Oud Distillation

Discussion in 'Art and Science of Oud' started by Al Shareef Oudh, Aug 1, 2016.

  1. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

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    One of the threads I miss the most from BN is the Distillation thread. Today I wanted to write about a topic that affects most of us in the Oudh business but I realised that BN is closed so I decided to start it here and hopefully continue on where we left there...


    One of the major challenges distillers can face is the material they receive. Usually these raw materials come through a chain of hunters, collectors/sorters, traders. Not everyone in that chain is going to be honest and transparent. As such wild is not always wild, natural is not always natural. In our tradition from a young age we are taught about oudh, how to identify it and the tell tell signs to look for.


    If one is not able to distinguish between wild,cultivated-inoculated, natural-organic, then it is easy to be tricked into thinking that the wood is wild and proceed to thinking there is wild wood going into the pot. This identification is not something easy, it takes years to perfect and understand. In the last month I have been sent a dozen photos and clips where the distiller thinks the wood is wild and in fact it isnt. Some of these photos/videos are few years old some are recent. Showing that this is in fact an on going issue. I will try to share some photos etc to explain the differences.
     
  2. Mandeel AlMandeel

    Mandeel AlMandeel Oud Geek Staff Member

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    i agree with that , even some salers write fake information about oud oil like said this oud from wild and the truth this oud isn't wild also about origin of oud oil ...
     
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  3. Mr.P

    Mr.P Super Moderator Staff Member

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    There are many variables from what little I have read... Growing in jungle, growing in plantations; drilled or undrilled; inoculated or non-inoculated; chemical inducers or "natural" insiders (or... ?)... I think it is probably hard to know for certain exactly how some woods matured!
     
  4. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

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    Wild Oudh;


    Oudh that has grown wild in nature without any human intervention in its growth or infection.


    Natural Oudh;


    Grown naturally in the wild and assisted in its infection by humans through physical wounds.


    or


    Oudh planted by humans in the wilderness and allowed to natural infect by nature.


    Plantation - Natural


    Oudh planted in a plantation and allowed to infect naturally, or physically wounded by humans.


    Plantation - inoculated


    Oudh planted in a plantation and infected with inoculates, chemical or otherwise


    Organic


    Oudh trees planted on land that did not have any form of wild trees in place; No logging, no land clearance, no displacement of native floura or fauna. Utilising existing agricultural land and cultivating it with oudh trees in the most eco-friendly arrangement to ensure efficient utilisation of water sources and avoiding chemicals and pesticides. Utilising internationally approved growing techniques allowing the trees to mature and harvested ethically to ensure sustainable continuity.
     
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  5. littlecrowgirl

    littlecrowgirl Member

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    Al Shareef Oudh, thank you for the explanation. Would it be possible to tell the difference in scent between an 80 year old wild tree and an 80 year old tree planted by humans and whose infection was assisted? There is so much desire for wild wood, but if cultivated trees were allowed to mature for decades, couldn't they be just as "good"?
     
  6. Habz786

    Habz786 Resident Artisan

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    Also to add my two pence, ive smelt oils which have used incolcation and boy do they smell terrible. I feel strongly against using nails, drillings holes and injecting chemicals into a tree i find it very unethical and cruel. Al Shareef in your experience do trees which are nailed, drilled , injected produce inferior oils with a debunked scent? from my experience oil from injecting trees smells terrible, i cant comment on drilling or nails as i cant be sure which one of the oils i have have used these methods pre-disitillation
     
  7. peter4ptv

    peter4ptv Member

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    thanks for the explanation Alshareef, a bit confusing for me and there is also a bio oud witch i assume is same as the organic.
     
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  8. peter4ptv

    peter4ptv Member

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  9. Mr.P

    Mr.P Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I also think that the term "organic" could be defined a little differently. At least for me, organic has come to mean simply grown without any chemical pesticides or fertilizers. So for example a plantation tree that is drilled and inoculated with (let's say) a non-chemical inducer would still be organic, even if grown in an area that had been logged / clear cut to make room for the agarwood trees. Unless herbicides were used during the clear cutting... Then it can't be organic I guess. Al shareef, I think your cultivation practices would be both organic and ecologically responsible, maybe a level above what most people think of as organic? I also think people in the US at least have an expectation that "organic" status is conferred by a third party - some kind of accrediting body other than the person selling the so-called organic product. People selling agricultura products that are not certified by a third party have to use some other designation: "no-spray" or "pesticide free" or "in transition to organic certification" etc. I know this perspective may not be one that makes sense in the countries where oud is cultivated.
     
