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    Bois d'Iris

    Price: $195

    Most people either buy oud chips for the look or for the smell. But if you’ve got any experience with different varieties of oud, you know look and smell don’t always go together. The blackest chips often possess a mere echo of the burst of oudy goodness that wafts from a ‘normal’,  lighter-colored chip.

    That’s why I don’t encourage anyone to buy oud for its Monkoh-value based on looks alone. It’s also why some have wondered why we often offer oud chips that, in their book, look ‘low’ or ‘medium’ grade… lacking the black exterior they consider ‘high’ grade.

    I hate to burst the bubble, but the typical grading structure of agarwood you’re probably familiar with—A, AAA, Super, King Super, Medium, Low, whatever—is highly problematic when it’s the aroma you’re after, not the look.

    It wouldn’t matter if Bois d’Iris looked like plywood or floated like a feather. Because of the smell—this distinct note of iris, redolent of Ceram 1997, taken to the next level. A deep psychoactive dry-floral aroma infused in musk and orris root, anchored in a gently bitter undertone you’d smell in vintage agarwood across the board. If only we could gather enough to run a proper distillation, you’d never be reading this.

    Speaking of, think about this: if everyone is out to capture the ‘scent of heated oud chips’ in oud oil, shouldn’t the same logic apply? Shouldn’t it be even more about the smell—not the blackness of the wood you distill?

    But that’s not that case. The myth that black = best is held as dogma in many distillation circles and the folks who adhere to this mistaken belief are quick to judge wood by its blackness. The difference is, where they might be out to distill the look, you’re chasing the smell. Unless you’re carving beads or looking for a display piece, it’s always about the smell.

    This is a superior, more resinous (denser, so they’d last longer on the heater) companion to Ceram 1997. For all the talk about ‘low’-grade-looking wood, as far as visual appeal goes, they’re stunning. The resination pattern and color hue is quite different to your run-of-the-mill oud chips, with long strains instead of spots. Not to mention, the resin runs through the entire chips, so you can enjoy every splinter down to the core, not just the outer crust (as is the case with most oud chips), so in terms of weight, you’re getting every milligram’s worth.

    I haven’t smelled the iris note in wood from anywhere but Maluku and neighboring New Guinea. I can’t tell you why that is, where it’s from, or what caused it. What I do know is that the iris is intoxicating, beautiful, and such a rare olfactory experience you can’t miss it.

    If you only know about ‘black’ resin agarwood and not red resin, yellow resin, green resin, etc., you’d dismiss fantastic oud as being barely resinated white wood, and soil agarwood will simply look like broken fibers pastiched together. If black is all you know,  you’ll miss out on some of the supreme agarwood-heating experiences known to man—you’d be dissing superior agarwood and not even know it. You would never have discovered the sandal-cedar symphony of Maluku…… or the iris chord of Bois d’Iris.


    Most unique wood I have ever smelled. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a chance to experience an Iris scent but if that is what comes out this wood it is bizarre. It has a flowery medicinal burn that is most unique. – Kurtis, USA

    Morning fun with Bois d’Iris. These pieces are hard as hell. Can’t break them. Barely shave them. Need fine tooth saw.

    Ceram’s scent is sweet delicate and baby purple sweet iris. Irian noir is the polar opposite. Darkest purple in the spectrum and violet heavy. Bois d’Iris sits in the middle slight left toward that sweet Ceram but far spicier, meatier and packing that oudy marrow goodness.

    And note the voltage: 8.4. At This temp, florals dominate. At 9.5-10.5 the spice and dark green-black notes take over. – Rasoul, Canada

    Really nice wood, a profile that reminds a bit of some Sumbawa wood that I have, though otherwise a quite distinct scent profile… I’ve never smelled Iris (I don’t think) so can’t offer an opinion about the wood smelling like that or not – but it’s got a lovely and intense ‘petroleum-floral’ type thing going on that I really like… Rich with spices this wood is, like a potpourri… Ahhhh, I love agarwood!

    So true indeed about the resination and color of the wood not being a reliable way to gauge the quality of the scent… If I inquire about agarwood with a vendor it’s just about the scent profile – there’s so many woods that are more on the oily vs resin side that just smell amazing when heated/burned… That said though these Bois D’Iris pieces are really nice looking – and anytime I can tell that pieces have been meticulously cleaned that adds a lot… – Josh, USA

    Haven’t tried any Sumba or Sumbawa wood. The petroleum purple flower comment makes total sense and I can fully relate to it. There is a vaporous and at the same time an unexpected ‘dirtied floral’, (not dirty) note.

    Next up to try is Irian Noir. Not one bit of iris suggestion in this one, instead it’s all about the deep dark side of VIOLET. If Ceram is the embodiment of a cute and pretty girl next door, Irian Noir is that femme fatale. Bois d’Iris is in between. – Rasoul, Canada

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