Sultan Mustafa was distilled almost five years ago, right alongside Sultan Ahmet. The batches of Brunei and New Guinea agarwood was split in equal ratios, and the overall setup was the same. The critical difference was that Sultan Ahmet was copper distilled, Sultan Mustafa—steel. That means it's less floral, with a more incense-centered profile. Copper generally amplifies auxiliary notes and adds a floral tenor where steel substitutes the added flavor for a more polished resinous core.
Along with Sultan Ahmet, this was always going to be the crown of the Sultan Series and for the last three years I’ve been thinking of what to write about it when I finally did decide to pull it out from my stash for release.
During this time, there’s been a lot of talk. About oud and art. About how the quality of the raw materials impacts (or doesn’t impact) the quality of the oil. And there’s been all that talk about how to ‘make oud cheap again’.
This oil should clear up any confusion.
Nu-perfumery is all about creating an oud scent so utterly mindblowing and unique there’s no saying ‘this reminds me of this, that or the other.’ That’s what the Sultan Series has to say. These oils carry my signature, my team’s very life blood. The physical lengths we went through to make Sultan Mustafa isn’t something anybody just does to make a bottle of ‘affordable’ oud. The fatigue and disregard for counting pennies and pounds only hits you afterward, when you see your greying hair and you check your bank balance and realize what you’ve done. And you think, ‘How can you put a price on this?’
What I went through doesn’t matter. I’ve come to know this. How Kruger and Seng and the rest of the gang spent their days and their nights at the boilers doesn’t matter. How we took agarwood like this:
– and just ground it up to craft Sultan Mustafa… doesn’t register with most folks. The sheer lunacy of distilling such wood only hits people who know exactly what that wood is and how much it costs and what you could get for selling it off as burning chips instead.
And then you’ve got people saying it’s all for nothing…
‘Distilling such wood hardly makes a difference. Most people can’t even tell the difference. You’re wasting your money, and an awful lot of super wood people could be burning – where they clearly can smell the difference compared to lesser grade agarwood.’
I beg to differ.
You CANNOT distill Sultan Mustafa from wood other than this grade. You CANNOT get its penetrating beauty without grinding up thousands of dollars of incense. There’s no way to create oud oil of such aromatic clarity and pristine resinous awe by settling for less. You simply cannot put a Bentley emblem on a Kia and call it a Bentley.
This oud debunks all the bull and shows you that talk is just talk. When it comes down to art… & quality… let me see anybody one-up Sultan Mustafa!
The excellence of the wood is the single most important factor in crafting quality oud oil. The ability to select the correct combination of different strains takes skill. The ability to then transmute that wood into Sultan Mustafa takes artistry and that’s what makes Sultan Mustafa a work of vision, not an ‘affordable’ product manufactured for consumption by the masses.
I’ve sent samples of Sultan Mustafa to fellow artisanal distillers and they’ve been unanimous in their praise. But what should strike you most is the foolery of thinking the details don’t matter. Take Sultan Murad…
It was a groundbreaking distillation. It marked the inauguration of that blue-green oceanic incense tune all the New Guinea Sultan oils have been playing flawlessly.
Now, get this:
The New Guinea component of Sultan Mustafa cost 6.6 times MORE than the wild New Guinea wood that went into what many believe to be a near perfect distillation (Sultan Murad). Then there’s the Brunei component (hand selected and flown in from Brunei) specifically for this distillation. At this stage you might ask ‘if the details don’t matter, why bother?’
If this could all have been done by sitting at home ordering some random batch of wood and ‘commissioning’ a distillation over the phone, why sleep on the floor beside the pots for 52 days straight? Why bother radically changing the boiling temperature on day 24? Why keep an even closer eye on the beaker at sunrise on day 40? Why pay three years worth of zakat before releasing this oud?
I could tell you Sultan Mustafa is just about the finest oud oil you’ll ever smell (it is). I could tell you this is the peak of the Sultan Series (it is). I could tell you, hate it as some may, that a bottle should sell for more than it does (it should). I could tell you there’s no way I could make it again (I can’t) and that if there’s one oil from the Sultan Series you should get, this is hands-down it.
But all I want to say is that the details matter, and Sultan Mustafa is definitive proof.
So, you’re free to get your affordable oud from any of the thousand shops that sell it. Or you can get Sultan Mustafa, an oil that if I were not obliged to, I would not sell. A piece of art as irreplaceable and – don’t let anybody tell you otherwise – every bit as precious as a Picasso.
Hands down, this is one of the most beautiful oils I have had the honor of wearing. I don't say that lightly. The first crazy thought that came to mind was this was Sultani married to a Hindi oil.
Folks will wonder how I got a crazy thought like Sultan Mustafa smelling like Sultani and a Hindi oil, as Sultani is probably distilled from Terengganu agarwood or wood from a jungle close by that area on the Malaysian peninsula, and not New Guinean. However, there IS a profile like Sultani under the stronger masculinity of the New Guinea scent profile, even if this oil is pure NG or NG/Brunei in origin. I keep picking it up over several wears; it's like there's a distinct male and a separate female personality in this oil. The two really are separate, at least to me, but compatible." – MI, USA
Reviews for Sultan Mustafa's copper twin, Sultan Ahmet:
For me, there’s no question, ‘The’ oud would be Ensar’s Sultan Ahmet. There’s just something about Merauke ouds. For me, its the oud that is the answer to the question, “If I was stranded on an island, what’s the one oud you’d want to have with you?” Before smelling this oud, I would have said Betonamu Jinkoh, without hesitation. But the way Ensar managed to combine top and base (and everything in between) in Sultan Ahmet, it plays every single octave of the notes series.
