A Journey into The World of Oudh

Part Four

What is Oud?

I've come to realize that Oud means two different things to two sets of people.

To the real aficionados, Oud is pure agarwood oil. Oud is the distilled product of the resin produced by the Aquilaria and Gyrinops trees when they are injured and infected by a specific fungus.

To many others, however, Oud is a perfume. It may contain agarwood oil, but often has many other natural and synthetic ingredients.

In the Middle East, the perfumes are called Mukhallats, which means mixtures, and may or many not contain any actual agarwood oil, while those called Dahnal Oudh al-Moattaq are most often a blend of pure agarwood oils.


What are the uses of Oud?

I am just learning about the diverse uses of Oud, so forgive me if I omit any that you know of (but please let me know).

1. Perfume. The widest use of agarwood oil is (both by itself and as a component) as a scent in perfumery.

I've read that most of the top perfumers use oud (and the leftover water from distilling oud) in their creations, because oud is so rich and complex it adds a great deal to many perfumes.

Many people consider Oud to be an aphrodisiac.

2. Rituals and Celebrations. There are many events in Middle Eastern life that call for burning agarwood and bathing in its smoke as part of the celebration, including weddings and births.

In Japan and China, there is the Kōdō ritual, where censers of agarwood incense (and sometimes other materials like sandalwood) are passed around to participants.

3. Medicinally. Agarwood has been used as an insect repellant, for stomach aches (in tea form), and for infections and fevers (it is very germicidal).

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it's called Chénxiāng, and has been used for moving the Qi, alleviating pain, epigastric and abdominal distension or pressure, pain relief, asthma and wheezing, muscle relaxation, hiccups and more.

4. Spiritually. Oud is very psychoactive, what I like to call "Earth and Sky" in that it is paradoxically both grounding and uplifting, i.e. it connects you to Mother Earth and Father Sky.

It has been employed for centuries in many spiritual traditions including Zen, Sufi, Japanese Shaman, and Buddhist rituals and practices.


Two New Sources of Oud

Medicine Flower

Medicine Flower, as followers of my chocolate recipes know, is a great source of wonderful organic natural flavor concentrates for truffle-making.

I was surprised to discover that they also offer an inexpensive and quite nice (and uplifting) agarwood oil from farms in Thailand which is smooth and fruity, (and will get much better with aging).

You can purchase it here.

Imperial Oud

I stumbled upon Imperial Oud in one of my endless searches for more sources of fine agarwood oil, and placed an order and was very pleased with many of their Ouds.

Their Kushiara - Wild Hindi Oud, one of their two Zenith (top quality) oils, is like honey nectar -- deep, resinous, and simply lovely.

Their other Zenith oil, Aarai Ko Shway - Wild Burmese, on the other hand, is more complex in fragrance, with notes of green peas, wildflowers, and an endearing spiky and awakening scent that I find impossible to describe.

Both are excellent.

The Koh Kong Classique is also lovely, with a smooth woodiness and lots of resin.

And for those who like pungent, the L'Arome d'Assam, which is a bit too barnyard for me, is quite potent and psychically impactful, too.

I am very impressed with the quality and pricing of Imperial Oud's oils, and encourage you to try them too.


End of Part Four

Part One
What is the origin of Oud? and What does Oudh smell like?

Part Two
The Effects of Oudh and Sources of an amazing diversity of Ouds

Part Three
The Different Grades of Oudh

Part Five
The Oud companies that I've Explored,
Really Great Ouds

Part Six
My Favorite Ouds

Part Seven
A Spotlight on one Oud company

Part Eight
Evaluating Samples from one Oud company: Shebar Oud

Part Nine
Oud from Aromatherapy Companies, Where to get the best Oud

Part Ten
A Kinam Tale

Part Eleven
The Medicinal Properties of Agarwood oil

Part Twelve
Five new Ouds from Ensar Oud, and What to ask an Oud purveyor before ordering from them

Part Thirteen
New Top Ouds and My Unique Take on Oud

Part Fourteen
Understanding Kyara,
Oud 2.0 -- the best Ouds in the World, The Kyara Collection

Part Fifteen
A Phenomenal Oud -- not to miss out on

Part Sixteen
Ensar, The Master of Oud

Part Seventeen
Ensar, The Color and Right Age of Oud

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