Vietnam 2017: Status Quo

Vietnamese oud agarwood


When it comes to agarwood, you just can’t beat Vietnam.
Kyara… ’nuff said!
By now, anyone who knows anything about anything about oud, knows that the jungles across the oud-producing world are in trouble because of agarwood poachers. And at the top of the list of culprits are.. none other than Vietnamese hunters.

So what’s the situation in Vietnam right now? Having spent some time there just recently (cooking some lovely oils), I got to meet some of the heavy hitters, and I got to learn some new things which I myself was oblivious to before.
In this post, I’ll be sharing some of the things I learned, not quite in my usual blog format, but rather as a list of interesting facts and figures.

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Sad state of affairs

wild agarwood

Like it or not, times have changed. Hunting costs have shot up, as its no more a matter of a one-day jungle hike to collect top grade agarwood (now its takes months of living and hunting in the jungle to get the same type of wood).
And so, for this reason even lower grades of agarwood are more expensive today, because every splinter of wood that is hauled back from the jungle has to play a role in recovering the hunting expenses.

Yes, compared to the massive Super King grade chunk pictured above, you can still find lower grade agarwood more easily. A week-long hunting trek will usually suffice.
But will agarwood from such trees produce oud oils of the calibre of yesteryears? I think you know Agar Aura’s answer to that.

PS: RM2,000 ≈ $450 today (March 7 2017).

Assam: An Exposé


The origins of Oud oil, this precious stuff we all love so much, can be traced back to either Assam or Sylhet. The answer to which one of these predates the other will depend on whether you ask a Bengali or an Indian, but one thing is certain: it was in Assam, India, where the first full-fledged oud distillation industry was born.

But this post is not about the evolution of Assamese distillation methodology, nor is it about the extinction of wild agarwood in Assam (which, fyi, has been officially extinct since ~ the 1950’s). I will briefly touch on these topics as well, but this post is primarily about a rare, elusive aroma. An aroma whose reputation precedes its recognition, and its actual existence today is usually more fiction than fact.
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A Glimpse into the Life of a Hunter – Part 2



  • 1 hunter busted his knee. He’s recovering fine.
  • 2 hunters were admitted to the hospital with serious injuries sustained. One expedition was canceled entirely due to this.
  • In other news, 3 weeks ago one of Yusof’s friends (a hunter in Malaysia) died in the jungle, poisoned by drinking water that was contaminated with a rat-carried parasite.
  • And a few months ago, another one of his friends fell off a cliff and died. He remains in an impenetrable thicket, because his friends were unable to reach the corpse.

Its about time more people started “doing things right”, won’t you agree?
Sadly, the big bosses’ greed is too strong a driving force in this industry, and its the poor that suffer because of it.