Recent EO Parfums have had a heavy focus on oud. Oud’s interaction with musk, ambergris, tobacco, precious florals, you name it.
This time, we wanted to showcase oud’s sidekick like you’ve never smelled it before. A sandalwood perfume that goes wacko overboard on every front…
If you’ve smelled Santal Royale next to the sandalwood oils produced en masse today, you know that when it comes to quality and contrast, the difference can be stark. Or those vintage creamy Mysores that make today’s fresh ones smell almost empty.
While we’ve had the enormous blessing of being able to acquire the finest oud, vintage musk, and ambergris from Sultan Qaboos’ royal collection, we were really dealt a Full House with the chance to acquire these:
One distinctly sweeter than the other, one uniquely herbaceous with a bitter-spicy veneer, and the third with santalum’s signature creaminess on full display, they all shared the same fate.
The thirty-year-old Timor joining the Sultan’s line-up may well be the youngest of the crew. With such a varied palette of sandalwood chords, I toyed with the idea of creating a simple soliflore to showcase the raw aroma—and it would have been perfume-ey enough to be offered as a spray perfume.
Of course, that would limit the number of bottles to only a fortunate few, and you’d forgo the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use such precious oils in crafting your debut—and likely signature—sandalwood perfume.
You wouldn’t invest a million dollars into getting Sultan Qaboos’ own stash if the most prized items in his collection smelled like anything else. With Oud Royale, you even got to smell his attar yourself—and know that it’s in a different league.
To acquire such aromatics from another era is a window of opportunity that’s only open for a short while. It’s also a creative window that’s only open this time. To show the respect these delectable rarities deserve and to do them—and the chance to use them—justice. I hope Santal Sultan does so.
At 70% concentration, the Pure Parfum edition is the strongest concentration perfume we’ve made—and I’m sure the highest concentration you’ve ever smelled in anything short of a pure attar. And the entire carrier is tincture made from Mysore granules harvested in the 70s and 80s.
Purer than the purest parfums, you could not make this a more replete fragrance even if I gave you solid sandalwood absolute to add—upping the dose any more would make it un-sprayable!
As for the EDP…… well, that’s just what the gold plaque will say: Eau de Parfum. At a crazy 50% it’s more than double the concentration of most Extrait de Parfums out there and easily four times the strength of most Eau de Parfums…
To complement the distinct profiles of the Sultan’s santalums, you’ll smell chords of citrus and jasmine to augment the sweetness, cedar and pineapple to ride the bitter-spicy notes along with amber patchouli to play on the subtle herbaceous tone, while mimosa and rosemary layer the creamy banquet in a gourmand floral flush I find deeply addictive.
As far as ingredients and concentration go, Santal Sultan is as lavish as any perfumer can dream. No expenses spared, with access to the finest vintage sandalwood oils on Earth, and instead of just alcohol, the juice is drunk on Mysore tinctures using granules I don’t know where to find again—this, my friend, is your bottle of Santal Sultan.
*Each order will include a piece or three of the 80s Mysore granules inside your bottle.
I own the PP version, but am not going to chime in with any comparative detail because it's honestly the first LEGIT sandalwood scent I've ever encountered. I own Bois des Iles pure parfum, Lutens Santal de Mysore, Amouage Santal Attar, Xerjoff Richwood... all critically lauded but also criticized for not being “the real thing.”
What I WILL say is that Ensar's blows them all away in terms of complexity. And at 70%, the scent hangs around to satiate the "performance junkies" (a new term I read somewhere). It's not a soliflore, though neither are the others mentioned. Still, there's enough sandalwood in this perfume composition to keep you high on a sandalwood fix for the long ride. Santal Sultan is far more rich and multifaceted than the Mysore Cologne that went out as a bonus some months ago. – Lawrence, Singapore
[The EDP] is really wonderful and plenty strong for me. It sits on my skin like I would expect an Extrait to. Aged Mysore dominates the scent profile, but there is definitely more going on. There is pineapple and something musky. Maybe some spices. I’m not sure how much of the complexity I am smelling is from the outstanding Mysore sandalwood used or if there are other notes at play besides sandalwood and pineapple. It has a bit of a masculine edge. I am really, really glad to have this in my collection. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy the EDP. I’m sure the PP is excellent too, but I have no complaints whatsoever with the EDP. It’s beautiful and addicting to smell. – Joey, USA
Santal Sultan is fresh, buttery, creamy and musky all wrapped in one. I get both Tibetan Musk and the musky scent from the old sandalwood. This is the first sandalwood fragrance that I've smelled that actually projects. It has an addictive quality to it. I've worn it every day since I received last Friday. I love it! – T. Jackson, USA
Growing up in India, Sandalwood was everywhere. From putting sandalwood paste on a child’s forehead to cremating the dead using sandalwood and most things in between. We indulged in it. So much so, that we used up all of it!
Mysore Sandal soaps, sandalwood oils, incense, perfumes, body powders and what not! And it does not stop here. Song lyrics, legends, childhood stories all had ‘Chandan’ references. How Veerappan, a sandalwood smuggler, became a larger-than-life figure? How an actor in an old Bollywood movie tries to woo his beloved saying that her body smells like ‘Chandan’. Growing up in India, it was everywhere. And the crazy part is, I think half of us (could have included me from a couple years ago) haven’t even smelt real sandalwood.
Well, that’s the story of my sandalwood obsession. Now, comes the story of Santal Sultan. Or should we say a Santal fit for sultan? Or a santal with a stature as lofty as a sultan?
First things first, I have never associated Sandalwood aroma with opulence or grandeur. In my mind, it has always been a scent of an ascetic, a priest, a monk. It has always been a scent of Shiva, the Adi yogi (the first yogi). A scent for meditation. A scent of spiritualism. A scent so pious that gods are adorned with fresh Sandalwood paste every morning. I think, in practice, the use of sandalwood is not just about ‘perfuming’, but creating this divine aura. A high-frequency mystique. This is what makes sandalwood so special.
Santal Sultan is just that but with an added tinge of dazzle. The whole story of Santal Sultan is about how spices and herbs compliment different facets of the Santal.
From the first spray, I got a feeling of herbs and spices sautéed in butter. Rosemary twigs, black cardamom, Nutmeg simmering away in butter. Spices are rather warm and well rounded. Not sharp and edgy. At top, its spices, juxtaposed on a creamy background with citruses piercing through delicately. I feel like chefs could very well transition into perfumery, with ease. Ryan Schoenherr, how do you feel about it?
As the composition blooms on the skin, I got hints of ginger. I assume it is ginger. And this facet stays all throughout the traditional phases complimenting the creamy aspects of Sandalwood. The sweetness in the heart of this perfume is evened by something animalic. Is it Jasmine? Does this contain Ambergris? We would never know. But whatever is there in it, it smells divine. The nuttiness in here is palpable. There’s pandanus-sweetness and tonka-warm that blankets and holds everything together.
The dry down is cedar woody with subtle spicy sandalwood. It sits close to the skin giving off wafts of the buttery Mysore that we all adore. It feels like a satin sheet gliding across kissable skin. Sensuous and cuddly.
All in all, this one is a beautiful iteration with different facets of a sandalwood. The woods, the spices, and the cream. Very different from other offerings from Ensar. This is not loud. Very sublime. Not occlusive at all. So much so, that you tend to forget that you are wearing something but then you are reminded of this beautiful scent as you move. A perfume should not be something that overshadows your aura but add to it. This is THE scent to wear when you meditate or ponder in deep thoughts.
Sui generis from the man, EO. – Himanshu, USA