Borneo 50K

Borneo50KLovers of the legendary Borneo 3000 and Borneo Kinam have reason to rejoice with the release of Borneo 50K — a classy Borneo oil that combines elements of both oils with its own unique twists.

Borneo 50K opens with elegant displays of honey and vanilla top notes that ride above a rich and resinous woodiness. Upon first swiping the oil, I was reminded of the rich, creamy, and balsamic-woody fragrance of some of the best vintage Mysore Sandalwood. It is an aroma that sparkles and glistens on your skin, hovering its aroma above your wrists, tingling with life and indescribable aromatic textures.

The honeyed-vanilla-sweetness begins to fuse with the woodier tones, creating a beautiful earthy aroma that also reveals more of Borneo 50K’s resinous core. At this stage, the oil reminds me a lot of Mitti Attar with its sweet earthy notes.

This oil is definitely unique among Borneos I’ve smelled. It is somewhere in between the aroma of Borneo Kinam and Borneo 3000. The vanilla is much more balanced and integrated than in Borneo 3000, and the sweetness is not as sharp. Its sparkling woodiness is reminiscent of Borneo Kinam, but it is not quite as woody as Kinam. Somewhere in between, with some vintage Mysore and Mitti Attar mixed in, there is an aromatic approximation of Borneo 50K. As for the mintiness Ensar describes in the official description of the oil, I have to say that it is perceptible as a kind of surrounding aroma, radiating at the edges of the fragrance’s core. It is a pristine herbaceousness that makes you feel “clean”, as if you are standing in the depths of a rainforest after a fresh rain.

But that is not saying much for the experience of wearing it. As a fragrance, it is incredibly smooth — perhaps the smoothest Borneo I have worn so far. I swiped it in the morning. It is now evening and Borneo 50K remains nicely perceptible on my wrist. I can’t say whether or not it outlasts previous Borneo releases since I have not conducted a simultaneous comparison yet, but I am certainly pleased with its longevity.

Expectedly, Borneo 50K is not very diffuse. However, unlike other Borneo oils, Borneo 50K is noticeably less “airy”, exuding a surprisingly grounding feel. I find that I really enjoy this aspect of 50K because it is something not found in other Borneo oils in my collection.

Borneo 50K has a lot to offer as a fragrance — and, like all fantastic Oud oils, is as much of  an aesthetic experience as it is an aromatic one.A complex fragrance with real aromatic depth and subtle nuance, 50K offers a scent that will not be totally “familiar” to Borneo lovers. For collectors, I would say there is no reason to hesitate in buying this oil. For someone looking for a great Borneo oil because they love Borneo oils and can’t stand the Indian funk, then Borneo 50K is a worthy addition to your collection. I personally wasn’t sure how different or unique the fragrance would really be in light of previous (now legendary) Borneo releases. But now I can say that 50K does offer virtues entirely of its own that are sure to be appreciated by those who come experience its aroma.

All of this said, I have only begun to explore the oil. I hope what I have written here will be useful for those curious about the oil, but I expect to discover much more in future wearings.

Kyara Koko

Kyara KokohA new and yet-to-be-released parfum from Ensar Oud, Kyara Koko is beautifully rich, warm, and sensuous. The name is a clear allusion to the famous Baieido Incense, “Kyara Kokoh“–20 sticks of which currently sell for $829.50. Does the perfume live up to the incense by the same name? You will have to see for yourself! I have actually not burned Baiedo’s Kyara Kokoh before, but in light of this perfume, I will have to check it out and see how it compares.

Koko opens with a velvety texture of animalic notes that turn sweet before you can find the funk. As the parfum begins to expand, its complexity unravels. With such intricacy and nuance, I suspect that many different oils were used in Koko’s composition, yet not a single one stands out individually. Having made a few perfumes myself, I  can appreciate the artistry in crafting a perfume that confidently boasts a single fragrance–the alchemy of a new scent, rather than an amalgamation of various scents. If I had to compare Kyara Koko to another oil, I would say that it reminds me of Amulya Attar. Amulya Attar is the most complex perfume I have smelled, composed of over 60 ingredients, mostly focused on precious Indian florals. But as with Kyara Koko, its core aroma is completely unique, unified, and intoxicating.

