Wherever people talk about oud, the name ‘Oriscent’ comes up. To many ouddicts and connoisseurs, it’s the benchmark. Year after year, I’m reminded of the Oriscent legacy – of the kind of oud people wish they could get more of.
But to be frank, I’m tired of hearing it.
The Oriscent oils are so famous it’s hard to keep up with them. My ‘Ensar Oud’ oils are constantly compared to the Oriscent legends. To this day, I get asked if I have any ‘Oriscent oldies’ stashed away. I feel as though I debuted with my magnum opus – and from then on had the task of matching what was already great.
I’ll confess, the Oriscent days were something else. The wood we got our hands on. The people we got to work with. Ouds I’ve never smelled the likes of since. No need to tell you what it now takes to get the same agarwood Borneo 4000 was distilled from. Not to mention that many of our old time partners are now proud restaurant owners or real estate moguls. Many of their distilleries have been defunct for well over a decade.
But there’s a breed of oud you never got from Oriscent…
When our Taiwanese kyara master says, ‘Guallam’ (Hokkien for ‘Vietnam’), he’s talking about a whole other genre of oud. Different to the Malays, the Papuas, the Kalimantans… To him, ‘Guallam’ means oud as in the OUD of Kyara jungles.
I know of only two recent attempts at distilling Vietnamese oud. Both batches commanded $1,500 - $2,000 / 3 gr, and both yields were minuscule (I don’t need to tell you that wild incense-grade Vietnamese agarwood is rare and expensive).
Because most people equate Vietnam with green kyara, just about every modern day attempt to distill Vietnamese oud will strive to get an echo of green from it. With many of my own distillations, I was chasing exactly that. But there’s something you should know…
Vietnamese oud is not green. It’s not supposed to smell green.
Wait, let me say that again. You can make Vietnamese oud smell green. You can say that Vietnamese sinensis ought to mimic the green chords of kyara. But the vintage scent Chinese collectors talk about when they say ‘Guallam’ is not green. The most prized Vietnamese ouds in history are not green. Think vintage Laotian ouds, think Yunnan. Do any of them smell even remotely green?
So, this time I wasn’t going to chase the green ‘kyara dragon’. Nothing avant-garde either. All I wanted to give you was proper Vietnamese OUD with a capital O. Not a modern interpretation. Not a postmodern fusion. Rather, something richer, deeper, oudier, more complex and quite simply, more satisfying than anything else you’ve probably smelled in your life. A Vietnamese oil that matches the ‘Kinam’ legends of Oriscent…
It was going to be red. With an ever present kinam note whispering throughout the drydown.
First, forget Laos. Forget Koh Kong and Hainan. Don’t try to dig up any relation with oud from neighboring areas which will only give you a strong animalic comparison to figure out.
I’m not even going to talk about barn. Kinam Rouge has none. Not even vaguely.
Instead, think iris. Deep red ripe tobacco leaf laced with cherries and other über-vibrant psychedelics that take shape right under your nostrils. Spice and red flesh of tobacco leaf laced with kinam, which leads the drydown. All punctuate the most incredibly vibrant aroma you can imagine. Reminds me of the old Cambodis I only get to sniff each time I pay Mr Sokha a visit. As old world and as spicy and as red, but this has something altogether unique, thanks to its Vietnamese origin… this incredibly decadent tobacco note that to me is absolutely enthralling.
The tabac note scintillates clean and crisp, laced with cherries as when you’re heating up molasses for shisha. As you swoon into the heart of the dance, incense chords and cherry notes are fully married to set a mood that’s deep maroon à la the suavest pipe tobacco you can think of. The more the scent unravels, the clearer the bitter kinam note emerges from the back, until it sits center stage.
I didn’t know a friend of a friend whose cousin’s uncle had a stash of Vietnamese chips stowed away and was willing to sell it to me at a friend’s discount. Nor do I have any Vietnamese wood left from my Oriscent days. So, oud like this can’t come cheap.
I think I’m speaking for everyone who wants to do another Vietnamese oil when I say: “That’ll be all folks.” We did this one three years ago already, and along with prices, the degree of cheating in the Vietnam oud scene seems to go up every year. Certainly, we won’t be able to ever make another one with this price tag.
I know that every connoisseur needs a Vietnam oil on their palette, so I’ve been pressing the minus button on my calculator a couple of times over to make Kinam Rouge as affordable as the Vietnamese market will allow me. I’m even doing something I’ve never done before and offering 1.5 gram bottles so that as many oud lovers as possible can get their hands on a bottle of Rouge.
When you’re talking investment, think the way Chinese collectors think about it: Guallam is Guallam, and everything else is everything else.
Kinam Rouge is a $2,500 smell and I could have easily aged the oil for another five to ten years and sold it at a premium. Consider this my gift to you, my loyal old timers who to this day can’t stop raving about your old Oriscent oils.
