Imagine Assam was discovered today. All wild oud trees standing intact, untouched. What kind of oud oil would we be able to squeeze?
Bordering Assam is a jungle as pristine and unexplored as Assam was in the 1960's: neighboring Bhutan.
Thanks to the strange laws put in place to preserve Bhutan's cultural heritage and protect it from unchecked economic growth, it's all but impossible to get anything done in Bhutan. As a result, the oud trade in the region is highly underdeveloped.
The vision of Bhutan's leader preserves its lush natural environment, allowing exotic flora to flourish. For an oud craftsman, it means the most ridiculous aquilaria agallocha trees – well over 100 years old – still standing.
After a few years' pleading with our distiller to make arrangements and acquire a number of Bhutan's ancient trees, he sent his brokers off looking for this wood. The trees they found were not only well over one hundred years old, they were so resinated even the carving dust we set aside for the distillation of Idrees contained more ghubal (hard aromatic resin) than essential oil, as is easily witnessed in Idrees' consistency.
Sellers talk about wild trees – and old trees – and 'sinking-grade' marketing baloney... However the proof that the wood is fully mature is easily discernible – in the ghubal content.
In agarwood trees, the resin formation starts off in a circular pattern, growing inwards. The thin layer of hard resin embracing the heartwood is known as seah, while the wood beneath it is called kien. If seah is allowed to mature properly, this is what turns into the highly sought-after, black, sinking-grade wood that carries a price tag of at least $50,000 per kilogram in the current market.
If the tree is old enough to contain sinking-grade wood, then even the kien (highest essential oil heartwood) of the tree will contain – instead of distillable essential oil – ghubal: a distiller's worst nightmare – and our dream come true.
Ghubal is essential oil turned to semi-hard aromatic resin. The hard resin in oud chips used for burning is nothing short of ghubal, turned seah. At which point it's all but impossible to extract.
Rather than oud oil, Oud Idrees is pure ghubal, bottled. 100-year-old, Bhutanese aquilaria agallocha ghubal. So rather than believe re-sellers when they say 'sinking-grade' wood was used in a distillation, we suggest you ask a simple question: how much ghubal is in the bottle?
When the oil in the kien has already turned to ghubal, not only does that show that the tree was more than just fully mature, it means the seah (hard aromatic resin) is of the highest calibre possible, i.e. sinking-grade, or very close to sinking-grade. In layman's terms: Oud Idrees is that fantastical oil on offer everywhere, made a reality.
Pristine, balsamic, resinous addictiveness, Idrees is the embodiment of sheer sunlight and fragrant pollen. Pure ghubal, in your pocket.
The Oud Yusuf had pretty much worn off by Maghrib time (I had put a single swipe on around 7:30 AM) with only a very subtle hint remaining from time to time, and so I decided to try Idrees.... WOW! It didn't leave me for a moment throughout my salat nor for some time after that. This is an oud to use if you want to sit for a few hours and make dhikr, or just meditate. It completely engulfs you. Every, and I mean EVERY, breath is filled with a smooth, beautiful Hindi Assam scent for HOURS. Once you put it on, it simply will not let you go and there is no way to escape it ... not that anyone who appreciates a good Assam oud would want to! This is one that will most likely be joining the Legends category soon and I'm glad I was able to add it to my collection. – Yousuf, UAE
Idrees starts with suede leather atop a barnyard background (not a very strong barnyard though). This soon develops into the scent of a fir forest after spring rain. Then dark honey and cane emerge. They linger for a while, then give way to a short interplay of the mineral but also slightly sweet note of baker's yeast. This, however is very short and transits into the aroma of green cardamom. And then, after a continuous play of all these scents, I almost faint: Idrees displays the scent of burning oud chips, chips of very high calibre! Think Chanthaburi or Khao Yai... It makes my heart sing with joy, praising the Almighty.
