Kelantan is the last base station in Malaysia where there remains a steady flow of wild Oudh. Surrounded by national reserves, high lands, rivers and oceans to the north west, this geography is ideal for Oudh and now provides the lion share for the country. The flow of Oudh from Malaysia has led to some collectors becoming very comfortable with Malaysian oudh – some even giving it a second thought as they already possess a decent amount. For the most part, this is due to the common question one would ask, ‘What else can one region possibly have to offer?’ You would be forgiven for thinking this prior to smelling MARJAAN.
Derived from the Arabic meaning Coral, the lovely orange-red stone which is unique and lustrous, MARJAAN is at its name suggests, beautiful and rare. When the hunters came to our factory with this wood it was clear it was a unique find. Though not visually pleasing the scent was bewildering and it was evident from the hunter’s speech that they were very proud to have found it.
We let the wood dry, a step that many folks no longer do and we ground it into a fine powder before soaking it for 2 weeks. When you have unique wood like that used in Marjaan, you accept the extra pain to ensure the best oil is juiced out. Grinding wood into a fine powder actually makes it more difficult to distil as it forms a muddy sludge in the pot –the only solution to this is constant stirring. With an all stainless steel distillation setup (the classical Kelantan way) we bubbled away for 10 days with no fractions, no variations; just a simple slow boil and constantly stirring. You may wonder why we titled it Marjaan? The answer is simple the colour of the oil is a wonderful firey coral-like orange-red.
The scent is another story all together.
Opening with the tantalising note of freshly crushed pine sacks, followed by an embrace of vetiver, not floral but Oudh with a silken ribbon of vetiver crossing through. The buttery cream of mysore sandalwood dances in, more walnut inclined rather than apples or roses followed by a woody smokeyness leading into a basket of warm spices and lush herbs. 12 hours later, MARJAAN is still going strong, the dry-down reminiscent of Yemeni incense, almost a complete perfume itself – a dry down you will not forget.