Oud

Oud/OudH (Agarwood)

Oud, as I’ve already explained on my Exclusive attars page, Oud literally means wood in Arabic. Oud is also a name given to the  fungal infection that takes place in several species of Aquilaria tree which is native from the states of Eastern India through Burma, through Bangladesh, down and through Thailand, Indochina and its Islands, along the Malay peninsula to Papua New Guinea and even Borneo.

Aquilaria Acuminata, found in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia & Philippines
Aquilaria Apiculata, found in Philippines
Aquilaria Baillonil, found in Thailand and Cambodia
Aquilaria Banaensae, found in Vietnam
Aquilaria Beccariana, found in Indonesia
Aquilaria Brachyantha, found in Malaysia
Aquilaria Crassna found in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam
Aquilaria Cumingiana, found in Indonesia and Malaysia
Aquilaria Filaria, found in New Guinea, the Moluccas, and Mindanao (Philippines)
Aquilaria Grandiflora, found in China
Aquilaria Hirta, found in Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia
Aquilaria Khasiana, found in Bangladesh and India.
Aquilaria Malaccensis, found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand, and India
Aquilaria Microcarpa, found in Indonesia and Malaysia
Aquilaria Rostrata, found in Malaysia
Aquilaria Sinensis, found in China and Laos
Aquilaria Subintegra, found in Thailand

However what interests you and me about Oud, is its fragrance, whether in oil or bakhoor (Agarwood chips) form. The Oud is graded such as Royal or King grades, these are usually the first distillation and the prized stock reserved for the very best hence the term “Royal”. Grade A is then ideal as the next one down, still of very high quality just not fit for a king I guess, Grade B is usually distilled from  less denser Oud infections in the wood and are ideal as affordable qualities and often used for blending in the perfume industry. grade C onwards is usually made into incense. So where does it come from?

So Oud is a fungal infection that can occur in the Acquilaria type trees – the darker the infection the more prized is the Oudh. However, in recent times the older the infection, the most prized is the Oud. Now, I just happed to have been one of those fortunate few whose work involved considerable travel worldwide, so for me, its been a blessing to see the plantations and even the distilling processes taking place in various countries. I see two issues, firstly it is becoming rare and rare by the day, like the saying ‘hens teeth’! It is already an endangered species some countries like India have over farmed their trees in recent years and therefore to find Oud fungal infected trees is virtually impossible. Secondly the price, now unless you own millions and you can afford to pay thousands of £ and $, if you were to find that treasure of an Oud you’ve been waiting for, but the majority would find it very very expensive to buy.

Kinam, Kynam or Kannam Oud

I’ve had the blessing to be able to have sold this particular type Oud, it was said to be over 100 years old at the time. I was in Malaysia (land of my fore fathers). The moment I smelt the fragrance, I wouldn’t hesitate in saying I made up my mind there and then to buying it from my distiller. Read on to see how it differed from your everyday Oud’s.

The term is usually given to very aged Oud to Aquilaria sinensis trees from Cambodia. This type of Oud has been labelled as endangered due to its rarity. It is often bought by Middle easern or French perfumers and its sum is often undisclosed. I’ve heard that a SE Asian unidentified man paid $62,000 for 0.5 kilo of this Oud that should give you some idea of its quality often rumoured amongst connoisseurs as the very best, Kinam, kynam, kannam is black in colour, dense and contains so much resin that the Oud would look like tar as its so easy to scrape off the wood chippings. In the times of the Ming Dynasty, 1 inch of kinam AgarOud was worth the same as 1 inch of gold; however today inch of kinam AgarOud would be worth more than 20 times its size in gold!

