I don’t do skimmed milk, and I like my yogurt full fat. Actually, I go for sheep or goat so I can have extra fat. That’s one thing about me: I don’t do ‘diet,’ ‘low fat’ or ‘skimmed’ anything. I like everything whole and intact, ‘the way nature intended’.
So, when you see all these skimmed Malinaus flood the market—5th Symphony wannabes featuring only three notes—it makes you wish you could go back in time and give folks a swipe of ‘whole oud’, full-fat Malinau.
The truth about bona fide Malinau agarwood is starting to set in, finally, after a number of distillers described the state of affairs; the scarcity, and how wood prices have skyrocketed. That’s partly why you see all these lackluster attempts to recapture the Malinaus of the old days. And that’s why everyone is asking for a benchmark Malinau.
Just about everyone knows the benchmark Malinau is an oil that went by the name of Borneo 3000.
You don’t need to talk about the latest Malinau Supreme or Malinau Royale, Duchess, Duke or Baron, Prince or President, because Borneo 3000 has already effaced and raised to the ground the Malinau oud category—unmatched by anything that came after it. Except this one oil. The grand finale of our beloved distiller’s career, may he rest in peace.
In 2016, shortly after finishing this distillation, we lost one of the greatest oud artisans and distillation pioneers the world has ever known. Someone we trusted to produce our most beloved legends from the Malinau region, including Borneo 3000, Sheikh’s Borneo, and Borneo 50K. Royal East Borneo, one of the very first Oriscents and the first Malinau oud released and introduced to the West, was one of his earliest productions.
Borneo 3000 shattered all notions of what oud was. Back then, oud meant rotting leather, sheep droppings and pungent barn. Come Borneo 3000, there was this sudden shine; this pristine, honey mint crystalline psychedelic scent that smelled like it could well be a controlled substance.
The impact was so great that to this day people rave about Borneo 3000. Everybody’s got an oil that’s reminiscent of Borneo 3000, shares its notes and facets or resembles it in some way—or so the USP goes, each and every time. And that’s not without reason, considering Borneo 3000 is perhaps the most famous oud that’s ever been distilled, surpassing even Oud Royale…
Why is that?
Because Oud Royale has a somber incense mood which you need to be a seasoned oud lover to appreciate. It’s serious, austere, refined and dignified but at the same time a bit haughty. Molten earth syrup. Borneo 3000 is just pure joy in a bottle. Sunshine through the treetops. Pristine beauty and bliss laced with honey and mint unlike you ever imagined could be experienced through human olfaction.
I’ve been aging this batch a few years now. I never planned this release, considering it was his last distillation. When it comes to a smell like this, and an oil so replete with personal history and nostalgia, the ego gets greedy and wants to hold on. So, frankly, I had never envisioned that I’d be saying these words—at least not this year. It holds a dear place in my heart, and will for every oud lover in our age. The demand for Malinau seems to have soared in the market again and people wish they had the 3000 benchmark. You see Malinaus that don’t even come close to the richness of Borneo 3000 sell for four times the price. How many times have you seen mid-range Sabah aloes diluted with crocodile wood touted with that adage: ‘it’s like Borneo 3000’?
So, why am I doing this?
Artistic endeavor is, more than anything else, about self-realization and personal enrichment. But it’s also about pointing out the crooked lines, smudges, and bootlegs. Our distiller was one of the pioneers of not just deliberately sorting and separating the premium grades, but also of not co-distilling crocodile wood and whatever else goes into the pots in our day. What better way, then, to treat the oud flea market—which is what our so-called artisanal oud scene has turned into—than by resurrecting Borneo 3000, the mother of all Legends?
This is our farewell release and the magical closing chapter to the history of Borneo 3000. Any hopes for a successor rest with our mentor and master distiller, whom you and I both owe a mighty debt of gratitude to. In memory of his legacy, we’re offering this oud at the same price as the original 3000 sold for in the last stages. Over a decade later and the price has not been adjusted for higher costs or inflation. No gimmicks here.
Where do you even begin with an oil like this? How do you describe the very smell of Malinau resin itself? How do you describe a scent sought out by anyone who’s heard of Borneo 3000? We could talk about its otherworldly honey, punctuated with the most delectable cinnamon, laced with vanilla and spices, or its ethereal pollen-powdery fir-like heart. I could tell you about the raspberry sweetness that somehow got coaxed out of wood. We could sit down and listen to the softest whisper of Malinauean vapor all night long. But like the Sufis say: you can describe the taste of honey until you’re blue in the face. Taste it, and you will know.
