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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Montale Rose Series

Review by Kelley

So, I have all of these Montale samples in front of me and in doing the research for this series of scents, I am at a total loss because I can’t find very much information about them. How is it that a company can have so many scents that come in and out of production so quickly? I want to apologize if some of the following are not available for purchase any longer. They were available just a few months ago when I ordered them. And, have you been to the Montale website lately and looked at their inventory or lack thereof? I checked on the ingredients of several of the Aoud series and there were no listed ingredients. What is a guy to do except steal the information from many different Montale vendors online?

Aoud Queen Roses. Flavored with the most beautiful roses from Grasse and Arabia on a heart of hibiscus from Guinea, dry down notes of an Eastern princess.

What in the world is a dry down of an Eastern princess? That sounds a little “Silence of the Lambs” to me or maybe she needs a Depends undergarment? The oud in this is very slight to me at first. It opens with a magnificent rose/oud accord that has some interesting twists. This is the most complex of the Montales tested here at least in the top notes. It has a citrus quality that I find very uplifting and almost drug-like. It just makes me smile. Unfortunately, as I wear this for a while, it turns into a simple rose scent because the oud only hangs around for an hour on my skin. After testing all of these, this one seems the least interesting in the middle and base notes to me. It sure doesn’t live up to its “grand opening” accord. I don’t want this one for my collection.

Attar. The perfume of the Maharajas obtained by the double distillation of the fabulous Mysore sandalwood and Bulgarian rose!

When it comes to rose essential oil, there are three main methods of extracting the oil from the plant material:

* Steam distillation, which produces an oil called rose otto or attar of roses.
* Solvent extraction, which results in an oil called rose absolute.
* Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction, yielding an essential oil that may be marketed as either an absolute or as a CO2 extract.

I also found it interesting that they have classified over 300 different compounds in rose oil so it’s no wonder that roses don’t all smell the same.

I don’t smell any sandalwood in this at all! It’s a huge shock but I just get rose and even though it’s not listed in the ingredients, I smell oud (surprise, surprise!). This is a long lasting medicinal rose. I think the rose used here is more of a fruity rose, kind of plum like. The oud is nice but it wears off too quickly. Pretty soon, I am left with a soliflore rose scent. These Montale rose scents seem to be mysteriously simplistic in that they end up smelling very similar to me. At the end, this is simply another rose scent and to me this one seems cold (don’t ask me why). This one isn’t for me either.

Attar was also a famous mystic poet of Iran , heavily influenced by Rumi (one of the truly great poets…ever!). I am pretty sure that I read somewhere that there is a link between this poet and the rose “attar”. I will have to do some more research on this but in the meantime, I will leave you with a snippet of one of Attar’s poems.
"The next valley is the Valley of Love . To enter it one must be a flaming fire--what shall I say? A man must himself be fire. The face of the lover must be enflamed, burning and impetuous as fire. True love knows no after-thoughts; with love, good and evil cease to exist…”

From: Attar's Seven Valleys of Love. Written by Farid al-Din 'Attar (1142-1220). Translated by C. S. Nott.

Aoud Damascus. All the refinement of the Arabian Aoud, associated with Damascan roses, enhanced by Oliban pearls and sparkling Gurgum.

The oud in this is wonderful and woody with just a slight medicinal quality to it. The rose, while deep and red smelling seems to burst forth from the bottle with a vengeance but then it lessens considerably. I am assuming that the name refers to the Rosa damascena, more commonly known as the Damask rose or even just Damask. Damask rose is a very important old world rose with a deep rose smell. Oliban pearls is a fancy way of saying frankincense. Gurgum might be a musical instrument (although unlikely to be used in a fragrance) and also a neo-Hittite state (OK, probably not) but I think it’s the following from a website about the traditional medicines of Bhutan , “The main ingredient is Carthamus tinctorius flowers (gurgum in Bhutanese; it is the common safflower) which is a cardiac and nerves tonic”. This fragrance doesn’t change much in later stages and once it settles on my skin, it seems to last a long time with a mild oud note and red roses. Unfortunately, at the end of a few hours, it’s all powdery roses with maybe a hint of clove or spices on me and it’s the grandmother type of rose that to me smells a little like “Tea Rose” which my grandmother used to wear. Nope, this is not joining my collection.

