As a way of classifying perfumes, fragrance families are useful, and most of them have enough of an "official" status that we understand what they imply. Fragrance families don't tell the whole story, but they help us understand a bit better what a perfume might smell like, or more to the point around here probably, they help us to understand if we can be bothered to try something at all. If I tell you a perfume with berries, jasmine and patchouli is a fruity floral, which of course it could be, you might imagine a certain kind of smell, quite different than if I told you it was an oriental, or a chypre, or a green floral, or an aldehydic floral. What you imagine, of course, could be quite wrong, but it never hurts to know how Michael Edwards classified something after he smelled it.1
Many perfumistas, of course, have their own categories or subcategories, like creamsicle or skank or booze, or we might classify by specific notes we're interested in, from mimosa to ylang ylang. Wood pudding™ is one of my own favorite personal / unofficial categories, especially in deep winter. A decent wood pudding fragrance is spicy and creamy, and comforting, but the relatively heavy woods temper the sweetness enough to keep the fragrance from falling into a more general gourmand or foody category. Here are 5 of my favorites, and do add your own in the comments!
Givenchy Organza Indecence very nearly defines the category, and if I remember correctly, it's the fragrance that made me think of the idea of wood pudding in the first place. It is basically a cinnamon-spice, vanilla and ambery wood fragrance, with some fruits and some patchouli. Michael Edwards classifies it as a woody oriental, and places it in the subcategory "rich", which almost gets us there but omits the crucial point: it's beautifully creamy. The creaminess is precisely what sets it apart from some other favorite fragrances in the rich woody oriental list, like Czech & Speake Dark Rose and Honoré des Prés Chaman's Party and Reminiscence Elixir Patchouli.
21 Costume National is also a woody oriental, but in the "crisp" subcategory. It shares that classification with everything from Tom Ford Black Orchid to Hermès Eau des Merveilles to Serge Lutens Douce Amere. It is lighter and drier than Organza Indecence, but it's still creamy, and comforting, and just a little offbeat. When this came out in 2008, I really thought it would be a huge hit with perfumistas — and so, apparently, did Luckyscent; their description says "destined to become a new cult favorite" — but I almost never see it mentioned in the scent of the day polls. Wrong again!
Yet another woody oriental, but over in the "classic" subcategory, we find Serge Lutens Santal de Mysore. As a sandalwood fragrance, I like Santal Blanc2 better, but as a wood pudding, Santal de Mysore has to be the winner: it's rich, it's creamy (coconut custard, says Kevin), it's spicy (watch out for that cumin), and it's loaded with sandalwood.
Parfumerie Generale Felanilla is not a woody oriental, but it is an oriental, in the "classical" subcategory, right along with Prada L'Eau Ambrée and Felanilla's more obvious relation, Guerlain Shalimar. Now, Shalimar is not a wood pudding in my book, but Felanilla, while a bit less creamy than Organza Indecence and a bit less vanillic than Shalimar (if it helps, it's often compared to Coty Emeraude and/or Guerlain Guet-Apens), is definitely a wood pudding, and it will please saffron fans as well.
Moving out of the oriental category and into soft floral, there's always Ego Facto Poopoo Pidoo, a rice-steam relative of Kenzo Amour which straddles the line between a wood pudding and a straight-up foody gourmand. Some of you probably think Organza Indecence is too sweet, but if you're in the camp that thinks it's too dry, Poopoo Pidoo is the one you want.
(And as an aside, if you find all of these fragrances too wood pudding, you might consider one of my "diet" wood pudding suggestions: Dries Van Noten par Frédéric Malle or Sonoma Scent Studio Bois Épicés.)
1. All of the official fragrance family classifications used here are from Edwards' Fragrances of the World.
2. Santal Blanc, by the way, is not an oriental at all. Michael Edwards classifies it as a woods fragrance.