Plantation Kinam Vs Wild Kyara Comparison

Discussion in 'Oud Wood' started by Oud_learner, Jun 29, 2019.

  1. Oud_learner

    Oud_learner Junior Member

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    Just gotten hold of Kevin’s plantation Kinam and decided to do a comparison with my selected White, Green and Black Kyara. The evaluation will be based on the following criteria:
    1. Appearance and texture assessment
    2. Ambient smell
    3. Taste test
    4. Heated smell profile on low heating using ceramic heater
    5. Psychoactive effect.

    Some people might view Kyara as just a rare and expensive agarwood with unique smell profile. Personally I view it as an aromatic substance with varying degree of psychoactive effect, depending on the wood quality. As this effect and the smell attribute are highly subjective, the result should only be evaluated in relative between the 3 pieces of wild Kyara and the plantation Kinam.

    Before that, some disclaimers:
    1. I am NOT a Kyara expert and the comparison is meant sorely for my reference. I neither claim to be an authority in my assessment nor in a position to judge and grade the quality of the woods.
    2. The comparison is relative and highly subjective. Knowing how some of us can be overly passion, note that I am just sharing my thoughts based on my limited experience and please do not take it out of context.

    1)Appearance and texture assessment:
    Wild Kyara are known to be oil rich. Hence it has that oily sheen on the surface upon close examination at certain angles. In terms of texture, they are generally quite soft and pliable. The small piece on the left in the picture is the plantation Kinam while the bigger piece is that of a wild green-black Kyara. You might be able to catch the oily sheen of the wild Kyara in the first picture.

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    Visually, the plantation Kinam is more of a solid dry chunk of homogenous resin. The homogeneity may be due to the fact that the inoculation is controlled and hence resulted in a more regular resinous formation.

    The Kinam is brittle when cut and the slivers came off more as chipped pieces. For Kyara, the slicing is akin to a heated knife going through a block of butter, resulting in very clean cut slivers. In addition, the wood fibers in Kyara intersperse among the resinous parts (except for rare high grade Black Kyara used in beads carving that is entirely devoid of any fibers).

    2)Ambient smell:
    One very distinct characteristic of wild Kyara is the strong fragrance at ambient/room temperature, assuming the woods have been properly stored.

    In comparison on a scale of 1-10, I would rate the plantation Kinam a low 2. A full jar of 1gr plantation Kinam shaving does not give the same smell intensity as a small sliver of wild Kyara. Most probably due to the fact that it has a relatively lower oil content.

    Don’t get me wrong, smell close enough and you can still get wafts of the kinamic signature smell. But if you have a proper Kyara piece as reference, you can immediately tell the difference.

    3)Taste test:
    One of the classic identity testing for Kyara is the numbing sensation when chewed upon, on the tip of the tongue using only the incisors. But numbness aside, the crushed wood also releases a bitter taste followed by a mild kinamic after sweetness. The higher quality Kyara will also induce a psychoactive and calming effect.

    In comparison on a scale of 1-10, I would rate the plantation Kinam a 6 as It does induce a similar numbness. But the similarity ends here as there is only a very faint bittersweetness after taste, let alone any psychoactive effect.

    4)Heated scent profile:
    Despite the general singularity perception that all Kyara smell the same, they are actually not. Different colours of Kyara (more of a nomenclature defining the different stages of Kyara formation) do have a distinct profile upon low heating. While they all have the unmistakable vanillin sweetness, Green tends to have a sourish note while White is more camphorous and Black is of cloying pure sweetness.

    In comparison on a scale of 1-10, I would rate the plantation Kinam a 4. While most of my Kyara perform wonderfully between 80-95 degree, I have to crank up the temperature to about 125 degree before the Kinam releases its aroma. Not a surprise here again due to perhaps the lower oil content.

    While the Kinam does have some of the vanillin sweetness, i could not detect any of the signature nuances associated with the different Kyara colours. However it does has a spicy note, not unlike that of a Shin Kyara or a good quality Vietnamese agarwood.