Aoud Rose Petals. The most sophisticated rose fragrance blended with saffron, cedar, amber and exotic woods.

This one sounds a lot like it has the same ingredients as Aoud Lime (one of my favorites from this line). The opening is heavenly with a blast of saffron. In the opening, the rose is very slight and maybe non existent. I smell mostly spicy saffron with oud wood. In the middle stages, the amber seems to bloom. I can smell a little of the rose at this stage. The exotic wood that they mention has an interesting harsh quality that is hypnotic. It is this oddness that is drawing me to this fragrance. As it dries down, there is a wonderful soapy quality that makes this even more interesting to me. This Montale is breathtaking. Yep, this one is a keeper. This could easily be worn by a woman or a man.

If you are wondering why I didn’t include Black Oud in this series (because it belongs here), well, it’s because I lost my sample. I wore it several days and it is amazing. I am thinking that I would dump Aoud Rose Petals for Black Oud if given the chance! I am just fickle that way. It is a deep fragrance with a generous dose of patchouli.

Montale fragrances are available online at,, and in Canada at For the 3.4 oz. (100 ml) they are on average, $210.00, and for the smaller 1.7 oz, they are $150.

The Iranian painting is courtesy of and the damask rose photo is from the site.


Blogger tmp00 said...

Aoud Lime is one that LisaLaw included in one of my first purchases from her, and is a favorite of mine from this line too. These I don't know about- rose can be so difficult to get right. Sometimes I think I'd just rather smell the flower than try to capture it.

BTW- I haven'tbeen ignoring your generous Montale delivery, I've been wanting to do a real review of them. There's at least two that I think I must have, and I think I am trying to postpone telling you which ones until I can arrange to poach them from you ;-)

11:32 PM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Yes, Aoud Lime is fantastic. I wore it yesterday and woke up smelling of oud and saffron. I have a very difficult time with rose scents. Either it burns off instantly (luckily for me) because of my body chemistry or, if it hangs around too long, it reminds me of my grandmother.

Af for the poaching would be much cheaper to buy them than fly to mexico to steal my bottles!!! Wouldn't be as exciting though.

11:43 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dip in and out of this blog mainly because it's sort of a barometer to discover what "not" to wear anymore... for it's at that exact moment (when readers begin to react too excitedly and become the "gabby" authority) that it's time for me to back away and discover something else... so thanks for the heads up... i had such fine moments with so many of those montale mysteries (big sigh)... but alas it's now up for swoons and fawnings and mercy begging

1:21 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for another funny, Kelleyesque deflating of pomposity. Very informative post. I had never heard of Attar, though I love Rumi. Was Attar a Sufi also?

Whenever I wear Roses Petals, my DH becomes transfixed. Maybe I should wear it more often, especially since I love it too. :-) OTOH, when I tried on Black Oud, he thought the first big medicinal hit was way too much. I'm not convinced. Must try sometime when he's not home.

Hey, I don't want to pick a blog fight, but I think this ghostranchguy is the same person who as Anonymous once complained that Chene was becoming too well known around the common people. :-P

3:04 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

My favorite Montale is Black Aoud too. However, it smells similar to Czech & Speake no. 88 (sans the oudh note) and doesnt flow as smoothly.

3:50 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

So Kelley or Tom, tell me about Aoud Lime? I keep missing that one and need to try it.

Black Aoud is the one I like the most of the ouds, though that d'arabie one, surprisingly, I really pretty much like as well almost against my wishes.

6:59 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Great reviews! The "dry down of an Eastern princess" never fails to crack me up. :-) I recently found myself saying that I'd become bored w/ the Montale ouds and they just weren't something I cared for any longer. I then made the mistake of retrying them. Am back in mad, total love w/ them. Aoud Rose Petals and Black Oud are two of the ones I know I must have. I wish Suravionline would start carrying the smaller sizes of thes. I know there are problems from the Montale end about that, but 100 ml of any one oud is more than I could use in 30 lifetimes.

7:42 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Roses and Montale...Two things I don't love separately or, even more so, together :-) What I love, however, are your reviews, Kelley!

