I have been following Kereosene’s channel for a long time because I enjoy the way he reviews perfume. Laid back, décontracté and usually with a hilarious quirk. He is one of us. Hearing that he is launching his own perfume made my heart race from excitement and admiring envy. The man obviously puts his heart and money where his mouth is and he obviously relies on word of mouth for spreading his message. It was my turn to put my money where my mouth is and order a bottle of R’oud Elements, so this review is not based on a free sample sent by Kerosene.
The bottle is very elegant as you can see. The paint job is amazing and I like the fact that it brings a bit of automotive sleekness to the world of perfume. The aesthetics of car design is another passion I have. The quality is top-notch. But how does it smell? The opening has the hallmark of oud. It is not a sweet oriental oud. It has a slight medicinal vibe but this is not a problem for me, it is something I like in oud. What is extremely interesting in the topnote sequence is that alongside oud there is a liqueur vibe. A fruity, citrusy note coupled with the glassy sweetness of unflavored cotton candy. Sadly plain, white cotton candy is not very popular these days but the smell of sugar warmed to the exact point where it forms the delicate threads is amazing. All these notes together create the strange illusion of “seeing” oud through an aquarium. A watery vibe dominates the opening and this is something extremely original. I never would have expected such an opening.
The second thing that I was not expecting is how developing this perfume is. The medicinal vibe is very fleeting. It turns into something very close to petrol or paint. I think this is a beautiful echo of both the name “Kerosene” and of the car paint job on the bottle. The composition develops a woodier facet with a glow of green orange. I love the way the composition calms down and becomes “rounder” at this point. I particularly enjoy strange openings and I believe they add great charm to a fragrance. They feel like an initiation ceremony, like a caterpillar transforming. And this butterfly starts unfolding magnificently from here. Incense is the key note that emerges from the heart. In fact, looking back incense runs through the entire development. The fruity, citrusy opening coupled with the medicinal oud vibe smells like incense tear and as the development progresses incense starts warming up and burning. In the base of the composition warm burning incense dominates. Strangely the base feels more volatile than the opening, mirroring the process of burning incense: from solidified resin incense tears in the opening to incense fumes in the drydown. Some spices add warmth but I cannot pin down specific spice notes. I can detect a vanilla note but not the sweet aspects of it. I get more of the maple aspect of natural vanilla extract. Overall sweet is not an adjective I would use to describe R’oud Elements.
Choosing oud as the front note for Kerosene’s first creation (and I do hope that many more will follow) is a hit or miss decision. Oud is hot at the moment so it is going to attract a lot of attention. But at the same time it is going to attract a lot of snobbery. Is it real oud? Is it “cheap” synthetic? I am afraid I am not going to enter this territory. First of all because I don’t have the background to talk about this. But most importantly because I do not care. What I do know is that R’oud Elements is an extremely interesting perfume. Its development lasts for more than two hours and what I have enjoyed doing is spraying one wrist first and the other one after a couple of hours. Smelling both stages at the same time is mind-blowing. I have tried some new oud fragrances this years, fragrances I had read rave reviews of but they have failed to impress me. I approached R’oud Elements with no real expectations, just a lot of hope, and it was a most surprising discovery. The cool, bright, techno opening is such a contradiction to the warm vanilla incense base and all the in between stages are such a joy to experience. I can feel all the love and energy of a true perfume lover put into this. The only thing that worries me is how can Kerosene top this.
Notes from Kerosene: oud, sandalwood, amber, vanilla, lavender, iris, and orange bitters
Notes from my nose: oud, green orange, cotton candy, incense tears, incense fumes, vanilla extract
Kerosene Perfumes available from House of Kerosene