Syed Series: The Handmade’s Tale
If you read through the previous blog post, then you already know Agar Aura is in the agarwood hunting business no more. So what lies ahead for Agar Aura, for me?
That is a question even I don’t quite have the answer to yet.
Quite a few things happened all at once. Pretty much all decent agarwood hunters, who had no interest in wiping out the remaining population of young agarwood trees, have retired. Around the same time, I crossed paths with some extra nasty characters in the wholesale side of the agarwood trade (and most are nasty to begin with).
And to top it all off, while I was busy with hunting expeditions, many of my former distillers who were holding on to my oils, sneakily sold many of them off to others.
Since I have no interest in either the plantation side of agarwood (things still aren’t quite where they need to be at, for an all-out switchover), nor want to distill agarwood from young (read: low grade) wild trees, the current short-to-medium-term plan is to hand-make the finest batches of oud oils I can. These oils are produced from the rarest and most unique batches of old wood that I am able to track down.
Problem is, all the batches I’ve been distilling so far have been extremely costly. Sure, they smell awesome (Tokusen Tai, ’nuff said!), but not everyone can afford top-shelf oud.
I used to make oils of this calibre in the past only for myself, and privately shared them with just a handful of other lovers of top grade oud.
They were known as the ‘Syed Series’ oud oils.
In the past, I would piggyback smaller-scale high grade distillations on large-scale (and lower grade) distillations that were carried out for Agar Aura’s wholesale Middle East clients. The Syed Series oils were even smaller-scale and even higher quality.
But with those wholesale clients now out of the pictures (along with the distillers), it is a very different paradigm from what I am used to. Not only am I unable to secure large batches of raw materials any more, compounded by the sad fact that I cannot trust almost all of my former distillers, I am restricted to just distilling at home (1 steel, 1 glass, and 2 copper stills).
I have even started distilling right in my bedroom, just feet away from my bed!
And yet, four stills are simply not enough to make affordable oils because the yield from lesser grades of agarwood is lower. At least 10 units would be required.
In the meantime, I hope with all my heart that you love my new hand-made oils (with all your heart). So far, those customers who have gotten some (e.g. Tokusen Tai) are shocked by how amazing they smell.
If you haven’t tried them yet, please don’t miss out. I promise you that no matter your personal preference, you will not be disappointed. Top grade oud (regardless of the region/species/style) tends to be way. ; )
Moreover, these distillations are choreographed and carried out with such care and precision, each and every one of them is a masterpiece.
I will continue to try to figure out a way to hand-make more affordable oils as well.
And most importantly: I will continue to think hard about what the current state of affairs means for Agar Aura, and how I can continue to bring you oud oils that you love for the extended future.
For now, I hope you enjoy the hand-made oils that are already up on the website, and stay tuned for more equally amazing hand-made top notch oud oils!