Unlike much of the lacquered-to-perfection and otherwise enhanced second-rate stuff so readily available in the suq, these chips are absolutely saturated with complex resin that quite literally bubbles out of them.
On low heat, it sparkles and shimmers.
Visuals aside, the scent profile of high mountain Irian agarwood is as variegated as a sweeping mountain range. It is not at all fragile, so feel free to explore—put it on a cool electric plate and slowly turn up the heat, or preheat and let the resinous sweetness introduce itself. Whatever the temperature, expect to be pleased as you explore the olfactory orbit that reveals different facets to the aroma as you tweak your heating setup.
The ambient aroma jumps off the wood on low to medium heat and lets you savor sweet wafts that smell of vanilla infused into sandalwood save for a supporting base of earthy, seaside, jungle greenness that gives Green Papua its herbaceous tenacity.
It takes just a few millimeters of wood and a few minutes to fill a room with that seaside jungle greenness, by which time the initial sweetness would have faded into a agarwoody background that reminds you of lignum vitae doused in the exotic earthiness unique to highland Irian harvests.
I know some folks prefer smaller, thinner oud chips to larger ones. Of course, with less resinated pieces, smaller oud chips can actually be worse because the heat punctures the entire chip straight through. So, unless the chip packs enough resin, the chance that the firewood smell (not a good thing) will dominate is higher than in larger pieces where the heat takes longer to penetrate and the resin's release is more steady.
With that in mind, rest assured that’s not the case here. For one, this batch is sinking-grade, so you don’t have to doubt the resin content. On top of that, each piece has been professionally chiseled to make the most of that fact. Flip one through your fingers and you’ll notice the resin penetrate the typically-unresinated back of the dark layer (as seen below) to ensure that your burn is even and the resinous oozing of Irian delight uninterrupted.
If, for some inexplicable reason, you would rather skip the initial sweetness then start the burn at higher heat. The burn will begin with a salty, fresh coconut sweetness before taking you to the jungle shores of Jayapura. I would not put this on coals without dampening the heat, though, as too many of its savory notes will be lost to smoke.
A few weeks ago, the King of Papua, as he’s called, told me he’d stopped his Papuan escapades. What’s left of his harvests is for sale, and then that’ll be it. From now on, you can find him in the new shopping center he’s decided to invest in instead. The operation costs have become too expensive, he said — the effort to access the trees, too much.
So, this class of agarwood is not only rare (and becoming rarer) but possesses a unique character that no lover of Irian oud can afford to be without. Burn it during a Jin Jun Mei tea session or after a few swipes Oud Royale 2004 and try not to bite your tongue!