I have little to say about the ingredients used in Kyara Koko, because they are largely undetectable to me as individual components. Rather, Koko radiates a whole fragrance,  a sweet-spicy Oudiness with civet-like undertones. The end result is a deliciously incensey fragrance. Incense lovers really have much to look forward to in this perfume. In terms of color, think purple. Deep purple. For an Oud-based perfume, I find that Koko beautifully expresses its Oudiness while also blending in well, making for a deliciously smooth and well-rounded fragrance.

What also stands out to me in Kyara Koko is its tenacity. It may be the most tenacious perfume I have smelled from Ensar Oud so far. Radiating on my wrist, Koko surrounds me in its fragrant aura. And I can smell its remnants on my wrist the next morning. I really love a perfume that can maintain itself like this. I have found myself addicted to this perfume as of late, discovering something else with each new wearing.

Kyara Koko is a full-bodied perfume of mystery and confidence, suitable for man or woman, and great to wear out in the evening. Its sensual and aristocratic vibe is sure to catch the attention of anyone who crosses its path.

Encens Imperial


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”…

Oud Yusha: Cambodia’s Fruit Bowl

Oud Yusha. A very fruity Cambodian oil that is deeply resinous and honey-sweet. If you can hear and feel the word “Yusha” then you have an audible allegory for its fragrance. It is very much like strawberry jam. The notes of amber are really nice and bright, making this an upbeat and lively oil.

Yusha smells nearly identical to Agar Aura’s Oud Kampuchea. But Yusha’s fruits are darker, and its amber notes are more pronounced. Altogether, Yusha is a livelier and brighter oil–a younger sister of Oud Kampuchea.

What is really worth noting here is that Oud Yusha was distilled from organically cultivated agarwood, and that Kampuchea was distilled from wild agarwood that was approximated to have an infection of 7-9 years. The mere facts of these oils would have one envisioning two totally different scents. And yet, we have nearly identical oils.

This is not to say that organic oils are identical to wild oils. That is a unique play between these two oils in particular, somehow. But it is deeply suggestive of the potential of organic Oud.

Oud Yusha lets me forget about “organic” and “wild”, and just revel in the beauty of artisanally distilled Oud oil of the highest quality. A fruity gem–I recommend Oud Yusha to all lovers of fruity Cambodian oils, as Yusha epitomizes the fruity-Cambodian profile. Start your day with Oud Yusha, you won’t regret it!

Cultivation: Trat
Crafted: July 2010
Yield: 22 tolas
Price: $250 (currently on sale for $229.95)

Oud Yusuf: A Floral Dream

Oud Yusuf is an instant favorite, leaving me immediately spell-bound and constantly wanting more of its rapturous aroma. What a gentle Oud with so much character. Yusuf is a distillation masterpiece. The ethical standards and sheer artistic vision that went into Yusuf, make it a shining example of artisanal Oud oil. The fragrance is clean, clear, and elegantly punctuated with the freshness of florals. This is the floral Oud of my dreams.

I have never smelled lilacs or lilies, but there are clear and watery floral notes in Yusuf that are impossible to miss. In its higher register, there is a note of Violet Leaf piercing through the body of the oil, but so subtly that it even seems to barely lurk there. The florals are white, purple, and light blue.

However, Oud Yusuf is unmistakably Cambodian in its harmony of sweet juicy fruits. Apricot pervades the oil and remains constant amidst its evolution. Peaches lurk and mingle behind it. Ensar’s mention of honeydew is also very accurate.

