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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Amouage Ubar: Perfume Review

Ubar is a re-introduction of the 1995 perfume with the same name, which, as Amouage justly point out, was "highly acclaimed by fragrance connoisseurs". The fragrance is "inspired by the long lost ancient trading city of Ubar, rediscovered in the sands of Southern Oman in 1992." Lucky to have a sample of the old Ubar, I was able to try the two versions side by side.

Ubar 1995, perhaps due to its age (14 years is practically vintage), skips the citrusy top notes almost completely, while the 2009 edition lingers among lemon and bergamot for quite a while. Not only that, but the silvery jingle of lily of the valley can be heard, at this stage of the scent's development, loud and clear. While the old Ubar jumps right into the ripe, honeyed roses and jasmine, sweetened further by vanilla, the new version takes its time, gradually introducing the opulent floral theme through the delicate presence of lily of the valley in the top notes. Slowly, slightly indolic jasmine emerges followed by jammy rose. At this point, the ambiance of the composition changes dramatically, taking the wearer from the sunlit, innocent day into the pitch-black, sensual night.

The sensuality, at times dirtiness of the perfume, is in no small measure due to a generous dose of civet in the base notes. Blended with vanilla and rose, the animalic ingredient lends Ubar that ambiguous gourmand/erotic quality that makes one wonder whether one should crave to drink it or to lust after it. Civet also turns the initially fairly modern scent into, dare I say, an old-fashioned one, in the best way possible. With its velvety feel, its unapologetic luxuriousness, its satisfying substantionality, Ubar could be standing next to Shalimar on a chic Parisian shelf, back in 1921.

As for the fans of the original Ubar, to sum up my impressions, I would say that the older version is overall heavier on rose, whereas the new one, although still centered on that note, pays more attention jasmine and lily of the valley and places a heavier emphasis on civet-vanilla accord in the drydown. One thing for sure, the devotees of the older version should not worry that the new one has been "watered down" or simplified as is sometimes the case with re-releases. If anything, it has been made more fleshy somehow and perhaps even more complex. It is a must-try for the lovers of floral-oriental-animalic genre and a must-have for me.

Ubar is available at, €180-€210, and Luckyscent, $250-$285.

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Blogger Flora said...

Oh my. My favorite Amouage and in top 10 of favorite perfumes of all time and it's back! I cannot wait to try the re-release. You have described it perfectly as "old-fashioned in the best way possible" - that's my Ubar - pure sex in a bottle! :-D

11:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ubar has the old fashioned lushness but does not seem dated. I don't know if there is some component that it characteristic of more modern scents or whether this is one of those timeless greats. Can anyone answer?....Many thanks.

12:07 AM EDT  
Blogger Flora said...

Anita, I would go with "timeless great." It has very few serious competitors in its class. :-)

1:11 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Oh, HUGE relief to hear that it's not been simplified! I adored the original and have been holding my breath waiting for this one. I'm really thrilled w/ what Amouage has been putting out recently.

7:07 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

yes, sex in a bottle, but elegant sex in a bottle :-)

7:31 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It does not seem dated indeed. As any classic.

7:32 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I agree :-)

7:33 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Me too! starting with Jubilation, everything was great. I hope we don't jinx it :-)

7:34 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So do you prefer it with or without the citrusy top notes?


7:54 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Mr C?! Wow, an honor to see your comment :-)) I prefer citrusy.

7:56 AM EDT  
Blogger NewKidOnTheBlog said...

I read more often than comment as most times, fear my comments will not be as intelligent as those of your many readers. But I read it and stay below the radar most of the time. For what it's worth ... I prefer sans citrus on me ... citrusy on you.

(PS ... momentarily forgot blogger password - hence anonymous cloaking)

8:28 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Reading the radar, eh? A spy!!

8:40 AM EDT  
Blogger ScentScelf said...

{stomps foot petulantly}
I thought I was done lemming!!!

(And how interesting, this NKOTB, who magically appears on the comments. He apparates...dare I say? a rather Edward-like way, no? Hmmm...perhaps you should waft your citrusy top notes toward him...)


9:12 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I'll waft garlic, that's a surer way :-)

9:16 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't tried either version although am tempted. The top and heart notes sound perfect....but the civet, oh the civet, does scare me. Throughout my perfume habit, my likes and dislikes have evolved. I once was able to tolerate animalics, but now cannot stand them. Civet is foul cat urine to my nose, and I run-run-run from it! HOw odd...

Thanks for this important review,

10:47 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It does smell animalic, but non-specific animalic so to say, not of urine of any animals...rather abstractly animalic if that makes sense :-0

10:54 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This release is similar to the original one?

11:30 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

That's kind of what the post is talking about, yes :-)

11:31 AM EDT  
Blogger violetnoir said...

Thanks for your great review, Marina!

I have a carded spray sample of Ubar that, after I read your review, warrants further testing.

You see, I sprayed some on last week, but because it intially smelled so much of bergamot, I dismissed it as another bergamot fragrance, of which I already have plenty in my collection.

Thank you for setting the record straight: I need to be a bit more patient and wait for the drydown!


1:25 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...'re back Marina with your sensitivity, sagesse and words. I truly feel, instictively, that the new version of Ubar is uber mich, and begin to worry how to get hold of a bottle. Where would one find it in LA?

1:35 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You definitely have to give it time to develop, it changes so much within the course of its (long!) life on the skin.

1:46 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

In LA? Luckscent has it.

1:46 PM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

This, and Futur, will be PLENTY for me, I think.
Yes, it will !

3:46 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

How are you feeling? I think, before the year is over, you might think those two were not enough, after all :-)

3:49 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ambiguous gourmand/erotic? Oднозначно маст хэв. )

10:23 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yes Marina, L.A., a good friend is jumpling over for Pascha/Passover/Easter, and I decided to ask her to bring over a couple of things. If not, back to online shopping, which is less romantic, but still possible. I want Ubar now!

5:52 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oднозначно :-)

8:43 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

How nice! I hope they will be able to bring you back everything you want.

8:43 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first time I read about Ubar I KNEW I had to have it only to lear it was discontinued. Columbina- that joy you've brought me knowing that it's been re-released! If the perfume is nearly as evocative as is your review, I know I shall soon be in heaven!
Off to luckyscent!!!

12:34 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I beg you not to buy unsniffed :-) There IS a way to try before you buy :-)

12:39 PM EDT  
Blogger Bearsmum said...

Absolutely adored the original Ubar. This revamp smells NOTHING like the original on me and does not wear anywhere like the original. So very disappointed.

9:34 PM EDT  

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