Oud Mostafa (No. 4)

MostafaWhen I received a sample vial in the mail labeled “Oud Mostafa“, I thought it must have been a mistake. Why was Ensar sending me a sample of the legendary and long sold-out Oud Mostafa? He knows I have a full bottle–and I have already reviewed the oil and proclaimed it as one of my favorites for some time now. It was atypical of Ensar to make a mistake, to mislabel, or to just arbitrarily throw in a sample of an old oil. When I opened the vial to smell the oil, it was unmistakably similar to Oud Mostafa, which made me even more doubtful that the vial was mislabeled. I began to postulate that perhaps Ensar had extra Oud Mostafa and that he was just throwing it in for fun. There was nothing on the surface of the scent that distinguished it from the Oud Mostafa I have known and loved all these years.

Finally, I wrote Ensar an email expressing my bewilderment about this sample vial. He gave me a simple reply that it was actually a new Oud Mostafa. A new Oud Mostafa? I thought. You have to be kidding me.

Now, I opened the sample vial with an entirely new sense of vigor and wonder. I applied it to my skin and smelled its evolution over the next few hours. Right off the bat, it was clear to me that this oil had the signature Oud Mostafa scent: a pungent resinous aroma that wafts like incense smoke with the smell of mature ripe fruits floating atop, and a barely detectable but still tangible sweetness beneath. What I love most about the original Oud Mostafa is how sharp, penetrating, and diffuse the aroma is. In Mostafa No. 4, I found that exact sharpness, that same penetrating resinous pungency with ripe fruits that I had only known in the original.

I never would have guessed that this was not an Indian oil, until I saw Ensar’s formal launch of the oil with a description of its Cambodian origin! As if I had not been puzzled enough, this was the icing on the cake! Here I was enjoying the inexplicable similarities between Mostafa No. 4 and the original, and all the while, it is a Cambodian oil!

I decided I had to spend some time with this oil. However, even after having worn it many times, my conclusions and sense of the oil are still the same as when I first opened the sample vial. This oil possesses the signature aroma of Oud Mostafa–a synergy of notes coupled with an intensity, sharpness, and tenacity that I have not found in any other oils. I am, of course, ecstatic to have found all of these qualities duplicated in Mostafa No. 4, and with its own unique twist.

I will make a bold statement here and express my feeling that Mostafa No. 4 actually outdoes the original Mostafa in some aspects. It has a sweetness and balance to its funk that make it more wearable, refined, and elegant. The original Oud Mostafa is a real blast of a smell–it is the primal agarwood aroma, the scent that satiates, embodies, and exemplifies the purest and most intoxicating agarwood aroma. But I do not wear it too often. Why? Certainly I find myself in the classic dilemma of revering the oil to the degree that I do not want to deplete my one and only bottle too quickly. More significantly, I find Oud Mostafa to be overpoweringly pungent, and it has such strong sillage that I cannot really wear it too often, because I know its pungency will reach the nostrils of everyone around me–and not only that, it will leave a trail wherever I go! It is an oil to be enjoyed in solitude more than anything else.

In Oud Mostafa No. 4, we have a very wearable scent that still possesses my favorite notes from the original. For one, it is quite remarkable to me that this oil smells like the original. It is distilled from entirely different raw materials that are even from a different region. I honestly cannot account for what I smell in this case, and simply take it to be an example of true artistry. Another unique aspect of Mostafa No. 4 is that after a while, I can really smell the wood that went into this oil. I start to perceive the aroma of a densely resinated Oud chip being brought to my nose–the delectable resinous sweet depthful aroma that no one can really describe in its fullness. In this oil, the smell of Oud wood is truly exquisite, and it expresses itself with such finesse. In some sense, Mostafa No. 4 has a delicacy and balance that is not in its original predecessor. The original simply has more of a masculine and yang intensity, while Mostafa No. 4 shows a yin equanimity.

I’m very impressed with this oil. I don’t know how it ended up being so similar to the original Mostafa, but I’m quite happy about it, especially since it is only $350! I always regretted not buying a second bottle of the original, but now I can finally shed that regret. The original Mostafa was distilled from incense-grade wood from 80yr old wild trees. Mostafa No. 4 was distilled from cultivated incense-grade wood from Cambodia. How these two share the similarities they do will always be a mystery to me–but one that I happily embrace with each swipe of this oil. Having written this review, I still feel as though I’ve been modest in my expression of what this oil has to offer. It may be one of Ensar’s best distillations to date for its integration, balance, equanimity, and rich scent profile. Besides the original Oud Mostafa and Oud Sulaiman, I have never smelled this synergy of notes in another oil.

I also want to say that as a rule I never read Ensar’s descriptions of the oil before writing my own. This is because I do not want any descriptions influencing my mind and unconsciously filtering into my own writing. I saw that Ensar had released this oil, and I scrolled down far enough past the old description to see that it was Cambodian and then I closed my browser, mouth agape! I will now read the full story behind this oil and see if my nose has led me in the right direction or not…