Let's face it: oud lovers are polygamists. Without a second thought, they trade one love for another depending on their mood, the weather, or often just for the sake of juicy new Thai.
But there are true lovers. Those who have smelled Oud Royale and never looked back; who own a bottle of Royale No 5 and would never look at a Borneo. Those that, once they smelled the earthy soul of Maroke, said their vows.
You get barn and non-barn Hindis, or red, raw Cambodis that stand in stark contrast to their peach and apricot siblings. You’ve smelled the mintiest Malaysians and Thais so smokey, so tobacco-heavy that there’s no room for peach. But Maroke oud has a reputation.
Marokes (filaria, gyrinops, or otherwise) are impossible to miss. The dark, earthy, almost diesel-like mineral aroma is too much for some, totally intoxicating to others. Even die-hard oudheads have a love-hate relationship with this narcotic black aroma. From the original Oud Royale to OR85 to No 5 to Maroke LTD, they’re all delectably noir, with this deep jungle moistness that for many defines OUD; a scent that’s almost pure base, devoid of top notes or heart.
So, when you smell the anise, the fir cone and melissa white… when you smell this intro that’s crisp like the airiest Borneos, as spicy as olde Hindis, with a soft green New Guinea heart, fennel wafting in high mountain air… when you smell this—and keep smelling it—waiting for the drydown that ought to have been there at first whiff (but doesn’t come)… that’s when you realize your Marokes have kept luscious secrets from you, and that your honeymoon has just begun.
But here's the problem: Distilling quality Maroke oud is a lost cause. The yield is a disaster, as a rule. No matter steam or hydro, softeners or not, Maroke is a distiller’s nightmare. It’s not just that the yield is terrible, it’s that you still have to distill for two months straight to get the little you do. Expensive wood + high running costs + low yield… you get the picture.
That’s why Maroke Zen sold for $790 and why supply was limited. Why Oud Royale III cost triple that and still sold out before it was even released. And this was four years ago when every step of the production was cheaper. It's why Maroke lovers use their bottles so sparingly, knowing what a Herculean feat it is to find the same quality. And why distillers dread distilling any—why most don't.
Frankly, we've had more luck distilling Guallam than Maroke. And we got more Nha Trang LTD than we did Aroke Roshi. Any sane businessman takes yield into consideration, but—if we did that, you know well how much a bottle ought to cost and how big of a cash-back you actually earn here.
This is oud of such caliber that, not long from now, we'll all wish we could turn back the clock to indulge in Aroke Roshi's noir, its deep wafts of resinous mineral-like top notes, not salty, but layered in pepper molded into a pastry of dark-toned medicinal chords more mint than camphor.
You’ll pick up a whiff of walla, even though there’s none in here, that beautifully complements the fresh notes of petrichor (as I’m writing this, the rain just settled and I’m basking in both scents at the same time!) High-grade aloes that combust into a such a herbaceous aroma you'd think Oud Royale and Maroke Sultan had a supersoil lovechild baptized in spice.
*Very limited supply.