Imagine an annual Agarwood Awards or Oud Oscars. Think about it: And the award for Oud of the Year goes to…
Ouds get reviewed, praised, bashed, and ranked. But we don’t quite have the likes of the Oscars.
Yet, on a personal level, as a distiller, there is something like that. An occasion where you feel your work being honored, when you realize that what you do gets noticed and is respected – the moment you feel like you’re being handed your Pulitzer…
For me, it happened when I was bequeathed Tigerwood Royale, a moment reminiscent of when I received the first Oud Royale, sovereign wax seal and all, many years ago.
Tigerwood Royale is a momentous 2001 distillation of vintage tigerwood many grades higher than what went into the already incredible Tigerwood 1995. The quality of the wood and sheer age of the oil make it literally impossible to reproduce. And Royal rulers who have long-standing ties with the people who own such olfactory relics are among the few who’ll ever get the chance to dab on a swipe of it.
Some months ago I went to meet up with a kingpin of the China Market. Minutes before I arrived at his atelier, the Queen of Abu Dhabi had just left, leaving him with an elegant bag full of $10K packets of $100 bills. He handed me the bag and jokingly said: ‘Look what she left me.’ The queen parted as the proud owner of what may well be the oud of the decade, and she would have been the sole owner, had the millionnaire not kept some for himself – and some for me…
Big league veterans like these have zero reasons to part with any of the highly sought after collector’s oils they possess. They keep bags of kyara dust they could sell for truckloads of dollars just to chew on it. This man recently bought an entire 5 kg log of green kyara for $5 million, just to have it in his collection. He has logs of white kyara, which costs considerably more, which he won’t even show the Queen. There’s zero financial gain in it for him. Only a long-standing relationship and a sense of mutual respect gives you access to an olde like this. Tigerwood Royale could well have stayed locked up next to the kyara log, or stowed away in Shaykh Khalifa’s safe where a few bottles will no doubt be presented to other rulers as a royal gift on special occasions. But now, you don’t have to work your way up the Emirati hierarchy to get your hands on a bottle.
It’s my honor to have received a portion of this agarwood history. Oud that I cannot dream of distilling myself. I’m fifteen years too late. Oud with such resinous depth you only smell in the Oud Royales, the Sultanis and Oud Ahmads from back in the day. How many people wish they didn’t wait so long and got that bottle of Sultani after all? Here, you’re getting oud that’s literally been locked up and sealed since the dawn of this century, at a giveaway price. Tip the bottle over, roll it about through your fingers and watch how the oil’s consistency is perfectly fluid – at fifteen years old, that’s a sign of oud exceptionally well-matured.
Tigerwood Royale’s got that oudy marrow modern ouds are sorely lacking in. I’ve had a swipe on for hours already as I write this, and not only is there no trace of dustiness (which plagues the drydown in many old oils), but instead of the all-woods drydown you’d expect in well aged oils, it’s remarkably menthol sweet – a feature that goes right back to the incredible quality raw tigerwood that went into the stills. The scent’s imbued with a dark floral West Malaysian profile that gives it the same regal mood you find in the greats. You’ll still get a whiff of the red muskiness that’s the highlight in Oud Ahmad, but here the musk has been steeped longer, made more intense, with a green camphory chord that comes and goes like a chorus in tune to the brute red oudiness of this aroma.
Of course, ouds like these don’t get gifted as such. It’s only because of her position that the Queen has the opportunity to even know about this oil. She was still obliged to bring hundreds of thousands in $10,000 bundles. Likewise, it’s only because of years of dedication to this craft that such a veteran Chinese bigwig bestowed such caliber oud to me, as an act of entrustment and approval more than anything else. It’s only his recognizing the work I do and seeing my commitment and passion for this olfactory wonder that I was given the chance to own Tigerwood Royale.
Like him, I will no doubt keep a portion to myself. But also like him, as a token of heartfelt thanks and appreciation, it’s my privilege to give you the chance to share in this miracle. If distilled today, I’d have to charge a couple of thousand per bottle just to break even… So, in addition to the opportunity to literally own the oud of the Queen, I hope you see that letting a bottle go at this price is my gift to you.
Tigerwood Royale is this year’s Nobel Prize. It’s the Oud of the Year. We are all blessed to have the chance to own it.
All natural and chemical-free. Extracted by traditional means, without the use of synthetic chemicals. This oil does not have an expiration date. It will only improve as it ages. No "gassing" required.