Yusuf is “light” in the sense that it has a very feminine quality. It is soft, it nearly caresses its wearer, and draws one into a sensual domain that even epitomizes the finest Borneo oils. But this oil is potent and is definitely not invisible on the skin.

I can now resonate with why Ensar was applying Yusuf four to five times a day. It is among the most addictive Oud oils I have ever smelled. Absolutely delicious, succulent, beautiful. Yusuf gives me visions of a lotus pond under a cool night, surrounded by the air of plumerias, and mist of a freshly-fallen light rain.

Easily one of the finest Oud oils I have smelled, I can see why Ensar projects its maturation equaling and perhaps even exceeding that of Borneo 3000. Oud Yusuf is an oil to remember, an oil to truly enjoy and savor. The “powdered woody finish” was most unexpected, but Yusuf does ultimately yield a sweet powdery woodiness that does not leave behind any of the fruits or flowers. Absolutely gorgeous. No one should miss out on Oud Yusuf, especially for its price, it is a gift to the agarwood world and a sign of ethical harvestation.

Cultivation: Trat
Crafted: 2011
Yield: 115 tolas
Price: $250 (on sale for $229.95)

Oud Idrees: Sunshine In A Bottle

Oud Idrees is an oil that deserves a worthy introduction. A truly unique offering to the agarwood world, Oud Idrees represents a hallmark in the history of Oud oil. I did not know much about this oil when Ensar first mentioned it to me. All he said was that it was one of his favorite Oud oils, and that it was like “sunshine in a bottle”. His words were striking and left me curious. Sunshine in a bottle? I tried to imagine the fragrance of the vision, but could not even scratch the surface of it. I reserved my bottle soon afterwards, sensing the uniqueness of the oil. It was not until reading Ensar’s description of this recently-launched oil that I began to feel a reverence for this sacred oil.

Oud Idrees is the only Oud oil to come from Bhutan that I am aware of. As Ensar describes, Bhutan’s government has strict policies that protect its jungles, making it nearly impossible to distill Oud oil from their trees. Here we have the first great wonder of Idrees: How did Ensar and his distiller manage to acquire trees from Bhutan? 

However, this is not the only wonder. The jungle in Bhutan from which Idrees originates is home to pristine Aquilaria Agallocha trees, at least 100 years old. Due to the government’s policies, the agarwood trees in these jungles have been untouched, and have been allowed to mature indefinitely, not subject to the gross consumerism that now pervades the Oud world and threatens the future of the oil. In Oud Idrees, we have Oud oil from trees that are at least 100 years old. The wonder is that it is actually true, and not a superficially stated marketing ploy. The number “100” has become a standard form of reference in the Oud world to give the superficial impression that the oil is necessarily superior. To my knowledge, Idrees is the only oil I have come across that can be confirmed as having been distilled from the wood of trees that were at least 100 years old.

But there are 100 year old trees still standing that may or may not have any infection, and thus may not have any aromatic resin at all. In that sense, the age of the tree is completely irrelevant. How do we know that Oud Idrees is the most mature Oud oil we may have ever seen? One word. Ghubal. What is ghubal? “Ghubal” is the term used to refer to the ultimate maturation of the resin in the heartwood of the tree. This maturity is evidenced in the semi-hardening of the resin. This is what “sinking-grade” wood actually refers to.  As Ensar writes of Idrees, “Rather than Oud oil, Idrees is pure ghubal, bottled.” That itself is another wonder. But one more perplexing fact remains: Ghubal is nearly impossible to extract. And so we have our final wonder: how was Idrees distilled?

These wonders remain a mystery, and these wonders do not necessitate knowledge. The fragrance is truly wonderful, a wondrous aroma, aromatically transmitting with it the mysteries that fill it.

