This oud echoes the rawness of Kambodi Kuwwa. But it’s even better.
The Great Cambodian Experiment was thrust in motion a few years back after I paid a visit to a veteran distiller friend of mine in Phnom Penh. He now lives in the capital doing more real estate, less oud. I never enter the city without stopping in for a visit, but this time I noticed something I hadn’t seen before.
So he has a little prayer niche decorated with flowers, incense and crazy collectible vintage Cambodian wood logs. At the center stand two bottles of old school Cambodi. The stuff of the ‘80s and ‘90s. In the flesh.
One is a 15 year-old Pursat, the other a twenty year-old Koh Kong. He wouldn’t part with either of them, not for love or money. The Koh Kong one impressed me so much that my whole focus turned to capturing that same smell again and it’s the scent that’s become the benchmark for all the Cambodian ouds I’ve made since.
After many meetings with old timers in the oud biz, here’s what I found: In old school Koh Kong distills you’re stuck with the red pull of raw wood. The oud is stripped of the fruit jam you smell in modern Cambodis. We’re talking oud that’s dry earthy, not apricot sweet. And here’s what everyone who knew something about this kind of oud had to say: The red runs in the water, it blows in the air. The red is buried in the soil, it’s drunk by Cambodian Crassnas in a jungle three days’ hike into the mountain. No Roads. The red is Koh Kong, and you won’t get it elsewhere just like you won’t find durian season elsewhere.
Kog Kong K is a bare bones Koh Kong distill. Raw. Red. But with a twist…
Fruity Cambodis are the norm where I come from, but what about hills covered by a blanket of pink, yellow, purple, white flowers; the cracking of eucalyptus trees in the summer at sunset, and wildflowers in the field? Notes of wild flowers work in complete unison with subtle notes of herbs, Chinese ginseng, liquorice root, anise, cedarwood and in my scent bank… the smell of freshly cleaved palo santo.
Here is the rawest, reddest, floral Cambodi you’re likely to ever run into, aged for a full two years. 100% wild, from trees that were never cut down.
Koh Kong K is at first raw and red then joined by incense and ripe fruit DNA which in turn give way to caramel and honeysuckle then nectar filled flowers. Nice Oud for reflection as the notes seem reflected off a calm clear lake. — Curt, CA