7:50 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am glad we can serve you in some way, even if it is just to show what's not to wear. :-)

7:51 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Wonderful reviews, Kelley. I am very fond of many Montales, but like you, somewhat mystified and annoyed by their number and (slight) differences. Probably my all-time favorite is Oud Rose Petals, which really blossoms on my skin. I have to say, though, that I do get a significant amount of (dark) rose here. (I also am a great fan of Oud Cuir Arabie, my husband's HG which I alsolove to wear).

A quotation for GRG:

“True individualists tend to be quite unobservant; it is the snob, the would-be-sophisticate, the frightened conformist, who keeps a fascinated or worried eye on what is in the wind”--Louis Kronenberger

8:16 AM EDT  
Blogger Solander said...

I love Black Aoud and I've been thinking I need to try Montale's other rose/aoud blends. I'm relieved to hear I don't have to since I already have the top pick! I just might have to sniff the Aoud Rose Petals though...

8:33 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Aoud Queen Roses, Aoud Damascus, and Black Aoud. But for some reason, none of them move me to spring for the FBs. That's a good thing, I think, considering the price points.

9:36 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

ghostranchguy, you know, overall, I find Montale a huge disappointment. Oh sure, there are a couple (wait, three?)of scents that I really love but my problems with the line are many.

1. Simple concoctions (not many ingredients).
2. Perfume strength that lasts more than one day on skin! Not too big of a problem for me though.
3. So many of the Aoud series smell almost exactly the same. With so many ingredients in the world, let's try other things added to the oud.
4. Linear (need I say more?)
6. The offerings come in and our of production overnight. You might fall in love with one to find out that an ingredient is not this time...and so you will have to wait for it. Then it never comes back into production.

11:13 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Maria B. yes, Attar was a Sufi. Did I ever mention that I lived in Iran when I was in highschool? I guess I just did. What a fantastic culture! That experience definitely shaped my character in numerous ways.

I am not sure about Ghostranchguy...I read the post and decided that even though I felt slammed, I would take the higher road! Not sure why I felt that way now that I have read his post again. Maybe because I am a gabby authority?

11:18 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

I love Aoud Roses Petals, but the pace of releases from Montale eventually turned me off (esp. since so many seem like minor variations on a theme) and I stopped trying them. Will have to look for Black Oud if it is better than ARP.

11:19 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

faizan, you have given me another reason to search for C&S #88. This scent has always been on my list to try. I read reviews about it all the time. Basenoters seem to love it! OK, ok, I will get a sample.

11:21 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Patty, I would send you my sample of Aoud Lime but it's almost empty. Of course the rumour is that there is no lime in it at all. The lime smell is a mixture of ingredients that smell like lime. It is a wonderful mixture of oud and saffron and rose (they throw rose in everything, it seems) and some incense (also in everything). However, I think the secret ingredient in Aoud Lime is ambergris and that I why I love it. I am pretty sure that is what reminds me of soap. Please try it if you can. Maybe Tom has a sample?

11:25 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Elle, I wrote to Vijay at Suravionline the other day to ask about Royal Oud and he mentioned that he now carried the small bottles. His prices are better than average so write to him. I also find that the Perfumeshoppe in Canada has good prices. Of course it's because her prices are in Canadian Dollars which means that those of us paying in US dollars get a good conversion rate.

11:38 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Thank you Marina. You are very kind to let me publish on your blog! I have to admit that I love it when I have the time.

11:39 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

lilyofbp, you go girl! Love the quote.

I have a sample of Aoud Cuir D'Arabie here by my computer to sniff whenever I want. It is absolutely amazing and is the most profoundly real leather scent I have smelled. It also lasts on me a good long time.

I have a problem with some rose oils in that they burn off almost immediately on my skin. That might be why I don't smell rose in the Rose Petals. I do love the rest though.

11:47 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Solander, Yes! Please try the Aoud Rose Petals. It is amazing. I had no idea that I would love a scent called Rose Petals!

11:48 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Newproducts. The price of Montales can take your breath away. However, if instead of making rash impulse fragrance buys on Ebay, I instead saved my money for Black Oud, Aoud Lime, Royal Oud, and Aoud Rose Petals (and maybe Aoud Amber, the raunchiest Montale ever!), I still would have money left over!