So what does Oud Idrees smell like? Idrees boldly expresses its Indian profile, leaving no room for speculation or doubt that it is an Indian oil. Idrees opens with notes of deep delectable resinous bliss. My attention moves upwards and I feel moved beyond the world, held in the arms of this intoxicating fragrance. The more I smell, the more I feel drawn into contemplation, as if the smelling of the oil itself were a meditation. Its effect is immediate and unforgettable. My mind sings its praises. Truly, that first smell is everything. What a moment!

Idrees is a very mature and full-bodied oil that develops in pronounced phases. After revealing its resinous succulence, Idrees begins to show its bright heart. Sunlight. Yes, this is what it is to smell sunlight, to feel its brilliant rays pervading all the senses. Idrees has a very bright and expansive energy, it is the one Oud oil I could characterize as having  the strongest quality of radiance. Oud Idrees is pure light. Its fragrance fills the body and mind with visions of gold and all-encompassing light. Idrees has a mood that is completely unique and absolutely contagious. It is the mood of happiness, of delight, joy, wonder. And yet it is not naive. Idrees is the fragrant vision of the Romantic poets–a beautiful meadow under a clear sky of brilliant sun, grassy hills active with the silent mindless purity of animals and the song of birds symphonic all-around. But the idealism of the Romantics is met with a wisdom and groundedness that gives Idrees its balanced expression. The inherent unity of the outer world and the intuition of its resonance with our deepest heart is brought to fragrant life in Oud Idrees.

Indeed, Idrees comes from a tree, a life-form that has been deeply rooted in the Earth for a century, nourished by sunlight. Oud Idrees is a profound expression of the inner dimension of the natural world, and its fragrance opens an intuition in us all of the Divine Sustenance in which this world is non-separately arising.

While revealing the experiential truth behind Ensar’s statement that Idrees was “sunshine in a bottle”, this oil also perfectly matches Ensar’s description of it as “the embodiment of sheer sunlight and fragrant pollen“. Yes, the notes of pollen are quite astounding. I have never encountered the smell of pollen in an Oud oil, or any oil for that matter. And it is not the smell of honey. It is far more earthy than the essential smell of honey. It is the sweetness of the natural world in play, the sweetness that precedes the nectarous essence of honey. A beautiful fragrance. This sunlight-pollen note is the heart of Oud Idrees.

The resinous current flows up and around and all through this lighted heart. After some time, the resinous aspect of the fragrance becomes noticeably similar to amber. Suddenly, we have a beautiful mix, a converging of notes in a perfection of spontaneous harmony. Resin, sunlight, pollen, amber–all at once and moving, pulsating with an irresistible life. As the amber becomes apparent, the balsamic bottom of the oil also comes to surface. If I were to summarize the notes in Idrees: Resinous-amber, sunlit pollen, balsamic spiciness, and a powderiness in the dry-down.

To my nose, the orchestration of notes in Idrees sing a tuneful melody that is irresistible. Since receiving my bottle, I have worn it twice a day for two days. Never have I applied an Oud oil so frequently as Idrees.

While Idrees is unabashedly Indian, it has a totally unique scent profile, if one is to examine it as a totality. It opens with notes of deep resin that keep rising from the oil, and this is a shared characteristic with legendary Indian oils such as Oud Mostafa, Oud Nuh, and Oud Khidr. Idrees does not display any barnyard notes, as do the aforementioned oils. Nor does Idrees exhibit any fruity notes, as in the case of Mostafa.

Idrees matches Mostafa in its aromatic profundity, maturity, power, and resinous delight. Idrees matches Nuh in its balance, its perfection, its sense of harmony and gentle unfolding, and its royal elegance.
Idrees matches Khidr in its depth, its raw and primordial character, and deep distinct resinous notes.

Oud Idrees is the most unique Oud oil I have come across so far. Truly, it defies categorization and mere description. Idrees stands strong among the greatest Oud oils ever distilled, and is one of my favorites. I highly recommend all Oud lovers acquire and get to know this oil, it is a true gem to add to a collection, especially for lovers of Indian Oud. Idrees is an Oud to cherish for ages to come.