In terms of looks, it was a thick, very dark, even black, viscous liquid. It probably is by far one of the most complex fragrances to breakdown in terms of high, mid-hearty or base notes. On the first instance I found it to be very intense, smooth and overpowering all at the same time. I would say it was intoxicating to the smell senses in a way that it could transport one in a deep affixation of meditation in an instance. A deep intake of the fragrance was enough to raise my heart rate and bring about a sense of heightened delight – a legal trip I guess. As I applied it to the skin, I became addicted to smelling the back of my right hand as I walked around. Sharp and powerful. As time passed by, it smells delightfully earthy with notes of woody aroma coming through, it’s as if you’ve dug up an ancient wooden treasure chest from a damp forest earthy basin! I would say it is once in a lifetime opportunity to have acquired the smell of this thrillingly amazing fragrance.

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Kyara Oud (very Rare)

This is a similar concept to Kinnam, kynam, Kannam, but again harder to source, in my opinion the very best you can get in terms of Oud! but it is very very rare, in fact CITES (multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and wildlife) has listed it as critically endangered and very rare. I have had the pleasure of selling pure Oud Kyara although not too often, having pleasured the fragrance, it is very hard to source and I have been dealing in Oud for over 25 years, so if someone says they have some..take it with a pinch of salt. It is often dense, black and thick and the wood contains heavy deposits of the Oud resin that easily comes off in your hand whilst you scrape away at it. The more resin there is in this type of Oud the more valuable it is. It is famously quoted a person offered $1m ‘yes’ you read right..(One million US dollars) to a Japanese collector and he rejected the offer! So I guess its correct to call it rare if not priceless.

How it is on the skin is similar to Kinnam Oud in my opinion, complex, yet very powerful and passive tones of menthol like fragrances but it gives a very heightened pleasure, an ‘awe inspiring’ fragrance getting a rarer by the day, true to say..simply a legend.

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Trat Oudh or (Crassna Oud)

Trat is a region in Thailand near the Cambodian border. I guess if there were no borders you could easily call this Cambodian Oud as the geography and climate is identical due to a short distance. Trat is ever increasing in popularity, it could only be described as having calmness and traquility within itself.

The Oud comes from the Acquilaria Crassna tree types, it is ‘critically endangered’ that’s the first thing you need to know. It is the Agarwood of Indo-China region such as south-east asia – Vietnam, Laos and new guinea. Note, it is getting scarcer by there may be a few wild trees in the west part of Kampuchea (Cambodia) but due to hostile tensions and unknown mine fields in the region no one wants to risk there life on it. Trat or Crassna Oud looks like a red brown colour, its smell in the first instance is full, woody and smokey, I feel it has balsamic notes that come and go with time, on the skin as base notes reveal are a warm yet woodier than wood tendency. I would describe it as rich harmonised notes of wood, smokey wood, warm amberish. Mids of fruitiness reminiscent of figs and base notes of floral, woody notes. I find it strong and long lasting, it is very full filling and has an ‘awe inspiring’ way about ones self when wearing it.

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Hindi Oud

Well if there’s a fragrance out there known for its effective therapeutic properties, its got to be Hindi Oud. However, it all depends on where you obtain the Oud oil from. In recent times its known that a lot of oils that leave the Indian Sub-continent are diluted before they even leave the production areas. So care needs to be taken to obtain pure Hindi Oud. Pure Hindi Oud is notably known for its therapeutic traditions mentioned in ahadith by the Holy prophet (pbuh). Aged Indian Oudh is often referred to as Kalakassi, there isn’t much of this left, maybe a tree here or there, In Bangladesh south of Sylhet there was a very old Oud infected tree of over 100 years (some say 150!) in age in the Shamshernagar area,  so they do pop up on the grid from time to time, but be prepared to pay a lot as its often seldom found. Assam is an area of plantations for Oud so the most popular nowadays is Assam Oudh. In recent times most of the Oud has been over farmed in the Indian sub-continent and CITES (multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and wildlife)  has listed it as an area of endangered species.

In the first instance Royal Hindi Oud is an oil that is of good strength, and a powerful fragrance but well refined to the senses, not complex at all. It has a honey like texture, warm woody notes, freshness, fruity combined with earthy and woody tendencies. There are grades that offer a barnyard type smell on the first instance, which fades off with woody and fruity notes to the base. On the skin it has a lasting effect.

Please contact me for further details on availability.