Qadeem in Arabic means antique, ancient, old – befitting as it is the very last Cambodi Oudh to be distilled by ‘Abdullah, the renowned Cambodian master in the good old fashioned way. When wild Oudh supplies began to run low in India, in the 70s and 80s the search for alternate sources of Oudh went into over-drive and in came Cambodian Oudh into the spotlight. It quickly moved in to fill the supply shortfall yet many artisans like my grandfather felt Cambodian Oudh failed to perform in the same manner as Hindi Oudh and so they would add a little Hindi Oudh to give the oil more vibrancy and flare. It was the masters stroke to making the oil perfect.
This addition of Hindi Oudh to Cambodian Oudh happened in two main ways. The earlier method was to blend distilled and cured Cambodian Oudh oil with an aged Hindi Oudh (Mu’attaq) and then the two would be left to age further. Some of these Hindi oils would be 50+years old. The second and latter method was codistillation of the Hindi & Cambodian woods. This came into play when the ‘home grown’ Hindi Oudhs came into to maturity. These were the oudhs that were planted in the villagers homes and left to nature.
Qadeem is a Cambodian oil of the earlier method, the like of which you have never smelt before. In 2013 we opened our old stock off woods, kept within the family for decades some of the finest woods Cambodia had to offer in her hay day. We would have no one touch them but Abdullah, who is now long retired, the unparalleled master, the like of whom there was none on the land. Once the oil was cooked we blended it with our vintage hindi oils and we let time do its magic. One may ask why would anyone blend a a vintage Hindi with the Cambodi, wait till you smell it and the wisdom of old will make great sense.
Qadeem is breathtaking in that it contains so many finely faceted dimensions. Many Cambodian oils smell tutti fruiti, there are none of those in Qadeem. Qadeem’s fruits are luxurious and vintage with the perfect touch of ripeness and slight ferment, transforming sweet jam to tangy plum liquor and cherry cocktails. A zingy, liquorice leather twists into fruity notes giving a tantalising edge, a sinewy energy overshadowing hints of dampness. Earthy, moist, golden tobacco and campfire smoke contribute to the oil’s depth and opacity. Thick, succulent richness is tempered by the bitterness of French roasted coffee beans, Cuban cigars and the spicy dryness of Cassia, balsamic sweetness of poplar buds, and a cooling eucalyptus trill. These unexpected elements add flair and depth to the usual Cambodian profile. Considering the lavish amplitude of the flamboyant opening, the drydown is stellar but gentle, a perfumers pillow of soft woods, lambswool and bronzed sunkissed skin and touches of saffron and dare I say jasmine.
Qadeem will challenge all your perceptions of Cambodi Oudh, but that was to be expected when you are facing the pinnacle of Oudh experience, crafted by an artist with woods that the mind couldn’t even imagine today. As they say ‘old is gold’ and in this instance we couldn’t agree more.
As this is from my private collection there are only a very limited number of bottles.