A Journey into The World of Oudh
The Color of Agarwood Oils
After collecting well over a hundred oils, I've come across a commonality that I'd not noticed until now:
The Color of the Oil is Predictive
First, let me clarify that I am NOT saying that the color of the oil will give you, necessarily, any idea at all about what the actual scent will be.
But what the color of the oil does seem to predict, with a fair degree of reliability, is the effect of the oil on consciousness.
White. The Guallam oils from Ensar Oud are often whitish in color, and they represent the most ethereal of all scents, all sky and no earth, and incredibly uplifting, spacious, transcendent, and gentle.
Yellow. While oils of this color can smell like honey or pears or flowers (and if over-soaked, even have a barnyard note), they tend to have a brightening effect on the mind, and can also be quite soothing.
Red. Here we enter the fruity zone, although certainly other scent elements can also dominate. These Ouds are more heart and body centered in their effects, and can nevertheless be quite consciousness-altering and sweetly enveloping.
Green. Here we usually enter the jungle, with oils that have a mysterious and foreign character. These Ouds can be grounding, deepening, and can connect one to Nature.
Black. I was inspired to write this article upon discovering that many of the black and very dark Ouds have a very "stoney" affect on consciousness. Much less clear and high than the lighter Ouds, and much more similar to burning Oud wood, they can make the mind feel lulled, spacy, foggy, and almost drunk.
The Color Rule of Thumb
Generally speaking then, the lighter the color of the Oud, the more likely it will have more Sky than Earth effects upon you. I.e. Will be uplifting, of high vibration, spacious and filled with Spirit.
The darker the Oud, the more likely it will be rich in Earthiness, and be an exploration more into Night than into Day.
The Right Age of Agarwood Oils
When I started buying Ouds, I kept hearing that the older the oil, the better.
But as I gained in experience, I have discovered several facts:
1. Some Ouds don't improve at all by aging. I purchased some very pricey Feel Oud oils and some other Sri Lanka oils that were all very disappointing in their blandness, I.e. lack of complexity, effect on consciousness, and depth.
I was told that the Sri Lanka oils were young and would improve with age, but neither they nor the Feel Oud ones ever got better.
2. Ouds from companies that don't bother to age oils at all are generally inferior. As I've mentioned before, all aromatherapy companies -- and some Oud purveyors -- act as if Oud doesn't need to be aged, and sell un-aged oils that are very poor in quality.
3. Oud can be over-aged. As anyone who works closely with essential oils knows, the most precious and sought after components of oils are their "top notes", the most fragile and volatile components of any oil.
Over-heating oils during their creation can lose the top notes, while low pressure and low temperature distillation or CO2 extraction can protect and preserve them.
Some Ouds that are older than 15 years -- especially if they haven't been aged very carefully -- have lost most or all of their top notes, and so while they are very smooth and have plenty of body, they have lost their "soul".
4. Some Ouds get worse with age. When I first purchased Oud Yusuf, I was blown away by the phenomenal richness of its floral aroma. Besides being one of the only truly ethically-harvested oils, its effect and scent are both outstanding.
But with age and air exposure, my vial (which has been frequently opened) has lost virtually all of its floral notes and now is "honey-ish" but no longer nearly as magical.
Important note: I both have Oud samples in vials, for quick access, and several bottles of Oud stashed away in a wooden box.
I recently opened the box and noticed a half-full bottle of Oud Yusuf and gave it a sniff. Much to my surprise, it was "as good as new" with all of the lilac and other floral notes that I love so much.
What this taught me is that if Oud is exposed to light and air frequently, as the vial of Oud Yusuf was, it may lose a bit of its character, but if it is tucked away, it stays pristine.
5. Forced aging creates bad oils. One aromatherapy company recently started "aging" their oils artificially and thought that they were improving their oils.
Sadly, most of their aged oils were terrible; they actually ruined perfectly fine oils during the artificial aging process.
Similarly, I bought some Ouds that had be exposed to the Sun to age them, and they had no life in them at all.
6. The Right Age of Oud. While I'm sure that Ensar could expand upon this topic with much more depth and accuracy, my general impression is that Ouds should be aged for at least two years before they are sold, and that denser-smelling or more rough-edged Ouds should be aged for at least twice that.
Postscript: One of the reasons why the Ouds from Ensar Oud are so outstanding is that Ensar ages them carefully for as long as they need to be aged. And for the darker Ouds, that might be 10 years or more.
I'm coming to think of it like wine. An excellent Burgundy will taste awful if it's opened after five years, but be sublime after 10 or 15 years.
End of Part Seventeen
What is the origin of Oud? and What does Oudh smell like?
The Effects of Oudh and Sources of an amazing diversity of Ouds
The Different Grades of Oudh
What is Oud?
What are the uses of Oud?
and Two New Sources of Oud
The Oud companies that I've Explored,
Really Great Ouds
My Favorite Ouds
A Spotlight on one Oud company: Imperial Oud
Evaluating samples from one Oud company
Oud from Aromatherapy Companies, Where to get the best Oud
A Kinam Tale
The Medicinal Properties of Agarwood oil
Five new Ouds from Ensar Oud, and What to ask an Oud purveyor before ordering from them
New Top Ouds and My Unique Take on Oud
Oud 2.0 -- the best Ouds in the World, The Kyara Collection
A Phenomenal Oud -- not to miss out on
Ensar, The Master of Oud
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