Tigerwood Royale is a really nice one too. This one is extremely rich, deep and there is a darkness to it that I really enjoy. I swear I can sense a “fight for life” type feel in this wonderful oil that only a true artisan could have rendered that life full credit. –Jean-François, Canada
Tigerwood Royale... Tigerwood Royale... When I first took a whiff it does remind me of everything old, old house, old people, that old chair, that root drink my late grandfather used to sip, it reminds me of Kopi Aceh, Acehnese coffee, it has a bitter-sweet cocoa scent of that coffee, Tigerwood Royale is very complex. It does not grab your attention. There is no mint or airy or smoky features. I remember reading one of the reviews saying it opens with opulent roses, I don't get any roses, or floral notes. But wait... Now and then the flowers appear in passing with discreteness and grace and hides again. Its like an old solemn wooden house full of treasures that do not glitter but just there for anyone to seek and appreciate. Truly a beauty. –Mohammed, Malaysia
One of the best Malaysian oil out there I have tried to date. – Hafiz, UK
Part of my learning curve with Oud was to offset a bit from the Barky Barny Hindis most of us started with. Along this path I first got the EO sampler to navigate here and there and came across the incredible Oud Ahmad.
Calling EO to understand what would come close to this I was advised to check on Tigerwood Royale which is more compatible with ‘daily use’. What’s fascinating with both OA and TR is how they start with a path of their own : neither offensive, no trace of barn or otherwise Hindi tones YET they still carry wood / incense tones right from the start along with fruity floral scents.
That’s maybe just me but this feels like strength & self confidence at the same time. The evolution of the scents navigate on an elegant ground of nice burning agarwood scents and brings everything you expect when taking time to heat / burn chips. Around it comes and goes medicinal, fruity and fresh notes for the longest time.
Wearing TR is an instant pleasure both for me and people in the elevator and then for the long day following. At the end of the journey, TR leaves you with this its final notes still on a quiet incense side.
A Majesty introduced with Majesty, neither loud nor shy, staying itself until the end though dealing with the complexity of a long busy day. – Sebastien, France
I am in LOVE with the Tigerwood! Ok, I’m actually in love with them all!!! But that Tigerwood… mmmmmmmm mmmmmmmmmmmmm!
As I love reading some of the testimonials… Here is something I just wrote Kim after opening them and wanting to thank him for turning me onto you guys!!!
“The Tigerwood Royale (they all did) gives me this absolute breathtaking exquisiteness bubbling forth from my cells while also calming that sends me into a deep breath! The scent softens my eyes so I may see clearer as who I actually am and opens me into this magnificent world of possibilities!” – Cristina, USA
Was this Oud of the Year 2017? Not sure – but it’s a worthy contender. Oud of the Year isn’t necessarily the very finest/highest end oud, it’s the oud that’s got personality, mystique, bang-for-the-buck, and various other qualities that make it ‘the people’s choice.’ Sometimes the Oud of the Year may also be the finest/highest end of that year – I wonder if this will be the case if/when Ensar releases his Oud Royale made from the Maluku wood?
Tigerwood Royale fits those criteria for sure, and I can say for sure it is Oud of the Day 3/1/2018! It’s an oud you keep going back to and discovering more – the notes are so smooth and harmonious together – it has a very ‘neutral’ or perhaps ‘balanced’ or ‘restrained’ sort of scent rather than being particularly fruity or floral or barnyard or dramatic – it’s reisnous oudy equanimity – but within this one discovers the fruit and floral and barnyard etc qualities with a little study – they peek out at you here and there… Man, I should write more oud reviews, I’m crushing it on this one! Anyhow, where was I? Ah yes, the TW Royale – “Soul of the Ancient Tree Perfume” it could be called, a most sumptuous and enigmatic oud… – Josh, USA
A Special Day, so I swiped Tigerwood Royale. Ooohhh wait! It’s the other way around... I swiped Tigerwood Royale, so now it’s a Special Day! – Curt, USA
My favourite has to be Tigerwood Royale. I love its complexity. The leather, the woodiness, the mahogany, the mild mint and subtle florals make it a complete experience. – NK, UK
The oil opens on an opulent rose. Hint of cotton candy. Black tea lightly infused with bergamot. Crumbling under a resinous, bitter kinam accord. A bitterness that makes me think of white cola nut. In the heart notes, we find: A rose dressed with a touch of sweet caramel. Tapioca pearls. And cloves (light). This ensemble is supplemented by a rich presence of glutinous resins. A sweet and dignified smell with a touch of bitterness. Not aggressive, but rich and complex. In the background notes, it reminds me of two exotic African woods: The Sapele and the Bossé (dry for the first, fresh state for the second). These two trees when sawn give off a very pleasant smell of peppered cedar. Also the smell of Western Red Cedar (which is a soft wood) when sawn, followed by notes of tropical fruits. Mango, papaya, guava. With a hint of camphor. I never experienced an oil like this before. Discrete on the skin, while being present. Aristocratic, delicate, elegant, distinguished, graceful. A truly striking beauty, really an oud apart. – Adama, France
