Le Labo Oud 27 (2009) is not often discussed in conversations concerning Western takes on oud. Part of it may be Le Labo's penchant for crying wolf with titles that promise a theme but deliver something else, making folks suspicious of the authenticity of the oud accord within, but most of it may just be that the house's heavy-hitters like the ever-popular Santal 33 (2011) have overshadowed it. In any case, Oud 27 uses much of the same Firmenich-provided compound as the later Dior Leather Oud (2010), and therefore has a considerable animalic presence in the opening, but doesn't amplify this with leather like the Dior to send the barnyard skank into the stratosphere. Paired with some basic aromatics of the same theme, Le Labo Oud 27 is a fairly balanced take on Agar that rests between challenging and attractive. This won't blow the doors off for oud lovers, but has a place in the wardobe of casual fans with enough coin to splurge on a brand like Le Labo. I'd consider it at a good sale price, which makes it only one of a small number from the house I would.
The opening of Oud 27 is as one might expect: agarwood skank and little else. This isn't the real deal so there is little of the borderline-offensive fecal quality or murky depth of actual oud tincture, but the crotch smell so many Westerners complain about is in full swing (pun intended), and is followed by a bit of saffron. There isn't much progression here, making me believe only a 2-tier structure was used, with the oud and saffron on top of everything else. Patchouli, cedar, olibanum, and guaiac wood round this out, resulting in a late-wear dryness that most commercial synthetic ouds sold in the west tend to employ. Ah well, starts off reasonably authentic-smelling then eventually grows safer into the wear, but wisps of that animalic top of course do linger. Performance is moderate as is longevity. Wear this where you dare, as Le Labo Oud 27 does not play nice whatsoever, even if it falls shy of smelling like a mating call or laundry hamper full of used gym shorts. I like this but teeter on how much.
Someone who is on the fence about oud and is trying to graduate from something safer like Tom Ford Oud Wood (2007) might find Le Labo Oud 27 an appropriate step up, but someone well-versed in artisanal fare or attars will probably laugh this off (especially after the dry down) as expected, so Oud 27 is another "inbetweener" just like Louis Vuitton Nouveau Monde (2018), albeit less artistic and coming closer in virility to something like Diptyque Oud Palao (2015) but minus the rose and drier. When you take into consideration that Le Labo beat all these upscale creations to the punch (including Dior) and still managed to make something believable, Oud 27 feels worthwhile until you realize stuff like the comparable Bogart One Man Show Oud Edition (2014) now exists at a fraction of the price. This may be another overpriced synth oud, but Oud 27 at least smells like the label suggests, unlike most Le Labo scents which like to play a tongue-in-cheek game of bait-and-switch with their names. Thumbs up.
The first minutes are dirty as a result of the combination between civet and oud. Next, the skank (the civet) takes a second seat and new nuances appear. Smelling up close, the fragrance is complex and I smell a solid woody base with a mix of aldehydes, rose, patchouli and amber. It sounds like it should be really heavy, but it has an airy feel to it, maybe because of the aldehydes.
I keep thinking of Leather Oud while I smell this phase, it is in the same ballpark with the civet/oud combination, just that it's not honeyed. After a couple of hours, a beautiful incense note floats together with the woods and the late dry down is mostly a cedar/vetiver/musk combo, really pleasant and easy to wear, far from the skanky opening.
A quality Oud, but a too animatic for my liking. The initial blast smells like a wild animals genitalia during mating season. The dry down softens into a pleasant sweet aroma. Occasions? Anywhere, but the office under the circumstances outlined previously.
You're a rotting tree. When you were alive, you spent a few hundred years enjoying a peaceful and sumptuously windy existence. You would even boast to the other trees, because your leaves and branches were always plentiful, because wildlife from all over called you their home, because lovers even carved their names in your sides. Everything was perfect until insects found you and bored into you and began tearing you apart from inside. You loosened, and you crumbled, and your whole trunk broke off and fell to the ground. Do you remember watching it erode over time while you were left as a helpless, rotting stump? Currently, your existence is not a pretty one. Every day, you're plagued by incurable necrosis. Every day, you're sprayed with urine by all kinds of animals as they mark their territory. Every day, you're sent rose petals by the wind, as if it, too, mourned your death. Congratulations, tree. You have become the headstone to your own, sorry grave. Oud 27 by Le Labo.
Dry, dusty paper or parchment scent for most of the wear. Long lasting. Office appropriate if worn under clothing.
Oud? I'd say much closer to the dry & parchy Firmenich Oud blend variety (e.g. Kilian Pure Oud, Dior Leather Oud) rather than the somewhat sweet & peppery Givaudan Black Agar variety (e.g. Bond Harrods Swarovski, TF Oud Wood). Synth just the same. I am not negatively sensitive to barnyard smells... and would not consider Oud 27 overbearing in this regard at all. YMMV.