Pulau Maluku: Papua Meets Borneo

Pulau MalukuWhen I first swiped Agar Aura’s Pulau Maluku, I thought I was smelling an oil from Maroke, only to have my senses puzzled a few seconds later as I began to perceive a full-blown Borneo profile.

This strangely beautiful juxtaposition of scent profiles is what sets Pulau Maluku apart from other Oud oils, with its geographical roots being a perfect mirror for its fragrance. It was only after applying the oil a few times that I realized that Maluku, an island in Indonesia, is located exactly between Borneo and Papua. Mystery solved!

Map of Indonesia

Map of Indonesia

This is the first oil from Maluku that I have come across so far. I am not aware of any other quality distillations from Maluku wood at this time, making Pulau Maluku a very unique and special offering. I love the dark, jungly, and pristine aspects of Papuan oils, and I also love the bright and sweet aspects of Borneo oils. In my opinion, Oud oils from these two regions stand in contrast to one another, and I have never really associated them with one another in any way, until I smelled Pulau Maluku.

The oil opens with Papuan notes–jungly, dense, herbaceous. For a moment, I have no reason to think I am smelling anything else, despite the fragrance being noticeably lighter than the Papuan oils I am so used to. When my nose returns to my wrist again, I realize there is something else going on here, as the fragrance begins to rapidly morph. The Papuan elements quickly become luscious undertones for a fragrance that is now beginning to express the most recognizable Borneo notes.

Soon I have forgotten the jungles and am entranced in a rapture of one of the most pristine and balmy vanilla notes. The vanilla is very pronounced, more pronounced than in other Borneo oils in my collection. Maluku starts to smell like a Borneo stripped of its base–sensual, smooth, suave, and beautifully light-hearted. Pulau Maluku beautifully captures the ethereal aspect of Borneo oils with stunning accuracy and clarity.


Vanilla bean

With the oil singing on my wrist, I am again lost in a vine of vanilla beans. So much vanilla. It is not that it smells like vanilla, it is nearly identical to putting your nose in a bottle of vanilla extract–but without the concentration, and much more velvety.

As the fragrance approaches its dry down phase, the Papuan elements make a re-appearance, and this time to stay. Undertones of mineral, resin, and fresh jungle support the sweet and airy base of Pulau Maluku, making it one of the more impressive Oud oils I have had the opportunity to experience. More remarkable is that the fragrance of burning Oud chips–the mark of high quality Papuan oils–begins to come into focus, drawing the finishing stroke of a wonderful composition.

Pulau Maluku is a classic stainless steel distillation. Regarding the raw materials used, Taha said to me in a personal communication, “Feedstock for Pulau Maluku was collected from trees that are quite possibly the oldest of ALL ouds that you and I have ever come across.”

I must congratulate him in distilling the first Maluku Oud oil of this quality that I have found, and in offering such a high quality distillation. Additionally, the oil has great longevity and sillage on my skin, a surprisingly nice kick for a “light” oil.

Unfortunately (and expectedly) Pulau Maluku is sold out. But this is an oil worth tracking down in private collections, if you get the chance. On a related note, for anyone curious about Maluku wood, check out Olfactory Rescue Service’s post here.

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