I was much younger and more gullible when in the 1990s I decided to sail up the Nile aboard a Felucca, a traditional wooden sailing boat, without deck or cabin, widely used in the sheltered waters of the Nile River. Its rigging consists of one or two trapezoidal or triangular sails. They slept in the open and used the river for bathing (as well as for other types of needs). The crew, who spoke only Arabic interspersed with a few words of English, assured me that there were only crocodiles after the Aswan Dam. The landscape of a continuous oasis was breathtaking. Sailing under sail, the silence was almost total and only cut off by the occasional shout from one of the crew or the winder noise of my reflex camera, loaded with Kodachrome 64.
On the left bank were roads and railways that stretched westernised Egypt southwards. At every stop on that bank, I was always harassed by children asking me for coins and pens, as well as by vendors selling blue earthenware scarabs freshly dug up from some imaginary mastaba.
The right bank was always far more interesting. The locals looked curiously at my Pentax LX, and at my bare legs between khaki shorts and snickers. Then they would smile and I was often invited for hibiscus flower or mint tea. Striking up conversations, even light ones, was almost impossible. We would merely exchange smiles and I would offer photographs, postcards and a few more copies of my inexhaustible stock of advertising ballpoint pens.
In the middle of Nubia, the night before arriving in Aswan, we docked at a small village on the left bank, with perhaps two dozen adobe houses. To my great amazement, in the square, there was some lighting made possible by the local mullah's small generator that heeded both the call of Allah and resilient animist beliefs. And with the light, there was also a small fair. In it I found small live crocodiles collected from the Waters of the Nile, small donkeys, goats, sheep, carpets, lots of spices and.... oils and perfumes. Almost every small tent had its bakhoor burner. The woody, resinous aroma was pungent and divine. Although I had experienced wonderfully charged scent environments in souks in Fez and Cairo before, that evening was different and very special. I feel that it was precisely that day that my huge attraction to oriental fragrances was born.
Middle Eastern fragrance designers sometimes gift us with some amazing fragrances. After dating the composition of Shaghaf Oud Abyad
for several months, and carefully analysing its notes, I decided to order this perfume. What a magnificent blind purchase! My saga with this brand started with the purchase of the also magnificent Shaghaf Oud
(with a beautiful golden bottle) and reached its climax with this precious white enamel bottle of Oud Abyad. I expected it to be very good, but I never imagined in advance that this fragrance would be so amazing. This is a true alchemist's potion that recreates for me the intoxicating aroma of the bakhoor burners of that Nubian village.
After a couple of sprays, I start this journey with an aroma of citrusy oregano, served as a starter to refresh the senses. Resins, smoked wood, sweet amber and intrusive incense create the necessary atmosphere to properly appreciate the triumphant background notes. In this olfactory feast, smooth leather, half-tamed and half-wild, with the strength of smoked oud, give the finishing touch to this magnificently blended masterpiece.
Then it is time for the long and pleasant balsamic drying of the smoked wood and leather. This long and pleasant phase may give me one of the best wood aromas I have ever experienced. And it seems to last forever.
EDIT: It's been 14 hours and I still have a pleasant scent on the back of my hand (where I tested it on my skin).
My rates for Shaghaf Oud Abyad
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Scent Opening: 9.0 (fresh oregano, some faint citruses and resins)
Scent Dry Down: 10.0 (rawhide, oud and resins magnificently blended)
Longevity: 10.0 (very long; 2~3 sprays may last for 12-14 hours)
Sillage: 9.0 (8~10 feet at its peak with just 2~3 sprays)
Uniqueness: 8.0 (quite unique but its similarity with Interlude Man
make me take 2 points out; nevertheless, if you are looking for an Interlude Man look-alike, Shaghaf Oud Abyhad is almost a damn good option, with better performance and for 1/5~1/6 of its price.)
Wearability: 7.0 (cold weather only)
Versatility: 7.0 (yes to enjoy on your own, clubbing, socializing, events, restaurants, dates, romancing, sex, office, picnics, weddings, movies... not good for the office, small spaces, work out, places where you may sweat, and seaside)
Quality: 9.5 (my judgement)
Presentation: 8.0 (not as nice as Shaghaf Oud but simple and effective; very good sprayer)
Price: 9.5 (75 ml non-tester for 22 Euros in a Notino sale + shipping; I bought two flasks)
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Overall rating: 8.70/10.00
- between 7 and 8 =above average;
- between 8 and 9 = recommended;
- bigger than 9 = don't miss it;
Advice: If you are a first-timer with oriental oud fragrances, do try before you buy.
I strongly recommend this fragrance to oriental oud fragrances lovers; it's a dark, resinous, balsamic, oudy, woody, leathery fragrance with lots of smokiness and that may please many oriental fragrances lovers, both women and men and particularly in the over pleasant drydown.
Music: Dire Straits - "Sultans Of Swing"