The oud community is obsessed. We’re obsessed with resin. We talk about oils mimicking the scent of ‘gently heated’ resin. We dream of coaxing actual resin into our ouds via distillation. We fantasize about ‘converting’ resin into oil to boost yield and produce richer oils…
I’ve long entertained the idea of doing a pure resin extract – separate from the essential oils contained in the same wood – to get a better idea what sort of a thing this ‘resin’ is.
Let’s face it, to date, all we’ve talked about when talking ‘resin’ is something imagined. Understanding agarwood resin has been as much a guessing game as it’s been a process of experimenting and ‘ouducation’ by heating agarwood chips on all sorts of heaters, at various temperatures, with or without mica sheets; or smelling unusually ‘resinous’ smelling oils. But how can we know what ‘resinous’ smells like if we’ve never encountered raw resin itself, in the flesh? Nude. Not clothed in layers of oil and waxes and wood particles. Just resin, bare. Naked.
Perfumers are going to rejoice, and the entire oud-loving world will mark this as a definitive turning point in our understanding of the true nature of agarwood. And oud. And ‘oudiness.’ And, of course, Resin.
Finally holding my brainchild in my hands, I see that she is unlike anything I’d ever imagined pure agarwood resin to be. There’s as much of this in the ‘resinous’ oils we all love and cherish as there are actual petals in the finest rose oils. There’s less of this in the scent of ‘gently heated’ chips than there are proper gardenias in enfleurage pomade.
Mysterious, dark and sweet, balsamic and incredibly tenacious, wild agarwood resin is an aromatic unto itself. Unique and different to anything we’ve smelled in oud oil. Or even the oft-touted ‘gently heated’ chips. It is balsam. Sweet, sappy dark gum that oozes a jazzy, snazzy oudiness unlike anything we’ve ever smelled.
The practice of extracting agarwood resin is widespread in Indonesia. Only caveat: it is never pure. Given the exorbitant cost of naturally resinous agarwood, Indonesian distillers co-extract with an unrelated species locally known as ‘crocodile wood.’ It is cheap, plentiful, and replete with resin. Most of these ‘crocodile wood’ extracts find their way to South Korea, where they’re used as medicine. – I wonder what Korean doctors would say if they could access my pure agarwood resin from the legendary jungles of Cambodia?
Now that we’ve proven, once for all, that the much loved ‘resinous’ oils do not, in fact, contain any actual resin, does that mean they’re no better than other, less ‘resinous’ oils that sell for less? Doesn’t this mean we’ve been misleading the community all this time, claiming our oils are extracted from resin, when in fact they are no different to other oils that don’t make such claims? That is a tough question to answer. – Is neroli extracted from the choicest blossoms the same as other nerolis because it doesn’t contain any actual blossoms?
While we now know for a fact that ‘resin-rich’ oils are not as chock-full o’ resin as we may have thought, the unique processes we employ to extract such oils do result in richer, aromatically superior ouds. Bereft though they be of resin, they may well contain other aromatic compounds found in agarwood that we have yet to identify. Perhaps, rather than resin, it is certain waxes or lipids coating the oil molecules that the ‘resin conversion’ process releases, which also makes for higher quality oils? Maybe the superiority of the wood used in such processes to begin with, and therefore the age of the essential oil itself, is what explains their richness and transportive qualities? We don’t know for sure.
True wisdom consists in admitting one’s ignorance, as this resin of mine has just taught me. As I have learned today, we are all but students of agarwood, on a journey that has barely begun.
Along with our knowledge of resin and ‘resinous’ oils, there is another, much larger aspect of perfumery that changes today. All of the EDTs, parfums, EDPs, colognes, extraits, will never be the same again. Now, with just 30 ml of ethanol and an atomizer, you have access to the OUDIEST of oud perfumes in existence, right at your fingertips.
You can make your own EDP with as little as 1% raw agarwood resin, add tiny fractions of your favorite ouds and create the most complete Oud spray experience anyone’s ever dreamt of. To top it off, you might even consider adding a layer of liquid agarwood smoke from some wantonly ‘heated chips’ to add an extra dimension of oudiness to your perfume.
Who needs other fixatives when pure oud resin is the most tenacious aromatic you could wish for? Rather than ‘couple’ costly oud oils with labdanum or benzoin and pray the chord turns out ‘oudy’ enough, now you’ve got proper agarwoodresin to add to your base notes. And you don’t need to worry about it being too grassy, as is the case with vetiver; too ambery or herbaceous, as happens with labdanum and benzoin; or too anything! Instead, what you’ve got here is the fixative of your dreams. A quintessential component of the complete agarwood aroma that, till now, has been totally missing in even the best of oud perfumes.
1-2% of high-grade artisanal oud oil adds depth and complexity, taking the Oudiness factor to a whole other level. Add the wild Cambodian smoke of Aroha Kyaku to your recipe, and you’ve got a multi-dimensional agarwood profile bursting at the seams with OUD like no one’s ever smelled before.
The beauty of raw agarwood resin is that it couples perfectly with any species of agarwood, regardless of its Cambodian (aquilariacrassna) origins. I just made a Walla Patta spray with it, coupling it with premium Sri Lankan oud, and it smells astounding!
If oud oil is timeless and spiritual, raw resin is suave and irresistibly stylish. It adds verve to any blend, cranking up the swank factor a few notches. You’ll have to blend it into your atomizer with some alcohol and oud oil to get the full effect, of course. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you might even add musk grains, ambergris, flowers and spices to suit your style.
As you can imagine, doing this extract took superhuman amounts of effort. The process is as labor-intensive and risky as it is costly and difficult to execute. While I’m already fantasizing about what a pure Walla Patta resin extract might smell like, I’m not sure I’ll be able to pull it off again.
Being a perfumer myself, the original inclination was to keep this whole thing a secret, and only share it via my own exclusive blends, which as you can imagine, would be impossible for others to replicate, given the unique material I’d be working with!
Rather than take the selfish route, I’ve decided against my better judgment to make my Raw Oud Resin available to the public, for the sake of teaching you a thing or two about ‘resinous’ oils and woods, and furthering your appreciation of the complexity and versatility of this mind-boggling aromatic.
I hope you will share my vision and see the possibilities this represents. And, needless to say, we hope you will opt to use Ensar Oud oils exclusively in your blends!
Note: Contains trace amounts of ethanol.
Ships no later than December 15th. Limited supply.
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