When I unscrewed the cap and sniffed KR the first time, I thought “oh, like the old oud days” and was immediately transported to a whole bunch of places and times. This Oud has allowed me to far better understand Borneo Kinam, Hainan 05, and some others. I would have to say that this must be what rubies should smell like rather than call it red. It is sweet without being sweet, there is an ever so slight pineyness as well as a dark, dark cherry and tobacco note, some aromatic wood as well. These are all so seamless that it is hard to single them out. The finish goes on and on without fading. Pure magic. – Jeff, USA
The main character is red pepper rather than smoke, this is how I feel. This is beautiful, I got the chenko/umami feeling of Muana zen but rather than wrapped in citrusy pickled feeling this comes wrapped in red pepper. When I opened the flask I said to myself how did they get this into something that is not-wasabi, this is sweet but hot red pepper wrapping this sensation and I remembered my times in Turkey and spices in my Indian’s friends houses. It was such an exiting experience. I remembered friends not being able to palate wasabi but loving and obsessing with Red Pepper, again that feeling into this. I would say this was such a nice experience and lacing of memories. I recalled now that 12 years have passed since I was in Jordan and Jerusalem. Exciting is the best word that I can express to describing it. – Javier, Peru
The price of Kinam Rouge is totally coherent with the purity and the richness of the oil. The scent opens a space so profound, so large. But the point is elsewhere, it is difficult to express and I will have to come back to it many times. It is a particular note which is olfactory “captured” in the throat, in the inner communication between back throat and nose. The note is going up. It is like a thin spot of light, very very thin, but of maximal intensity and purity, and incredibly soft in the same time, like a caress directly made to the soul, by the soul of the scent. I always receive this gift with emotion. I stand, in a meditative state. Like if the smell was opening a way in myself towards the pure emotion of being alive, and gratefulness. – Antonin, France
I ended up putting on a swipe of Kinam Rouge on my birthday instead of Sultan Mustafa. This was the first time I experienced the oil on my own skin and thus the anticipation was at an all time high.
The tornado of scents were coming in at light speed and I found myself caught up in the feeling the oil was delivering more than trying to analyze the various notes. That being said, the notes were easily picked apart during the journey. There's a clear cherry tobacco scent which was the dominant and most salient note I was picking up. Every so often the tobacco would linger off and fruit wine or brandy would poke its head in for a hello; left over cherry wine left over night or the such. A touch and go of camphor and mint was always welcome.
KR is a rainbow oud without all the colour. Back and forth from red and brown. Dark red and bright brown. Brown has never smelled so good. It's not a light brown, but a BRIGHT brown. It was as if the sun shifted colours and was delivered as an olfactory package instead of ocular.
I've swiped a few Taha oils and so I thought there would be some similarity due to the origin of the oils. There was nothing of the sort. KR transcends origin and I doubt I'll smell anything like it again. If I do, my bank account will probably be in a world of trouble. =]
The decision to buy it has already been made. The question is; how much?! I'm trying to limit my volumes as to have a larger selection... I'm now at an impasse. – Customer, Canada
I took a pretty deep inhale out of the Kinam Rouge bottle and it felt as if I had guzzled a litre of espresso. Stefan had a small application on and I got to sniff over it three or four times. Each with a distinctly new scent with each sniff over an hour or so. Lightspeed and to the stars! I think I’m going to purchase it this time around as it was the one which really stood out the most out of the bunch I had a chance to sniff. Next to Kyara LTD 2.0, the most uplifting oil I’ve smelled to date. – Micheal, Canada
It’s useless to try to put words on this. This is good, this is oud. Reapply like one would take another dose of drugs. Changes the structure of your mind. This oud will not die. – Danny, Canada
I say this in the most friendly way possible; you, my dear, have to stop making unwearable oils… Kinam Rouge. The last time I wore Kinam Rouge was when I went out to an upscale seafood restaurant. As we were waiting to be seated a young woman commented on my scent, and was not so shy about it. When the waitress came to the table she began to sniff around and then focused on me and said that whatever I had on was the best ‘cologne’ she had ever smelled on a man, all of this in front of my wife. My wife later told me that I didn’t need to wear Kinam Rouge anymore. Kinam Rouge is unwearable. – Lance, USA
Right… now I get what Kinam is having tried two now. It’s the complete perfume richness. Other Oud oils have notes, usually in harmony, but Kinam, I think, is all about the dense, rich cloud of… kinamness?! Oh, and as with the last while writing these words, dear Basenoters, the lady of the house just came right up to me and let me know how nice it was on me. As with Purple Kinam the scent hardly changed through 12 hours.
Now, as for the scent itself, it’s clearly Oud but the character is in a way cedarish. Probably not phrasing this very well, but the scent does have a colour, and to me it’s not pure red but rather the reddish-orange of cedar, finished with tung oil.
