Green-Oil Kyara

I would like to introduce a new category to Oud Impressions: Oud Wood Reviews. I will now be reviewing any interesting woods that come my way. But what better a way to start than with a sliver of green-oil Kyara?

KyaraBlogger Kyarazen has carefully sliced 1g of Kyara wood into 14 slivers, so that others who cannot afford the $500/g price tag that Kyara commands, could have a taste of what Kyara really smells like. In his own words, “This is top grade green-oil kyara obtained from a renown incense company in Sakai, Osaka. Extremely well loved by many due to the clear, penetrating green oil kyara scent emanating at room temperature. Truly an experience of a lifetime.” And I must agree!

For one, I have to give Kyarazen’s presentation an A+. The wood came very nicely packaged in a box with plenty of bubble wrap–not to mention it arrived here from Singapore within a few days! And inside the box, in a sample vial, is a sliver of Kyara.

Kyara sliversI first took a sniff with the wood inside the vial, and then held the wood in the palm of my hand. It exudes a most wonderful fragrance that meets and surpasses all of my expectations. I don’t know that I have ever held a piece of agarwood to my nose and smelled such a potent fragrance before. And yet the rich green and deeply resinous fragrance was all too familiar to me, in the most positive sense. I felt as if I was smelling all my favorite Oud oils all at once, as if they were are all reduced to a single all-encompassing note: Kyara. Yes, I recognized this fragrance, because it is quite present in many of the oils I have reviewed on this site, with varying degrees of clarity, potency, and greenness. But in the palm of my hand was a pure green Kyara fragrance, from a tiny sliver of wood. Very impressive!

Those who experience the enchanting aroma of Kyara will know why it epitomizes the agarwood fragrance. Truly, it is the pinnacle of the agarwood aroma, it is what everyone is chasing after in Oud oil and Oud wood. An indescribable harmony of sweetness and addictive resinous depth–it is as if the fragrance is spiraling upwards from the wood like smoke.

More remarkably, these slivers of wood confirm for me that the Kyara notes I have been smelling in Oud oils are completely real and accurate. Have no doubts: it is possible to distill Oud oil from the highest grade wood. But hardly anyone is crazy enough to do it. In my archive of Oud oil reviews, you will find some examples of Oud oils that possess the royal and unearthly aroma of Kyara, distilled by individuals who were crazy enough to take the wood that incense companies sell for burning straight into the stills. For me, the Kyara wood has been an olfactory confirmation that will always serve as a reference point for future pursuits. It reminds me of why agarwood is the most precious and highly-prized aromatic in this world.

Although Kyarazen has sold out of this wood, stay attentive. Not only does he have a resourceful website on all things Kyara, but he is a pleasure to do business with, and is clearly devoted the rich and sacred pleasures of the highest and most essential agarwood aroma.

Borneo Zen: A Musk Perfume

Borneo ZenWhen I first smelled Borneo Zen, I had no idea what I was smelling. There was so much about it that I could not put my finger on. At the time, I did not have the slightest clue that deer musk was its main ingredient. Instead, I mistook the civet base in Thai Tabac to be “musk”, until Ensar told me it is actually in Borneo Zen that he used musk, hence its higher price than the other parfums. 

Leave your synthetic “white” musk behind. It is nothing close to the sacred aroma of genuine deer musk. Most are accustomed to the somewhat harsh, persistent, and overpowering aroma of synthetic musk, such that it has permanently shaped their olfactory sense of what “musk” really is.

The true musk fragrance is far more delicate, elegant, sweet, floral, and beautiful than what the perfume industry would have you believe. It is at once evocative and calming, spiritual and carnal–a true paradox of a fragrance, it exhibits yin and yang in a balance I have not found in any other fragrance.

Borneo Zen is a true musk fragrance, the perfume of days past. Who makes perfumes like this anymore? This is a rare find, and I honestly would buy tolas of this oil if I could! This perfume ranks among one of the greatest fragrances I have ever smelled, even greater than some Oud oils.

Borneo Zen is a fragrance that should be worn at the beginning of the day, before you begin your day’s work. It has an irresistible liveliness, an incredible energy that you will feel running in your veins. Musk is a potent carrier of life-force, there is no doubt about it. It will invigorate you, ground you, revitalize you, and make you feel strong, inside and out. A swipe of Borneo Zen will give you the confidence, stamina, and joyful mood you need to get the day started on the right note. On the other hand, if you want to relax, Borneo Zen will lull you into the depths of sacred contemplation. Its power is of a subtle nature, its life-force will work for you however you desire to use it, whether it be for vital activity, or for meditation. The fragrance of musk is incredibly adaptable. It will rise and fall from yin to yang as needed.

