This has me wondering about Baieido as a company. I wonder how they define products and grades. Their rikkoku sets are from material gathered in the 70's and (according to what I have read anyway) not replaceable. I wonder if woods like Oguryama and such are strictly defined based on scent / quality, or if they are just relative grades... will today's tsukigase be tomorrow's Hakusui as quality of material declines, or will they just drop the products or replace them with others? I guess David Oller would be able to answer these questions if we really wanted to know.
@MrP, I think the Rikkoku set is supposed to feature the main genres of aloeswood in the Japanese tradition. Taz, Abu and I tried a recently-purchased set, and many (most) of the chips were of very very low grade. The Kyara was not just non-glutinous, but in fact it looked like a regular A-grade chip. However, they were all good representations of their categories, and I can't say the Kyara didn't smell good.
I guess its just the nature of agarwood. Players in this industry know that they can never replicate batches. Kinda like snowflakes... no two alike, right? : )
By the way... I've recently been getting lots of chips. So I decided to try some 'Cambodian' chips as well, from a Thai fella. Not gonna say his name here, but will be more than HAPPY to PM anyone who wants to know, so that people can stay away from this swindler.
Look at what he sent me:
You know what that is? I broke a chip.... and it was filled with earth!
Check this out... came out of ONE chip:
Taha - I have to say your experiences with Baieido seems very odd to me. The lack of bubbling, dull looking kyara - it doesn't add up. I don't know what you had your hands on but there is a baieido reseller near me and I have been able to experience Baieido woods on a repeated basis over the last ten years and have not seen what you describe. Since you are expressing your opinion about a company's products that may interest many people here, I need to at least state my experience since it is 180 degrees off from yours. I will say that in the Japanese tradition the quantity of resin isn't as important as the aroma. Doesn't matter if it's sinking grade if it makes you smell like dung... You get the idea. If you are looking at some woods and the surface isn't black and shiny, this does not mean it is bad wood (as I suspect you know). I've sampled a bunch of "great quality wood" that smelled really unclean... Anyway, we will not likely find any agreement on this one so I will try not to go on and on any more.
Ok - so here's a pic of baieido kyara fwiw.
Thnx for the pic MrP So is that chip pretty much all resin?
It doesn't show in the photo but the cut end is actually glossy. The resin has obscured all wood grain but it's not crumbly at all - quite solid and slightly glutinous if warmed. The resin is not powdery or dull - solid, semi-translucent, reddish.
Hey Mr P - I just looked at a picture of that resin you showed us a few days back and at first I thought it was the Kyara! I said "Oh my" I thought "wow that is like pure oud resin!"
Hey Taha you never heard of "Oud Dirt" Oh man its like the best stuff around man! Gives a new meaning to the scent profile of "earthy"
@MrP, I'm sorry you felt I was expressing my opinion. I tried sharing my experience, and not subjective opinions. That's what the original poster asked for.
And I'm sorry that my experience contradicted yours. Perhaps others should have posted their experiences, not me. Taz? Abu? Masstika? Anyone else.
I want to make it clear that I believe that THE best agarwood chips that can be purchased today are from Baieido. I'm sure I've stated that before, elsewhere. That's been my experience, which includes purchases from suppliers, wholesalers, as well as retailers..... with ONLY one exception of chips from another source.
Also, if there was any criticism, it was about the *quality* of the chips, not the scent (except the Kokonoe no Kumo). Scent-wise, 3 out of those 4 Baieido chips were magnificent (the Papuan being the exception). Quality-wise, the cheaper two were low-grade.
That's a fact. At least that goes for the stuff that's available now (which is what the original poster would get right?), as opposed to what you purchased nearly a decade ago.
There are two main ways to test the quality of the wood: the way the wood looks (requires expertise), and burning the chips directly on a HOT coal (i.e. Arabic style). Gentle heating makes even low-grade chips smell good, and its a poor way of assessing the quality.
Heating the two lower-grade Baieido chips resulted in a bad after-smell = bad quality.
Heating the two higher-grade Baieido chips resulted in an excellent after-smell = good quality.
Like you said, "I will say that in the Japanese tradition the quantity of resin isn't as important as the aroma."
I agree 100%. I was very clear in stating that the quality of the resin inside even the lowest grade Vietnamese chips was great. But the wood itself was not high grade. As for the Kokonoe no Kumo, both the quality of the wood as well as the scent were bad. Here's a photo of the Kokonoe no Kumo I received. Clearly, its different form what you got:
Anyway, perhaps its best I delete those posts where I shared my experience?