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…

Oud Mostafa

Oud Mostafa. One of the greatest olfactory creations–only two years old, but already boasting a timelessness that will hold the minds and hearts of those who own this bottle for decades to come. An unspeakable deep and pulsating aroma that leaves an impression in the depths of your being. Anyone who has smelled this oil or who will be Graced to smell this oil, will be left with an unforgettable impression of its sacred aroma.

An Oud oil named after the Revered Prophet of Islam is no light matter. Given the significance of fragrance in the Islamic tradition (and furthermore the unique significance of Oud in Islam), the name of this oil spoke volumes to me before I ever smelled it. I felt a strong attraction to Oud Mostafa, and knew early on that it was an oil I would have to acquire.

After all of the anticipation, I finally ordered a bottle, and held the bubble-wrapped box in my hands. Immediately, my senses are filled with the sweet aroma of berries, but remarkably deep–not a light sweetness at all. This is before my hands have even unwrapped the box! I knew that these delectable top notes were only a taste of what circulated beneath it, in what I was beginning to feel would be a very full-bodied Oud. Needless to say, I was astonished at the potency of the fragrance, given that I had not even opened the box yet. Indeed, this powerfully penetrating quality of Oud Mostafa is something I have come to know and enjoy as one of its most endearing characteristics.

Alas, the top is unscrewed just enough, revealing the rim. I receive the first smell as if receiving a blessed gift. I find the sweet berry notes again, now mingling on top of a strong barnyard body. I had never imagined a harmony of barnyard and sweet notes like this before. However, Mostafa exudes a sweetness that is entirely its own. It is not a sweetness comparable to the sweetness one encounters in a Cambodi, or to the ascending sweetness of a Borneo, or even to the sweetness one encounters in other Indian Ouds. It is a sweetness that is inextricable from the barnyard heart of this oil, inseparable from the body of the Oud. Their simultaneous existence is at once beautiful, intoxicating, and addictive.

Oud Mostafa evokes the strongest response in me of any other Oud oil I have smelled. Mostafa stirs emotions of passion and ecstasy, reverence and gratitude. It speaks the language of supremacy and sublimity. It breathes its life into the body like a mystical offering.

As I swipe my wrist, the oil’s fragrance begins to emanate from my wrist. I can almost see it rising from my wrist like the smoke from a mabkhara, creating a field of fragrance that surrounds the whole body. My eyes close in response. I am stilled, motionless, captured in the rapture of this holy fragrance. I raise my wrists to my nose, holding my hands together, as if in a mysterious gesture of prayer. The fragrance reaches the heart with such power.

As I come out of this beholding, I begin to move and notice how Mostafa radiates its fragrance with a serious potency. I am more accustomed to experiencing the “burst” of an oil’s fragrance and character upon a fresh swipe, which always is soon to settle into a more consistent display of the oil’s scent profile. However, with Mostafa I was surprised to find that the initial “burst” lasted for a very long time. It is the only oil in my collection that steadily radiates such a strong fragrance for such a period of time. There is no diminishment in the potency of the fragrance after swiping it. In fact, it only feels to magnify, to expand itself, and express itself more with time. Oud Mostafa has a profound quality of radiation, of emanation, of ecstatic expression. It yearns to embrace and hold, to speak aloud the glories of the Supreme, to draw everyone into its ecstatic dance.

I drink in the fragrance. Each breath feels too shallow to fully receive the fragrance. There always feels to be more before the breath is finished. As I breathe in the fragrance, it feels as if it goes down my throat, entering the body in mysterious shape and form. An incredibly intimate experience. Mostafa has an all-pervasive and penetrating quality that I have not experienced before. The feeling of profundity pervades my heart. I spontaneously utter the Name of God. How can an aroma have such an affect? I nearly fall into self-consciousness, feeling the sense of madness the fragrance creates, wondering if I have gone mad, or if this is really possible. And yet, with every new breath, conviction is restored to the extraordinary and undeniable power of this fragrance.

Ensar writes on his website that “True Indian Agarwood oil is the epitome of the pure Oud fragrance”. I would take this a step further in saying that not only is Indian Oud the epitome of the pure Oud fragrance, but Oud Mostafa epitomizes Oud altogether.

Part of what leads me to this declaration is that Oud Mostafa possesses and exhibits the qualities that are commonly spoken of as the defining characteristics of Oud oil. Mostafa is easily the most long-lasting Oud oil in my collection, and I would be surprised to encounter an Oud oil that lasts longer and maintains such a consistent intensity and liveliness.  Mostafa is unable to remain silent. Infused with deep purpose, Mostafa is the fragrant sound and vibration of a Holy Scripture being recited. The feeling of Revelation makes this oil epic in proportion.

Oud Mostafa sits on the dresser by my Hawaiian window, a screen with open louvers. The wind is constantly blowing in and circulating the room with its freshness. Even when sitting in its bottle, I have found it impossible not to encounter Oud Mostafa. It has become impossible to enter my room without sensing its sublime aroma. On my wrist, this oil lasts over 24 hours if I do not apply soap where the oil has been applied.

Another noteworthy aspect of this Oud oil is that it leaves a trail. The trail of intoxicating fragrance is well known in Islamic literature. As Ensar shares in his description of Oud Mostafa, “Ibn Mas’ud (Allah be well pleased with him) used to apply the very finest perfumes money could buy, and after the Prophet’s passing (Allah bless him and grant us his perfumed visage) it was easy for people to say Ibn Mas’ud has been somewhere due to the unearthly scent that lingered well after he’d left the place.

To give an example of this oil’s trail: I had recently walked into my office to retrieve something I needed when I suddenly caught the fragrance of Oud Mostafa. I immediately dismissed it because I had not been wearing the oil, and thought that perhaps my mind was playing tricks on me. I kept smelling. I was certain that I was smelling Mostafa. I walked out of the room perplexed, and moved to the kitchen. There I encountered the intensity of the oil’s fragrance and saw its source standing there in the form of my girlfriend, who had just applied some of the oil from the bottle’s rim. I felt relief in knowing that my olfactory endeavors had not left me crazy, and that indeed I had smelled Mostafa. I was amazed at the trail the fragrance left. It was clearly perceptible in the other room, where she had only stood a moment.

When this oil finally dries down after a few hours, one encounters a red-earthiness that has a subtle hint of spice and cacao in its body. Cloves and cardamom. If you smell it even later, there is even a leatheriness that is evident. Quite a display and diversity of notes!

But beyond its aesthetic value, Oud Mostafa is a sacred experience, a deep and profound fragrance that is not about this world. I feel that it has incredible healing effect on those who are in need of it, because it penetrates the heart, and uplifts the soul. Restoring sacred harmony to the whole body, Oud Mostafa is a reverberation of Divine proportions.

Jungle: Burma
Crafted: January 2010
Yield: 13 tolas
Status: 3 bottles left, near-Legend

Interesting facts: Oud Mostafa is a single-origin distillation from incense-grade agarwood from wild trees at least 70-80 years old.  Absolutely impossible to come by anymore.