The lift of oud is clearly there, and some heavily perfumed sweet mead, laced with newly fermented fruit wine, or rather fruits that have all reached their absolute peak of ripeness in a bowl together and are just turning to spoil, but in a nice way. Hints of flavoured snuff but without any harshness at all. Rare woods being worked in a confined space. I wonder what would happen if I were to layer red and purple together? That’s something for another time. – Robert, USA
I’ve never smelled a raw piece of Vietnamese agarwood, but that is exactly what I imagine and think about when I swipe Kinam Rouge… this must be what a sinking-grade piece of Vietnamese agarwood smells like. – Steve, USA
Kinam Rouge seems to be the one growing on me the fastest. I remember the first time I swiped this oil, nearly a year ago on my birthday, and was absolutely floored. I knew that I would eventually make a purchase on it and am beyond glad I did. KR is one of those oils which one cannot go without once sniffed. It hits a certain spot and it hits it every time. The designated hitter which bats 100%. Instead of a single shade of red, it displays a myriad of different shades. A plethora of different emotion and curiosities evoked. It deserves a banner which reads, "oil for the ages". – Michael, Canada
Just recieved Kinam Rouge. Guallam is truly a scent so unique, it is refreshing and a whole new experience for me. There is a certain grape vine fruitiness yet quality and depth to match Sultani. I would openly recommend this oil to anyone. Can’t get the bottle away from my nose. – Bilal, Pakistan
Camphoric wood, sweets, tobacco, a slight peppery spice, oudy, cherry, a tiny medicinal vibe. After the initial burst it hovers 5 inches above the skin. The sweet oudiness dominates the scent with the camphoric wood, boardering on minty, ever present. The earthy tobacco is at the base, with a little hay. 45 minutes later it’s mostly tobacco oud with a capital O.U.D. Now I’m getting excited. I’d like more of this note, but in order to do so, I’d have to slather on a huge swipe. Tom Ford should give this a whiff to see what real tobacco oud smells like. – Curt, USA
The Rouge is so distinct, unique and yet not entirely dissociated from the type of experience I would expect from a high end Cambodi oil. The ‘red’ is too simple to describe it though… it’s like a reddish purple with an exquisite sweetness that is so unlike any other crassna I’ve experienced. The tobacco is enveloped in a glory of spices that I won’t even attempt to describe… I find your oils consistently deliver the oud experience I seek, mashAllah… and on that note, I must say I am so glad you took this approach with your Vietnam oil as it is altogether a uniquely beautiful olfactory experience while never for a moment feeling detached from tradition. – Taher, UAE
Kinam Rouge opens with a sweet fruit profile; a red berry that is, as yet, undiscovered. The fruit is not brash, tropical or over the top. Nor can I point to a specific fruit. It would be a wild berry though; low on sugar, high on aromatics. The scent profile is complex; there is a lot going on and, at first I found it hard to reconcile it with Vietnamese agarwood. My very first impression was suggestions of the sort of heady chocolatey notes you get from North-Malaysian oils. However, the Vietnamese character hit me forcefully when I happened to wash my hands with hot water; the heat and the water drove from my skin the unmistakeable profile of Vietnamese Crassna. I’m now nearly three hours in and the interesting thing is that the scent character is beginning to merge; the fruits and herbs are blowing off and the signature Ensar minty incense notes are beginning to take over. – Jonathan, UK
Last night before going to isha salah at my masjid, I tried Kinam Rouge. It’s not just amazing… it’s more than amazing! Smooth & satisfying. Majestic top-mid notes & the mysterious whiffs through the drydown. I carefully listened to everything with clear focus. I must have some more of it in my collection. – Ahmed, Bangladesh
I was somewhat preoccupied when I got my package and I already had an idea in mind of what KR would smell like. I was wrong. Once I had gone through the other goodies, I immediately put one of the 1.5gr bottles of KR away for deep storage and transferred about .5ml from the other into a vial for use so as not to contaminate the remainder. There was a little left in the syringe so I swiped that. I have to admit, I was not wowed. A little disappointed, actually. I thought to myself, “Oh well, it was a blind buy, I can probably just put the other 1.5gr bottle for sale, maybe even let it go for $450-500, take a little loss and never blind buy again.” I went about my business and didn’t think about it anymore. It’s not that it wasn’t good, it initially just seemed familiar, similar to Dhul Kifl. It had dark fruits, but was just a darker Oud Yusuf, and didn’t seem as strong. The day after that I decided to put a swipe of KR on the back of my hand and I laid back on the couch. That’s when it started to happen. I started to get whiffs of KR, at first the dark fruit then it started to change. It went deep blue and sueded velvet. A few whiffs later it went dark red and almost as if it was going to go into something barny, but it