My oud source has again run out—there seems to be no more aku akira—so I’ve had to reformulate using new ouds. I ordered 14 different oud samples and tested them all for balance and longevity. I’m now using Malaysian oud, a Hindi, and another one of uncertain origin.
If nothing else, this whole process is teaching me about oud. Hindis seem to be the funky ones and I consider funkiness an essential element. (Roquefort cheese, not just any banal blue cheese, is an often-recognized component.) I also want there to be that ethereal thing that seems to float on top. This set of aromas is transcendental, meaning, in my own parlance, that it takes me somewhere else and evokes images and memories, some of which are completely inexplicable. In wine, I call this terroir.
But I’ve been getting frustrated. When I smelled my original oud (the first edition), I noticed a balsamic sweetness. I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. It wasn’t vanilla or balsam or benzoin, but something unidentifiable. Then, all of a sudden, I realized what was going on. The first edition includes a miraculous kind of frankincense.
To be frank (no pun intended), I’ve never really liked frankincense since it reminds me of lemon furniture polish.
When I first started my adventures in perfumery, I ordered 17 different frankincense oils from all over the world, including very expensive wild harvested, green Oman, and every exotic and expensive thing I could find. The all disappointed me except one. I had ordered it from Singapore and it was divine, unlike anything I’ve ever smelled. I used it in my original oud.
A year ago, the frankincense from the same supplier came in with the balsamic thing and the lemon polish thing in about equal parts. It’s still the best frankincense out there.
I’ve since ordered more, and it’s pure furniture polish. I’ve asked them about the original and they said they have a little from several years ago. Their minimum order is 5 kilos. That’s an enormous amount for me, but I would do it without hesitation if it’s the old stuff.
This all makes me wonder if the frankincense described in the bible and in other sources that go on about it, isn’t the balsamic oud. The furniture polish thing is perhaps something new?
The new oud contains little frankincense and is a little bit harder and austere than the first and second editions. It also contains new exotic woods to round it out and provide a woody top note. This being said, I believe it to be the best expression of oud of all three editions