3 days down, and I’ve met 5 gaharu hunters so far. Its interesting to know what their take is on the state of wild agarwood in the jungles of Malaysia. While they all have their own opinions and predictions, one thing everyone agrees on: the Chinese bigwigs have turned everything upside down.
Sunday morning, I was awakened by a bleating goat just feet away from my head. With a long list of things to do, I didn’t mind the early wake up call too much, despite the jet lag and lack of sleep.
Ahmad Shah, a member of our gaharu hunting team had arrived with some stock. Plenty of A and Super-grade wood. Mostly Aquilaria Malaccensis which is fantastic, but also some mind-boggling ‘Candan’ (pronounced chun-dun) wood as well. This term is used locally to refer to Aqularia Hirta agarwood, a species of trees that grow to be very tall but with a relatively smaller diameter. Candan agarwood is highly prized especially by Kuwaiti connoisseurs for its honeyed sweet narcotic aroma and incredible potency, and it easily commands much higher prices.
We have been regularly getting wood from the jungle, but its hard to determine how good the quality is until the wood has fully dried. Early Monday afternoon, Ayu, a Khmer associate of my hunters (and a hunter himself), arrived with a fresh batch of wood from Johor. “Drive, drive, drive…” commented Yusof the distiller, with a wry expression and evident bitterness, “Mukhtar come and buy!” Yusof was referring to the preciousness of time. When an impressive batch of wood has been hauled out of the jungle, word spreads quickly. Everyone wants to be the first to see the batch with the hopes of finding it to be worthy of buying it and then re-selling it to Chinese bigwigs. Mukhtar, who lives down the road and has successfully become a millionaire utilizing this method, got wind of Ayu’s batch. And the last thing Yusof wanted was to be stuck in traffic somewhere while Mukhtar beat him to it and bought the lot.
The haul ranged from lower grade wood all the way up to Chinese No. 1 grade Chen Xiang. Unfortunately, you don’t have the option to select only the best pieces. Rather; as they put it here you, have to buy the whole stock ‘head to foot’ or there’s no deal. Impressively, this entire batch of agarwood was all harvested from 1 single tree which is quite impressive! I ended up buying the whole stock.
We received 6 missed calls on Yusof’s phone from Mukhtar. The glee in Yusof’s face was evident; he was thrilled about beating Mukhtar to this batch of wood.
While most of this wood will be sold to Eastern markets, I have selected small portions of different types of sinking-grade wood that I will bring back to Canada with me, and they will be available for sale on the website. If you are interested in purchasing large collectors’ grade chunks, inquiries are more than welcome.
But if you’re not too much into burning (or collecting) agarwood, perhaps you are wondering if I will be bringing back oil with me. I most certainly will.
Stay tuned for Cantik Candan (pronounced chun-tik chun-dun)… an oil that depresses me as much as it elates me.
Elating because of its enchanting aroma, but depressing because every time I sniff it I dread the day when, like all other sold out oils, this oil will be forever gone. I have started accepting reservations, so if you’re interested in reserving a bottle please do so before its all gone.
Stay tuned for more updates!