The first distillation of Abdul Samad Al Qurashi’s “Thaqeel” is a legendary Oud amongst Oud lovers worldwide. Thaqeel is a Cambodian Oud, purportedly from a 100-year old Agarwood tree. Although ASAQ has since released second and third distillations of Thaqeel, only the first distillation maintains its legendary status. The first distillation sold for $700 for 3ml, with the current distillation selling for an astronomically high price of $3, 733 a tola.
Needless to say, all of the hype surrounding Thaqeel soon piqued my curiosity. And I was fortunate enough to acquire a sample from a friend of mine a few months ago. Thaqeel was the first Cambodian Oud I smelled (to be followed by the now legendary Cambodi Caramel), and I enjoyed its fruity-sweet notes, something I had not smelled in Oud yet. The fragrance of Thaqeel also felt mysteriously Middle Eastern to me, although I cannot explain why.
I enjoyed Thaqeel, but noticed that it stayed too close to my skin for my liking. At first, I was perplexed as to what I was beginning to perceive as a weakness in the oil’s fragrance, and would put on more and more. For a while, I assumed that the sample-size applicator stick was perhaps not able to provide me with a sufficient amount to enjoy the aroma after initial application.
I also noticed that while Thaqeel was a pleasant enough fragrance, it lacked the dimensionality of the Ouds I loved most. That is not to say that Thaqeel is not a nuanced and interesting fragrance, which it certainly is. But it lacks a certain indescribable and subtle dimensionality. Thaqeel did not feel alive on my skin.
In order to gain some clarity about Thaqeel, I asked Ensar of Ensar Oud if he had ever smelled this oil, and what his opinion of it was. I was mostly curious to see if he felt that it was actually one of the rare oils from ASAQ that is actually pure, especially given its price tag. I was somewhat hopeful that it might be a pure Oud oil, a serious distillation from a significantly aged tree. Ensar’s reply echoed my own intuitions about Thaqeel’s one-dimensionality and lack of consciousness. His reply is posted below verbatim, for the sake of positive education, intelligent consideration, and rightly stimulating discussion.
ENSAR: The only time I smelled Oud Thaqeel was when a Russian customer flew in to Amman from Dubai to meet me in person. He’d just picked up a bottle at the ASAQ shop in Dubai, and he was a happy camper! The gooey, pasty, sticky mess of an oil inside that bottle just looked wrong. It is an artificially oxidized oil, by being exposed to air without a cap on the container. The oil only gets thicker and more one-dimensional as it oxidizes, until it becomes sticky like honey.
What people rave about is not the oil as much as the marketing. This is supposed to be the most expensive Oud in the world, and so necessarily that generates a lot of buzz. I think my Chinese Exclusive, which is 100% wild Hainan oil, distilled in 2004, and has
been carefully preserved from oxidation in air-tight German Pyrex, stored in the dark, is a far more interesting oil than Thaqeel.
Thaqeel means “heavy” in Arabic. And it is just that, a thick oil that impresses people when they encounter the stickiness of it. Nothing worth writing home about.
Not to mention that ASAQ does not produce their own oils, but they buy wholesale from other Gulf conglomerates like al Haramain, Ajmal, etc. This is common knowledge among the Oud producing folks.