Based on the notes alone, I expected to enjoy Amouage Epic Man right away, as I love oud-based perfumes. A quick sniff, and it's a very green soapy style, but leave the nose there, and it's much more complex and intriguing. It is an elaborate spiced fougère, which differs from monumental fougères by its conspicuous use of dry incense and the smoky interpretation of oud. This fragrance is mainly based on a medicinal and clean oud's interplay against a beautiful green accord. It is, therefore, a pleasant break from the usual Middle Eastern creations of oud-rose or oud-saffron. Its character is sacred and meditative, but at the same time, its nuances are sensual, sexual, and raw. It is as divine as it is diabolical. While wearing it, it feels like you are entering a grand temple on a warm Arabian night; there are torches on the side walls. I imagine the Persian god-king Xerxes I, also known as Xerxes the Great, a 5th-century Achaemenid king of the Persian empire. He is best known for leading the massive invasion of Greece, marked by Thermopylae, Salamis, and Plataea's battles.
The initial blast is pure brilliance, and I observe a stunning rendition of liturgical incense, raw and severe, yet lush and voluptuous, paired with a generous dose of pepper berries and a handful of green cardamom. A hint of mace and myrtle leaves reinforce the green edge, while nutmeg and cumin complete the opening's spicy tones. There is also a little bit of mint, which, combined with spices and resins, gives the whole a pleasant hot-cold duality, especially for the first hour. I don't perceive leathery saffron, at least not at this stage. Oliban is flanked by a lively market of spicy notes, which gives Epic Man a tempting and robust opening. So far, I get a pleasant European-style cologne, more fougère and green than oriental and woody, definitely not some heady and opulent Omani elixir. Remarkably, the initial phase is balsamic, smoky, and fresh, and I would say incredibly fresh. It is surprisingly well blended without losing structure. The opening is full of spice, opulent without being ostentatious, and the exclusive perfume follows this theme. This, perhaps, is the true beauty of Epic Man.
After about ten minutes, the oud's medicinal aspect mixed with the notes of resinous myrrh and bitter green geranium reminds me of a couple of colognes I have, namely L'Eau Bleue d'Issey pour Homme and Gai Mattiolo Man's. I am neither comparing nor saying that they are similar or clones of each other; instead, at this point in the journey, all three share such a mentholated and medicinal atmosphere typical in iodine. Yes, saffron, oud, and myrrh play a significant role, but they support and develop the scent rather than stand out. There is less spiciness on your face at this stage, and a sweet, smooth fragrance emerges from the start quite powerful.
Epic has a dry heart and bottom reminiscent of the best Arabic style soaps. The blend of oud, pink pepper, and frankincense provides a refreshing and sparkling effect to the fragrance. If you go to shops in the Middle East, chances are you'll find organic soaps with different fragrance varieties, including oud and ambergris. Epic Man recreates the refreshing and luminous accord of an expensive organic oud-based soap, such as Aleppo soap. Once the opening phase has stabilized, rich incense and clear oud lightly shape the wood and spices along with a touch of expertly blended castoreum. Castoreum adds the old school feels and somehow makes it slightly detached in a good way and mixed with incense, and it feels less animalic than what we get in Chanel Antaeus.
Additionally, castoreum and resins provide an amber background against which the other woods resonate. The scent needs a good one or two hours to settle on the skin and allow the base of leather, sandalwood, and musk to tame the resinous opening. Due to the creamy sandalwood and soft musks, Epic Man has an excellent deep, smooth base. The dryness is both incisive and translucent; the persistent oud, smoky woods determine its character, incense echoes, and myrrh. The oud is noticeable but not overbearing, being so beautifully blended with the base notes' animal warmth and leather components.
I would wear Epic Man in the cold season, late fall and winter, both day and night. Easy to wear to the office or for a casual dinner if you don't apply too much. From a projection standpoint, this is a heavy hitter. It also has good longevity. Not for everyone, the crowd doesn't like it, but this one will appeal to a subset of society.
This review bases upon a decant I own since February 2021.