Preface: I'm releasing this very special Sultan Series Borneo to celebrate our 15th anniversary.
At some point in your oud journey, you’ll come across someone on a tirade about how oud is oud is oud and that all the ‘artisanal’ elements to oud distillation are bogus marketing gimmicks.
You’ll hear a call for a return to ‘just oud’ as oud has always been. That oud never needed a chaperone, and never needed to be improved. And you’d wonder...... why!?
You'll be told it’s because there’s actually nothing more to oud than just oud. ANY oud. All oud is equally good and deserving, no matter the ‘style’, the ‘techniques’ or the ideas behind an oil. (Oil and ideas don't mix, they would have you believe.)
You might agree, or think that there's something to the claim. Oud isn’t the cheapest luxury in the world, so you’d want to know if you’re getting fooled — or if oud really is just oud.
So, let me spare you the mind ache...
Some folks proclaim there’s no artistry involved in distilling oud. All you have to do is grind up wood, add water and heat it up. You know, like there’s no such thing as culinary art – all you have to do is cut up some veggies, add water and heat up. A bookbinder just takes leather, cuts it up and stitches it together. The craftsmen at Patek Philippe just put together a bunch of metal dials, like a painter throws ink on canvas.
You don’t fry rose petals in a pan. Someone tried it once but realized the petals get burnt up in a second, and the smell is instantly lost. So, you ‘tweak’ the ‘technique’ with a certain ‘style’ until you finally succeed to capture the scent of the rose petal in oil form.
The idea that we should leave rose in its ‘original form’, ‘un-tweaked’ and ‘un-beautified’ sounds dandy, but if we did that… you would never have smelled a rose perfume.
There’s a call for simplicity, perfection, and to respect distillers who came before. They’ll tell you that those who have been distilling oud over the centuries have nothing to learn. They are innocent, linear, and perfect. Dandy ideals, no doubt. ‘Our family has been distilling oud for centuries’ certainly has a nice ring to it.
I have the greatest respect for my teachers. I respect them most for how they’ve taken things forward and managed to coax notes out of agarwood none of our respected predecessors were able to — over the past thousand years.
Many, if not most, so-called ‘teachers’ let low-grade, pre-maturely harvested agarwood that’s been jacked up with growth chemicals rot in barrels for months, distill that, and use dirty hands to scrape the oil from the beaker and dunk it in a bottle to sell. That’s your simplicity? That’s your perfection?
Oud is NOT oud, my friend. Just like a kitana isn't just a knife. Do you use 300-year-old tree sap to write calligraphy with, like Abbas al-Baghdadi does, or are you fine with cheap shminga? Do you fry, steam, or sauté your veggies? Marinade them, or not? Add spices, or not?
Want proof that all ouds are not created equal? Smell this. If oud is oud and Borneo is Borneo, then try to get your nose around this.
Why do you smell orris root drunk on vanilla instead of lemon cake marinated in horse urine? Why do you get blueberry cheesecake infused with mimosa and iris instead of dank wood and dust topped with some artificial sweetener (i.e. the scent of copper)? How come there’s a regal kyara note that’s totally absent in 99% of all Borneo ouds that adds a whole new dimension to your experience? How come there’s a thread that runs through Oud Ertugrul and Purple Kinam that’s nowhere to be smelled in other Borneos?
We’ve shown a great deal of what goes on behind the scenes with what we do — way more than others. Our blog and Oud Info pages are filled with articles, videos and pictures of what goes and what does not go into our pots. This website has been bootleg heaven for countless counterfeit oudsters. I’m not bragging here, but making a point: All the techniques, the meticulous categorization of the raw materials, the style, everything… why do it if oud is just oud? Just make up stories and go on distilling in your backyard (or in the bathroom, as I’ve seen people do). Why jump through fire to get your wood from Borneo into Taiwan when you could easily achieve the sale results right at home?
The math is off, and I’m sure you see that. So, when you hear these kinds of strawman arguments, whip out a bottle of Oud Ertugrul and ask: Where on Earth did this soulful aroma come from? And why hasn’t anyone and their uncle come up with the likes of it?
A kinam powdery tone reminiscent of Borneo Kinam, raspberry cinnamon cloaked in the soft sweet smokiness of heated beccariana. It does not smell like the wood alone. The scent goes beyond the aroma of gently heated oud chips. If it didn’t, I could have sold the wood instead. The techniques and tweaks and style behind Oud Ertugrul is all about squeezing out notes out of fantastic agarwood you’ll never smell otherwise, no matter how gently you heat the raw chips. Oud Ertugrul gives you MORE.
Oud can be mediocre — the stage of resin development is a key factor. Oud can be bad – low-grade wood distilled in unsanitary ways using the wrong condenser, temperature, etc. Oud can be dull – force oxidize the oil like so many ‘teachers’ do, and the smell quickly turns to dust. Oud can smell off – because it IS off… remember, fermentation has its limits. But—
Oud can be soul-stirring — resin that has matured naturally with different layers to extract into a single scent. Oud can be full of flavor, and keep the flavor oozing for hours – just like a dish served by a master chef, you’ve got to tweak and technique things, you’ve got to tweak and technique things just right so the steak chews like butter. And yes, Oud can be simple – like Jiro’s sushi…… but of course, you need to be the first one at the fish market to score the best tuna (after training your eye to spot the best), beat the Hyatt in their bid for the choicest rice, and spend years to perfect the seemingly simplest of tasks so that it all comes together in beautiful simplicity.
In other words……… oud is not oud is NOT oud. Behind Oud Ertugrul you’ve got the finest ingredients distilled with the most sought-after signature in the world of oud. The smell is simple, beautiful, and perfect in a way lesser ouds making the same claims only wish they could be. They weren’t distilled from wood as good, as smartly tweaked with no other aim than to wrestle out this kyara-iris fusion into a precoous drop of mind medicine that’s…… NOT JUST OUD.
I have spent time with each oil and deliberated over which oil I liked the most. It is wonderful how each reacts in time on the skin. Oud Ertugrul is what I set out with the hope to find, easily my favourite and acquiring a bottle will be my next move. It is as if time stands still when I smell it (over and over and over again). Tremendous! – Martin, UK
I have quite a collection of Ouds from Borneo and really love them. When I purchased the Oud Ertugrul, I didn't know what to expect nor what
its scent would be.
On first sniff, I knew immediately that Oud Ertugrul was something very special. It has a deeply delicious resinous richness that embraces and uplifts. And unlike many of my Borneo Ouds that are quite "jungley", it is a masterpiece of profound depth and polish and refinement.
Paradoxically both unified and multifaceted in aroma, it is the best Borneo Oud I have ever had the pleasure of "listening to".
Oud Ertugrul is truly legendary, and one of the finest Ouds ever made. Anyone having the privilege of getting some will be deeply grateful that
My heartiest Bravo! – Hank, USA
I would have died happy with Borneo 3000 but Ertugrul went to another level.– Rizal, Singapore
Ertugrul totally blew me away! Fantastic oil! I am terrible at describing notes etc. But will try to describe my impressions...Immediately after application just a hint of smokiness that quickly disappears, then a hint of purple with what I can only describe as darker shade of florals...just the right slight bitterness and it just goes & goes! Amazing longevity! And even hours later, the dry down is a beautiful pleasant scent with a hint of floral...Could smell it on my arm the next morning too! Gorgeous, well balanced oil...glad i got it! – Arsalan, Canada
I just put some on outside. It's a fall breezy day. And the purple dances and takes over. – Nasir, London