    5) Psychoactive effect:
    Now this is going to be very subjective as not everyone feels the same way due to different mental wiring. Personally I value Kyara more than any other wood (except Hainan heartwood) simply because of the psychoactive effect it have on me. For me, enjoying Kyara is more than just a routine monkoh session, it includes the entire process of preparation and the mental state as well. Do check out Kyarazen this particular article if you are interested: https://www.kyarazen.com/enjoying-kyara-through-mon-koh/

    In comparison on a scale of 1-10, I would rate the plantation Kinam a 1.5. While it is a beautiful wood in its own way and a remarkable one too given that it is plantation cultivated, it just does not have the same penetrative effect on me as the wild Kyara.

    So in conclusion, do I find any value in the plantation Kinam? For sure I will not buy it as a reference or replacement for authentic wild Kyara as it just does not match up to the real thing, despite the relative cheap price tag. On the other hand, if I were to view the wood as a quality agarwood instead of Kinam, I will still not buy it as I can get even more superior agarwood at a fraction of the price.

    Anyway, do note that the comparison is only done once for 1 particular piece of 1 particular batch of the plantation Kinam. Please do exercise your own judgement when reading my post. Nonetheless it had been an interesting exercise for me and hopefully you can find some value and pleasure in reading this long post of mine!

    —————————edit ————————-

    I have nothing against plantation cultivated wood, be it agarwood or Kinam. In fact as I mentioned, this plantation Kinam is amazing in its own way considering the short inoculation period and the generated scent profile. The fact that the Kinam does not measured well against the wild Kyara (in my own opinion) is NOT an indication of its inferiority.

    While it is well worth having a gram or so, I am very concerned about using the wood as a reference for ‘entry level kinamic experience’. There are simply not enough reviews or comparison benchmarking being made to come to that general consensus. In my opinion, this Kinam is still quite far off to be mentioned in the same breath as wild Kyara. It is somewhere between a Shin Kyara and Vietnam agarwood.

    A high grade Tanzania sandalwood (Osyris lanceolata) can have an unique scent profile and beautiful in its own way. You can say it represent one dimension of the sandalwood scent spectrum. But I do not think anyone will ever mistaken it and use it as a reference for Mysore sandalwood. This is because most of us are fortunate enough to access to relative high quality and authentic Mysore material thanks to forum like this.

    Authentic Kyara on the other hand, is not so readily available due to the scarcity and high pricing. Hence it is not that easy to establish a common baseline for reference. I understand not everyone is into Kyara but yet at the same time, there are many other people who are very keen to explore and experience it out of curiosity. No offense to @Oudamberlove, but as a conservative person and someone who loves his Kyara (too much), I urge caution with comment like that.

    [​IMG]

    I am not too sure if the scent can be classified according to the Rikoku. It is quite similar to Shin Kyara with the spicy and bitter notes though. Perhaps in a few years time when the inoculation technique is closer to perfection or a greater wood maturity, the wood might just be elevated to Shin Kyara status. It will truly be a breakthrough and everyone’s blessing should such a day comes!
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2019
  2. Mr.P

    Mr.P True Ouddict

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    This review was fantastic! I have been waiting for any kind of clarity on this, you are the first to deliver.

    I have to say I am am not surprised to see a product marketed as kinam / kyara falling short. I wonder how the scent would be classified relative to Rikoku woods? There are two woods in my set that smell enough like kyara at some stage that I can imagine them causing confusion to someone untrained like myself.

    I also think that what we are all calling the “kinam note” and “kyara note” is really just a plain old “Aquilaria sinensis note” and we have this all screwed up because of aggressive oil marketing language. The whole hyperbole beast rearing its ugly head - everything is royal, super, kinam, ultra, etc. until these terms have zero meaning. :Cautious: Not enough that it is genuine, pure, XX years old, from xxx region, of course.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2019
  3. powdernose

    powdernose Oud Sprite

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    Thanks for taking the time @Oud_learner ,
    nice write up!
     
  4. Sproaty

    Sproaty Sproudy Staff Member

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    Fantastic write up, I enjoyed reading. A great comparison
     
  5. Oudamberlove

    Oudamberlove Member

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    @OudLearner
    Thank you for your valuable input, and nice picture of that Kyara chunk.

