One red Kambodi, this is. Old-school. And pure Koh Kong.
This oud’s got oomph that gives the grandest Hindis a run for their money. You’ll get a deep earthiness that overthrows the idea of a ‘pretty Cambodi.’ So let’s get that clear from the start: This is not your modern, sweet, fruity Cambodi!
Those who know something about the distillation schedule might think Kambodi Kuwwa’s unorthodox scent profile was imbued by ‘soaking’ (pre-cooking fermentation.) So let’s get another thing clear: It wasn’t.
What you’re smelling is not a fermented Cambodian oud oil. You’re smelling what vintage Cambodis used smelled like. I mean the kind that was around in the 70’s…
Koh Kong was the Mecca of Cambodian oud distillation. Now, the oud scene there is dead, with rusted pots piled up and stowed away. You get distillation going on in Pursat and elsewhere and these have their own scent profile. But they’re not proper Koh Kong.
Remember that Cambodia, and Koh Kong in particular, is famed in the oud world. So don’t think that fact doesn’t get exploited. If we were to listen to wood brokers across the board, we’d have a hundred ‘Koh Kong’ oils to release—but you can tell from the smell what it really is…. or what it's not.
So, with an empty oud scene lit by a fame flame that was blown out more than a decade ago, what’s a diehard distiller supposed to do?
It’s quite simple, actually: just make the oud the way the veterans used to!
And that’s what we did. We consulted with veteran Cambodian distillers—with anybody who knows anything about vintage Cambodis, for that matter—across Cambodia. We knew exactly what had to be done. Doing it… well, that took some doing.
The easy way to mimic vintage Koh Kong ouds would be to simply ferment the wood and then sun the oil to death. The fermentation would produce an ‘unusual’ scent that could easily be confused for a real vintage Cambodian. But show it to a veteran distiller and he’ll probably just smile and say: ‘this was just soaked and sunned, wasn’t it?’
We took a more direct, hands-on approach to re-capture the red allure of olden Cambodis. Take a look at what went on behind the scenes during our Great Cambodian Experiment:
The Making of Kambodi Kuwwa
10. Mr. Nhek
The upshot: To make a Koh Kong oil, you’d have to go all Koh Kong—from the wood to the water, to the pots, to the style. And that’s what we did, with Herculean effort. The result: Everything about Kambodi Kuwwa is 100% pure Koh Kong. And needless to mention, it's been naturally aging for close to two years already...
So, if you want to take a trip to the backstreets of Koh Kong in the 1970’s, a bottle of this will take you there.
I just received your Kambodi Kuwwa... What an amazing oil! Another gem from you for my collection. I am new to oud oils. The first time I smelled oud was less than a year ago. I’ve been collecting perfumes for more than 30 years, but now since being introduced to oud I haven’t bought a single Western cologne, only pure oud oils. – P, USA
Incredible and amazing, pungent and musky and beautiful, reminds me of Chen Xiang Khmer. This oil is redder in contrast & bolder. Hope you make more oils like this in the future. – Ismail, Canada
I learned to love Chen Xiang Khmer, so as for Kambodi Kuwwa it's big brother (Oomph!), I love it too. The barnyard note is yummy not fecal or animalic and blends so harmoniously with the dried fruits, tobacco, and chocolate which you know are there but don't come out of hiding. – Curt, USA