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April 25, 2019 5 min read

Common issues when using oud in your perfume creation

Wild vs cultivated agarwood (oud) oil

Most of the time, the use of wild agarwood oil in perfumery is very limited and restricted. It is suitable for a one-off project

Cultivated agarwood.
Wild Agarwood
Suitable for perfumery, cosmetic production, and even enjoyable on its own.
Suitable for enjoying on its own. for collectors, for someone who loves limited edition
Consistent quality. Although the scent profile may have some variations, the main notes are the same. Can be distilled in large quantity, 5kg to 20kg every batch. Environmental friendly as every part of the tree are used including the white wood. Once harvested, these trees are re-planted again just like growing crops. The only difference is time: it takes around 10 years to collect agarwood again compared to weeks.
Only available per batch,wild agarwood takes decades to form. On the surface, it may look the same if collected in the same region but, once distilled the scent profile is different every single time. It is extremely difficult to get consistent quality and quantity. To make a large batch, it is not environmental friendly as so many wild Aquilaria trees would be hewed down without re-plant them again
With cultivated agarwood oil, product development is easier because it allows trials and errors until you reached the desired result
Not cost effective, very expensive exercise to "trial and error". Even when you get it right the first time, you may not it right the second time and there may not be enough desired oud oil which was purchased in the first time.
Impression: Consumers tend to think that cultivated agarwood oil smells not as good as wild agarwood one. This belief is not completely true because imagine if the material is lack of resin and oil pore, the final oud oil product, even from the wild, would be lack of character. Cultivated oud, if distilled from decent agarwood chips, could be sometimes better than the wild one. There are 3 keys to determine oud oil quality: the individual person or a company, the material and the distillation technique (skill).
Wild Oud, distilled from resinous oud wood chips, with the right person and technique will be one of its kind. It would be a waste if blended in perfumery because it radiated perfectly on its own.

Agarwood (Oud) oil is a very selective ingredient for perfumers. Before thinking of having this ingredient in your concoction, it makes sense to know what it smells like. Why? you may ask? Because of the nature of this product, different plantation, different suppliers, growers, different parts of the trees will provide a different scent profile. If you choose Oud as an ingredient, you need to develop your perfume around it and stick with it for consistency. One of the most important questions of all: "Can I sell it to my audiences/ customers?", "And if they want more, can I supply them with consistency?"

Oud blending is an art that not many ones can master because one of the main reasons is the "unpleasant" scent of oud, known as "barnyard", "decomposed", "animalic", "poop", "dirty". This "unpleasant" scent, if handled well, will make the scent so irresistible. This is particularly true when making incense

"What interests me in particular . . . are bad smells. Chrysanthemum flowers that
smell ‘raw’ (aokusakute). They aren’t in any way nice, are they? And the autumn
kamemushi beetle that sends out a stink when you touch it by mistake. Ugh!
Also, bamboo leaves, which smell horribly when cut. But it is really important to
know smells like these because, if you can put in a little bit of a bad smell into a
fragrance, then that fragrance can become fantastic. There are hints like these for
me everywhere in my everyday life. So my principle is, first find strange smells
and stinky smells, for they can provide you with crucial hints when making a new
incense." (Moeran 2007, page 153)

However, as everyone is different, if you know your customers who only want pleasant notes, we can also cater to this niche for you. With different "fermented", and "cured"  technique, along with different agarwood chips, we can make oud oil more appealing to enjoy, of course with 100% pure oud oil. So again, if you are from the Middle East and you like a bit of creamy, leathery and good barnyard in your perfume, we have you covered.

If your audiences/ customers were not used to the oud smell, or never smelled it before, they may not like the oud oil alone but would be enjoying its blend in a perfume. For someone who is new to oud (agarwood) oil, it takes time to learn, get used to the smell, and eventually love it.

It takes time to create your oud perfume. It even takes a greater deal of time to spread your brand our there for your audience/customer accept your products. Imagine you found the right formula and your creation flew off the shelf, how do you feel when you want more oud but found out that your supplier was unable to provide the same (or at least similar) original batch. What should you do? Create a new formula, facing the unknown? Or change the supplier? Or even both?

Common issues when importing Oud  

If you were in Europe, and you would like some oud to create a high-end perfume, would the below sound similar:

  • Long process to apply for import CITES (up to 4 weeks)
  • The oud suppliers provide a different batch compared to the original sample and still insisted it was the same despite the fact that it smells completely different. You are told that they had been doing this for years.
  • You tried to return the product, however, and the CITES is required for import/export, it takes a lot of time to apply the CITES again to return that to the supplier. However, the supplier is unable to receive it back because it required another CITES from them to re-import which they need to explain to the authority why they need to do so.
  • You are confused and so is the supplier. The paperwork is a mess. The authority is now involved.
  • What about the customs duty you already paid when you import this oud? How do you claim it back when you return it to the supplier? How long does it take for the supplier to accept the return goods and refund back to you? Eventually, you are burned as it is an expensive exercise

Isn't it painful when facing these issues? Your energy should be used in making your perfume not in solving the above issues. So if you want agarwood oil for perfume making, let us know to see if we can work something out. 

Send us an email info@grandawood.com.au 


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