Of all the Lao oils I have ever smelled in my life - and I've smelled my fair share - this is the only one that I can honestly say impressed me.
Agar Aura takes pride in carefully orchestrating the distillation of every single oud oil that is offered on the website, but occassionally (once every two years or so) when I come across true gems crafted by others, I like to present them as well.
Lao One was crafted by a third-generation Assamese distiller who now resides in Laos.
When most people smell this oil, it will remind them of aged classic 'barnyard' style Indian oud — only richer. To the keener nose, the similarity will be even closer to North Burmese barnyard style oud. An even more discerning nose will reveal something else: even though the flavor is unmistakably Indian, the DNA of the scent suggests the raw material was rare Aquilaria Sinesis.. Chinese Oud.
Which is not surprising; after all, Laos is located right below the Chinese province of Yunnan.
In the world of oud production, you have to take 'facts' with a bag of salt - a pinch is simply not enough. Unless facts can be established as being true without a shadow of a doubt, chances are that the story behind the oud has been embelished to some degree.
This oud was allegedly a special private distillation, which the distiller shares with VIP visitors and friends (Dato's, politicians, etc). And its supposed to have been distilled from last-stage shavings of ultra high-quality Chinese-market grade (i.e. bead/statue grade) Lao agarwood. The type of shavings which fetch prices north of $1,000/kg in the Chinese and Taiwanese markets.
My own opinion is that these 'facts' I was told about this oil are indeed true. For one, the distiller is indeed a multi-millionaire (if not in an even higher income bracket with a bunch more zeros trailing his revenue figures), with lots of powerful friends and allies. I was able to verify this personally via a Bruneian Dato, an avid lover of oud who turned out to be a mutual acquaintance, and who happens to have a rather healthy Oud budget.
Secondly, after shaking my head in dismay at oil after oil that he presented to me, he unlocked his private safe to pull out this particular oil. I did not see any other bottle of oud in there beside it, which indicated to me this must indeed be something special.
So that's the story for you. Take it or leave it.
Now let's talk about what really matters: the aroma — the only thing I personally care about. And to me, it is the quality of the aroma that is the biggest proof of Lao One's quality.
This oud is of the barnyard genre — a genre that many know I have some reservations about (read more here). But this is not just any barnyard, this is tastefully done barnyard. All the right scent notes presenting themselves in all the right proportions. All cranked up, and yet packaged in grace and decorum. Its a rather excellent barnyard style oud, and easily among the top 3 or 4 I have smelled.
The opening has the pasteural and equine-leather notes of Indian oud, together with the warmed spices and rich creamy woods that emerge as Indian oud develops on the skin. But what's truly marvelous is how the scent evolves from there. It glides across Burma, picking up a serpentine-leather aroma during the scent evolution, and then dries down to the most amazing Sinesis aroma: bitter wood with a tinge of musky sweetness. But unlike Indian and Burmese ouds, there are no hints of fruits or honey. Its an austere, solemn scent. 'Temple-like'. Like frankincense without the citrus and zest, or Umumburi resin without the overly-bitter and burnt plastic scent, but naturally in an oud packaging. You have to smell genuine Sinesis agarwood to know what I'm referring to.
All the other ouds our distiller friend presented made my stomach churn (one of them quite literally did). So the fact that I decided to share this particular oud on Agar Aura should indicate how highly I value it.
There are several Lao distillation projects which will start soon, and none of them are of the barnyard genre. So if you are keen to smell a truly high quality barnyard-style Lao oud, you need not look any further than Lao One.
had it on for only 2 hours but needed to write. This is
one of the most
untamed barnyard-style oils that remains wearable. It
has all the
variants on the barnyard spectrum: pasture, dairy, hay,
and leather... all in majestic balance with each other
unmistakeable incense note. There's a hint of smoke. Lao
One is very
dry, no jungle moisture or salty oceans. A slight
sweetness can be
detected but it doesn't suggest any particular note to
me. Maybe it's
oudiness. Nothing pretty or coy. To wear Lao One you
must love your
barn and be ready to go all-in...which describes me to a
tee. So I love
Raw. Smooth. Animal. Sort of the opposite in a way from the Cambodi, yet just as lovely in its own right. Agree completely with the Chinese comparison!
Superb oil, with some finesse certainly due to the origin, Aquilaria sinesis, all notes are very clear, sharp and precise, the dry down is a bitter wood, entwined with spices, and cannabis, a bitter spicy green wood.
Whoa. That is stroooooooong. I definitely get that hay/barnyard/slightly fecal smell. That's right at the top, but then I get a strong leather/smoke smell. It's actually pretty cool. I can definitely see how if done in a nasty manner (like how you illustrated in your blog), the barnyard effect can turn nasty. This actually smells very natural.
Your killing me, have to have it, have to!
Yahoo!!! I love it. Tasteful barn-y leather that does not force itself on you. Rather, it calls, "come see what I smell like now, I've changed since you last smelled me." lol Seriously, I am enjoying this one a whole bunch. It is a beautiful oil.
I love barnyard style oils, they are my favourite of all and although it's the most expensive oud I've bought so far I couldn't resist Lao One so I jumped straight in for a full bottle.
Lao One opens with what I'll call a regal barnyard, similar to Indian yet very different and this particular barn is not at all fecal to me. It's smokey too, not just warm but red hot, like a face close to hot coals as oud smoke rises.
A deep inhale made my head spin and with my eyes closed I could see swirling orange lights. This oud is deep and luxurious and Taha himself describes it as solemn and it sure is. It's strong and animalic and those orange colours brought to mind a rare south east Asian tiger, walking through a forest of ancient agarwood trees, trees so rich with resin that the scent fills the air.
The forest is dark apart from a little sun light flickering through the canopy. There are no fruits or flowers growing, yet there is a beautiful mystique in this environment. The tiger is strong yet gentle, he is old and his fur has a warm musky aroma. There's an elegance to him and in time he comes to a clearing, ahead is a temple in its prime, similar to that at Muang Khuon. Incense fills the air. The solemnity is still present but there is the addition of a slight, sweet floral note, perhaps from many small flowers left at the temple as an offering. The sun is now setting, all is calm.
I'll call this an orange oud and I feel that it could be legendary, it deserves to be. Now, have I got the money to buy another bottle before it sells out?!
Lao One , superbe ! Effectivement , des notes classiques de basse cours mais avec bcp de classe , de subtilité.
This oud has me quite lost for words, all I can manage at this time is - wow!