2 weeks in Malaysia now, and it still seems very alien.
Its amazing… on the surface, Kuala Lumpur is a pretty modern and developed city. But moving from one of the nicest neighbourhoods in North America, I notice a lot of things I otherwise didn’t when I used to come to this part of the world before.
Sure, there are no village goats waking me up in the morning, nor am I forced to sleep in a hot distillery to ‘escape’ the stifling heat inside the distiller’s house. Nor do I have to share meals and bedding with fire ants.
But it was just visits before – now I live here.
Its true what they say – its the little things in life that make a big difference. For instance, I still don’t have a reliable internet connection despite paying over $160 a month for it (the “best” I could get). I keep having to resort to Starbucks (there now as I write) to check my email, update the website etc.
But enough complaining…
My 2 gaharu hunters (and distillers) along with their brother-in-law drove all the way from Pahang and were kind enough to stick around for a few days to help us settle in, drive us around and so on. I ended up getting a place that’s a 10 minute walk from Bukit Bintang, nicknamed Arab Street.
This is where all the oud shops are located. Its always interesting to see what’s currently ‘hot’ in the market, and to analyse current trends (on both the demand and supply sides).
I also have a lot of exciting trips planned. The first one to Labuan, a small island off the west coast of Borneo – probably in a week or two.
Going to see if I can squeeze in a trip to Sri Lanka as well before Ramadan. If I can’t, then after Ramadan it’ll have to be. Along with Thailand, Burma, and the Philippines. We all know there isn’t a lot of wild agarwood left in the jungles these days. But if you know the right people, you can still find some. But for an oil to be a masterpiece, you really do have to supervise the distillation in person. And I consider the collecting of the wood to be a part of the distillation process. Because the type and grade of wood that goes into the pots has as much of an effect on the smell of the final product, as do the distillation techniques employed in extracting the oil from the wood.
So in person it’ll have to be.
And speaking of distillation, stay tuned for Sempurna‘s little brother, Oud M1. The great success and popularity of our recently released Sweet Siam proved my guess to be correct: while we all love super high grade ouds, sometimes you just don’t feel like using up your little bottles of costly oud oils. Sometimes… you just want your daily oud fix to satisfy your crave, without having to take out a second mortgage.
Oud M1… so can you figure out the reason behind the name? You got it. My first Malaysian oud distillation after moving to Malaysia!
Like Sweet Siam, this falls under the ‘affordable’ category.
But was it simply a matter of collecting the cheapest (lowest grade) wood possible, and distilling it to maximise the yield to minimise cost (e.g. high temperature, prolonged cooking etc.)? Far from it.
For one, the wood for Oud M1 was carefully selected to ensure that it was oil-rich. It was then supplemented with super grade (sinking grade) agarwood shavings.
Low grade ouds, on the other hand, are distilled from bunk (white) wood.
After the wood had been collected and ground up, it was time to implement AgarAura’s Smart Distillation techniques to ensure that the oil extracted from the wood would be as beautiful and pristine as possible.
The raw material was collected from really old, wild-harvested trees. If I slapped a $500 price tag on a bottle of this oud, I’d bet many an oud connoisseur would not find it questionable, even after spending considerable time analysing its aroma.
But when I save, you save. Its due to my unique position of control and authority (the distiller is a full time Agar Aura employee, and my wood hunters work exclusively for me) that I was able to control costs.
And of course, I don’t believe in artificially inflating prices either.
So what you have here is a remarkably successful oud distillation. An oil that smells like it belongs in our high end oud category (and it actually does), but price-wise is in the affordable category.
If you ask me, its a win-win for everyone!
Like Sweet Siam, Oud M1 will be available in 5g and 10g bottles as well. Again, the point of creating this oud was to let you have an oud that smells wonderful but is also affordable. So you can get yourself a large quantity, use it daily with a clear conscience (and fatter wallet), and you don’t have to resort to adulterated cheap oud oils for your daily oud fix.
After you’ve tried this oil, do please share your thoughts with me. We all love high grade ouds, and they are Agar Aura’s primary focus. But I want to know if you, the customer, want me to increase my focus on offering more affordable ouds as well alongside high grade ones.
Agar Aura’s aim to to cater to what you want. So keep the feedback coming! : )