Blind Oud Test - Results And Discussion

Discussion in 'General' started by powdernose, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. Rai Munir

    Rai Munir Musk Man

    None is a loser, none is a winner. Because the test was not oriented for the purpose to promote or demote some vendor or oil. So, it is not a big issue why BD and FHI couldn't be perceived superior.

    Wild versus cultivated, hmmm. Again no issue at all. Wild oud has no divine and royal prerogative to always smell superior. A wild wood oil, but poorly managed and distilled, and a cultivated wood oil but artistically managed and distilled. This aspect can never be neglected, if at all wild is destined to be superior. (Though I myself vote for wild wood, but Assam Organic is there as well.) So, wild vs organic is no issue at all.

    This is not quantification at all, if one thinks over the format of the test. Some point of reference is always needed to brush away the haziest notions of one's cancerous and overly personalistic reviews. If at all such blind tests are to quantify, Oud Review section is the best example of tumorous growth of subjective quality ridden cells. Deconstruction of Oud oil is an extreme and worst form of quantitative approach. Qualitative approach is not to relate something with some external agents that are mostly absent in oils. If, somehow or other, we could benefit from both quantitative and qualitative approaches, I am sure it will be a great achievement. Egalitarian approach is a lullaby to evade what can be worrisome and irksome.

    I strongly hope that the suggestions being posted will be incorporated in Blind Test format. I am very pleased to read the posts in this thread, and am sure respected @powdernose would have saved these posts for further improvement. After all, the second phase is to be planned.

    Peace and cheers!
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
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  2. Joe King

    Joe King AttitOud

    :praying::Thumbsup: wise words
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  3. powdernose

    powdernose Oud Sprite

    Sure, we can flip the coin :)
    But either way, I think we should focus on relativity.
    Also, I don't think we should have superhuman expectations of the nose.

    I mean in the context of trials,
    I didn't expand beyond that.

    And those were the 2 highest averages across 14 oud oils. In the context of the test they were perceived as the most expensive oils of the bunch.
    Why should perceived values perfectly match actual market values anyway?
    Perceived values is also another way of looking at the price ranges Ouddicts are more comfortable in.

    True, it wasn't. But one purpose was to see if opinions of the Panels could converge to give clear results.
    That happened in three cases. Personally, I'm delighted that there were 3 oils that managed to unify the Panel,
    and more so that one of them was such a surprise.
    I was at all times fully aware of the possibility that the results (all of them) could have ended up being a mess.
    They didn't and that is super cool.

    And I'm sure your suggestions will be welcomed.
    I'm definitely interested in their specifics.
    I just like to remind everybody that this is oud, and one has to keep in mind scale and financial feasibility.

    Believe it or not, I pitched that idea for version 1.0.
    Quite a few people were more willing to stand back, let me go at it alone, and see if it could be done.
    For those looking for purpose to this test, one purpose is just that, to show that it could be done.
    And I don't mean that in a selfish way, but rather that it is possible to have such testing formats in the oud community.
    That people are already discussing future formats, is evidence that this purpose was successfully fulfilled.

    I like that idea.

    Yes, that would be welcome.
    I'd like to hear your specific suggestions for the parameters you'd like to introduce.
  4. Grega

    Grega Oud Fan

    I completely understand your passion for wild wood. The idea of the wood growing somewhere deep in the jungle, where seldom man has been, indeed presents a very attractive image. But for me the idea of a properly cultivated wood from a farmer who loves what he/she does and is tending to the trees with care, respect and skill, in no way presents a less attractive image. Especially considering that such a plantation represents a safer and a much more stable source of income. Man is part of nature as well and the fruits of his stewardship of nature can indeed be great. So I don't get the McDonalds comparison. Or the tomato one. Heirloom tomatoes are the cultivated tomatoes.
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  5. powdernose

    powdernose Oud Sprite

    And yet the practice is both prevalent and defining in the wine industry.
    In coffee cupping too.
    So you already live it.

    Do you realise how unfair it is to critique an oil you've never tried?
    I also think that is a supremely bad analogy.

    Perhaps you should smell it. It does smell like a Borneo.
    And when you try it, you shouldn't feel pressured into liking it, perhaps you wont.
    Another purpose of this test was to show that we shouldn't be bound by such peer pressure,
    just because 5 other Ouddicts really liked it, doesn't mean that you should too.