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  10. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

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    littlecrowgirl if a tree is allowed to mature for such a long time and only physical human intervention takes place, then it would be very difficult to tell the difference between that tree and a wild tree all things equal. The most interesting element in that equation is, virus from the wild, can be much more stronger and persistent and that forces the tree to produce more oudh. Human intervention can not replicate that wild assault of virus on the tree from nature.


    @Habz I totally agree the inoculated wood is horrible, because in most of them there is a rotten core due to the liquids that is infused into the tree through a drip. Relatively the physical means such as cuts and nails produce oudh that is more closer to the natural wild oudh.


    Mr.P with regards to the definition and requirements that have to be met for a product to be classified organic, there is varying standards in different countries. In Australia we are fairly strict, so I wouldnt be surprised if it is different to the US or European standards. In general they are all self regulated as an industry.
     
  11. PEARL

    PEARL Guerrilla

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    I disagree about your statement of natural oud, in part. Oudh planted by humans in the wild and allowed to be infected naturally by nature would also be wild wood. The only difference is vector, but instead of the seed/fruit falling to the ground, the seed is put there by a human-the seed then germinates, grows into a tree which is then naturally infected, as you state, without human intervention=wild. To take it a step further, if an area of wild growth is purchased by a man, does it now become a plantation? In my opinion, wherever a tree grows whether in the wilderness or a piece of land owned by someone, if it is allowed to grow and become infected without human intervention it's wild.
     
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  12. Mr.P

    Mr.P Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Good point, but actually, there is potentially a big difference between genetically diverse wild population produced by random mating and seeds produced by framing and selective breeding. Wild population lavender is considered district from cultivated lavender for this reason.
     
  13. PEARL

    PEARL Guerrilla

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    Potentially, correct but not necessarily. Also, as you stated in another post, I agree that these differences translate much better when assessing wood but becomes much more difficult when assessing oils where the only qualitative parameter is scent profile. And based on your example of lavender, is there a definitive way to distinguish wild vs. cultivated lavender flowers, oils, absolutes, etc. that is available to the average consumer.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2016
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  14. Mr.P

    Mr.P Super Moderator Staff Member

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    To me the wild oil has a distinct aroma compared to farmed lavender. I am not sure how well I'd do on a blind test though. But again, there is going to be a difference I am sure, one at least worth acknowledging and having a designation for. While I might not realistically be able to tell the difference, I like the idea of known g if a "wild" oud is truly wild vs. pseudo-wild. This is probably all academic since I am not really in he market for ultra-premiums wild Oud but those who are avid collectors would probably like knowing this kind of thing a lot their ouds!
     
  15. PEARL

    PEARL Guerrilla

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    Although I posed it as a question my intent for the discussion concerning a definitive way to differentiate wild vs cultivated oil is to get people thinking. Some claim to be able to tell wild from cultivated by smell or how it reacts on there skin. IMO the average consumer only has what the vendor said and how much faith they put into that vendor, all vendors for that matter, being truthful and honest.


    I understand that some, me included would like clean, unadulterated, non-chemical inoculated oils, just as I buy organic produce but the bottom line is if they put that 5 digit code starting with the digit 9 on conventional produce, how will I know for sure, trust.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2016
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  16. Oudamberlove

    Oudamberlove Member

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    I have many Crocodile Agarwood bead bracelets. The resin is rock hard throughout all the wood fibers. They're heavy and fast sinkers and many display chatoyancy. I wonder if Wild agarwood that is extremely old would do the same, have resin totally saturating most of the heartwood, not just streaks of resin. Heavy resin and almost no oil. Or does it depend on the species. I've heard of Filarias from swamps that may be that way, hence the low yield for oil. But I never heard that Crassnas or Aggalochas have low oil content. If I could have rock solid 20mm beads of Cambodian and Indian agarwood, heavy sinkers, that would be great:)
     
  17. Mr.P

    Mr.P Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Pearl - for those of us who live far from the regions where oud grows, it indeed boils down to trust 100%. There really is nothing else. You'd have to experience dozens of ouds of a particular species from a particular region, both wild and cultivated, to develop an objective ability to tell the difference. I do think it is worth asking and worth letting sellers we trust know hat we care and might be interested in knowing all these little details. For me, oud without information is less valuable than oud with information.
     
