Agarwood oil thread.

  1. masstika
    What are the characteristics of Tarakan Oil? and how to distinguish the higher grade from the average or low quality Tarakan?
  2. bluemoon
    Masstika- the Tarakan oil I have reminds me most of Borneo oils. It has a vapor-y topnote, closer to mint than camphor. It has a tonka-like almost heavy sweetness, is smooth and buttery and has the merest whiff of coffee grounds and toasted sesame seeds. It hangs around the middle register and isn't as bright or sparkling as, for example, Borneo 3000. Although mine isn't a linear oil the layers are close together and it's more as though different layers are highlighted as the development progresses, rather than that they consecutive layers differ in composition. It's less strident than Borneo 4000 but it's drydown is less woody and more seedy. Maybe that's a sign of my Tarakan being poorer quality- I don't know. It was somewhat pricey.
    I'm sorry I can't answer your questions in more depth.

    You ask specifically what is a low quality Tarakan oil. Maybe there are certain qualities of all oils that can be considered "low quality". Do you think that's something worth discussing? What "quality" means when it comes to oud oil is something I've often wondered about. In some cases I'm not sure how to distinguish "quality" from "taste". For example, the seediness in my Tarakan oil isn't too off-putting, but in general it's a note I dislike. I don't think that makes it bad quality but I"m not sure. Same goes for coffee grounds. There are other notes, such as plastic, rubber, tar, insecticide, oil, vomit, fish and acridity that I'd be more comfortable classifying as "bad quality". I'm also not sure about the scent of nagarmotha in oils- does that make an oil adulterated, or is it just a note that one likes or dislikes? What about longevity? Does an oil have to last a long time to be "good quality"? I think there are good quality oils that are linear but some people might consider "development" to be a factor. How does an oil with beautiful but few "notes" compare in quality with one that's more complex, or is that also a matter of taste? What about balance? Smoothness? Depth?

    Someone was kind enough to send me samples of "bad" ouds. The one thing they had in common was that they smelled terrible :-)
  3. masstika
    Thank you Blue for that concise description. I have (2) Tarakan Oils from (2) different vendors. One is almost half the cost of the other. They smell very different from each other's opening note but as the dry-down period progresses you start seeing them moving closer and closer to each other till you can't distinguish them from each other with the less costly one being a little bit "smokier" but also more vibrant than the other.

    I think one can distinguish between quality and taste for while I might not like or enjoy a certain scent, note or EO for example, I can appreciate the quality and the craftiness that went into it's making; Ensar Campodi oils is a case in point, while not my favorite cambodie but they are certainly excellent quality.

    I had thought that there are classical/established scents profiles agreed upon for the various Oud Oils from the various regions and one can judge the quality against those standards to see how close does it come to matching them.
    And personally, I think it's always beneficial to try lower grade productions at least once in order to understand the full scope up to the legendary and rare:-)
  4. bluemoon
    I was thinking that in the case of rugs/carpets there are certain objective and subjective elements that many people agree upon which are used to judge quality: age, knots per square inch, type of knot, fiber composition, condition (repairs, intactness of selvedges, amount of pile etc, presence or absence of glue on the back, how dry it is, weather it lies flat, etc), type of dyes, workshop/artist, decorative quality (which include color, abrash, size, design), artistic quality (which includes the nature and execution of the design), etc. In some ways these elements are related to similar elements in ouds - age, density, species, country of origin, purity, type of distillation, reputation and competency of the distiller, reputation of the seller, pleasingness of scent (which includes balance, smoothness and complexity), wearability, etc. It's interesting to me that something that is primarily a visual and tactile experience has so much in common with an olfactory one.

    i hope I'm not being boring ........
  5. MrP
    Yep - that's a sweet comparison. What continues to astound me is how oud, a raw material as it were, seems so rich with complexity. Here's something that relates to perfume in the way a tuft of wool relates to a carpet, yet it has the complexity of the carpet. That is the jaw dropper for me. I imagine this stems from the ecologically complex nature of Oud - tree plus pathogen, their growth modified by climate and character by their genetic makeup, followed by the process of infection and subsequent decay and modification by other microbes.
  6. bluemoon
    It's hard to believe that there isn't another living thing that undergoes a similar process and which is later distilled into an oil. i can't think of one, though. Eden caries interesting green and white cognac oils, but in that case the fungus which effects the scent and taste is in the air of the caves and doesn't attack the grape directly. I assume there's microbial action at work but I have no idea what role it plays or how significant it is.
  7. masstika
    Soft ripened cheese that depends on Bactria for aging and taste is probably similar. It involves natural ingredient, Bacteria and a certain skill in making that result in a fabulous gastronomical experience:-)

    Question: as in Olive oil pressing, there is "First" cold press and then there are"second" press and with heat and pressure and so on . Is there such a thing in Oud Distillation or the chips are exhausted after the first distillation process that it does not yield anything on a second run? and does the quality degenerate with the successive distillations?
  8. bluemoon
    Cheese- of course! I forgot about that :-) There are some ouds that have notes of ripened cheese. Maybe that has something to do with fungus and bacteria?

    I know with rose oils there are first and second presses. Apparently the rose oil from the first press contains a lot of waxes so the smell isn't very intense.

    Here's something that says the first distillation of agarwood is grade A:

    " 1. First Grade Super(Churan) oil: which can be extracted after 10-15 days of distillation process.

    2. Second Grade Super oil: which can be extracted after approx. 5 days of distillation process. Its smell is similar to the 1st grade.

    3. Boya-paste/wax: which is also called Kunda comes from the raw wood distillation process of the Agarwood tree. It is always like a paste /wax and smells different from grade 1 and 2."

    I just dug that up. I have no idea if any of this information is accurate.
  9. MrP
    Wine is another. Microbes plus grapes, decomposition... Noble Rot... I have a friend who is a serious wine enthusiast; he is transported by the development and nuances of wine flavors in precisely the same way as Oud lovers I think.
  10. okonos
    Mr P, Bluemoon: Tokaji wine is a good example of this. And pu-erh tea has natural (and 'encouraged') fermentation, with lots of uniqueness and money involved...
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