The scent of oud chips slowly fades and I am left with sweet fragrant pollen. Once again I am amazed – it is exactly what Ensar described! After the pollen more sweet hay comes up. Imagine rural settings, a lush meadow and cut grass which has dried in the sun, turning into hay, emitting its sweet odor at the time of sunset. A very light barnyard note sets the background, before honey makes its second appearance. This honey seems to carry with it some notes of berries, and a dash of lemon or orange peel.
What is most astonishing is that good oud oil comes with a vast array of scents which develop over time. And if you have bought your oil from Ensar you will soon discover that after the first round of emanating these different scents, the oud oil displays a second, and sometimes even third round of the same or similar notes – which in most cases are then toned down a bit. The second round with Idrees was every bit as delicious as the first.
To cut it short, the whole experience went on for about five hours. Now, in the middle of the night, I go to bed, softly drifting into the realm of dreams. Idrees is VERY exceptional. Thank you, Ensar, for giving this to the world! – Thomas, Germany
If anybody likes oud sweet, resinous, balsamic and ambery, go to Oud Idrees. I bought the second this week. To my taste, it is the best one! – Alan, Brazil
I was hesitant to try Oud Idrees because earlier in the day I had tried Crassna Cha and I didn't want to mix the scents. While the Crassna has faded, it stands no chance against the almighty Idrees. Full-fledged classic Indian oud profile. It is like confronting an insurmountable force of Nature. It asserts itself on you. Forcing you to slow down and clear your mind. It must be psychoactive because it makes the mind go into the Theta zone as when relaxing, when the mind enters a region that correlates with a large relative quantity of brain wave patterns of 4 to 7 cycles per second. Almost sleep. One salient character about this oil is 'fecaliciousness' (not a real word). It is sweet earth that has been readied for planting by an oxen pulling blade. Vanillic camphory scent that comes only from a Royal Barnyard where moist darkened resin-loaded wood sits fermenting away in the shadow. The scent is one that has a lot of dark figs and dates that have been mashed together and slightly heated. This is an oil that says, 'I love you ... I hate you' at the same time. How could that be? Well, it's complex. It's overbearing with intensity but at the same time it's that fatherly love that you can't do without. I am not prone to hyperbole and exaggeration but this is one Hindi variety oil that is truly a personal trove of treasures. I can imagine spending long evenings with this oil going down the scent lane and discovering new cinnamon, cloves and spice-laden alleys or sitting back in an incense smoke-filled cafe. I understand why Ensar wanted to keep it for himself. This is what people might consider as 'personal stash.' So definitely a big thanks for sharing. Now a word of warning. This is not an oil for the faint of heart but rather for the man or woman with a Lion's heart (approach with caution). Of course the question on a lot of people's mind is, 'Well, how does it compare to Mostafa, Nuh and Khidr?' It's not fruity or extroverted like Mostafa nor is it laid back and well behaved like Nuh or dark and resiny like Khidr but it's the RAWest and the most Primordial with an amazing punch. I'll have to come later for more observations on the drydown which does not seem to be anywhere in sight. – Hisham, FL
Every time I stick my nose to my skin, I get a warm leathery tobacco smell that has you drifting away like pollen on rays of warm sunshine. – Edward, FL
Idrees might be from Bhutan but it smells like a Hindi. It has a barnyard scent but it's neither strong nor objectionable – there's no fecal note that turns so many people off. It's sweet, and although it lacks the wonderful plum note that I adore in Hindis, its top references the mild tartness of plum skin. I like that. For me, the most salient thing about this particular oil is its smoothness and subtlety – no edginess, no acrid smoke, no roaring chest beating. It's peculiar to think of this type of oil as actually gentlemanly, but it is! – Isabella, NY
The Idrees is wonderful – much fuller profile than my previous selections, but very gentle! I put a small amount on the back of my hand when I picked it up last evening and kept smelling it as I slept and woke up thinking about it. Absolutely beautiful. – Matt, CA