Above the clouds, There Is Always The Sun–Forever Free Of Earthly weather.
–His Divine Presence, Avatar Adi Da Samraj

Jungle: Bhutan
Crafted: May 2009
Yield: 15 tolas
Price: $550
Status: LTD

Oud Khidr: The Fragrant Heart of India

Oud Khidr. Thick. Black. Potent. Indian. This is Oud. This is why I love Oud. This is what I am always searching for. The rich and deeply resinous aroma of Oud Khidr freshly permeates the air, exhibiting the darkest barnyard character that I have smelled in an Indian oil so far. And yet it is so clean and smooth. There is even a sweetness tingling in its resinous purity. Tone down Oud Mostafa’s fruitiness, deepen and darken its Indian notes as much as possible, and you have something similar to Khidr. Both are epitome Oud fragrances–Khidr moreso in the sense that its scent profile is more classically Indian.

Khidr is a strong and powerful fragrance. It’s aroma hovers above my wrists. The inhalations are not deep enough to reach the bottom of this scent. There is more that I cannot express. Creamy in the mid-range, but only subtly. The body of this oil is the core of the fragrance. I return to my wrists to go back for more–and there is always more. Khidr ultimately dries to down a pristine nutty-spiciness that is a fresh breath of jungle air with hints of cardamom.

Oud Khidr takes me back home, to the sacred and fragrant heart of India. A breath of Khidr is a fragrant taste of sacred history. Khidr is the Oud spoken of since ancient times, the primordial and timeless fragrance used in many different religious and Spiritual traditions for its absolutely powerful, rich, deep, and penetrating aroma. Khidr is the Oud that has perplexed mystics for ages with its uniquely complex and living aroma.

A must have for all lovers of Indian Oud oil, I deeply recommend Oud Khidr to everyone who is interested in tasting the essence and epitome of pure Indian Oud oil of the highest calibre. Wild-harvested from trees at least seventy to eighty years old in the jungle of North Cachar.

Junge: North Cachar
Crafted: January 2009
Yield: 20 tolas
Price: $550
Status: LTD


Bhavana.  The Sanskrit root of the word Bhavana is Bhava, meaning something like “intoxicated passion”. I would render Bhavana to therefore mean “the process of becoming passionately intoxicated”. An apt name for an Oud oil! The is the first Indian Oud I have tried from Agar Aura. After reading Taha’s description of Bhavana as being devoid of harsh fecal notes, I was preparing myself for a light and soft Indian oil. However, Bhavana is an undeniably Indian, with plenty of barnyard character. What makes Bhavana unique is the elegance with which it expresses its Indian flair. Bhavana is a full-range Indian oil, but its gentility and smooth creaminess is very soothing. This oil has a soft texture and possesses feminine qualities. It does not possess the overpowering masculine force of classic Indian Oud. It is simple and even sweet in its higher range. I have to agree with Taha’s description of Bhavana having fruity notes of peaches in it. It is very peachy, and the fruit notes hold very tightly to the barnyard aspect, as if in a strict classical composition. No meandering here. Bhavana is also rather linear for an Indian Oud, which is interesting. I certainly do not consider its linearity a negative, because I can see that this oil definitely has its place in a collection of Indian Oud oils. This is that oil that is not too overpowering and intensely Indian, with sharp fecal notes that give you confident knowledge that you cannot wear it outside. This is that Indian oil you reach for when you are not feeling up for the “blast” and depth of an Indian oil, but also know that a Cambodi or Borneo won’t fulfill your craving.

Bhavana reminds me of Oud Nuh with its balance (where Oud Nuh is considerably more potent). Still, both oils are characterized by a certain equanimity and balanced dynamic. Bhavana reminds me most of Oud Shuyukh #2 (now officially named “Oud Yunus”), with its creamy-smooth textures, and soft-sweetness. Bhavana dries down to a charmingly Indian woodiness that is common to all high quality Indian Oud oils. It is a specific kind of woodiness in the dry down that is absolutely delectable and beautifully deep. And when you smell it, you know that only an Indian Oud oil could give it to you. In its higher range, Bhavana remains slightly reminiscent of a Cambodi. But no worries here, Bhavana’s Indian character is quite distinguished and unmistakable.