Without further ado, gentle ladies and men, I give you Borneo 3000 in the flesh, brought back from the dead. Come back to tell you all I shall tell you all that all those other microcarpas and Malinaus you’ve been sniffing, if not laced are at least stripped of all fat and flavor to the point that you don’t recognize them as Malinau but vague semblances, a distant familiarity, skimmed heart notes and only an echo on top.
Now for the 5th Symphony as the original author composed it.
Many thanks for the sample you sent me. After having smelt it, I was craving it and so I spontaneously decided to get a 2.5 g bottle. This oil is amazing in all its stages, MashaAllah. It has something very jungly but not in dark way, nor in a green way (maybe a little bit). Rather, a jungle full of light and sun rays passing through. One note I absolutely love in this oil is a sort of "humid sweetness" reminiscent of some otherworldly honey. I picture a honeycomb hanging on a tree in the sun, with the rain forest humidity condensing on it and slowly dripping off. This golden liquid could very well be Borneo 3000 :D. I also appreciate how the base notes become more apparent in the dry down, adding extra depth. Beautiful oil indeed! – Hares, Spain
Lovely and subtle, like a light-filled meadow, or a constant true companion, compared to the Aroké, which is like a mysterious dark jungle or a dangerous stranger. It has been calling me to explore the jungle and befriend the stranger... – Kay, USA
Borneo 3000 is my second Bornean oil purchase after Midori Qi. Both share a very nice baking spice note. Borneo 3000 being much more brighter of a scent and projects louder than Midori Qi. An exciting level of pollen and honey. In fact, if honey could be dried and made into a dust, B3K is how I'd imagine it smells. B3K is the splitting of wood and particles zooming up the nose for quite the experience. I feel like there are so many more facets to this oil which I've yet to see. I think I'll close the night out with this oil and see what it brings to the table. – Michael, Canada
Sheer dignity, serenity, warmth spiced with camouflaged humour like James Joyce's labyrinth of sounds ... Borneo 3000. Beyond descriptions! – Erhard, Austria
Borneo 3000 is truly a thing of beauty. Only one wear so far, and it was spent with nose firmly planted at my wrist. An incredibly dynamic progression, with an unexpected surprise comeback in intensity around the 5th hour. As far as the scent... it was as if one took that deep wild jungle note and encased it in a drop of molten golden sunshine, softening it and refining it and making it more resplendent. The whole things was then glazed in honey and spices, dusted in pollen, and served on a flawless gleaming platter. Truly, perfection. I'm so grateful to have it in my collection. – Kim, USA
Upon first and second and third swipes of Borneo 3000, I was once again transported to that dimension of bliss, awe, and utter gratitude. I am in no way qualified to speak on anything pertaining to Oud, it's notes, etc. But, I am a person that listens more than I talk. I think that this material, this "Chi" of the tree, as you describe it, speaks. And I also know that if one is willing, it is indeed possible to pick up the whispers of knowledge that it so graciously wants to impart. – Steve, USA
WOW - I haven't smelled anything like this in a loooong time, and based on that I don't think I will anytime soon either. I'm completely amazed and bewildered and somewhat speechless with this one. This oil is so beautiful it brings tears, and I know sometimes tears are feelings for which there are no words. – Jeff, USA
Borneo 3000 was also a revelation. Something new, another Oud experience with a remarkable touch towards the woody. – Bruno, Austria
теперь я познакомился с ними. Верхняя нота кажется просто бесконечной на всем протяжении, аромат радости и располагающий, одновременно успокаивающий и бодрящий. Ни одной отталкивающей ноты, а для меня это важно, так как я работаю в контакте с людьми. В замкнутом помещении запах похож на осязаемый аромат леса, как будто горит щепка на горелке. Очень приятный аромат во всех направлениях проекции. Ядро аромата вводит в эйфорию, возникает непреодолимое воспоминание о прошедшем, которое выступает как déjà vu. Я не знал что такое возможно с oud! – Максим, Russia
I received my oils today and both Borneo 3000 and Papuamantan are stunning as usual, specially Borneo 3000 (lovely indeed). – Jalal, Canada
Initial test swipe of Borneo 3000... transcendence. – Steven, USA
