Agar Aura's Byakudan No. 1 is our first ever
Although it was meant to be part of the
private 'Syed Series'
collection of oils which I distill for myself and only share with a very
small number of people due to the insane costs and limited availablity
of certain batches of raw materials, in the case of Byakudan No. 1 the
cost-per-gram turned out to be close enough to being 'sane' so I
decided to share it with a larger circle of lovers of high grade
Out of the five remarkable
batches of extremely old Mysore sandalwood in my private collection
sourced from Chinese and Japanese incense companies, this one boasted
the most vibrant scent profie. The others are all extraordinary as
well, and I certainly don't expect this to be my last sandalwood
distillation. So stay tuned for more Agar Aura sandalwood oils to come!
Those of you who have smelled
this sandalwood at my place, or drank the distillation hydrosol (or
both!), know that this is one very very
special batch of sandalwood.
At about 500x the cost of typical 'oil-grade' sandalwood that was
used for making even the finest
sandalwood oils you've ever smelled, and 100% sinking-grade, I knew it
was crazy to juice this wood for its oil. But 'crazy' is what we do
The most profound thing I got from this
distillation project (after the oil itself of course) was the shocking
revelation that sandalwood sellers make far more profit than even oud
sellers. Distillers of oud oils extracted from 'oil grade' wood aka
'standard grade' oud oils make a considerable amount of profit, and
contrary to what one may think, the profit margins are far lower for
incense-grade oud oils due to the intrinsic cost of incense-grade oud
Now multiply the profit margin of those 'standard grade' oud distillers
by about 200, for sandalwood... I finally realized why the gentleman at
whose place I stayed during my Sri Lankan Oudventure
lived in a mansion. He was one of the kings of the sandalwood trade
during the 'golden era' of Sri Lankan sandalwood, and it now makes
sense to me how he was able to make millions selling sandalwood.
The raw material for this oil may have
been 500x more expensive than what's typically used distillation, but
the cost of the oil itself is only about 25% more than other vintage genuinely high-quality
sandalwood oils you can get your hands on.
In other words, you are paying a bit more for a whoppingly massive superiority of the raw material
used for crafting Byakudan No.1 - instead of a massively inflated
profit margin filling up the price tag.
But an essential oil is only as good as
So does this sandalwood oil measure up to what you would expect? Yes,
and then some.
Opening with an otherworldly ethereal
brilliance (a sandalwood version of the top notes you smell in oils
like Beccariana and Kachin Ko-Shwe), your first
instinct might be to drink this oil, it smells that yummy (and you may:
as with all Syed Series
oils, this was a hydro distillation conducted in food-grade copper).
Sweet-woody and shimmery brilliance, with just a hint of ripe
And it only gets better... and better.
The top notes meld into a mouth-watering browned butter aroma,
caramelized to perfection. As time passes, the butter aroma turns to
ghee. Not just any ghee – we're talking home-made ghee from Indian
And unlike virtually all other
sandalwood distillations, I concluded the distillation only after all
the oil had been extracted from the wood, which gives this oil an
unparalleled voluptuous full body and base. Just like oud distillers,
sandalwood distillers don't like to mix in the last 5-10% of the oil
extract because typical extraction yields a nasty-smelling oil in the
last stages of distillation. Also, the oil flow rate drops
dramatically, so most distillers stop short for cost-reduction reasons.
Continuing the distillation would mean a higher proportion of the cost
comprising of things like electricity, water and gas. The cost
market price of the oil.
But as with Agar Aura oud oils, I know that sandalwood (like all
sesquiterpene-rich woods) oozes out the richest aromatic compounds near
the end of the distillation. And so, just as we like to do for our oud
oils, I did a full-spectrum extraction for this oil because unlike
typical distillation, our techniques make even the last drops smell
good, and scent-superiority is more important to me than cost reduction.
And hey.. this was sinking-grade sandalwood after all, so there was no
way I was
going to let any of the precious oil stay trapped inside the wood!
Silage is like no other sandalwood I
have ever smelled in my life. Apply the tinest dot, and all day it will
smell like there are incense heaters hovering around you
heating Mysore sandalwood chips.
Don't even get me started on longevity. Unlike most people, for me
sandalwood typically doesn't last very long on skin (usually about half
an hour, tops). Byakudan No. 1, on the other hand, is detectable on the
application spot even the next day.
Important note: Al-Syed
Byakudan No.1 is the buttery type of Mysore sandalwood. If you prefer
the creamy type, stay tuned for the next sandalwood oil: Al-Syed Tan
Xiang No.1. Both are 100% Mysore Santalum Album.
For your enjoyment, here is a video that
captures the birth of Byakudan No.1:
What others said about this product:
I absolutely love Byakudan No.1 and it was everything I thought it would be and more.
I'm glad that I put my order in quickly as I see it is already sold
out! I look forward to purchasing the other sandalwood when it is ready.
Yesterday was a real eye
opener, Taha. I swiped your sandalwood during the
afternoon. At first I was confused. I thought perhaps the
oil resuscitated the Tom Ford Venetian Bergamot I wore from the
morning. But there was no way this was bergmot. There was
this effervescence, almost like electricity, that was not a bergamot,
but was somehow familiar. Then as the oil started to dry I
started to recognize faint hints of what I've come to think was mysore,
but just hints. These hints grew stronger and stronger until,
about an hour and a half later I knew I was smelling the buttery warmth
that I thought was mysore sandalwood. This scent just lasted and
lasted the balance of the day. The oil makes me think
that what I thought was "mysore sandalwood" really is only about 1/3 to
1/4 of what mysore really is. Thanks for the oil, and the
education (again). lol L.M. (USA)
WOW! I've been collecting
sandalwood oils for quite awhile now and i have to tell you I've NEVER
smelled a sandalwood like this. When i first put some on i got hit with
a really awesome spicy rose scent. Super brief and then the nectarine
flowers came in. As i write this I'm smiling because i now have an
olfactory memory of the butter smell you were referring to. It's bitter
but in a sweet way...haha, which sounds contradictory but that's what i
get. Oh and flowers. Lots of floral buttery bitter wood. Amazing. I'll
get back to you with my thoughts on Samrosa....this sandalwood is out
of this world! Thanks again. M.N. (Canada)
I don't think I would be
able to "layer" this oil. It's really two different oils, as the dry
down is nothing like the start. Neat stuff that has completely changed
my understanding of "sandalwood." Customer (USA)
I've never smelled a sandalwood like your Byakuden No. 1 before! M.I. (USA)
Immediate love LOL! An artistic oil more than a traditional one indeed. A.I. (USA)