For millennia, prior to the discovery of Kyara even, Indian oud was regarded as the ‘Holy Grail’ of all things agarwood. Burning Indian agarwood as incense predates even Indian oud oil. When the craft of oud distillation developed, all the tweaks and techniques employed by serious distillers were always a means toward one single goal: capturing the scent of high-class burning agarwood.
Whether the oud is strong enough to bring the dead back to life, or sweet enough to give to a bride on her wedding day, is beside the point. When you think of Kyara, terms like ‘barnyard’, ‘sweet’ or ‘fruity’ aren’t the first words that come to mind. Rather, there’s a moment where all you know is that you just smelled it – the note of Kyara; nothing more, nothing less.
Put some of the finest quality Indian oud chips on your burner. When the bubbling starts, you’re not anticipating notes of musk or ambergris, plums or cantaloupe. You’re after that note that’s neither fig nor flower – when, just as there’s a moment of bliss right before you exhale after taking a deep breath, the moment of contentment dawns. The only thought on your mind: ‘There it is!’
Forget what you think you know about Indian oud; about Meghalayan, Burmese, Bhutanese, Vietnamese, or even Laotian. And forget what you think you know about Assam oud. Take a swipe of Encens Imperial.
To many of you, the absence of the barny twang might not even register at first. Nor will you notice the dense bouquet of wild flowers, wooded plains, or pea-green minty undertones piercing enough to relieve a cold. You won’t realize that there’s none of the murky-muddiness that clouds up the clarity of that evasive ray of incense. You won’t notice any of these at first because you’re enchanted by a single note so crystal clear it’s got you thinking about nothing else.
There might be no Kyara in Assam. But only in Assam do you find Muana, a heart note of serenity not even Kyara can capture, and just as rare. You might have smelled it when burning crazy-grade Assam wood chips, but pick it up in an oud oil… this is a first.
The aroma of Kyara tends to be wispier and lighter in its texture and quality, though equally as unmistakable. Muana is the "Kyara" of Indian Oud – and it is completely unique. You will not smell this note in any Borneo, Cambodian, Thai, or Papuan oils. In fact, not even any Indian Ouds possess this astonishing aroma. In my memory, this is the first time I have smelled anything like this.
So what is Muana? Muana is the defining aroma of Encens Imperial. It is that mysterious crystalline note at the heart of Encens that will puzzle your olfactory sensibilities. In its opening, it is the clearest top note I have ever smelled in an Indian Oud. As it wears, it dances and blends into the woodier undertones, and I'm smelling highly-resinated Oud chips on my wrist. – Neeshee, HI
I wear a few swipes of Encens Imperial to school periodically and the amount of comments I receive never ceases to amaze me. – Chris, IL
I looked up 'muana' as two words in Sanskrit and this is what I found:
Mu: binding, tying, bond, reddish brown/tawny.
Ana: breathing, nose, exhaling the breath through the nose, inhalation, breath, respiration...
Something like 'breath-taking', if one was to combine these words. Encens Imperial is pretty addicting. – Andrej, Croatia
Muana is the soft, almost powdery note of high quality Assam wood. Compared to 'regular' Hindi oils, it is what Kyara de Kalbar is in relation to Encens Khmer. It is soft, green, wet-smelling and powdery at the same time. It is also sligtly minty, as you described. It is the very heart note one might find in a good Hindi oil. The effect of Muana is calming; and I seem to 'slow down', I feel more centered and serene – taking life's throwbacks less seriously.
For me, this Muana note evokes a mental image of a Darjeeling tea garden high up and cuddled against the side of a mountain, surrounded by rainforests. An early morning breeze drives by a flock of clouds and the sun has just begun to warm the earth which is still moist from dew. A bird is taking a bath in a puddle of rainwater. In the distance, a peasant is coming back from the well. The yak he leads is carrying two wooden buckets of water on his back. The whole image is one of peaceful rural life in India. – Thomas, Germany
Encens is so soft and clear and clean. The only wood I ever burned is Brunei Imperial, and at that just a sliver, but it seems to me there are similarities. It has this note I smelled in Bhutan Kinam, and perhaps in Shuayb, but here it is very pure, bare. Guess that's Muana... The single notes are very difficult to recognise, it's like Encens Imperial offers me a glimpse of itself, just to disappear again. I smell it, then don't, and there it is again. It is minimalistic, stripped of all unnecessary notes, and I can't call it barny nor animalic nor floral nor fruity, nor woody. I don't know how to describe that smell, even after a couple of applications. It smells of creamy wood, soft sweetness, elegant incense. At the opening, I caught a lightest whiff of smoke, but it could be my imagination. It has a fleeting note of viola odorata, but not like the violet note in other oils, like Oud Royale 2 or Yaqoub, but like smelling the fragile viola odorata flowers growing wild in the fields. – Andrej, Croatia
Unlike any other Hindi I have experienced before, this multifaceted and complex journey is a glimpse into what the future of Oud has in store for true artistic seeking connoisseurs. Encens Imperial reaches the near pinnacle of what I hope to discover. I am truly grateful as I watch this opening show unfold from beginning to end.
Encens Imperial begins with a quiet and delicate aroma that allows me to feel completely at ease and relaxed. Before long, I notice a pulsating effect which methodically releases an interplay of subsequent bursts, resulting in a wonderful kaleidoscope of different colors and feelings. The emotions associated with red, blue, green and yellow are each on full display to my senses, individually showcasing themselves at different intervals in time.
As EI continues to progress, I sense the smell of various flowers in full bloom and a cryptic unrecognized element that puts me in a state of euphoria. Perhaps this is the Muana? Suddenly, as they merge to a single note, there is, in an instant... a climax of these separate fragments coming together… resulting in an explosion of fireworks on full display for everyone to witness… I stand in awe… simply amazing. – Chris, IL
A few more words about the Encens Imperial:
I have now also realized the floral notes. They are really notes of wild flowers, not very sweet but rather slightly herbal or even with a bitter twist – but also vibrating with the full life-force of the untamed natural world. Also, the pea-green minty notes are very nice. And there seems to be yet another note which, as of now, I cannot quite put into words. It seems to lurk around the edges and is yet too shy to present itself to me...
It is really astonishing how correct your observations are. I really could not fully appreciate the Imperial as the Muana note 'put such a strong spell on me', as it were. It really needs several applications and only opens its little treasure chest to those that take the time and effort to sit down and listen – as compared to some other oils which seemingly 'cannot wait for the dessert' and burn a firework of notes within a short time... – Thomas, Germany