M7 Oud was launched in 2011 as a flanker of M7 from 2002. I never tried the original (so far), but I understand that it’s so highly respected for its strength and oriental boldness, that this edition didn’t receive the warmest of welcomes. Over here however, there will be no comparison.
M7 Oud Absolu was my first contact with the aroma of oud wood, which is extracted from the resinous inside part of a tree called Aquilaria. To be simple and almost superficial, oud is widely use for incense, so that’s the smell you will get, although there’s much more than that. Oud has a rich and deep smell, with a subdued, yet distinct sweetness, which feels oriental without being vanilla.
You won’t get all of that from the start though, as the opening also has a quite present note of mandarin blended in. Just like the juxtaposition of orange and cinnamon in some German biscuits, you don’t know why it works, but it does. Although it makes me think of a mouse going hand in hand with an elephant, mandarin is not overshadowed at all by the thick orientality of the rest.
After about one hour, mandarin fades and the incense side starts to get greener and slightly herbal. As it moves towards the dry down, the oily incense side of YSL M7 Oud Absolu is less aggressive, and if you didn’t know that oud is a type of wood so far, you would know now. M7 Oud is for men, but just like Opium for women, it’s actually shareable. In any case, you’ll need low temperatures, and an age above 40 to pull this off appropriately I believe.