didn’t, as you said not even vaguely. Next few whiffs it went to a 22 karat infused brown, the kind worn in the ME and India, not that cheap 10-14k stuff most wear in the States. That’s when I started getting the deepest raw, succulent tobacco note. After that I got powder, then it shifted again. KR is a shape, or should I say scent shifter, it not only has a smell but also has various textures throughout the scent progression. The dry down; have you ever looked into the distance on a very hot day and it appears as if there are transparent heat waves coming off the ground that obscure your vision? well that’s the dry down. It’s as if there were waves of smoke coming off the application spot, not necessarily the scent of smoke but rather the texture of smoke, those same transparent waves I described above. It’s also the first oil that I’ve smelled which has caused me to have phantom whiffs. I haven’t worn it since the other day but there have been several instances where I have smelled some stage of KR in my nose and mind. I’m keeping this, it’s not going anywhere. – Lance, USA
Kinam Rouge is amazing. I didn’t think that something could top Oud Royale 1985, but this has and it’s because there are absolutely no green notes in Kinam Rouge! Amazing! – Steve, USA
The Kinam Rouge has arrived, and I’m afraid I’m a bit blissed-out at the moment as it’s drifting up from my chin past my nostrils… oh my. – Patrick, Canada
Kinam Rouge is AMAZING, and the name is actually fit. There is nothing I’ve ever smelled in oud oils and non-oud perfumes that can match this beautiful dark cherries-soaked pipe tobacco note. As the scent develops, the contrast between the sweetness and bitterness becomes so harmonic that there is no boundary to set them apart. Lingering in the background, a supreme oudiness that holds all the notes in a single structure. No shortage of vertical complexity here. Just put a single drop on the back of the wrist, lie down, deeply inhale from few inches away, close your eyes and relax. A masterwork and a benchmark of nothing LOL! as there is no match to compare. A pure olfactory pleasure. – Ammar, USA
My initial reaction was ‘This is money well spent’. It’s a fantastic oil, definitely a Vietnamese core, and I totally get what you mean about it being red. If I had the money I would stock up on more of this oil! – Zartash, UK
Kinam Rouge is a very satisfying oil. I can see how someone might say it embodies aspects that could be called quintissentially oud-y – that thick, amber cola note, a sweet, moist, golden tobacco succulence, and the palpable, robust woodiness that is so grounding and stabilizing. There’s more than a hint of molasses and a very soft waft of smoke – nothing acrid or smarting; just a lilting haze of sizzling, resinous ooze. Is it the best thing ever smelled by the son of Adam? Well, I really can’t say but I’m enjoying it a lot and plan to make it last a super long time so I won’t be caught empty nosed when I feel the need for an oud that is wholesomely satiating and indulgently fulfilling. Thanks for making it available. I wish I could afford a bit more! – Marian, USA
Today I traveled to the Kulen Mountain, birthplace of the Khmer Empire and mystical mountain with a powerful river and waterfall. I swiped Kinam Rouge while on the mountain, and being out in nature opened its scent to me in such a deeper way.
I picked up such a rich and spicy kinam sweetness from the opening. Explosive oudiness, oozing with a mature plum, incense smoke, warmth and smoothness.
I could smell it while swimming in the waterfall and then after the waterfall I swiped again and felt such waves of bliss. It has such a strong sillage and such a balanced and rich aroma.
These oils are out of this world. Literally – elixirs unlocking the subtle truths hidden within. – Joel, Cambodia
In the opening, I detect a trace of nutty oil smell, not unpleasant, just rather interesting. This oil is focused on fruits, ripe and dripping with rich sweetness. Fruits that I associate with it are pineapples, mangoes, grapes, melons, peaches, pears, cherries and citrus. Against a background of soft woods and tobacco, the fruity profile is spiced up with cinnamon and floral honey. It does have that camphorous twinkle of a true kinam. A warming scent, with a dry down to die for. – Kenny, Hong Kong
Oh boy! That Kinam Rouge is a real killer, and your other gifts of wood were also extremely generous. I don’t care what anyone else says, I am indebted to all of you guys at Ensar Oud for introducing me to this truly extraordinary gift of Allah. I am really fighting the urge to order another 1.5g at least. – Bilal, Pakistan
Kinam Rouge sure is dense. At first swipe, I was struggling to unravel it. It wasn’t until 5 minutes later that I could start deciphering it. But even at that, I feel that notes and nuances were passing me by. I definitely need more time with it. What an excellent tobacco oud note toward drydown. I also get something deep akin to Kambodi 1976, but without the licorice. Then, even after many hours, there’s something lingering on my skin to sniff. Excellent oil! – Curt, USA
Right now I’m wearing Rouge again… enchanting ancient times in my mind again. – Ahmed, Bangladesh
Kinam Rouge I think I’ll only wear on special occasions. – Lance, USA