Encens Imperial is the most unusual Indian Oud I have smelled so far. The fragrance catches me off guard when it opens with a very potent top note. As the opening aroma meets my nose, I am greeted with an incredibly strong and crystalline aroma that smells almost medicinal and that is initially off-putting. By describing it as “medicinal”, I am intending to convey something of its potency, depth, and healing potential, as well as its “concentrated” aroma. After all, Oud has been used as medicine in the ancient healing traditions of the East–and when I smell a note like this, I remember why. It is one of the strongest notes I have encountered in an Oud oil so far.
This mysterious crystalline note is shrouded by a more traditional Indian aroma of sweet hay and woods, and a gentle barnyard tease. But as I smell my wrist over and over again, it is that top note that I am constantly reaching for. And it is quite playful–sometimes elusive, and at other times floating at the top, or sinking underneath the base notes, only to be found in the last seconds of the inhalation. As the fragrance unfolds, I realize that this mysterious “top note” actually pervades the aroma, top to bottom.
Within minutes, I am addicted to the singing clarity of Encens Imperial. It is an Indian Oud that possesses the clarity, beauty, and sensuality of the finest Borneo Ouds without sacrificing its Indian roots. Usually with Indian Oud, the woods, the hay, the resin, all of it mixes together into a “thick” fragrance. Yet Encens Imperial maintains a smooth, water-like clarity, without compromising any tenacity or potency.
In the official description for Encens Imperial, Ensar writes:
There might be no Kyara in Assam. But only in Assam do you find Muana, a heart note of serenity not even Kyara can capture, and just as rare. You might have smelled it when burning crazy-grade Assam wood chips, but pick it up in an oud oil… this is a first.
So what is Muana? It is hard for me to say exactly what Ensar means by using this term. In my own feeling, Muana is the defining aroma of Encens Imperial. It is that mysterious crystalline note at the heart of Encens Imperial that will puzzle your olfactory sensibilities. In its opening, it is the clearest top note I have ever smelled in an Indian Oud. As it wears, it dances and blends into the woodier undertones, and I’m smelling highly-resinated Oud chips on my wrist. This is my best guess as to what Muana refers to.
In the drydown, Encens Imperial emerges as more of a unified composition. Everything has integrated, revealing a deep and resinous profile, with accents of spice and a defined woodiness. The end result? The intoxicating aroma of incense-grade Indian Oud chips on your wrist.
Oud as incense has been the theme and goal of Ensar’s most recent releases. He has been emphasizing the true goal of Oud distillation as Oud oil that smells like incense. By incense, I feel he means a purity of scent. And Encens Imperial certainly fits into that category with its clear piercing aroma.
Ensar’s Indian Oud oils are undeniably his most diverse offerings–each one is a world of its own. So far, I have yet to smell any two that are similar. I think back to Legends such as Oud Mostafa and Oud Nuh. Encens Imperial is not the bottle I personally would reach for when I want to wear an Indian Oud. It is not as smooth and balanced as some of Ensar’s other Indian oils. Rather, Encens Imperial is an Oud I would save more for medicinal or meditative use. Assam lovers will find something very atypical in Encens Imperial, as it smells nothing like my other Assam oils. I almost forgot it was from Assam.
Clear, beautiful, and potent enough to be healing–Encens Imperial is an oil for the adventurous to explore.
But Muana doesn’t end with Encens Imperial, as I recently received a sample of an unreleased oil called “Muana LTD”…