For years, French niche fragrance brand Montale has built up quite the reputation in the fragrance world, becoming famous (or notorious) for their numerous rhapsodies upon the theme of oud, rose, amber, and spice.
Fragrances like Intense Café, Honey Aoud, Chocolate Greedy, and Roses Musk have come to be regarded as staples of modern niche, and have achieved enough popularity even to penetrate the mainstream luxury market. Oud Dream, released in 2019, is a relatively new addition to the Montale lineup. But how does it stack up to the greats?
Montale Oud Dream is a dark, woody, spicy fragrance containing notes of oud, rose, and patchouli. Featuring an iconic presentation, strong performance, and decent value for money, Oud Dream is a great “beginner” oud fragrance that should please most noses.
Want to know more? Let’s take a closer look at Montale Oud Dream.
Notes: oud, rose, patchouli
First, let me start by saying that Montale is somewhat out of my wheelhouse. I have tried a number of fragrances from the house, but have never really warmed to many of them, though I do really love Intense Café.
The reason? It’s simple: Montale fragrances are usually way too strong and synthetic for my nose. Even the lightest and airiest of their scents are almost absurdly strong, given that they contain a cocktail of synthetic fixatives to heighten longevity and projection.
There is very nearly nothing according to nature in a great number of their fragrances. Perhaps that is acceptable for some people, and as I have said, there are some of their scents I enjoy; however, there are many that I would deem unwearable.
Additionally, most of their fragrances are riffs on a classic Middle Eastern scent profile containing oud, rose, patchouli, amber, saffron, and sandalwood. In some scents, like Red Aoud, the spice notes are amplified, while in others, such as Dark Aoud, the rose is completely left out. But for the most part, a great many of the fragrances from the brand are quite similar, all orientating around a trademark note of synthetic oud.
But how does Oud Dream actually smell? And how does it compare to other fragrances from the brand?
Well, to put it simply, Oud Dream is a dark, woody fragrance based on Montale’s trademark synthetic oud note, a bouquet of spices (not listed, but certainly evident in the mix, at least to my nose), and a leathery vibe. It’s woody, earthy, leathery, and spicy, but there’s a creamy sweetness in the blend that makes it a bit less brutish.
First thing’s first, let it be said that this fragrances contains not a single, solitary drop of real, authentic oud oil. Don’t know what oud is? I’ve got a full writeup on it here, if you’re interested.
Having smelled authentic oud oil myself, I can say confidently that this has none of the complexities, funkiness, and beauty of the real deal. This is an oud in the Western style – that is to say, a synthetic oud that is more palatable for non-Middle Eastern palates.
And that’s OK!
While I personally find more authentic oud fragrances for me, there is nothing at all “wrong” with Western ouds, and some of them, like this one, can actually smell really nice.
Right from jump, there is a lot more to this fragrance than just oud, rose, and patchouli. In the opening, I get a scent very similar to juniper berry and/or cypress, as well as a mélange of spices, probably something along the lines of cardamom, cinnamon, and black pepper, though nothing particularly stands out.
The opening of the scent is quite pungent with the aforementioned juniper providing sharpness along with the synthetic oud accord and a strong leathery vibe. Especially in the opening, the synthetic oud smells very much like a burning candle, and very, very lightly like the scent of real bakhoor burning. However, that quickly fades away as a creamy sweetness from out of left field is introduced that serves to smooth out all those rough edges.
The sweetness is honey-like, and indeed, this fragrance bears a strong, strong similarity to Montale’s own Honey Aoud, which is a bit sweeter and more cinnamon-rich than this, but essentially the same.
Once that sweetness is introduced, the fragrance gets a whole lot more pleasant. The fizzy juniper berry of the opening disappears almost entirely, the spices become less prickly, and the rough oudiness is dissolved into a creamy “amber woods” accord that recalls some designer winter fragrances.
That’s essentially what you’re going to get for the rest of the life of the fragrance: smooth, creamy, slightly sweet, spicy woods, with a bit of a leathery edge. Nevertheless, the overall feeling of the fragrance remains dry, never veering too much into sweet territory.
I get no rose whatsoever in the mix, and this fragrance bears no resemblance at all with Montale’s more famous oud-rose concoctions like Black Aoud, so if you are looking for a beginner oud fragrance without rose, this might be just the ticket.
Personally, I favor the blend in Honey Aoud to Oud Dream; it’s just a bit warmer, cozier, and smoother, while Oud Dream is more stark and serious. Still, Oud Dream does smell good, if pretty synthetic.
If I were to describe Oud Dream in a few words, they would be: spicy, woody, leathery, semi-sweet, smoky, creamy, and dry.