  18. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

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    @PEARL


    From an academic reference point there are commonly accepted parameters regarding wild. The definition being "not intentionally seeded or planted" some use the term "not cultivated" or human interference.


    There is however a difference between academic wild and the use of wild in the language, for example we can refer to someones behavior as being wild, which doesn't necessarily mean the person is wild, just that they resemble behavior of something from the wild. Similarly reference to wild dogs, that does not necessarily mean they mated in the wild and a wild puppy was born. Rather in the language it refers to dogs where the owner is irrelevant.


    The alternate perspective regarding can they be differentiated, the ability of a person to differentiate has no bearing on whether it is wild or not, if a person can't determine the difference that would not change the origin.


    Trust is definitely an important factor in the supply chain of oudh, at the same time I believe correct facts is also important, because the more educated the consumer is the less they will have to rely on trusting. They can make educated judgement on what is in front of them. This is where the oudh industry is in need of existing botanical terms of reference being migrated across. Which will make navigating between fact and fiction much easier.
     
  19. PEARL

    PEARL Guerrilla

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    Facts and becoming a more educated consumer is exactly what I'm looking for. But, when it comes to being able to differentiate an oil distilled from wild agarwood from one distilled from cultivated agarwood there are no facts, no education available to the average consumer.
     
  20. Al Shareef Oudh

    Al Shareef Oudh Resident Artisan

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    @PEARL,


    Please feel free to ask any questions, the more specific the more specific answers we can provide you.


    As with regards oils cultivated vs wild, there are a few things to consider. First of all just focusing on a good wild oil.


    There are a few things to look for in a good wild oil, texture, physical property (clarity and uniformity in light), absorption by the skin, absorption on cotton (staining, spread). Then there are the smell related parameters and these are a little subjective, but there certain aspects of the smell tests that are also measurable. These are how long the scent lasts on cotton and two oils on the same persons skin, understanding scents associated with the distillation process, such as the pot smell, the burnt smell etc. These help isolate additives, because some smells are born because of the pot or the temperature they aren't adulterants.


    Texture: a good oudh oil feels like like velvet between the fingers.


    Clarity; It is not hazy or cloudy


    Uniformity: it is uniform through out the container/bottle, no separating parts.


    Absorption On Skin: Within the essential oil theory, a good essential oil is absorbed well by the skin, as both are bio material and natural so the bottle can break it down. There is a difference in oudh however, the difference is, if resin elements have been distilled. Then there will remain a powdery feel to the skin about the oil elements have been absorbed, this is fine. It the oil is greasy or sticky, it is something to be more observant off, because that heads towards how thickeners are added.


    Absorption On Cotton; Should be absorbed evenly, and not leave a colour stain, but an oil stain. The scent should last the longest on cotton.


    Water Test: 1/100, if you add one part oil to a hundred part of water and shake violently, then rest, the oils should come to the top fairly quickly.


    Scent Test;


    Oudh; if an oil does not have that oud element to it, then it isnt oudh. The oudh element is the little woody, slightly rawness. Hard to explain in words, but every oudh oil has it.


    Monotone: if the oil is monotone or has a persistent monotone a character, this is when you start assessing it for additives or that it could be cultivated. Cultivated oils have not the depth in complexity that matured wild oils have.


    Sticking Smell: sometimes you will smell an oil and it feels like a piece of it is stuck in your nose and it is irritating, a good chance is that something has been added to that oil.


    Over time if you expose yourself to a comparison between an oil that you know is fake and a good oil, you will develop a sense on the subjective side of how to pick the difference. Likewise if you do the same with cultivated and wild, you will also develop that sense.


    I do not like to go too detailed on the subjective side as that adds to the confusion, but at the end of the day, scent is subjective and some people like those less complex scents so they don't see those as issues.


    hope that helps.
     
    Sproaty likes this.

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