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I tried my first By Kilians the other day. With no intention of buying because I find them very expensive. I tried Beyond Love and Love and Tears. I thought they were very beautiful, but fortunately I wasn’t smitten. I will have to try this one as well. You make it sound very tempting. January 25, 2012 at 4:28pm Reply

  • Victoria: Amber Oud is less sugary-sweet, but it is definitely vanillic in the drydown. January 25, 2012 at 5:11pm Reply

  • Nancy: I personally sampled Kilian’s Amber Oud at Bergdorf several weeks ago. The bottle was not displayed with the other perfumes, however Eva, one of the sales representatives knows my interest in Ouds and discussions about Kilian’s Ouds led me to a preview sniffing of AO. Since I enjoyed Incense Oud, AO is a different Oud on me, which I’m totally drawn to. Total sensuality. Some comments by others sampling were: exotic and erotic — even sexual. January 25, 2012 at 5:14pm Reply

  • Victoria: If you like vanilla and woods and ambers, definitely try it. It is softer than most ouds, so I am not sure if it is a plus or a minus for us. Some people love their ouds as animalic as possible. January 25, 2012 at 5:15pm Reply

  • Victoria: Oh, thank you for your impressions. Yes, definitely sensual. It has some beautiful twists as it dries down. Even the late drydown is wonderful. January 25, 2012 at 5:18pm Reply

  • Victoria: I found it very long lasting. I could smell it on my skin after the shower even. It does not have a huge sillage, it stays closer to the skin as it develops. However, I can't complain about the lasting power. January 25, 2012 at 5:21pm Reply

  • Victoria: I hear you! There is a certain price that I find difficult to contemplate spending on perfume. Each year the prices are getting higher and higher for these niche perfumes.
    That being said, I no longer feel the need to own everything. I'm just happy that beautiful things exist. January 25, 2012 at 5:27pm Reply

  • Victoria: I completely understand you. If you are to spend this much, you have to be completely in love. Amber Oud was an immediate love for me–I love how it treats the woody amber theme and offers an interesting interpretation. And yet, I resisted the temptation.

    Another oud from by Kilian that I enjoy is Rose Oud. I also like L'Artisan Al Oudh very much and Dior's. So much ouds out there, but few stand out. January 25, 2012 at 5:35pm Reply

  • Victoria: Cannot wait to hear what you think, Lynn! 🙂 January 25, 2012 at 5:36pm Reply

  • Marko: Excellent point. And I, too, have been very comfortable with my current collection…’s nice feeling, isn’t it? January 25, 2012 at 11:26pm Reply

  • Victoria: Perfume Zen moment! 🙂
    And yes, it is a nice feeling. At some point it is just impossible to wear and enjoy it all. Frederic Malle often makes an analogy in his interviews when he says that you can't kiss every beautiful woman in the street. At least, with perfume, sampling is a fairly low commitment, even if you get an occasional slap in the face… January 25, 2012 at 11:48pm Reply

  • Marlena: I went to Saks yesterday to try Amber Oud after reading your review. Wow, what a beautiful, sensual perfume. I feel as if I should be reclining on brocaded pillows and listening to beautiful music instead of sitting in my cubicle. I’m already planning a bottle split with my best friend, also a perfume fanatic. January 26, 2012 at 9:54am Reply

  • Victoria: I’m glad to hear that you also liked it. Hmm, I would give a lot to be reclining on some brocaded pillows right now! 🙂 January 26, 2012 at 1:05pm Reply

  • Tara C: It was lovely but quite a bit lighter than another favorite, Montale Oud Amber. I will need to test this a few more times, but doubt it will be worth the price to me. Wish the entire oud series was as potent as the first two, Pure Oud and Rose Oud. January 28, 2012 at 2:31pm Reply

  • Victoria: I see what you mean, Tara. It is quite soft, and I think that for me the softness was the major selling point. I like Pure Oud, but I find it difficult to wear. Rose Oud, on the other hand, is perfect. My favorite oud so far. January 28, 2012 at 4:45pm Reply

  • Deb: Great idea to split the bottle with a friend. One bottle of perfume lasts such a long time, and half a bottle will still give you lots of scent pleasure. Plus it gives us an excuse to buy one of those charming decorative perfume containers. I want this lovely perfume so much – where can I find my own perfume partner?? 🙂 February 11, 2012 at 2:18pm Reply

  • Felicia: I have been gone a while from the “sniffing” world but was sent a sample of this in the mail, sprayed it and then ran to my PC to see if you had reviewed it. Alas, there the review was. I love the smoky then floral note but it smelled vaguely familiar. I just sprayed Musc Ravageur and I see some minor similarities but not sure if it stirred my desire to buy or killed the lemming. Mostly I was pleased to see you here again and still very much on point! Fragrant hugs to you, V. Off to consider a purchase 🙂 February 22, 2012 at 10:49pm Reply

  • Isabeau: I have tried a sample and yes it has got me too!! I love it ..damn that price!! April 18, 2012 at 8:57am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, that’s precisely it–the price is outrageous, but I love the perfume. So, my love will remain confined to a sample vial. 🙂 April 18, 2012 at 9:16am Reply

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