Just like all Montale perfumes, Oud Dream is housed in a simple black cardboard box with minimal decoration. In the case of Oud Dream, the name of the brand and the fragrance are printed in gold.
While the box design does change based on the scent in question, for the most part, what you get with Montale fragrances is something pretty barebones. I am personally all for reducing the lavish waste of fragrance packaging (though I do appreciate the luxurious packaging from brands like Arabian Oud and Guerlain), so this bothers me not at all.
The cool part of Montale packaging, though, is the drawstring bags that come with each fragrance. These also vary by fragrance, matching the color of the bottle, but since I only have 20ml travel sprays, my bags are all black with the trademark Montale “M” logo done up in gold. The material of the bags is kind of like a mix of pleather, satin, and faux-velvet (not sure which exactly), and house the fragrance quite snugly. This is my favorite part of the whole Montale packaging experience, and I honestly wish they would do away with the whole box part.
I mean, I know they need boxes so they can ship the things, but it would be a whole lot less wasteful if they could find a way to just get rid of the boxes. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I rarely, if ever, keep the boxes for my fragrances.
The bottle is similarly a bit off-kilter, and definitely unique.
That’s because Montale bottles are made with aluminum rather than glass. Though it might be argued that this puts them somewhat in the drugstore Old Spice body spray category, I actually kind of like the fact that these bottles are different.
For one, the aluminum construction makes them a whole lot less heavy than your average fragrance bottle. These are fragrances you can chuck in your bag and go, especially the travel sprays. They are really, really light – so light that it doesn’t feel like there’s any juice inside of them at all.
I guess it just really goes to show you that those heavy glass bottles most fragrances come in owe their weight all to the glass, because these Montale bottles feel light as a feather.
There’s another advantage to the aluminum design of the bottles: namely, that they block out light a lot more efficaciously than transparent glass bottles.
If you sit a clear glass fragrance bottle in direct sunlight (which I would never suggest that you do) the fragrance inside will be absolutely destroyed in due time. Light and heat obliterate fragrances, and it really makes you wonder why more brands don’t make opaque bottles.
The opaque Montale bottles, however, will keep the juice inside safe for years on end, so long as you’re not exposing them to lots of changes in heat and humidity. However, they also prevent you from seeing how much you’ve got left inside, which is definitely somewhat of a let down.
The bottle for Oud Dream is pretty nice. In terms of color, it’s black, and is decorated with a golden crescent moon symbol. The name of the fragrance is printed in the “hollow” of the moon, and the name “Montale Paris” is printed in gold at the top, along with the golden “M” emblem.
The atomizer is a bit funky. No cap is provided, so the bottles come with a little metal device which cinches at the “neck” of the sprayer and keeps it from spraying out accidentally as you’re moving it. It also comes with a cute little Montale emblem secured to one end of it, which jiggles around and makes all kinds of noise if you ever move the bottle.
Overall, the presentation of Montale Oud Dream is iconic and immediately recognizable. While it might not be my favorite, it’s definitely unique.
The performance of Oud Dream is almost ridiculously strong.
The longevity of Oud Dream is practically eternal.
Two to three sprays on skin and clothing give me ten to twelve hours of longevity, longer on fabric.
This is one of those fragrances I would call “stubborn”. Once you’ve sprayed it on, it simply does not go away. It will not surrender to a shower or to a good ol’ scrub with soap, water, and a rag. No, the only thing that will extricate Oud Dream from your skin is the steady march of time. And it will be a long time before Oud Dream makes its exit.
This is insanely strong stuff. It lasts at least a whole day, and usually longer, on skin, and weeks or months on clothes. If you spray on Oud Dream, be prepared to live with it for at least twenty-four hours, perhaps longer.
Projection & Sillage
Similarly, the projection and sillage of Oud Dream are beastial.
Two to three sprays gives me all-day, intense projection and arm’s length sillage.
This, like Intense Café and Vetiver Patchouli, simply does not stop projecting. You will smell this through your mask; you will smell this on your bicycle or motorcycle; it will fill up a room or three; people will smell you.
And so I must caution you, friends, to go easy on the trigger. Everyone likes smelling good, right? I do, you do, even your grandma does. But I would venture to say that nobody wants to smell strong enough to be detected a whole football field away, right (I hope)? Or to hospitalize a dozen innocent civilians unwillingly subjected to olfactory terrorism, right?
If not, then do not – I repeat, DO NOT – spray this on more than two or three times. Believe me, that is more than enough to last for a whole day or more. I’m begging you – don’t spray more than that. Otherwise, you must be prepared to be labeled “hazardous materials”. Heck, the SWAT team might have to be called in to haul you off to a quarantine facility for decontamination.
Seriously guys, it’s strong. This is the definition of beast-mode.
