Pure Oud is the racehorse of the Western oud-based fragrances; all sinew and nerve, and not an inch of fat to spare. Kilian could have easily named this Oud Noir or Dark Oud, because Pure Oud really does convey the inky, matte darkness of a moonless night sky.
It smells like a black leather jacket tinctured into a pool of black tar and then vaporized into a mist of gasoline.
Pure Oud draws a line around itself and stays within it. Real oud oil has a smell that spills messily out over every line you've drawn for yourself; the brazenly-named Pure Oud (it is purely synthetic) is self-contained. But they do share a common denominator both smell other-worldly and somewhat stark.
For me, it is the Western-based oud fragrance that comes closest to mimicking the smell of real oud oil. Not a sour, fermented-smelling Hindi or Assam oud oil, but one of those aged, dry oud oils where you can pick out hints of leather, dried fruit, melting plastic lunch boxes, and smoke.
Caveat: Pure Oud is a minimalist take on a maximalist smell, i.e., it does not approach the complexity or range of aromas of real oud oil. Nothing this obviously synthetic can come close to copying something so rudely natural.
But the experience of using oud oils and attars is not interchangeable with or comparable to using traditional fragrance; one is a quiet, more private experience geared toward internal contemplation; the other is a projection of oneself to the wider world. We shouldn't keep holding up one against the other in a race for authenticity. Prefer instead that benchmark of Guy Robert's: Does it smell good? And yes, Pure Oud does smell good very good indeed.
I find Pure Oud to be very quiet, but long-lasting. Sometimes, to turn up the volume a bit, I re-spray during the day, twice, or even three times. This way, it builds up on the skin in layers of translucent ink leather upon rubber upon gasoline, until it finally pushes off the skin in a sulky swirl of woodsmoke.
While most certainly not what its label would lead one to believe, Pure Oud does enter on a rather enjoyable oudh reconstruction. In its general style the opening parallels Francis Kurkdjian's fine Oud Cashmere Mood and Oud Velvet Mood, with which Pure Oud shares several listed notes. The oudh accord here is initially complex both medicinal and animalic. Saffron and cypriol emphasize the smoky, medicinal aspect of the oudh, while myrrh adds depth and roundness.
Where Pure Oud falls down is in what I tend to think of as the mechanics: sillage and projection are both limited, and lasting power is only moderate. I can see the resentment at having to reapply a scent in this one's price range after only a few hours. The drydown, I must admit, is also something of a disappointment: the oudh accord unravels into a relatively bare ensemble of woody notes.
To its credit, and unlike so many current oudh-themed fragrances, Pure Oud does not lean heavily on rose, and thus has a more individual profile than a number of its niche competitors. Still, at these prices, one has the right to expect more - and can get it, too, from Kurkdjian's aforementioned Oud Cashmere Mood and Oud Velvet Mood, both of which trump Pure Oud in terms of projection, tenacity, and sustained compositional depth.
A pure "representation" of oud, where "pure" means the fact this oud-like main accord is linear and straigthtforward. Of course there is no literal purity as regards of the materials this stands to pure oud oils like PU leather stands to cows. Anyway, a dry and solitary oud note, a material I do not love that much especially when used in a "prominent" way, mostly because it smells a bit boring to me. The smell here is that canonical burnt-tires rubbery feel of agar wood, rounded by vanilla and amber and softened by a subtle yet detectable floral accord, with a slight earthy/balsamic base and a leathery feel. A crowdpleaser for me, as it smells quite pleasant and refined, no obscure decadence, rotting notes or other "pure oud" notes. This does not mean Pure Oud is a bad scent, just perhaps a bit dull and trendy: it is austere, soft, elegant, and delivers just a hint of "fashion magazines-inspired" oud mysticism and darkness without smelling unpleasant or challenging - that sort of glossy, trendy, safe "elegance" that links together most of Kilian scents in my opinion. Mellow drydown. A bit light and pretentious as all other Kilian scents, which to me lack quite much in depth, taste, projection and persistence. One of those scents which may be a nice purchase in case of hard bargains/last-chance sales.