Well, one must really never judge a book by its cover. Most of the times this motto isn’t really that valid with scents, as hopeless houses rarely produce something unexpectedly worthy, but there’s some exceptions. I’ve never been a fan of Ralph Lauren scents except for vintage Safari, as most of the rest epitomizes an abysmal approach to scents – the preppier the look, the crappier the smell. But well, Supreme Oud is completely, surprisingly different – for the good – from anything else I tried from this brand.
Sure, its core note is “the synthetic kind” of oud, as in any (or well, the vast majority of) Western interpretation of ouds, but this doesn’t automatically mean it’s bad. Could be, but it isn’t. It’s By Kilian’s Pure Oud’s kind of synthetic oud (and for me, Supreme Oud quite shares some broader similarities with that scent, by the way) – very smooth, smoky, somehow weightless and totally pleasant to smell, no Montale-sque cheap and acrid rubberiness. Artificial to the bone, but it smells very dignified and solid. But actually oud here is just part of the show, and I must really give some big credit to Carlos Benaim for the composition of Supreme Oud. The blend is in fact as much crystal clear and simple, as unique and creative: it’s basically vetiver, smooth oud and cinnamon with a bare touch of silky powderiness, and a whiff which smells like some balsamic sort of pine infusion to me. Basically a refined, forest-like smoky-woody galore with an Oriental shade of sweet spices and some base talc “warmth” provided by that undefined base powderiness (maybe there’s some vanilla, too).
At first Supreme Oud is drier, sharper, “blacker”, slightly reminding me of Montana Black Edition, but more centered on balsamic oud and some edgy, tantalizing cinnamon (which combined with those dark woods, basically smells a bit like roasted, coffee-infused licorice); then it slowly gets warmer, silkier, some suprisingly sophisticated and natural-smelling vetiver note emerges together with that whiff of pine I get, while oud becomes more of a smoky-medicinal shade on the background giving some “dark bone” to vetiver, and you get this incredibly pleasant drydown of oud-ish, balsamic vetiver tinted with a simple, almost minimalistic, yet very distinctive sort of powdery-spicy accord of cinnamon and whatever warmer-sweeter notes there’s on the very base. It may sound a bit “generic”, but trust me it’s not. Or well, it’s so pleasant you don’t really notice how generic it may or may not be. It smells smoky yet sweet, “luminous” yet somehow black. Its discreet, classy, non-thick and non-rubbery texture makes it also very versatile and probably, totally safe for any situation and/or climate. It’s just very refined, very pleasant, and would put a smile on every smoky woods fan’s face. Projection and persistence are just perfect – not a bomb but not a skin scent, lasting a good day long. I get all of this doesn’t sound groundbreaking but Jesus - for being made by Ralph Lauren, this fragrance is a miracle!