Show of hands-
How many of you were introduced to agarwood through the Chinese or Japanese incense traditions?
If your hand shot up, chances are you haven't smelled too many oils that take you back to your first experience with agarwood.
That's about to change.
Introducing Lao Chen Xiang, Agar Aura's first custom Laotian oud brew, crafted in a way it has never been done before in Laos.
Whereas oud from Laos is usually synonymous with bovine excrement, untanned cowhides and moldy cheese, we're here to tell you this should not be the case.
In 2016 we rolled out Lao One, an oud of the barnyard genre that was crafted by an accomplished third-generation Assamese 'degh bhapka' master residing in Laos. Unlike typical Laotian brews, this oud displayed a tastefully done barnyard character... quite different from the usual gunk produced here.
Lao Chen Xiang is even more different.
Stripped of all barnyard and other foreign elements, this is probably the first Laotian oud oil you've ever smelled that preserves and presents the aroma of Laotian agarwood fully intact, pristine and unwarped.
Lao Chen Xiang will take you back to the first time time you experienced Shunkodo's Ranjatai, Yamada-Matsu's Houjoukoh Gokuhin, or Shoyeido's Ten-Pyo.
Why? Because the core of those incenses is none other than Sinesis agarwood. Given Laos' unique geography (China to the north, and Vietnam to the east) this undistorted extract possesses just about the most accurately captured aroma of Sinesis aloes used in oriental incense masterpieces.
It displays a lovely assortment of heavily steeped Wuyi rock tea, crushed mint leaves, yuzu rind, bittersweet resin, traditional Chinese medicine, and about halfway through the scent progression a precious crystalline green aroma emerges.
The closest similitude to the aroma of this oil would be: a combination of Royal Pursat (boozy sweetness), Royal Chen Xiang (resinous bitterness), Betonamu Jinkoh (the 'flavor'), and of course Lao One (the core, stripped of the barn).
Lao Chen Xiang is an all-out Gen3 oud (read more here), so be prepared for olfactory overload - it will take you at least a week to fully grasp its aroma. No, a single swipe won't be enough. I decided to go with copper apparatus for this distillation to help you ease into the Sinesis experience.
In a world where coffee isn't appreciated without sugar, fruit juices are spiked with added sucrose, and colognes make folks smell like sickly-sweet clouds of Iso E Super and Muscone, the raw pungent bitterness of Laotian Sinesis can be... a bit much, to say the least. So copper pots were deliberately used to make the introduction a bit easier.
And so, in the first 30 minutes there is a sweet cherry-fruitiness that tames the rugged character, before it gives way to the raw core which finally makes an appearance about half an hour after you've applied the oud.
The sweeter fruity notes dissipate and the unbelievably accurate aroma of Oriental incense emerges. There's even the frosty camphor coolness and the fiery notes of peppery spices that you find in Japanese incenses, except all these notes are intrinsic components of northern Laotian and Vietnamese aloes. Its just a matter of fine-tuning the distillation to capture these nuances. Coupled with the bitter resin and the green streak, the scent is reminiscent of the incensey aroma that lingers in the air after burning a high end Japanese Kyara stick.
Do you find yourself saving the empty boxes that your incenses came in, just so you can enjoy the aroma they still emit? You can toss those out now. Lao Chen Xiang is sure to satisfy your deepest Koh and Xiang craves.
Lao Chen Xiang douceur puissante du laos vraiment impressionné par cette huile masha ALLAH.
The two Laos oils probably still stand at the top of my favourite list of the samples I've gotten until now...
The test batch Laos, loved the scent from the stick...reverted back to my preference for the other two after application. U definitely chose two amazing profiles to extract from your materials...
Ima try and shoot for a bottle of both Laos. They complement each other so well
Starts with a nice little intrinsic animalic "bam". But quickly dives into a lovely citrus-fruity-cherry-woody resin totally Taha style. It then goes a bit green, Taha uses "crystalline", I can buy that, good descriptor. Eventually it gets a bit more spicy as the fruit fades, and it definitely gets more "incensey". Really nice take on Laotian oud and different from his super nice Lao One. In fact, my favorite take on a pure Laotian oud to date.
The notes on the Lao oil are very pleasing and have to say the dry down is my favorite part but its hard to say because the opening is so amazing as well.
This took me for a ride, opening notes, intense bourbon Vanilla at application, suddenly a sweet ripe+dried fruity note kicks in, apricot-peach-date, as it dries down, fruits tone down but are still pulsing, cola notes arise.. and Ambergris starts to radiate!.. really amazing oil!
A.A. (Abu Dhabi)
OMG, Lao Chen Xiang! This is quite possibly one of the greatest, most unique oils you've distilled to date!! With Mai Wang Lao a close second! Well done!!!
And the Lao Chen Xiang. Whoa. I will be buying a bottle of this.
I really love that Lao oil , it gives me the same floral vibes as Adams Lao Zen , just incredible
Top note : Animalic off the bat , with wild animalic nuances . Not offensive at all. Almost like an Assam tone , but different for sure
Middle note : I smell wild roses from another planet. I was so mesmerized that I keep smelling coffee beans and go back to the hand and boom wood & florals. Barnyard left the building but left a garden with flowers behind. This oud is mystical cause floral note changes hour by hour .
Base note : am getting lilacs and Lao profile sets in at the end with the beautiful garden of flowers In the dry down , animalics does make dance with the flowers at the end. Just incredible & beautiful! SubanaAllah!
Chen Xiang. Amazing again Taha. Definitely need to spend more time but I'm really liking it. Sister Mai Wan is quite nice as well.
I think I had a small epiphany about the Gen 3 and Gen 4 Lao oils! (And perhaps the overall difference between the two distillation processes.) I've had both of them on, one per wrist, and while going back and forth from MW to CX, I suddenly realized that (nearly) all the same notes were present in each one, but with one major exception: CX smells like what all the aromatic compounds would smell if you could "excise" them from a piece of agarwood with surgical precision, leaving only/and all of the wood behind, MW, on the other hand, smells like a resinated piece of agarwood on a burner - same fragrant compounds sizzling along with heated wood fibers. (That's why I get that "leather steeped in other notes"!) I wish I could explain all this with greater accuracy, or if any of this even makes sense to you. But now that I've had this, um, (let's say:-) revelation, it's difficult to separate myself from this imagery when smelling these oils!