Getting low grade oud has always been easy. If anything, it is even easier now, due to the widespread use of the internet by customers and suppliers alike, with low quality being the norm. The rapid disappearing of old trees containing high-grade oud doesn't make things any better.
Then you have Kemenyan, at the opposite end of the spectrum.
Kemenyan was distilled from wood fairly similar to that which was used for creating our now sold-out Borneo Noir. But this time the raw material's quality was even better and the distillation was further tweaked. Shavings from the finest grade of agarwood were used, but there was overall superior oleoresin in the raw material this time.
Unlike most gaharu hunters who go into jungles for days or weeks to harvest agarwood, the hunter who collected the wood for Kemenyan stays there formonths. Unusual (and dangerous) it may be - but he is able to collect wood from areas never tapped before. Areas which have some of the oldest standing agarwood trees in the world. Trees with exceptional all-natural oud resin.
For producing Kemenyan, the lowest possible distillation temperature was used. The lower the temperature, the gentler the distillation, and the more delicate and richer the oil.
So what does Kemenyan smell like?
Imagine cupping your hands over your burner to smell a gently heated Borneo agarwood chip, bubbling lazily and exuding an out-of-this-world aroma. Its hypnotic smell and sheer complexity are hardly ever seen in agarwood harvested nowadays.
The first notes you encounter are bright and ethereal, incredibly 'green', and identical to the vapor that rises from heated chips just before they start to bubble and smoke. This is followed by a clean woody and incensey aroma, intoxicating enough to send the most fastidious ouddict to Happyland.
Since the distillation had been so gentle, all the fundamental notes that are found in Borneo chips were preserved intact in this oil. None of the notes were warped, and certainly no unwanted notes were added that usually creep in when harsh distillation techniques are employed.
Caramelized palm sugar, faint soft florals, a dash of cinnamon, and a touch of nutmeg, riding atop a syrupy Malaccensis oudy base. Simply put: Borneo oud smoke in a bottle.
Kemenyan has a very medicinal quality. And by 'medicinal', I am not referring to the rubbery band-aid smell found in low grade ouds. Rather, sniffing Kemenyan is very similar to inhaling the smoke of gently heated old-school Borneo agarwood chips harvested from ancient, highly-resinated trees. Its soothing, tranquilizing, almost sedating. Its medicine for the soul.
Taha, your Oud
Malinau was excellent, your East Kalimantan Ltd and
Borneo Noir even better... however, your new Kemenyan is
simply out of this world! I have tried many a Borneo and
to be honest it's hard for me to imagine how an oud of
this genre can get better than this!
As I unscrewed the cap and took in the first whiffs, I knew instinctively that I was onto something really special here. This oil is incredibly complex and by no means linear. The gentle steam distillation is evident and I just couldn't detect any off putting notes throughout the evolution of the scent.
I am not going to describe the notes here as I think you have done a pretty good job of this already however, to my nose, the one word missing is... Kyara! and, at this I will leave your customers to see if they agree with me.
This oil shares certain similarities with the Borneo Noir which comes as no surprise as a similar type of wood was used for both distillations (similar to your Aatma and Bhavana) however, on both occasions the subsequent oils have turned out to be far more elegant, complex and satisfying.
The Kemenyan comes highly recommended and I am pretty sure it will hold pride of place in any Borneo oud collection.
The new release of Borneo Kemenyan by Agar Aura has just arrived and it is fantastic! This will be a classic and treasured oud oil once it is all gone (probably by later this summer).
I can’t get enough of the scent. Put high quality chips on your burner. Let it warm up a bit. Put your nose over your burner and breathe it in. If you put that fragrance into a 3g bottle of oil, then you have Kemenyan...
Of all the oils I’ve smelled, this Oud oil most closely resembles the smell of burning Oud chips. It reminds me of the Minorien Fu-In Aloeswood sticks that I love to burn. It has that same light-sweetness. A while back, I noticed what a great pair those Minorien sticks were to a Borneo oil. Here we have a realization of that pair. Incense lovers, you can’t miss out on Kemenyan!
Up until now, I've considered myself lucky that I haven't really quite clicked with pure oud oils given that the costs are so prohibitive. And I'd considered myself lucky that the mukhallats - much lower priced - were much more appealing to me. However, Kemenyan has undone all of that. When I put this on this morning I was so captivated by it's smell. At first I thought it was a Cambodian oud because there was a slight fruitiness to it but a little later it "cleaned up" and is an obvious Borneo style oud. But for a while I thought I had picked the wrong sample, I thought it was perhaps the Jinkoh to Byakudan, because I was picking up clear incense-like notes in it. I wish I had a better handle on oud and could describe my experiences like I do with perfumes. Perhaps that will come with time. I had to go to the website to read up on how Taha has described this one and apparently the slow, low temp. distillation process gives it a "green" opening. I may not be able to describe them well, but I can say that of all the oud oils I've tried this one is by far my favorite.
I really like this oud. It has all the elevation and spiriutal quality of a great Borneo Oud along with a soft very grounded smell of the wood. I think this is the best one yet that I have tried from AgarAura.
It smells just like burning Oud chips! I’m serious. When I first encountered that unforgettable smell in this oil, I had to question myself and keep smelling. But it was undeniable. This oil has that much sought-after sweet indescribable woodiness that have addicts buying high quality Oud wood and electric burners. It is not even that it has a sweet woodiness–it bears an uncanny similarity that verges on being a perfect duplication of the scent of burning Oud chips.