Malaysia Oudventure

Over the years, AgarAura has offered oud oils from different regions – from as far east as Papua and Maluku islands, and as far west as Meghalaya and Sylhet.
But one country whose oud I have long yearned to offer is Malaysia. Not the Malaysian regions of Borneo island, but rather peninsular Malaysia. 

Why is that, you may ask? You see, peninsular Malaysia literally lies in the center of the oud producing world. And location has a lot to do with the scent profile of oud.
Our Pulau Maluku was distilled from Maluku wood, and the Maluku islands lie between the islands of Borneo and Papua. If you’ve smelled oud from all 3 of these regions, you would have surely been amazed by the fact that Pulau Maluku smelled like a cross between Borneo and Papua oud. It had the airy and sweet woody top notes of Borneo ouds, intermingled with cool minty, herbal, and resinous notes otherwise only found in Papuan oils.

So coming back to Malaysia..
The predominant agarwood species found in peninsular Malaysia is Aquilaria Malaccensis – the same species that is also predominantly found in Borneo. And Malaysian oud does indeed have Bornean elements in the scent profile. But on top of that, it also boasts scent notes typically found in the ouds of the closest countries to it: Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Perhaps now you can see why I’ve sorely wanted a Malaysian oud for so long. But it was the disappointing quality of what is generally available in the market that had kept Malaysian ouds out of the AgarAura catalog.

But then, things changed…

I knew that, like the other high quality AgarAura oud oils, I needed a custom-distilled Malaysian oud oil. Little did I know that this venture would turn out to be the biggest AgarAura triumph since the company’s inception.

I first received the exciting news that some wild trees were located, to distill the oil from.

A massive tree, displaying the all-too-common practice of human intervention. Nails are driven into the tree to trigger resin production.
A massive tree, displaying the all-too-common practice of human intervention. Nails are driven into the tree to trigger resin production. Plenty of this available, but we’re not interested.

But the trees having simply grown in the jungle is not enough, because occasionally even wild trees in south-east Asia are artificially inoculated. I needed to ensure that not only were the trees wild, but also that there had been no human intervention that took place in order to trigger the formation of the oleoresin.

The first tree.
Our first tree.

We managed to find two wild trees, boasting an age of up to 70 years, and neither one had been tampered with in any way by humans. As you can see in the photos, there are no drill holes, no nails, no chainsaw gashes. Just two ancient, majestic agarwood trees in the wild, that let nature do its work.

The second tree.
Our second tree.

But if that wasn’t enough of a delight, we were to get some more unexpected delights very soon!

You see, when it comes to wild trees it is hard to determine the exact age of the oleoresin formations inside the trees. They could be mere days, weeks or months old even if the tree is several decades old. As for cultivated / farmed trees, it is easier to determine because the farmer knows exactly when he artificially inoculated them, to start the resinification process. It is the age of the oleoresin that determines the quality of the aroma. The longer the oleoresin ages inside the tree, the more ‘complete’ the scent profile will be, and the more soul-satisfying the aroma.

Excavating the precious root of one of the massive trees.
Excavating the precious root of one of the massive trees.

The major drawback of cultivated  oud oils is that they are extracted from trees whose oleoresin formations are typically between 6 months and 3 years old. Strictly scent-wise, they can smell great (as long as optimal distillation techniques are employed). But they will lack the mystical allure that is found only in oils extracted from wild trees, whose oleoresin could be 10, 20, or many more decades older. When it gets many, many decades old, the resin concentration becomes so high that the wood, when dropped into a vessel of water, would sink to the bottom.
This is the highest quality of agarwood.

Sinking "Double Super" grade wood from our harvest.
Sinking “Double Super” grade wood from our harvest.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am extremely happy and excited to announce that as our gaharu hunters chipped away at the trees, sinking-grade wood emerged.

And what exactly does that mean? It means that we had just gotten ourselves the absolute highest quality Malaysian agarwood possible. Not a bad find, for our first ever Malaysian endeavor!

I knew in my mind exactly what I wanted. Most Malaysian ouds are pungent, and almost smell like a rotting heap of banana peels and apple cores. This is due to the poor quality of the feedstock, over-soaking the wood prior to distillation, and the less-than-ideal distillation methods typically adopted.

Wood collected for distillation
Wood set aside for distillation

Going against the industry norm, our feedstock’s quality was spectacular. I did not want any bunk wood to make it to the distillation pot, which would just flatten the scent profile and take away from the oil’s depth and richness.

Clean drinking water was used for soaking the wood for a quick 5 days; and AgarAura’s rigorous ‘Smart Distillation’ techniques were employed for the extraction process. The wood was gently hydro-distilled in a stainless-steel pot.

I already had a specific scent profile in mind.
The goal: to actualize it.


5 Comments Add yours
  1. Are you going to age it first and when are you planning on releasing it (ISA)? and is there any incense grade for sale from the same tree?

    1. It will be aged around 2 months, which is how long it takes for fresh notes to disappear.
      (by 6 months the oil fully settles down, and by 2 years it ages to perfection)

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