The perfume is surprisingly sweet. The rose eventually harmonizes with the musk and creates a most exotic and uplifting sweet-rosy-musk aroma that you will not be able to get enough of. I have worn this perfume many times, and every time I wear it, I can hardly keep my nose away from my wrists. And I still haven’t gotten enough of that beautiful musky rosy aroma. But to really appreciate its sweetness, you have to realize the role of jasmine. And the fact that the ratios of all the oils are perfect, from base to middle to top. What a composition!

Many might wonder what the role of Oud is in this perfume. That is a good question. This perfume is by no means “Oudy”. Pink Papua is Oudy. Borneo Zen is musky. All I can think of and smell when I am wearing this oil is musk, musk, musk, and rose, with a token of gratitude to jasmine. Nonetheless, to connoisseurs who are familiar with the profile of Borneo Oud oil, you will be able to detect the lightness, sweetness, airiness, and overall ethereal quality that Oud brings to this perfume. It “shades” the perfume with its lightness and sweetness. It is not intended to be pronounced, to be obvious, to be sharp.

After all, perfume is alchemy. Ultimately, all the individual notes have undergone an incredible transformation. And musk is one of the greatest servants of this process. I do not know what has happened to the Oud in this perfume, except that it has melted into the fragrance, and given it that subtle touch of wonder and exaltation.

After a while, you will start to notice an amazing citrus note in this perfume. I asked Ensar if he had used any citrus oils, because it was so pronounced to me. In fact, I was sure he had used a small amount of some citrus. He confidently replied to me that there is, in fact, no citrus in Borneo Zen at all. It is all the doing of musk! Later, in his formal write-up of the oil on his website, he named this utterly unique citrus note “jasmarine”. And that’s it! That is exactly what it is. The citrus note is a wonderful and elegant surprise. It adds a shade of complexity and fullness to this perfume when it is most unexpected, giving it a unique flavor that makes it feel even more like a perfume.

This oil is irresistible. I feel as if I could wear it day after day without tiring of it. To my surprise, the aroma is so rich and other-wordly that I do not experience any olfactory fatigue. It is new with each breath, and even each breath does not seem to fully know the aroma. It reaches for more every time, but the fragrance remains ever-elusive. As owners of this perfume will find, musk also has quite a playful quality. It has a life of its own. And it will breathe its life into you, too.

Borneo Zen is already a classic in natural perfumery–in my book, at least. It is very well-composed. And its true essence is the sandalwood musk–whose role in perfumery cannot be underestimated. Do yourself a favor and buy a bottle of this perfume (or more if you can). It will keep you very good company throughout the day. It is a personal fragrance to me, not one I would necessarily wear for social reasons (though it is appropriate for all kinds of situations). What I am referring to is the fact that the perfume does not project much. It stays close to the skin. By “close to the skin”, I don’t mean you have to go to your wrist in order to smell it. The wearer will be nicely and effortlessly wrapped in its aroma. But others may not notice it unless you are rather close to them. If you want to be noticed, then be liberal in your swipes of this oil, and you will succeed. If you want to enjoy it yourself, one swipe is enough to keep you happy. But I doubt you’ll be able to resist swiping again later in the day. On my wrist, a single swipe lasts around 5-6 hours, just enough to make it until evening. Then you can decide if you want wind down with another swipe.

A truly rare and sacred fragrance, I highly recommended Borneo Zen to everyone.

The Shop

Dear readers,

I am happy to announce the addition of a Shop to Oud Impressions. This blog is now expanding beyond its initial premises and becoming my creative outlet for all things olfactory. In addition to writing reviews of Oud oils and Oud perfumes, I am hoping to offer a more tangible form of inspiration in the form of my own Oud-based perfumes and Attars. These can be found in the new Oud Impressions Shop. Also available in the Shop, from time to time, will be Oud oils that I have decided to sell from my own private collection.

I have also added a “perfumes” category to the blog where I intend to post reviews of Oud-based perfumes. Ensar Oud’s Borneo Zen, Pink Papua, and Thai Tabac are soon to be the first reviews in this new category, followed by Profumo’s Oud Caravan.

But amidst all this talk of perfumes, I mustn’t forget the root of my inspiration–vintage Oud oils. Coming soon are reviews of the much acclaimed Oud Sultani and Kyara de Kalbar, so stay tuned…