Notorious for its rich culture, craftsmanship & luscious fruits and nuts Afghanistan doesn’t usually come to mind when thinking of prized produce. Though now considered a war-torn ravaged country it was as recent as the 70s that Afghanistan was famous for her abundant fruits and nuts; the result of near-perfect weather and fertile soil.
In the east of Afghanistan, at the foot hills of the Hindu Kush mountains the Nangarhar Valley is from amongst the most fertile lands in the world. Towering snow-covered peaks provide a picturesque background to pristine waters and sunlight-strewn fields – the epitome of beauty.
In 2005 a vision was brought to life. Local entrepreneurs gave farmers lucratively cultivating poppies for heroin as their livelihood a new proposal; to shift their attention to more beneficial cash crops such as pomegranates, saffron and rose – and so they did. Dubbed locally as the ‘Mohammadi’ rose, Nangarhar Valley took well to the Rose Damascena and today thousands of acres of poppy fields have been replaced by the stunningly-scented pink roses.
The quality of a rose oil is dependent on 4 main factors: specie of rose, fertility of soil, water supply, and elevation of the land. It seems like both Nangarhar and Ta’if have the perfect elevation and variety of damask rose. The valley also has very rich soil and abundant water supply. In comparison to the other rose-oil producing regions in the world such as Ta’if, Isfahan, Isparta and Kazanlak, the Nangarhar operations are fairly new to the scene turning only 14 years old this year. The reason why many of us have not even heard about the Nangarhar rose oil is because it is in such high demand, almost all of the produce is pre-booked by international perfume brands in Europe and USA. Currently there are only two small distilleries producing the rose oil in the region and much like Ta’if the volume produced per annum is not very large.
The mainly stainless-steel distillation system was designed and built by the Germans. The units have captured the best of the Bulgarian and traditional designs used in Ta’fi, India and Isfahan. Whereas the Bulgarian systems force out both the oils and waxes from the petals by steam, the Nangarhar system behaves more like the Ta’ifi deghs capturing only the oils. That is why more stems are required for one litre of Nangarhar rose oil compared to the Bulgarian rose oil. To be precise, 7 tonnes are measured for every litre of Nangarhar rose oil in comparison to just 4 tonnes for Bulgarian steam distilled oils.
Having worked with the best of rose oils from all of the major rose regions I was impressed by the quality and smell of this oil. The Nangarhar oil has a perfect rose equilibrium – you have to smell this oil to appreciate how good it is. There is a resilience in this oil, a testimony to the land and her people. To make this project possible, farmers, collectors and distillers face daily threats from militants in the region. However, the will of the people is such that they wish for a better future and to make rose rather than war.
As soon as I smelled the Nangarhar Rose I was transported to the middle of a sun-drenched valley, surrounded by rose gardens in which every bush was cascading with fully open blossoms. The oil smells radiant, sparkling and ebullient! It’s fresh with a touch of citrus but not acidic, and the heady scent of roses is so intense it’s as though the entire garden was miraculously squeezed through the neck of that lucky little bottle. When the oil dries down it maintains its buxom rosiness and citrus freshness, while the hint of incense softens and dusts it with a whisper of woodiness. The scent is incredibly long-lasting. It is well rounded, balanced and full, a perfumers delight and a perfume on it’s own to be worn neat.
As we had promised that in 2019 we will reach far and wide to bring to our customers the most amazing of olfactory experiences, and Nangarhar Rose is a gem.
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0.2ml Sample Vial, 2.5ml Glass Bottle