The Gallery What are everyone's thoughts on this? RPP - curious for your take. In case you didn't get the email, too: "This is the typical scene in an oud shop in Dubai: You walk in and see a long counter, a sales guy behind it, and a hundred different colored bottles of liquid behind him. He shows you the Hindi, the Cambodi, tells you how these are the best ouds. Then he pulls out a drawer filled with finely manicured oud chips. These, too, are an assortment of Cambodi and Hindi. You keep prying, “this is good, but I want better…” until he eventually tells you he’s got something real special for you, and goes into a backroom and returns with an oldie for special customers like you. In more exclusive shops, you follow him into a private lounge in the back where they stash the VIP stock. Folks who are used to this treatment ask me about my own collection, about batches of wood I don’t show anybody — or at least, only to select VIP clients. “You must have some crazy wood” or “I bet you’re hiding the good stuff!” Well, yes. I do have a collection of pieces I’ve put away over the years that I consider mine. I might have shared a whiff of one of them on occasion (as I’ve done on The Morning Oud Show), but they were never offered for sale. I kept these gems because they’re singular, irreplaceable agarwood relics that are especially hard — or impossible — to come by. If there were a Royal Agarwood Museum, they’d be showcased there. The oud scene has become a sketchy place, and there’s a lot of goofing around going on. Big claims bringing in big money that ends in big disappointment. It’s tough to recalibrate such a mess. I know, some claim that oud lovers have been ‘liberated’ but I fail to see how. Just like everybody became a kinam expert overnight, there are those who claim to know agarwood by looking at pictures and ordering a batch or two ‘direct from the distiller’. They proudly scoff at wood we distilled saying other batches that are 100 times inferior… are better. It’s a common rookie mistake by those who lack experience. In big oud shops, you have to deal with mixing, painting, and varnishing like never before. On the ground, you need X-ray machines to pick up the metal shavings they inject into wood because sellers charge by the kilo. You have to deal with the steaming and the moisture-pressure guns. My friend just got done in for $20,000 when he bought this wood: You keep hearing about the 'China Market' and how Chinese brokers are based in every oud producing country to beat everybody else to the best wood. So, folks wonder exactly what kind of wood are these guys dealing in? My own teacher has a stash of vintage Vietnam wood that's a grade or two inferior to what you'll find listed in The Gallery, and he's asking $500 per gram! It sounds unbelievable at first, but when you think about it for a second, there's something to it. People take for granted that kinam sells for anywhere between $300 to $1,500 per gram — and that it's worth it. Yet, in reality, kinam is easier to access, easier to buy, and there's a lot more of it than there is of the vintage Guallam my teacher is offering.. And here we're not even talking about single pieces from remote islands (like Buru) that are impossible to get hold of — literally only one or two people from all 7 billion on Earth own such a piece. Take Kalimantan, a region that has produced tons of agarwood. From all the batches that have moved through countless hands, you find one — only one — piece like you'll see in The Gallery. I can get you kinam, but I can never dream of replacing that piece. You'll find out about the Sekadau tree, the single most important harvest in recorded agarwood history. Once upon a time, jungles were full of kinam. But there was only this one solid sinking Sekadau kinam tree — ever. Which is more precious? Jayapura wood isn't abundant, but you can find 10 gr packets for around $100. What's practically unheard of is vintage high-mountain Jayapura harvests, batches that are worth at least ten to fifteen times more. The China market guys can stomach the prices they invest because they know what they're doing. They've handled enough agarwood for long enough to appreciate how two seemingly similar batches of wood can be thousands of dollars apart. So, I had an idea. I’m going to open my private lounge and let you into the backroom to see for yourself. When I say ‘China-market’, you’ll see what I mean. When I say ancient Jayapura or old Vietnam or proper walla patta, have a look and smell what I’m talking about. The Gallery features my wood. Some pieces I acquired way back, some along the way, but they were always meant for me. I didn’t pay zakat on them because I never considered them ‘merchandise.’ These are pieces I sincerely never thought of letting go (I'm still debating if this is the right move). They didn’t have a price. And now that they’re available for sale, I’m simply letting them go at market rates. Of course, the ‘market’ for oud like this is extremely niche. Big China bosses would not let go of a piece the size of your pinky for the life of them, while they don’t think twice about giving away an arm-sized black log. They, like me, hang on to pieces like these because they’ve seen — and handled — enough agarwood to know what they mean. That’s what you’ve got access to here. Those pieces. The Gallery is open for a very limited time only. Please enjoy."