    You're applying double standards here.
    Most region votes for FHI were Vietnam.
    And for Borneo Diesel, most votes were for Merauke, Gyrinops (what I thought too), so according to your reasoning, it is not true to its type.
    Also, only Aleata guessed Borneo for BD, but he also said Purple Kinam, i.e. Malaysian. I gave the full point because I thought it was close enough, but actually it is only half a point.
  6. Woodland Note

    Woodland Note Oud Fan Staff Member


    Yes, my nose is no longer virgin to oud thanks to this beautiful community and the kindness of some of its members. :)

    To be honest, at first I was thinking I would like to be a reviewer, probably because I just craved to try more ouds. But now since I have really a decent number of samples, and plenty still to be discovered... Well, I still crave more :D but at the same time I would just feel bad giving them points and judging. I don't feel experienced enough nor qualified in any way to do such thing. And for me each one is different, unique and very beautiful.
    Well, I’ve already tried 2 very similar ouds from the same region of Thailand province. Kind of like twins with minor differences. But still it would be difficult to make a choice between them.
    I don't compare the beauty of most beautiful girls. I don't compare which german shepherd puppy is more cute. I have preferences but some things are just not meant to be compared for me. So... That is that. ;)

    Besides... I'm already part of some kind of blind testings of oud oils. I've been gifted 13 samples by certain kind fellow and almost half of them is labeled only with a letter. And I like this idea more, I’m not pressured in any way, I will just post my various thoughts about them as I like after oudy sessions that will happen when the time is right.
    But thank you for considering me for the reviewer role, I truly appreciate it! :Thumbsup:

    I feel very honored to have been given the referee role, perhaps small but still responsible and involving some level of trust. :Thumbsup:
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
  7. Rasoul Salehi

    Rasoul Salehi Oud Fanatic

    i shoulda taken a few law and more English classes. i dont think i am successfully communicating my point. my thinking is not necessarily solely logical but romantic and emotional as well. is best we hear from ASO on the method of cultivation, quality of the wood, etc.

    jist of my point is on "made" vs "realized". manipulated vs captured. tasting, smelling, looking natural vs "worked".
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
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  8. Rasoul Salehi

    Rasoul Salehi Oud Fanatic

    typicity is very important, otherwise, why bother selling oils after regional, subregional and even at times down to specific sub-variety within a sub region. it is these regional unique traits that has turned many of us into oud aficionados. oud begs us to give it our time and study it for each region and cultivar has its own unique set of traits.

    let me be very clear what is in my manifesto of a great oil:
    1) is a textbook example of its region and sub cultivar
    2) has the unique signature of the distiller but one that is like a thin frame around a beautiful painting, not something that overshadows the work itself and worse obliterates it

    time factor field regardless of how its perceived can be said to connote the same thing: a desire to study it further which in my eye points out to a complexity and or intrigue in the oil that begs the student to check back again and again.

    by willy nilly i mean, the overall score should be a direct tally up of the values entered in criteria fields, not a number that jumps into our head for what we feel is fair evaluation of that oil. i am going to give this lots of thought and time and see what i can come up with. i know there wont be a perfect system and the criteria at the end of the day entirely depend on the main agenda of a test. ill share my findings when they present themselves to me. at the moment i am in discovery mode. pls dont expect a quick answer. this may take a while...

  9. Rasoul Salehi

    Rasoul Salehi Oud Fanatic

    above in bold. with much respect. my points are personal opinions. strong opinions but something that is dear to me and may be 100% useless and garbage talk to others.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
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  10. Rai Munir

    Rai Munir Musk Man

    Dearest Rasoul, you are dear to us all, and of course, your views as well.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018
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  11. Rasoul Salehi

    Rasoul Salehi Oud Fanatic

    The big picture is this thing we call oud is so special so revered that has us dedicating valuable time and energy to not to mention finances. It brings out the passion in us and liveliness. Long live oud, variety in it and democracy in how we each come to enjoy its many facets. Respect and love to all.
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  12. PersonelHigh

    PersonelHigh Whats this Oud About?

    Maybe it's not the thesis but for me what I gained was a recognition of what I have an affinity for and what I don't. And in that, I've noticed that my tastes have amended themselves. So for me it's been a personal refinement of my own preferences. So in essence I agree with you that basically I'm not sure what this proves. Would a different group of people have had similar results? How about more people participating in testing?
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  13. PersonelHigh

    PersonelHigh Whats this Oud About?


    EEEK I find that very worrisome driving towards a score and winner. Perfumery and ouds are an art form. I fear this esstemed set of judges applying some particular numerical criteria and formula for a winner you are going to end up with oud makers all trying to make similar oils to please the palates of these blinded noses. PLEASE NO. This is not a science it's an art.
  14. Rasoul Salehi

    Rasoul Salehi Oud Fanatic

    Beautifully put.
    Joe King likes this.
  15. Ammar

    Ammar Oud Fan

    Brilliant job you did here @powdernose. Someone can get a lot of useful information from the sheet if they are willing to. Specifically, I found that the ability of the testers in truly identifying the highest priced oils (presumably true to their quality) to be impressive nonetheless, simply because it shows that the noses were able to identify the presumed highest quality oils distilled from the best grade wood. Guessing the "true" price tag set by vendor is a different story.

    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
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  16. Rai Munir

    Rai Munir Musk Man

    Thanks, respected Ammar, for your post. I was anxiously waiting for your post. Your remarks really mean a lot. For a long time, I have been waiting to read your views about certain newly released oils. I learnt how to know Oud oils.

