We bid farewell to the first and only Vietnamese Senkoh we ever made. An oil that bursts with the bitterness of Royal Guallam, drenched in waves of narcotic, medicinal shots of Vietnamese Kinam. Nha Trang LTD and Kynam No 1 done Senkoh style, where the distillation methodology is centered around the scent of the resin, and the resin only.
I know some of you are certified adepts who’ve learned to steer clear of the olfactory signature of blue cheese and dirty socks and appreciate those notes for what they are. And that you know they have little to do with the Zen-like transcendence oud oil affords your sensory world.
But many live in a world where oud = harsh, overpowering… downright foul. Worse, they don’t know it. Skunk gets confused for potent, and a SCOBY mistaken for quality raw materials. That’s the way oud has been crafted for ages, and it’s that smell that’s been ingrained into our collective olfactory memory.
If you have a thing for the skunky side of oud, by all means, go for it. But when generic funk steps onto the stage of Artisanal Oud Oil, prepare to get the China masters’ treatment: Sink, soap, scrub till your skin is cleansed of (in their words) the ‘shit smell’.
The oud you’ve got here is as far removed from the fizzing barrel of cheese – which is your signature Vietnamese oil – as Chugoku Senkoh is from the outhouse that is your classical bottle of Hindi juice.
Then there’s the smell of the Japanese masters, presented in clinical sterility and cleanliness – an immaculateness of olfactory molecules which is, in fact, as true to the smell of the raw material we’re extracting as you can possibly get. It’s this kind of oud that gives us a sensory portal unto the world of eternal peace. A tactile form of the unseen becoming manifest in our little chaotic lives.
I want you to be aware what kind of oud we’re talking about here – and that this is not another Facebook juice distilled by somebody on his way back from the barnyard, who slapped an ‘artisan’ label on the bottle with hands still oily from scraping the beaker bare with them.
This is oud from a different kind of farm. It’s the smell of parboiled, gently steamed, perfectly clean basmati rice, and that little layer of powder on top of it. If you’ve ever lightly boiled basmati rice, you’d have inhaled, eyes-closed, that heavenly aroma of rice powder. Immaculate. Pristine. That, laced with the medicinal bitterness and zest characteristic of ancient Nha Trang agarwood is what embodies our Betonamu.
Distillation principles laid out to capture the most delectable resinous aromas you’d never access through traditional distillation were back-breakingly implemented here – to preserve those very notes that are destroyed by the pillars of ‘traditional’ cooking.
I’ve written at length about the costs of making Nha Trang LTD, and there’s a simple reason nobody else has come close to offering the likes of Royal Guallam and Kynam No 1. I’ve just returned from a visit to my Sifu, the only man I know who might find the unfindable, only to hear: No More. The Chinese and Taiwanese big shots are left trading in cultivated oils – as you’ve smelled in the new CO2 ouds (the only sensible move when all you can cook is low to mid-grade scraps) – and there are no more beads being carved.
Betonamu Senkoh is a sensei able to teach you worlds about oud oil. But you don’t acquire it because there’s a library in every drop. You get it because it gives you the simplest of pleasures; the profound euphoria artisanal oud oil affords anyone willing to listen closely, one whiff at a time. The kind of transcendent delight so few ouds give us, where you don’t think of copper, condenser, or zero-soak, but instead delight in this microcosm of an aroma forged by resin hardened over decades in the wild, distilled with the delicacy of the basmati powder you smell against this backdrop of medicinal sinensis, lovingly coaxed.
If you never smell another Vietnamese oud, you wouldn’t have missed out. Betonamu Senkoh is textbook Japanese Kodo. Inhale softly. Feel deeply. Think nothing.
Been very eager for this one. A Senkoh it is. No doubt. Like other oils in this genre, there is a nakedness and a distinct aesthetic at play.
Scent-wise it's more the crassna side of Vietnam than sinesis. In fact, there is an oil, and a mighty one, called Kinam Rouge that rings closest to Betonamu.
I am gonna go as far as say it's like Kinam Rouge went keto diet, leaned out and became drier in that red cherry tobacco medicinal sweetness profile. – Rasoul, Canada
I think I may have found my oud niche favorite!!!! I LOVE all the senkoh series that I have thus far!!!! I like the creamyness and sweeter notes that they have. And they all make me have sensual orgasms every time I smell. And the people that I share with - I can really tell my sensual oud people when they sniff and either look at me like I’m bat shit crazy and they just don’t get it or whether they turn into a puddle on the floor!! – Cristina, USA
Betonamu Senkoh is worth a lot more than you’re selling it for, imho. It may start slowly but the build up in sillage keeps going for over an hour easily. [...] the effect of the increasing build up in scent intensity was surprising. However, this Betonamu Senkoh is the real deal imho, and I am just delighted with it. Vietnamese. One rarely smells something like this these days, just weak similarities. – Muriel, USA
How can I buy any other thing now?
This is very subtle. I perceive a very faint peppery or airy smell, incense in some sort of quite emptiness, very pleasing. This is the sort of emptiness that allows understanding. I generally feel the smell disappears. As there is some vacuum, mind tries to fill this space with familiar sensations. So that Betonamu Senkoh teaches and one listens better to whatever other oil I have has said.
This continuous sensation is wrapped in a sweet metallic note. This is not the metal smell as if in a copper vase but the sweet note of gold or silver. – Javier, Peru
Betonamu is quite the oil! I get top notes of the sweet hainanese which transitions to a nice combination of Nha Trang LTD and Royal Guallam. It’s like a Chinese/Vietnamese symphony. – Nazif, USA
Imagine the prettiest Vietnamese oud, filled with notes of honey, peaches, and Sunlight. I was surprised by the lightness and softness of this oil, and then by its subtle impact on my mind. By scent alone, I wouldn't have known this was a Vietnamese oud, more like a Thai or Cambodi one, but it nevertheless quite lovely and enticing. – Hank, USA