Having said that, I haven’t even asked Ensar yet if this is a Merauke oud, or a co-distill (or not even Merauke at all?!). What I do know however is that it appeases every variant of the oud crave! – Taha, KL
I am right now sniffing the two ‘Sultan’ oils you included (Sultan Mustafa and Sultan Ahmet), as I couldn’t resist starting with those. My gut feeling was that the Sultan Series is the epitome of your ‘personal diary’ interpretation/experience of agar, expressed on your canvas (the distillation).
Ensar, you must pardon me… I simply cannot revert back to you today with my detailed thoughts on these two oils.
These two oils have yanked my ruh and intertwined it with yours, a sort of rapture I seldom experience. Right now, please allow me to enjoy this fana. It is as though I am one with the oils, and I am also one with you (I can almost feel the neurons charging up and zapping in your brain, as you designed the distillations).
I am so immensely enjoying the stories these two oils are telling me, and I am so engrossed in them, that I must ask you to grant me respite for me to recount the anecdotes from these two journeys to you another time.
As a side, if indeed your Sultan Series is how I am imagining it (the brainchild of your most personal and intimate relationship with oud), I am beside myself with joy. There are times I fear my own nose has become far too esoteric in unravelling the scent of oud, but when I smell these two oils, it is as though I see the constitution of the wood completely taken apart and then reassembled perfectly in these oils (Sic: the experience suggested to me that just maybe my esotericism does not pass into the domain of insanity; either that or your experience with agar is as ‘insane’ as mine, reflected in your creations).
You know I’ve always enjoyed all your oils, but these Sultan Series oils are the finest testaments to the quality of the wood you use and your accomplishment as a distiller in capturing their truest essence in oils.
Now, let me be. The oils are calling… – Taha, KL
Refreshing, bright, energetic opening, that weaving the whole bunch of very gentle yet intense notes some of which are eucalyptus, lemon peel, lemongrass, with a touch green and purple florals…
Those top notes are diverse and very lively yet moderate in their behaviour… they dance beautifully, slowly and smoothly… all are crystal clear and of a very high quality (nothing too sweet, too floral, too green or too purple… every single note displays itself perfectly and in the best manner possible).
I feel at least 2 or 3 different species in this dance… this is perhaps the factor that makes top notes diverse and very interesting to experience… I also feel a glass condenser involved and a precise, fluctuating temperature control… perhaps its just my imagination.
The top notes, to me, are one of the most enjoyable experiences in the process of listening to an oil… this is one of the experiences that in my opinion is missing in highly aged oils or perhaps if not missing then hugely lacking…
Those top notes of Sultan Ahmet are fast moving to the middle where I find hard to get the right words to accurately describe the scent… yet I feel the unmistakable Ensar Oud signature here…
The base is a complete perfume on its own… its like if one would give a kodo master various species of the finest agarwood chips (scent wise) and ask him to compose a single session that will consist of 3 different species to be heated at once… amazingly pleasant experience, which to me is far beyond and far more valuable than the one that some may discover in the OUDY oils that posses high quality yet less diverse notes… – Russian Adam
Take Sultan Ahmet for instance. Smelling it, I know what the wood smelled like, I can practically feel the wood when I smell this oil. And yet, you composed the orchestra and your silhouette is clear behind the curtain, even if you’re not on stage.
And here, I must strongly disagree with your use of the word ‘experiment’. I don’t buy it for a second. To me, these oils are not haphazard experiments. Its quite clear that these oils are orchestrated compositions, carefully thought out.
I can tell you that you’ve done a brilliant job, because your ‘presence’ isn’t in your oils, yet you’re present in them. But having said that, I know every now and then you’ve had some fun and cooked up some oils which one would think are anything but oud (hmm.. maybe oud from a parallel dimension?), but I also know this new supply-side crisis has probably forced you to do the same thing as me: pay the mightiest homage you can to wild oud, before its gone. – Taha, KL
The Sultan Ahmet is unworldly – I smell cinnamon and pine followed by plum, vanilla, allspice and underlying oud. No barnyard at all (even though I don’t mind barnyard depending on my mood). The oil is liquid gold. Thank all of you for making this fragrance from Mother Earth. – Bob, USA
Just a short message to tell you that the Sultan Ahmet is simply the most beautiful oud oil I have ever smelled. True, I am a begginer and I haven't smelled so many, but still. This is not an oud, it is a liquid Poem. Congratulations to you and your Team. -Costas, Switzerland
Gentle smile on, head nodding the whole time, head shaking in disbelief. Words don't fit.
Same brilliant mildly bitter blue/green oceanic note in Sultan Abdüs Selam. Similar Suriranka Senkoh ethereal notes, but more hypnotic, more uplifting yet grounding. It is dare I say perfect. You should feel proud and pat yourselves on the back. This oil is nothing short of genius. Mind blown. – Rasoul, Canada