There are very few wild Agarwood trees left in the world due to over-harvesting. This has created another issue; the early-harvesting of cultivated trees. Harvesting these trees early has resulted in a less potent Oud oil, because the resin has not been aged long enough while the tree is alive.
Many of you will be familiar with the smell of synthetic Oud in modern perfumes. This is not what we are talking about. We are talking about Oud from nature, from a tree.
Oud is a journey through scent with all sorts of interesting ‘breezes’ making appearances over time; like a treasure trove of nature referencing smells from the barnyard to spring blossoms.
I like to think of ‘barnyard’ as the smell of Mother Nature regenerating. There are also other words used to describe this aspect of some Oud oils, especially the Hindi oils. Cambodi Ouds (agarwood trees grown in the Cambodia/Thailand area) are less barnyardy while the Papuan Oud is more floral. The medicinal note is a fleeting feature of many true Oud oils. These are very broad descriptions; a universe of scent swirls around in each Oud oil.
We interviewed Ensar from Ensar Oud last month about The End of Oud and the beginning of sustainable cultivation.
Ensar has been keeping his eye on a 60-year-old cultivated tree in Thailand that just recently began to show signs of readiness for harvest. An ethical choice to harvest this tree at 60 years old instead of earlier means that a rare oil has just been produced. There is a video; you can follow the making of this oil from harvest, through distillation to its manifestation as Oud Yaqoub.
This is an Oud oil to keep and age as the scent profile will change with time. Keep away from sunlight and smell or swipe every year or as suits your yearning.
A perfumer-to-be would think this a rare ingredient. I would consider this release to be a collector’s item. The yield from the tree was 23 tolas ~ 268 grams.
Narcotic à la the finest jasmine, Oud Yaqoub is already the finest Cambodi you’ll ever lay nostrils on. Age it a year or two, and you’ll be in possession of one of the Greats of all time.
The most interesting aspects of this oil are the intoxicating flowers: jasmine sambac, ylang ylang, sweet violet and rose that permeate the whole journey.
Oud Yaqoub Experiment
3 grams is $US 299.99 from Ensar Oud
You can choose a decorative or sturdy glass bottle.
For Arabic readers you can visit Ensar Oud in Arabic.
Nomenclature: Lest you be confused by the word ‘experiment’ in the name Oud Yaqoub Experiment I have asked for clarification from Thomas at Ensar Oud. Here is his explanation.
When we started our journey with organic oud, our focus was not only on ethical and sustainable harvesting practices. We also wanted to imbue these new distillations with the techniques and standards that you find in our vintage ouds. The ‘Experiment’ not only refers to this oud being a custom distillation, but also that it’s a departure from the norm. Oud Yaqoub’s fragrance attests to how the distillation tweaks we put in place were able to produce an oil that’s against the grain when it comes to the typical Cambodi/Thai scent profile.
A fascinating and exhilarating read. I have experienced the true barnyard oudhs you talk of, in Kuala Lumpur sixteen years ago at an Arab perfumery, long before the oudh boom. It was so potent and hypnotic I stayed in the shop all day watching everyone come in. Some of the oudhs, and they had a LOT of different ones, were almost repellent to the western nose and mind; IMPOSSIBLE to imagine wearing. I bought a few and loved wearing them, although like many people I am kind of sick of the scent, possibly as the synthetic variety has somehow killed off my love of it. Reading this makes me want to get the real thing again.
I understand. I usually swipe at home and enjoy the journey. It can be very contemplative as well.
Agreed with Neil…I am drawn away from the synthetic scent of oud and do not like most of the mainstream oud based perfumes. However, I have tried agarwood essential oil from Eden Botanicals and although it may not be as cultivated as Ensar Oud the smell is glorious to my nose and I have worn it as perfume standing alone as well as incorporating it into some of my blends. I hope there was a lesson learned from the Mysore sandalwood tragedy and agarwood does not suffer a similar fate.
Aha, an Oud blender. Who knew? I am about to open a fragrant package from New York. The contents will be reviewed after a side trip to Greece tomorrow; am on a Fragrant Mission there Brie.
Can’t wait to hear about the Greece trip and your views on the contents of the NY package!!! Safe travels, my friend!
I haven’t explored a huge amount of oud scents. The ones I have smelled that were heavy on the synthetic oud I found to be sharp and unpleasant to my nose. I can only take it in small doses. I know I’ve sniffed a few scents with a small bit of natural oud but I don’t think I’ve ever smelled it straight up on its own.
Something to look foward to in your Fragrant World. I think you can also look foward to Jatamansi in your near future. No point wining an award and not smelling it.
There’s always something to look forward to in my Fragrant World. That’s one of the joys of perfume I think.
I have no idea if agarwood I like/disliked (mostly the latter) in different perfumes was real or not but with my history with that note I would want to be on the cautious side: I don’t want a $300 disappointment 😉
But still it was an interesting reading. Thank you.
Undina- my guess would be you were probably sniffing synthetic (which can literally give me a headache). Agarwood essential oil is beautiful…one day a fragrant fairy will put together a package of pure essential oils for you so that you get a chance to try “perfume” in its purest form !)
Yes it is hard to decide at the price. Even the sample set is $300 for six different Oud oils. I am not sure if Oud is an acquired smell or a smell that one just needs to spend some time with to become acquainted.
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