In the land of smiles, things are looking rather grim, socio-politically speaking. But things are certainly looking up for Agar Aura, as far as agarwood is concerned.
A long, back-breaking trip by road through the northern Malaysian state of Kelantan, followed by crossing a river on a shaky boat, brings you to the small Thai village of Sungai Kolok.
Most people automatically associate ‘Thai agarwood’ with ‘Trat agarwood’; and rightly so, because pretty much all Thai agarwood today is from cultivated varieties grown in agarwood farms in Trat — and to a lesser extent in Chanthaburi and Prachinburi.
But our quest has been for ancient, sinking-grade, 100% wild Thai agarwood. Does it exist? You bet. Hard to get? You bet!
You’ve already smelled non-inoculated Thai oud oils, if you’ve smelled Kritsana Pa or Sweet Siam. But we are now focused on getting some really, really ancient agarwood to juice for oil. An oud oil the likes of which you’ve never smelled before. Because ‘ancient agarwood’ and ‘Thai’ usually cannot be used in the same sentence.
We’re working on changing that. Thanks to Yusof’s network of agarwood hunters in Thailand, we’ve already come across a decent amount of wild Thai agarwood. But the ultimate prize (as far as Thailand is concerned) is Thai agarwood of the Candan/Hirta species, or “Takhien” as its called here. We haven’t gotten any of that yet, but we’re hopeful!
The biggest issue right now is logistics: getting the wood back into Malaysia to the distillery, which is tough due to security. Whereas a few large bags of sinking-grade agarwood chunks can easily fit in Yusof’s Pajero, distilling an oil requires a *LOT* of wood. A large truck-full of agarwood cannot cross the border into Malaysia without grabbing the attention of border patrol guards. If we can’t manage to cross the border with the wood for distillation, I will have to get it delivered to one of our distillers in Thailand and conduct the distillation there.
At any rate, know that a lot has been going on behind the scenes and a lot more exciting things are yet to come!