Oud Royale: The Sultan’s Oud

Oud Royale is Ensar’s most unique and prized offering, considered by many to be the greatest Oud oil ever distilled, with the last bottles selling for $10,999 each. Distilled in 1982 for Sultan Qaboos of Oman, Oud Royale is now 30 years old, making it the oldest Oud oil I presently know of, and have ever had the opportunity to wear. The distillation of this oil was commissioned by the Sultan, choosing the highest quality raw materials from Indonesia, then sent to India for traditional soaking and hydro-distillation in steel pots.

With all of this swirling in my mind, I take a swipe. As I swipe the oil, I notice an aura of woodiness emanating from the bottle that reminds me of some of the finest oils I have tried. It is an irresistible sweet resinous-woodiness that is tame and elegant, and it immediately expresses the calibre of the oil. The first oil that came to mind is Borneo Kinam. I had to pull out a bottle and confirm the note I was smelling, and it was definitely there. Upon swiping Oud Royale, the first thing I notice is that it smells exactly like burning high quality Oud chips. I have not yet encountered an Oud oil that captures this unique aroma with the depth and absolute clarity that Royale does. To me, this gives evidence to the quality of the raw materials used in the distillation of this oil. Only a distillation of highly-resinated wood could produce the clarity and depth I smell in this oil. Even then, I have smelled many oils from incense-grade wood, and Royale proves to me that it is in a class of its own. Furthermore, most of the oils I have smelled (including Borneo Kinam) that exude this delicious woody Kyara note are steam-distillations. Steam-distillation preserves the smell of the chips more, whereas with hydro-distillation there is more room for tweaks. Hydro-distillation also tends to impart a smoky flavor to the oil. Surprisingly, the smell of the wood is so strong and present in Oud Royale, even though it was not steam-distilled. It is the purity of this smell that gives Royale its unique signature.

The aroma is warm, balanced, and incredibly smooth. As a sign of its age, Oud Royale exhibits a very mature and refined character with a contemplative aura. It does not have the invigorating effect of Indian oils. Rather, Royale is an Oud to sit back and relax with, to drop out and listen to. It truly defies regional profiling. Notably, Royale is not all over the place like many Oud oils are. It has completely settled into its core aroma, and expresses that perfectly. Rather than a barrage of varying notes that change throughout the wear, Oud Royale is whole, a single note weaving a mystical tune. There is a richness of fragrance with each inhalation that cannot be savored enough. Oud Royale is a minimalist composition, using little to say more than you would have expected. This oil is like a multi-faceted jewel, made of a single substance, but revealing its many faces as time passes, quietly shaping its textured and colorful expression.

Later on, the green Kyara note emerges with more clarity. Wet, jungly, and green, the Kyara note is crystal clear, ringing with a sweetness and depth I have not smelled in other oils. The effect of the oil is very relaxing and calming. Royale is gentle, refined, sophisticated, elegant–making its name all too fitting.¬†Oud Royale is perfect–and this is perhaps its most endearing quality. Connoisseurs will savor every drop of this oil, because it exudes the absolute purity of the Oud fragrance with undeniable perfection and class. Oud Royale is easily among the best Oud oils I have smelled, and an instant favorite.

But those who have missed out on this oil still have an opportunity to have a taste of its depth and quality in Oud Sultani. Distilled in 2001 from sinking-grade granules, Oud Sultani was sourced from a jungle not too far from where Oud Royale hails. Like Oud Royale, Sultani was hydro-distilled in the traditional Indian manner, but in copper pots instead of steel pots. Could Sultani be Oud Royale’s long-awaited counterpart?

Jungle: Maroke
Crafted: 1982
Yield: 100 tolas
Status: Legend