I personally love the fruity Indian Ouds. The alchemy of fruits and deep barnyard is absolutely incredible and always unexpected to me. Nonetheless, when it comes to Indian Oud oil, there is nothing I love more than an absolutely raw, overpowering, pungent Indian Oud. I still do not have anything in my collection that I can characterize as being completely classically Indian. And that is why I have my eye on Oud Khidr, and I suggest all you fanatics for Indian Oud oil should too. That said, there is no doubt that Bhavana is a high quality Oud oil, from quality raw materials, and the distillation is obviously sophisticated as evidenced in the oil’s scent profile. But even beyond being a high quality oil, Bhavana would make a wonderful addition to anyone’s Oud collection. But beware, if you are looking for something that is black and deep and robust, then this is not your oil! Think of how the blackest Indian Oud oil would smell if rendered in female form. Put it in a bottle, and you have Bhavana–the other side of Indian Oud.

Oud Kampuchea: Wild Cambodian Oud Oil

Taha of Agar Aura kindly sent me many samples for me to review, and I first and foremost want to thank him for that. It has been a true pleasure to get to know his oils more, and I want to say that his current offerings are no less than spectacular. I have not yet had the chance to get to know all the oils yet, as I am focusing on each one, one by one, and getting to know each Oud is a unique process, unique to each oil. Some of my favorite oils have taken me weeks to write a review for, whereas others I’ve even written reviews for within the same day of first applying. Oud Kampuchea is certainly of the latter!

Oud Kampuchea has fascinated me for some time now. Kampuchea is a wild-harvested Cambodian Oud oil, from the Roneuam Doun Sam forest in Western Cambodia. The resin formation in the heartwood was estimated at being 7-9 years old, which is remarkably mature. As everyone has learned, more significant than the age of the tree is the age of the infection, which indicates how long the precious aromatic resin has been forming for. The longer the resin forms, the more potent, complex, rich, and deep its aroma becomes. Therefore, the estimated age of the resin formed in the heartwood that was later distilled into Oud Kampuchea is astonishing to me.

We have two miracles here. A wild Cambodian Oud oil distilled from the heartwood of a tree with a significantly mature infection. Upon learning these facts, I had to go through a process of skepticism, before I finally opened up to the possibility that Kampuchea is the remarkable oil that the facts alone indicate it should be. Nonetheless, I have to admit that the price tag of $205 left me wondering how that could really be so. I feel that part of my skepticism also came from the very expensive and intriguing experiments that Ensar was involved in at the time, most notably the Khao Yai Experiment. However, it is important to remember that the Khao Yai Experiment was conducted using incensegrade Oud wood, from which it is very difficult to distill Oud oil, for the reason that the resin formation hardens and is difficult to coax into a significant yield of oil via distillation. Low yield = pricey bottle of Oud. Incense grade distillation = ecstasy in a bottle. Since the price of the wild Oud wood used in the Khao Yai Experiment was so high, I could not understand how Agar Aura procured wild Cambodian wood and was able to offer an oil at such a low price.

I finally got past my skepticism, especially after I got to know the intricacies of incense-grade distillations, and their rarity. Nonetheless, the Kampuchea wood could not have been anything less than amazing, given its 7-9 years of infection. So how did the oil turn out?

Oud Kampuchea opens very fruity. Essence of plum and nectarines circulate in the midrange of this oil. Kampuchea sings the classic Cambodian sweetness right from the beginning. This oil is luscious with sweetness. It is a fruity blast at first, but it also has a sweetness that does not hold a comparison to anything tangible. It is just incredible delicious sweetness. You know it when you smell it! But the fruity-sweetness of the oil would not have been enough to leave me satisfied, given the nature of the raw materials. I wondered where this oil was going to go, if it would develop more, or if it would end-up only displaying typical average Cambodian characteristics of a mid-range linearity.