I wanted to tell you quickly that when I opened the Borneo 3000, the sun came out - so Ill need a spare bottle for a rainy day. After experiencing a couple hundred different Oud oils, sometimes I smell something and say "oh this reminds me of ... oh,,, ummm.... yeah..... what was the name of that???? Well, when I experience this it reminds me of exactly Borneo 3000. I did not think I would meet again with this oil -so clear and clean it is almost too good to be real, and the way it takes me away. Incomparably Malinau at perhaps one of its greatest moments. Thank You does not even come close guys, but you already know that. – Jeff, USA
Reviews of Borneo 3000 (Second Release, 2005)
Borneo 3000 had the effect on me that your most superior oils do – it left me speechless in its beauty and its deep complexity. In the moment, I likened its complexity to that of Kyara Koutan, although the scent profiles are quite different. It has a similar melody of interwoven notes that are so deep and subtle and high and low that you cannot begin to find the words to describe it. – Neeshee, Hawaii
What a clean and clear oil – it almost rings! The turpyness is sweet and glowing, like drops of crystallized honey. The balsamic midrange is flooded with amber warmth, recalling the scent of sap-laden evergreens throbbing with resin. It reminds me of floral tea because of its gentle delicacy as the scent unfurls – and also of luminous pearls, a combination of warm and cool, soft and hard, shimmering and timeless. This oud could easily be worn as a perfume – I can't imagine anyone not liking it. Thanks, Ensar, for bringing back 3000. It's truly a Borneo classic. – Isabella Lee, USA
I bought quite a bit of Borneo 3000, and that was the BEST purchase I've made thus far! I still have a few bottles left, and I am very, very happy about that because it is still my all-time favorite. – B. Ali, USA
I could tell immediately from the very first tiny trials I did with it that it was everything I was hoping for in this purchase. I have a sample of the 'original' Borneo 3000 which I've revisited from time to time. I was slightly apprehensive about whether this version of Borneo 3000 would live up to my hopes based on the sample. It has that 'ethereal' quality which I would expect in the best ouds along with the characteristic 'bornean' scent notes in their optimal balance without extraneous, odd difficult-to-wear off-notes. I wouldn't have any hesitations recommending this version of Borneo 3000 for sure! – John, Norway
I couldn't resist ordering another bottle of your Borneo 3000. That oil is extraordinary. – Evan, USA
Looking over the terrace parapet the air is so clear the keen edges of skyscrapers appear to slice into it like cleft glass. Sunlight cascades over avenue after avenue of towers, gilding each pane of glass in a waterfall of gold – thousands of glittering mirrors reflecting the topaz sky. Pearlescent white petals flutter breezily around me, veined cups filled with morning dew, wafting fresh sweetness – more translucent than the back of a young girl's hand. Enthralled by this little oasis, a thrush trills a joyous serenade, looping from branch to branch in celebration of the awakening day.
Ethereal, light, lustrous, sweet and crystalline – such is the character of the new Borneo 3000. To revel in the company of this graceful, rarified and lofty scent both lightens my heart and gladdens my soul. I am ecstatic. I am content.
A few minutes ago I smelled it on the back of my hand, and it is unbelievable how close it smells to burning chips! But unlike other oils, it doesn't smell smoky (which is something I dislike in an oil) – it smells like the chips when they are burned on very low heat using an electric burner. It is really remarkable, Ensar. I wouldn't have expected this from a Borneo oil, but one fun thing about oud oil is that it's full of surprises! Thank YOU, Ensar. – Isabella Lee, USA
I must say how amazingly clear and delightful it is. – Jeff, USA
Reviews of Borneo 3000 (2004)
Oof the Borneo 3000 is fantastic. Makes most of my other oud oils almost intolerable. Thanks! – M. Puccio, USA
When I used the Borneo I simply closed my eyes and began meditating.... Soon the subtle fumes found their way to my nostrils and the scent's intensity increased. I thought to myself, just how much did I put on! (I'd put a few microscopic dabs on my arm!) The Oud was everywhere! In every breath I could smell the Oud. I was going deeper and deeper into meditation. A world of difference, compared to meditating without Oud. Then after around 15 minutes I came back out and thought WOW! – James, Denmark
I was shopping recently, and ran into a young lady I hadn't seen in a while. We hugged briefly, spoke for a few minutes, and then parted ways. She later sent me an email asking, 'What was that fragrance you were wearing? One minute I was in the store, and suddenly I felt transported to some exotic tropical forest, new yet somehow familiar...' Wow! This is one very special oil... Thanks again! – B. Ali, USA