Take the most resinated organic agarwood money can buy, grind it up into dust, juice it up into oil, and what do you get? Japanese incense, in a bottle!
Incense grade agarwood is used for just that – incense. Not oil. Unless you're Ensar...
“Why? You will lose money,” the distiller repeated once again, trying to make sense of what Ensar was proposing.
Trying to persuade the wood brokers and the distiller that this production would be unmatched by anything they'd ever done was a futile endeavor. They were just too taken aback by this kind of request; using incense grade wood to make oil. One thing was clear: there wasn't going to be any shared risk in this experiment. If there was loss, it would fall squarely on us. So we had to buy the wood upfront as when buying oud chips for burning, after which we could do with it as we pleased.
After spending half the day selecting the organic incense grade pieces fit for the distillation we had in mind, we ended up getting 5-kg of the most densely resinated chips available. But instead of going home and smoking up some shavings on the burner, we walked straight to the grinder.
The rarity and cost of these incense grade chips meant we had to take special care grinding them into fine dust, making sure we gathered every last speck.
Once ground up, we headed for the stills, giving soaking a miss. Instead we decided on a copper pot, without any condensers whatsoever, boiling at a slightly higher temperature than usual, in which we poured the dust to start cooking right away.
As we came in to pour the freshly ground dust into the still, we were greeted by the most 'fecalicious' aroma imaginable, emitted by the 20 year-old organic tree we'd harvested the previous day (to be released soon).
After five days cooking, we collected the first batch of Thai Encens, of which the overall yield was very low. Only two tolas, to be exact!
Think of an extremely rich dish which is so filling you are satisfied with a few spoonfuls. Or a dessert which is gorgeously delicious, yet when you finish eating it you are perfectly satisfied without the uncontrollable crave to stuff yourself further. That is Thai Encens. The most fulfilling Oud, in every respect, I have ever laid my nostrils on.
Every Oud, Kyara Koutan included, leaves you wanting for something more. Not so the Encens. Its incense-y, green Kyara note is extremely voluptuous and overwhelmingly energetic. It has a certain electricity to it, it almost pulsates. It is alive. It has the strongest spiritual pull of any oil I have smelled.
Indeed, the oil is still fresh off the still, and the notes are changing daily, but one thing is for sure, its green note is crisper and cleaner than any of my previous Kyaras. I smelled the pyrex again last night, and I was greeted by an unexpected Japanese green tea note admixed in that unearthliness. It totally blissed me out!
It turned out so surprisingly crystal clear (sencha green top note permeated with a Kyara etherealness) in such a short time; I can't begin to imagine what transcendence it will resonate in a year or two!
Ever tried Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens? I'm sorry to refer to a synthetic designer scent, but it's the only thing that comes to mind as I smell the second juicing of Thai Encens No 1.
In the Oud Yusha / Encens d'Angkor equation this would be the equivalent of the Encens d'Angkor, while the first yield would be the fruitier Oud Yusha equivalent.
Employing similar distillation techniques, we were able to get 3 quarter tola bottles (3 grams each) of a very dark Thai Encens No 1, which smells exactly like Ambre Sultan, only it's 100% pure oud oil!
After All's Said and Done:
“So, was it worth it?” everyone asked after we finished filtering the oil, seeing how little oil we ended up with.
It was a laugh for the distiller to see us put down a thick wad of hard cash and end up with two tolas of oil. But we would do it again! The dried aquilaria would have otherwise kept its secret dormant, passing away in a cloud of smoke, without anyone ever getting to taste its true greatness; its grandeur.