But Kampuchea has been nothing but full of pleasant surprises to me. As the oil develops, its fruity-sweet notes are shaded by a deeply resinous undercurrent that is so beautifully intoxicating. It took me some time to put words to exactly what I was smelling underneath the sweet notes of fruit, but then it finally struck me. It is the deep resinous notes that I have come to recognize in some of the most mature oils that I have, and by “mature” I mean oils that show evidence of being distilled from wood with a significantly developed infection. The evidence of Kampuchea’s estimated 7-9 years of infection is absolutely present in the oil. It is deeply resinous and exhibits its maturity unabashedly.

I initially felt that Kampuchea’s fruitiness was almost exactly the same as the fruity notes in Cambodi Caramel. I was so sure of this that I even pulled out my bottle of Cambodi Caramel to compare. There is some resemblance in the notes of plum and in the way that Kampuchea’s fruity notes are deep and somewhat dark, much like Caramel’s dark and bold tones. However, as the oil wore on, I was suddenly struck by a more apt comparison. Oud Mostafa.

Remove all Indian notes from Oud Mostafa, savoring only its sweet fruity notes and resinous core. Put it in a bottle, and you have Oud Kampuchea. I was very surprised to note this, and questioned myself thoroughly before facing the realities before my senses. The fruity notes of Oud Kampuchea are very similar to the fruity notes in the high range of Oud Mostafa. Kampuchea also has the same resinous undercurrent that is at the core of Oud Mostafa, and is one of my favorite notes in the oil. Oud Mostafa was distilled from incense-grade wood, and although I do not know its estimated age of infection, it certainly exhibits a very mature character and scent profile, and its deeply resinous core is a sign to me of an infection that was rather mature.

Oud Kampuchea is an absolutely beautiful oil. I am stunned in the wake of its magical splendor and diversity of character. Very deep, and one of the most complex Cambodis I have come across so far. There is plenty going on with Kampuchea to play with my senses and leave me intoxicated in its aroma. Kampuchea is surprisingly bold too. It is not a quiet or totally linear Cambodi. It asserts itself, unafraid of showing its true colors with real confidence. Kampuchea’s maturity also lends to a feeling of seriousness that I often do not find in Cambodian oils. It is deep. It is still. It draws one into contemplation of its radiant resinous core, sweetly penetrated by notes of fruit. It is a true Oud oil that invokes a sense of the sacred.

Taha had commented on how similar Kampuchea is to Oud Yusha. I encourage my readers to buy both oils, not only because they are incredible oils, but because they each represent something significant. Oud Yusha represents a sustainable approach to Oud distillation–the world of organic Oud. And what does Oud Kampuchea represent?

To me, Oud Kampuchea proves that it is not necessary to harvest wild Oud wood in order to produce the highest quality Oud oils. Kampuchea does not exhibit anything that is not achievable via organic cultivation efforts and proper distillation methods. If a tree is allowed to mature sufficiently, and if the resin formation is significantly mature, and the distillation process is approached with care and artistic integrity–then it is totally possible to distill oils of this quality, or even better, depending on the nature of the raw materials and what they have to offer. However, it is also interesting to note that the wild Oud wood used for Oud Kampuchea could have produced a mediocre or even low quality oil, had the materials not been distilled properly. Wild Oud is not a guarantee of quality. Cultivated Oud is not necessarily lower in quality. Both have the potential to be superior quality oils. Kampuchea does not exhibit anything that I would not expect from a high quality organic cultivated Oud oil. Kampuchea simply shows the signs of a mature Oud oil from high quality raw materials that were distilled properly. And it is a real gem. The fact that Kampuchea compares to an oil like Oud Mostafa is also significant to me. By “compare”, I do not mean that it mimics the scent profile of Mostafa, or that they are similar oils. They are very different, make no mistake. But Kampuchea shares something with Mostafa. It shares depth, sophistication, maturity, and power.

