A fellow oud connoisseur recently told me how he enjoyed a ‘fine-dining’ oud experience. It’s such a great way to indulge in oud and will work so well with this one, I want to share what he did.
* * *
“Sitting here in Vancouver at my in-laws, and we have swiped (my father-in-law and I) 3 oils. An appy, a main course and dessert oil.
The appetizing Suriranka Senkoh with its salty edge, guava fruit, cinnamon-laced edge. Marvelous oil. The crystalline quality of X’s best but with more depth, base and oudy oud drydown.
The single greatest quality-price ratio (QPR) oil to date is what came next. Funny enough, 3 of us oud heads have independently come to believe this. Sultan Salahuddin. A marvelous oil with just the right amount of that vaporous mind buzz seen in top tier Sultans. Green Papua-like but drier, less fruit, less sweetness and more incense. Green Papua in a tuxedo. Truly. We are all itching for oils of this level in that price range.
And for dessert, we watch this and enjoy the honey-sweetened black tea, rooibos, and sappy.’’
* * *
Don’t you love that? A three-course oud feast shared with others.
Do it with as many, or as few, ouds as you like. Serve ouds from five regions, five ouds over five decades, five unique profiles, or… five ouds with the same profile. This is how you blast your nose into second gear, and how you’ll grow to love each oud all the more.
Chiem Po Qi is a fantastic oud to explore this way because of how lucid the scent is. In oud terms, lucidity (or clarity) refers to the balance between auxiliary notes and the scent of distilled oleoresin. All that means is how much there’s going on in the fragrance — does the scent change every ten minutes, do you smell a barrage of different notes, how long does it take you to reach the drydown, are there fermentation notes (and how strong are they), and importantly, there’s an element of airiness to the overall scent.
All this clarity talk may seem vague, but only to the extent that describing honey as ‘sweet’ is to the one who’s never tasted it. Lucid ouds are great to expose non-lucid ouds. And one thing you begin to notice is that quality lucid ouds are not so easy to find. The reason for that is simple, and it’s what will clear up the vagueness words fail to get across: you can only get lucid oud from a specific grade of agarwood.
Ouds juiced from lower-grade wood are opaque and bland. Not vibrant, but one-dimensional; not lasting, but a scent that turns dusty and a drydown that smells more like plain wood, not AGARwood (precisely because the resin-content — the agar component — is missing).
Lucid oud is revered most in Chinese and Japanese oud circles. So, as you might have guessed, heavy-barn Indian ouds are the opposite of lucid oils. And traditionally, so are Cambodian ouds…
Along with Indian oud, Cambodian oud is the crown jewel of Arabian oud culture and liked for the same reason Japanese oud connoisseurs don’t like it.
But not this kind of Cambodi…
Chiem Po Qi is Cambodian oud distilled for the Japanese aesthetic. It’s the kind of Cambodi my kyara sifu won’t run to the sink for (to wash it off instantly after smelling it) as he'd do with just about any ‘traditional’ oud I’d swipe him with. A delicate arrangement of fruit (softly jammy to remind you that you’re smelling a juicy Cambodi), yet dominated by the ethereal cloud of oud incense. Soft, pristine — clear.
Because of the caliber of agarwood used (it takes a LONG time to gather) and how it got distilled (we built and set up brand new custom-designed distillery to make it happen), you’ll smell the familiar gusto inside high-grade Vietnamese and Chinese ouds — the semi-sweet spray from cracking orange peel, with a gentle bitter-crassna undertone.
In the spirit of our friends’ fine-dining oudfest, here’s another treat to savor: instead of four different ouds, try the SAME oud at four different times. Start by inhaling the aroma straight from the dipstick. Slowly sip the whiffs before letting the oil touch your skin. Now, swipe Chiem Po Qi, then apply a new swipe 30 minutes later, and a third after an hour. This teaches you about the tenacity, the lastingness, and the gratifying consistency — relish four layers of enjoyment in a single scent.
If you’re not into the nitty-gritty of the fragrance, lucid oud is all-round the most easily liked. This makes Chiem Po Qi the perfect oud to ditch those synthetic ‘niche’ sprays for. It’s as fragrant, but with tons more soul.
To help you explore lucid oud, you'll receive a free sample of an unreleased Cambodi to enjoy in contrast with Chiem Po Qi.
Chiem Po Qui has some of the zesty, airy properties in a more direct yet less intense way. I think I could take this to my tea class or use it everyday in the office without a fuss. But of course I use everyday. While I am aiming for the Senkoh collection that seems to be a sort of olfactory umami, but this is a good alternative. – Javier, Peru