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May 19, 2019 2 min read

Have you tried to smell agarwood chips at room temperature?  Typical answer per below:

  • "nothing special to me"
  • "very plain"
  • "good but week woody smell "

If you were blindfolded, could you tell the differences between these 2? On the left, is not so resinous wood and on the right is a decent piece of agarwood chip

 Some of you might say yes, so congratulation you had a good nose. However, it is not easy to identify these 2 without seeing them.

How about submerged these 2 chips underwater for 2 minutes and try blindfolded again just using your nose? Although we have not conducted this experiment, the number of people who could recognise the more resinous wood chip would be more than the first case (try to tell the difference between 2 without seeing the chips)

How about heating these chips? Could you identify the difference by experiencing the distinctive scent?  One smell like campfire

 The other, needless to tell, earning its name as the "Wood Of God"

 

 

 So, what makes the difference between these 2?

Takamatsu (2018), mentioned  "Agarotetrol, a polar compound extracted from agarwood with water, was identified and was shown to generate LACs on heating, especially benzyl acetone. Agarotetrol and other chromone derivatives do not have a scent, although they are converted to LACs or other volatile compounds by heating to obtain the agarwood fragrance."

 

 

So heating will "evoke" the agarwood scent. Agarotetrol in agarwood through heat will  emit low molecular weight aromatic compounds (LACs) such as Benzyl Acetone which has an odour profile of: floral, herbal balsamic, these notes are easily detected from heating agarwood chips 

Source:Takamatsu 2018,  Journal of Natural Medicines

These oud wood chips  when pulverised and soaked in water for several days before distillation to increase the LACS

 

This process is one of the difficult parts, because

  • If pulverised woods were soaked for too long, the microorganism could appear as this is an ideal environment for fungus and bacteria. Some distillers do not have these wood under a close monitor, flies may lay egg and maggot will grow. Imagine your oud oil contains some extra protein, you would not mind it, would you :)?
  •  If the pulverised woods were soaked for too short, the yield is short, the smell may not be as good, the final product would become more expensive.

Imagine, in a large batch when the distiller need to soak tons of wood for a bigger project, for example, 10kg of oud oil, for a particular perfume, how one would handle that to ensure the consistency in quality and quantity? 


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