Do not let the low price-tag initiate your skepticism! This is an incredible oil that I highly recommend. An incredible value if you really examine the offering: wild Cambodian Oud oil (wild Cambodian wood is statistically extinct), from a tree in which the resin formation in the heartwood is estimated to be 7-9 years old. $205. The proof is in the pudding!

The Future of Oud Pt. 5: The Extinction of Wild Cambodian Oud

As stated in earlier posts, the wild Aquilaria Crassna trees of Cambodia are a thing of the past. However, the Crassna species has been experiencing serious cultivation efforts in Thailand. Ensar Oud’s most recent organic releases (Oud Yusha and Encens d’ Ankgor) are oils distilled from Cambodian Oud wood that has been organically cultivated in Thailand.

However, Agar Aura has recently released a 100% wild-harvested Cambodian Oud oil, named Oud Kampuchea. The claim that Kampuchea was 100% wild-harvested absolutely intrigued me. Knowing it to be a rare specimen, I asked Taha what the story was behind this oil, and I received the following very informative reply from him:

TAHA: Wild Cambodian Oud is indeed extinct. However, there is statistical extinction and there’s all-out extinction (e.g. there are animals which do exist on Earth, but they are considered ‘extinct’, because their numbers are small and chances of their continued existence too bleak).

In the case of Cambodian Oud, wild trees are so few that their existence is of no statistical significance. They are either close to borders (and we know how dangerous they can be in that part of the world), or hidden away in extremely hard to reach areas. (We, in the West, fail to realize how HARD it is to spend even a single day in one of these jungles. Some hunters are in there for months).

Statistically speaking, Indian Oud has also been extinct for LONGER than Cambodian Oud–since about the 1940’s or so. However, there are still wild trees present there today, albeit very few. Oud Khidr is an example of an Oud that defies stats, so to speak. Speaking of Oud Khidr, I’m disappointed that people haven’t been giving it the attention it deserves.

Anyhow, back to the point. Wild Oud is extinct in Vietnam, Cambodia, and India. However, there is still wild Oud coming out of their jungles. Its just soooooo little that their numbers are of no value. Did you know, for example, that even today hunters in Vietnam sometimes stumble upon legendary grade wood? Don’t even get me started on the cruelty that follows thereafter (including life threats, torture, etc.). But the point is that they are there, even if they’re very few.

That’s why cultivation is such a great idea. So far though, cultivated Oud hasn’t been all that wowing. I can tell you though, after I smelled Thai Encens 2*, I had to change my mind. : )

The trees from which Oud Kampuchea was distilled were actually not that old. Maybe around 2 decades old . But the infection was estimated to be older (7-9 years) based on the resin formation. I think maybe that’s the reason why Kampuchea is more potent. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter how old the tree is, beyond a certain point. When you’re talking about cultivated Oud, your focus has to be on the age of the resin, not the age of the tree. Then there’s the issue of diminishing rate of return (smaller and smaller % yield of oil), as the resin gets older and denser. That opens up a whole new cans of worms, ha ha!

In short: me getting a hold of Kampuchea was something God had destined. Something The Most Merciful was Gracious enough to gift me with. I didn’t expect it. I can’t count on always being able to get oil like it. I consider myself very fortunate for having acquired it. : )

*Thai Encens 2 is a privately released organic Oud from Ensar Oud. It is the second distillation from incense-grade wood of the Aquilaria Crassna variety. Due to its similarity to the fragrance of fine Japanese Incense, the oil has been named “Thai Encens”. Additionally, those who have smelled this oil have remarked on its striking similarity to the legendary Kyara LTD. A bottle of this oil has been set aside for me, and will be reviewed on this website.