The first couple of minutes wearing Montale Honey Aoud smell quite scary. There's a resemblance to the apple turnover aroma of Ambre Narguile and I'm really not a fan of the gourmand Hermessence. It's the too syrupy honeyed cinnamon and the apple phantom note (I tend to smell apples whenever sweet cinnamon is present). Things get much more fun when the typical Montale accord of bitter medicinal fake oud arrives on the scene and sends its sharp claws into the jar of fruit preserved in treacly syrup.
all that might give you the false impression that I'm not so fond of Honey Aoud. You're wrong. While I might not take Montale as seriously as they would have liked (there's no actual person named "Pierre Montale", to begin with), and have no illusions regarding the quality and content of their oud accord, I love and own a few bottles (Ambre Oud, Boise Vanille, and Chypre Vanille). When that thing works it hits the right spot of sooty, ashy, bitter aroma that elevates an oriental fruity perfume into a heady pleasure. It's also extremely sexy, playing the dirty and forbidden against the wholesomeness of a a five o'clock tea where little fruit tarts are served on delicate porcelain plates.
Longevity, sillage, and projection are the stuff of legends and warning labels. I used no more than a couple of drops today, which I applied in my dressing room, across the hall and two doors down from my bedroom. By the time the husband came in he was sure I sprayed the entire room with Honey Aoud (for a second he thought it was Soleil de Jeddah, because it has a similar scent profile, though Soleil is richer, brighter and more mouthwatering). No, it was just that drop I applied under my t-shirt that kept simmering on my skin and radiating throughout the house. You need to like this kind of massive Arab-style orientals to enjoy it, and I usually do. If I could change one thing I's make the honey more of a stand alone note with its notorious animalic facets more pronounced (think Miel de Bois). But this is a Montale, not an Uncle Serge perfume, and I'm perfectly happy with the pleasures it has to offer.
Honey Aoud by Montale ($120, 50ml) is available from Luckyscent. OsswaldNYC, and Aedes have the 100ml bottles ($170).
Image: F.C. Gundlach, Untitled, Lebanon, 1963.