    Your critical appreciation of the Blind Test would bring more accuracy, authenticity and beauty to the test.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
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  17. Ashfaque

    Ashfaque Analogue Oud

    An excellent and noble project that only an addict would pursue that his/her peers will appreciate. Thanks a lot for sharing.

    This could potentially be turned into an academic paper. :handok::Thumbsup:
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  18. powdernose

    powdernose Oud Sprite

    >>Do you realise how unfair it is to critique an oil you've never tried?
    >i acknowledged that

    Yet you persist? o_O
    Whether the view is micro or macro, to critique an oil that someone hasn't even tried, and in such a fashion, is actually unacceptable!
    I wonder how you would take to someone negatively reviewing one of your wines, without even trying it (!), simply by superimposing the general negative macro views he has regarding Canadian wine.

    > i stand by my analogy, b/c a big mac is "made" to taste good, yet we all know is not a real burger.
    > my point is a philosophical one

    No, it is not philosophical, because you keep correlating back to the specific oil.
    I find the analogy offensive, and I am just an average oud user. I can barely imagine what anyone who puts time, effort and money into furthering cultivated oud (so that it may one day provide a sustainable future) might feel when reading that analogy...
    I almost feel obliged to aplogise to any oud cultivator out there that has read this...

    >Most region votes for FHI were Vietnam. HK vietnam the genus is the same (sinesis)

    Vietnam oud oils are primarily crassna. So, no, not closer.

    >>no doubt. but when experienced wearers i hold their views and takes at high levels see a broneo as maroke, we have a problem.

    The same reviewer that guessed Maroke for Fajr, guessed Papua for Borneo Diesel.
    So yes, absolutely double standards.

    Further, Panel A only had about a 20% success rate in pinpointing the region/profile.
    Based on that, ouddicts are generally not adept at pinpointing region/profile simply by blind sniffing a sample.
    If you recall, the field was optional and was meant to be a bit of fun as well.
    Despite the objective numbers of the success rate, I still think the reviewers did quite well. Some better than others, some better with some regions, others better with other regions.
    I am still impressed that @rojas picked up sinensis in Xue Jie!

    Also, regarding typicity, as I recall, Al Shareef Oudh already provided a lengthy answer to you in the oud of the day thread:
    I'm sure Al Shareef Oudh are more gracious than me, but if anybody compared my oud oil to McDonald's I'd not exactly be in a sharing mood...

    Take your time,
    I look forward to your input.

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  19. powdernose

    powdernose Oud Sprite

    ?? What does that mean? :)

    And yes I can :)
    I'm not obliged to use the retail prices in any one fashion; and I never posited that it was possible to accurately and consistently price oud oils simply by blindly sniffing them.
    I think we can agree to disagree on this point.

    I understood your point the first time. :)
    I understand you are normalising the perceived values with the retail values, and the objective numbers lead to your earlier conclusion:
    You are right!
    It is not possible to accurately and consistently blindly sniff an oud oil's retail price. I don't think anybody ever realistically believed that possible in any case. I certainly never did.
    Also, you are right, the more expensive ouds were typically undervalued, and the cheapest ones were overvalued.
  20. powdernose

    powdernose Oud Sprite

    Yes, it was an important role, and I thank you for fulfilling the role with the required secrecy and patience.

    100%, blind testing definitely involves self discovery, and that was always one of the objectives, bringing attention to this.

    I also think that finding an oud oil that @PersonelHigh really likes was one of the wins :p :)

    Thank you!
    I think so! I had hoped that more people would look at the minutiae of the results.
    Perhaps it is as @Rai Munir says, and we need time to digest and review:
    In the meantime, did anyone else notice that there seems to be a negative bias against fruity-floral-sweet oud oils? Some of the oils with that profile got absolutely killed! Some, unjustly so I believe.

    I also noticed that some of the reviewers have a make or break reviewing style. Not much room for the middle ground in scoring.
    I found that interesting, and it certainly was not something I expected before going into this test. I still think about it.
    Perhaps, for future trials, it should be an aim to cover a greater percentage of the rating scale.

    Yes, good point. One should hardly expect the nose to be able to precisely sniff out any retail price, how could one adjust for each vendor's buying power, running costs, or markup strategies anyway?
    If I were looking to more strictly correlate true prices to perceived values, I would like to compare with a more 'raw' value. If we had that kind of transparency, it might be interesting to see how well ouddict noses could be able to blindly perceive the quality of the source wood that went into the pot.
    Still, as previously mentioned, I would probably be looking at thresholds; is there a value threshold that once surpassed, can be uniformly and blindly perceived by a panel as higher quality by sniffing the produced oil?

    We should also not forget the failure of Hareer.
    It was both grossly undervalued compared to its retail price, and also relatively undervalued within its blind group.
    I had wondered if it is easier to discern quality within certain regions, and more difficult in others.

    Thank you!
    Let's not go overboard :)
    @PEARL is right that it would take more defined hypotheses to have universal objective value.
    And I mentioned that it would take far more, time, resources, and money!

    I did try my best though, and I thank you for recognising the addict in me :)
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018

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