11:52 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Robin, not sure that Black Oud is better than Aoud Rose Petals but it is very good. By the way, I listened to "Feminine Hijinx" last night and laughed out loud! What a cool project that is. I will have to listen to the others when they come out.

11:57 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for doing this post:) I am in love with Montale and it seems that your review of the Rose series matches my views. I was planning to do an order for Montale today and you made it much easier for me to choose which ones. My favourite it Black Aoud layered lightly with Crystal this combo!!!

2:42 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said... I googled Montale the other day, I ended up in Saudi Arabian Airlines and guess what?....they are featuring Montale Black Aoud and Queen Roses for the airline passengers. You see, it is for the princesses after all:)


2:49 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to admit (not entirely without shame and deep blushing) that I have not tried a single Montale in my life, so far that is. *and* I have self-educated myself about the term "aoud" only a few days ago. I intend to start testing them, at least the florals. they seem to be interesting and as I love roses in all their reincarnations and glory, I have a feeling I might like quite some of them ;-). I'm not too fond on metallic containers/bottles though, although they probably have to do with essences and oils and their stability.

2:53 PM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Tina, the aluminum canisters aren't very romantic are they? Of course, the Montale people will give you their speach about how light affects fragrance and how it increases the longevity...blah, blah, blah...

I personally think it is the cost. Aluminum is much lighter than glass and glass can break. Because it's lighter, it costs less to mail. I think (don't quote me on this) that aluminum is cheaper than glass as well. That's my story and I'm sticken' to it.

3:49 PM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

anonymous..yes, it is for princes and princesses! Even if we are only royalty in our own minds.

I would think that layering these would be great. I haven't tried Christal Flowers yet but plan on getting more samples soon. Vijay, get ready!!!

3:51 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

The Montale roses are wonderful, I am so glad to see your reviews! No one does roses better imho. They are expensive here, but if you call the paris boutique, they will ship them to you anywhere in the world, free of charge. prices are something like 55/95 euros for 50/100 ml aoud. (dont quote me on prices, i was there last month and cant't really remember.) ARP and Queen Roses are the line's best sellers, they wont be discontinued any time soon. Black Aoud is my FAV. Aoud Lime, oh dont get me started! Taif Roses is a great one to try without the Aoud - otherwise i dont particularly care for the drydown of the regular Montale line.

8:58 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great overview! My fave is Aoud Damascus. I agree, Montale should provide a little bit more substantial background to their scents. They've been so prolific lately with hardly anything to back it up.

9:21 PM EDT  
Blogger fmartins said...

Black Oud is my chosen one. but i love amber if you know of any that you have tried, your imput will be greatly appreciated.

5:45 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Queen Roses deserves to enter the Perfume Hall of Fame. I hope theynever discontinue it. Love, love, love Montale. Must be the base. There is nothing of theirs that really bothers me and at least 10 or 12 that I will eventually own (6 so far). For me QR IS complex and the drydown is rich, sexy and lasting. Sadly Attar is weak and one dimensional on me as is Rose Petals and Damascus. Would love to see a review on Oriental Flowers which I also think is magnificent. I like and respect most Guerlains, but that drydown, Good lord, on me is soooo sickly sweet and Lutens? Don't get me started. Mr. Montale, je t'adore!

7:08 AM EST  
Anonymous hollyc said...

Anonymous said it best. Oud Queen Roses in the Perfume Hall of Fame. This is just sooo special that I often pick up my 100 ml can, sniff the top and say, nope, must save for later, I'm so afraid they'll discontinue it. Don't understand the love for Rose Petals or Damascus, very bland. Also too love Oriental Flowers, another MOntale that is getting almost no press or reviews on the blog sites. Never smelled anything like it, so rich and the lasting power. . . I suspect I'll be willing my 100ml can to a lucky relative (and I'm not old. . .well) It will last that long. Any chance of reviewing Aromatic Lime? I believe it may be my all time favorite and again, getting little or no attention. Montale's are expensive, but to me, they don't wear like EdP but rather more like pure perfume and at that, they are a real bargain.

10:12 AM EDT  

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