Value For Money
The value for money for Oud Dream is decent, around the same price as other low-to-mid range niche fragrances.
A 3.4 oz (100ml) bottle of Montale’s Intense Café retails for $170 ($1.70/ml).
20ml travel sprays, like the ones I have, are only available in a kit of three, which can be bought for $120. Actually, this is a really great deal when you factor in the sheer strength of these fragrances. 20ml goes a long, long way, and I more than confident that I will never finish the bottles I have.
Even a full bottle is a pretty good deal, given the scent profile and the powerful performance, though.
Oud Dream, along other Montale fragrances, can also regularly be found on discount websites like FragranceNet, FragranceX, and MaxAroma, often for steep discounts. Oud Dream is a new addition to the Montale lineup, so it is a bit more expensive than older fragrances from the house. Usually, it goes for around $125-$135, and if you get a tester bottle, you might be able to lower that price to around $110.
At the end of the day though, the real value for money will always be up for you to decide.
Who Would Like It
People looking for an introduction to the world of oud, but not a baptism-by-fire, will probably be the ones who most enjoy this fragrance.
It’s similar enough to Western spicy-sweet designer fragrances like Bvlgari’s Man In Black or Viktor&Rolf’s Spicebomb to be familiar, but just exotic enough to be a new, tantalizing olfactory adventure. And as a beginner oud, you could certainly do worse.
However, people who are a bit more experienced in the world of oud probably won’t find this as attractive as a neophyte.
As for gender, this strikes me very much as a “man” scent, especially due to the somewhat harsh leather and juniper in the opening. Though these notes do calm down as time goes on, I think this has its feet pretty firmly planted on the masculine end of the spectrum.
When To Wear It
Given the sheer power of this fragrance, I think that Oud Dream is something that should only ever be attempted to be worn in cold weather, at least 50 degrees or lower. Think late autumn to winter.
Thankfully, its scent profile lends itself quite nicely to such seasons, and this could very well be an easy reach in the cold if you’re looking for a woody, spicy scent.
In terms of occasions, this strikes me more as a “night out” kind of scent. You could of course wear it to the office, but it might come off as a little bit weird. Casual hangouts, semi-formal, and formal situations would probably be alright as well, though it wouldn’t be my first choice, personally speaking.
I also don’t think it would be the best choice for a first date given how oud (even synthetic oud) can be quite a polarizing aroma for the uninitiated. However, once you’ve ascertained whether or not your partner is okay with oudy scents, this would be a good date night scent.
There are quite a few similar fragrances to Oud Dream, and I would call this scent pretty far from unique.
As I mentioned earlier, Honey Aoud, also by Montale, is very similar to Oud Dream, though as the name implies, it is heavier on the honey and cinnamon. Additionally, it bears a resemblance to Oud Tobacco, another Montale scent, and Red Tobacco by Montale’s sister brand Mancera.
The similarity to Bvlgari’s Man In Black and Viktor&Rolf’s Spicebomb Extreme are also definitely there, which come with their own host of smell-alikes. Chopard’s Oud Malaki is quite similar as well, both in terms of scent, quality, and performance, and would personally be my top pick if you are interested in a beginner oud. It also happens to be quite a bit cheaper than Oud Dream.
Finally, Penhaligon’s Halfeti (a far superior fragrance in my estimation) is in the same ballpark at around the same price point.
Pros & Cons
- A good introduction to oud fragrances.
- Powerhouse performance.
- Decent value for money.
- More of a “Spice Dream” than an “Oud Dream”, which might turn off people looking for a more authentic oud experience.
- Some might not find the presentation to their liking.
- Many alternatives on the market, some of which you might be able to get for a lot cheaper.
The Final Word
Overall, Oud Dream is a fine scent. “Fine” is really the best adjective I can muster to describe it. It’s not particularly amazing, or inspired, or high quality, or…anything other than strong, really. It’s definitely not bad though, so I won’t give it a bad score or anything.
However, I think there are definitely better, cheaper options out there for those looking for an introduction into the world of oud. For example, the aforementioned Chopard Oud Malaki, or Guerlain Santal Royal, or Arabian Oud Kalemat Black.
Each of these is going to give you a superior, cheaper (well, kind of), and overall more well-rounded experience than Oud Dream. The only difference is that Oud Dream outperforms them all (yes, even the nuclear Kalemat Black) by several orders of magnitude. If you go in for strength, get Oud Dream. If you go in for quality, uniqueness, or beauty…Oud Dream might not be your first choice.
Still, I can’t knock it too much. It’s overall a serviceable scent, and one which is likely to bring satisfaction to those who buy it with little prior experience with oud.
Overall, I give Montale Oud Dream:
★★★☆☆ 3 stars out of 5