The Tigerwood Royale is superb. I was worried it would be too similar to the ‘95. It takes everything you love about ‘95 and just multiplies the beauty, complexity and satisfaction by 10… or even 100. – Taher, UAE
My SOTD is Tigerwood Royale. Do you remember Aladdin and the Monster inside the bottle? Be careful before you open the bottle of this oil, you are about to release a Monster! – Jalal, Canada
Tigerwood Royale is no less complex than Oud Ahmad. I am on day 2 with Tigerwood Royale, and I still require more time to get to know this oil. There are aromas that mask other aromas, it’s like a black-laced veiled beauty. The muskiness is like deer musk, that’s amazing. The scent sphere emanates through the drydown. The oudiness and woodiness are binding. It’s like a serious perfume, not playful but dignified, one to wear during evening. – Curt, USA
Tigerwood Royale is a perfect name for this oil. It has all of the great incense, old school oud qualities that the 1995 has, but in a more refined way. 1995 is dark. Royale is dark red. There is something red about Tigerwood Royale, but I can’t put my nose on it. Possibly a touch of musk or floral. The heart of this oil has similar qualities not only to 1995, but also Oud Ahmad. Royale is truly a gift at that price and it’s worth every penny. – Steve, USA
The Tigerwood is superb! It’s so enticing that I have been wearing it daily. The top notes are spice and sugar. With time I smell aged oud reminiscent of high grade oud wood for burning. Then it settles down to a bit of sweetness again mixed with oud and jungle. – Bob, USA
Tigerwood Royale opens with a “green-leaf nut-oil camphor” which becomes more vaporous. A resinous-woody-oudiness intermittently breaks through the vaporous top. This juxtapositioning continues till the top notes dissipate. Then comes the transformation… Notes of musk, oud, and wood running parallel with a refreshing bergamot and white ambergris, all very tightly knit that they’re difficult to discern individually, but come together to put a smile on my face. – Curt, USA
Потрясающий oud для всех случаев в жизни: носить дома, с друзьями, на работе. Но я всегда готов к тому, что внимание к моей персоне будет завышенным. Темный цвет, мускус, величественный профиль, аромат который вспышками дразнит всех вокруг. Носить это масло приносит одно удовольствие! Приставка Royal творит чудеса в этом oud. Спасибо! – Maksim, Russia
Tigerwood Royale: “Ceci n’est pas une rose...”
Une rose royale, opulente, marquée, qui semble délicatement infusée dans un thé noir à la bergamote, des notes de barbe à papa qui font le va-et-vient. Le tout croulant sous un accord qui fuse, profondément résineux, résolument ‘kinaminesque.’
Une rose qui tente d’arrondir les angles, qui se teinte plus chaudement. Soulignée d’un trait de caramel ici, une poignée de perles de tapioca par là, un brin de clous de girofles aussi. Un effluve somptueusement doux, avec une touche d’amertume parfaitement balancée. Pas agressive pour un sou, riche et complexe.
Une rose qui se réduit comme peau de chagrin. Qui laisse place à une fragrance de cèdre aux accents poivrés; parfum que l’on retrouve dans deux bois exotiques africains, le Sapelli et le Bossé, lorsque ces deux arbres sont sciés.
Puis à un parfum de cèdre avec cette touche de fruits tropicaux, mangue, papaye, goyave, agrémentée d’un soupçon camphre. Caractéristiques du Thuya géant de Californie dès lors que ce dernier est scié.
Je n’ai jamais senti une huile comme celle-là auparavant. Discrète sur la peau tout en étant présente. Aristocrate, délicate, élégante, distinguée, gracieuse. Une véritable beauté, réellement à part. – Adama, France
Ok, just did a quick side by side of TW95 and TR. The first thing that came to my mind is how mind-bogglinlgy good these 2 oils are. Just incredible. Very different overall but distinctly similar as well. The TR is more camphorous, 'darker' and more musky and the TW95 a little greener perhaps?? The TR would be more of a sophisticated vs. the TW95 being a bit more raw in nature. The TR is clearly made of higher quality wood to my nose but that does not diminish the quality of the TW95. It is awesome in it's own right. I just don't know how one can choose between these two, other then by cost/budget. These just don't have any peers at their respective price points. – Phil, USA
Both Tigerwoods from Ensar are essential. You must, for the good of all that is good for your sanity, experience both of them. – Stefan, Canada
I think the oil I love the most is Tigerwood Royale. I purchased Tigerwood 95 too but there is something rich and regal about TR which I absolutely love. The sweetness, complexity, mild leather. It’s just amazing. – Naveed, UK
Such a beauty. A must have. I lost a vial in a Fairfax recently, probably in a coffee shop. I hope whoever finds this treasure falls in love with it, as I did. Hopefully they will read the label on the vial and look up Ensar's website and begin their own journey down the oud rabbit hole. A fragrant message in a bottle not from a lost soul looking to be saved, but from someone in olfactory paradise spreading the gospel. – Stefan, Canada