    The plantation kinam certainly lacks maturity, and even if allowed to flourish for decades before being cut down, I still have concerns wether that species will put-out more room temperature aroma. It could be a “species thing”:D

    The pieces of Kinam I got needed more drying time, still too harvest-fresh. So I left my vial open in 40% humidity for a couple of weeks. A cotton ball on top to keep it clean. With that in mind, the $80/g price translates to possibly $150/g. My top grade Shoyeido granules cost me $650/g, so I think the Shoyeido is the better deal:Cooler:

    But!!!
    For an entry level kinamic experience, it is well worth having a gram or two of the plantation stuff.
     
  6. Oud_learner

    Oud_learner Junior Member

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    I have nothing against plantation cultivated wood, be it agarwood or Kinam. In fact as I mentioned, this plantation Kinam is amazing in its own way considering the short inoculation period and the generated scent profile. The fact that the Kinam does not measured well against the wild Kyara (in my own opinion) is NOT an indication of its inferiority.

    While it is well worth having a gram or so, I am very concerned about using the wood as a reference for ‘entry level kinamic experience’. There are simply not enough reviews or comparison benchmarking being made to come to that general consensus. In my opinion, this Kinam is still quite far off to be mentioned in the same breath as wild Kyara. It is somewhere between a Shin Kyara and Vietnam agarwood.

    A high grade Tanzania sandalwood (Osyris lanceolata) can have an unique scent profile and beautiful in its own way. You can say it represent one dimension of the sandalwood scent spectrum. But I do not think anyone will ever mistaken it and use it as a reference for Mysore sandalwood. This is because most of us are fortunate enough to access to relative high quality and authentic Mysore material thanks to forum like this.

    Authentic Kyara on the other hand, is not so readily available due to the scarcity and high pricing. Hence it is not that easy to establish a common baseline for reference. I understand not everyone is into Kyara but yet at the same time, there are many other people who are very keen to explore and experience it out of curiosity. No offense to @Oudamberlove, but as a conservative person and someone who loves his Kyara (too much), I urge caution with comment like that.

    [​IMG]

    I am not too sure if the scent can be classified according to the Rikoku. It is quite similar to Shin Kyara with the spicy and bitter notes though. Perhaps in a few years time when the inoculation technique is closer to perfection or a greater wood maturity, the wood might just be elevated to Shin Kyara status. It will truly be a breakthrough and everyone’s blessing should such a day comes!
     
  7. Rai Munir

    Rai Munir Musk Man

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  8. Rai Munir

    Rai Munir Musk Man

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    Well said.

    Santalum spicatum is also the shore of Mysore Sandal ocean.
     
    Joe King likes this.
  9. Mr.P

    Mr.P True Ouddict

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    I had a chance to form a first impression of the cultivated kinam being discussed here.

    This is a first impression only, based on a 5 minute session with the subitism on low and then moderate heat. As you read this please keep in the back of your mind the idea that this is a first impression and I am not stating all of this as fact. I’m not saying what is or is not true, only the associations that occurred to me. I have very limited experience.

    I can see somewhat the connection between this and green kyara, but it is kind of a fuzzy connection. In the brief time I sat with this wood chip I noticed some little piercing fragrance notes that reminded me in someway of that Kyara profile, coming from a generalized SE Asian oud heart. I think if I had smelled this in a blind smell test I would not have thought it was
    actually kyara, but instead a decent Vietnamese oud chip. If course I am fighting my conditioning and bias based on the oft stated truth that kyara is a rare ancient and wild thing, not something pumped out of plantations after 12 months or whatever. I don’t trust myself to give the wood a fair chance. I am thinking I will do a blind smell test with some friends this weekend involving kyara and shin kyara from shoyeido, baieido, and this. See what a group of us think when identity is masked...


    Update: One aspect of kyara this wood has is a very sweet vanillin almost candy like smell at the very end of the burn. The spent(almost) chip produces a very nice strong sweet vanillin scent that is very diffusive. Other woods I have smelled from Vietnam and Cambodia also share this.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2019 at 5:09 PM
    Oud_learner and Joe King like this.

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