The scent quality of an Oudh Oil isn’t determined by the value of the agarwood used, how resinous it is or even how it bubbles on an incense burner – rather it is determined by the Oil content of the wood. Fragrant Oil can be entombed in the deep wooden fibres and resinous structure of agarwood and the finesse and skill of a distiller is revealed in his distilling and coaxing every last drop of precious Oudh Oil out. The QANDAHAAR collection of Al Shareef pays tribute to this wonderful lost art.
Sourcing woods that met the standards we set for this particular series in Qandahaar I has been a challenging pursuit and a true hunting experience. Trying to match a specific scent profile and wood quality has been made even more difficult by the competition that exists for quality woods coming out of the Assamese jungles. Traders eagerly await with cash at every trading spot on both sides of the border to purchase the treasures brought out and some even have collectors scouting through villages, door to door, purchasing from private collections that residents may have.
If you were lucky enough to sample Qandahaar – The Wood you would have noted that at first glance it doesn’t appear to be particularly resinous but when placed on low heat the oils are clearly visible on the surface and the scent is magnificent. Such pieces are prime candidates for yielding high quality Oudh Oil as the oil has reached an equilibrium point whereby it is densely entrenched in the fragrant compounds yet hasn’t traversed the saturation point turning it to resin.
Hindi wood has always traditionally been soaked. Due to its strong wood fibres it requires to be soaked so the resulting oil represents the true nature of the wood with the top, base and end notes all being represented. If the wood is not soaked only the top heavy, ethereal notes are captured due to the volatile oils on the shallower parts of the wood fibres escaping and what tends to provide the heart/end notes remains trapped in the wood regardless of how resinous or not the hindi wood is.
Cooked in the traditional deghs like Qandahaar I and II, Qandahaar III can be summarised in two words: Oudh Mastery. QANDAHAAR III isn’t about barn or non-barn, it is about Oudh fragrance. A Hindi Oudh that has an inherent Top, Heart and Base – a vintage, luxurious and classical fragrance that booms Oudh at the top of its voice.
Qandahaar III combines the best of both QANDAHAAR I and II. An evocative mix of fresh mango peel coated in camphor carried away by a shy breeze of mint, tingling clove and cardamom come to the forefront resting on the velvet petals of dried blood-red roses. Wafts of clove, fresh and vivid, brisk and intriguing illuminates accords of leathery rose into swirling waves of amber-wood, and then the softest breeze of crisp hay. A mixture of dry and lush green fields, mossy, slightly musky, flirting into the finest amber wood melding into cedar with a hint of buttery sandalwood. Finally that proud and haughty Hindi ‘OUDH’ drydown the FIX and ecstasy we all anticipate when twisting open a bottle of Hindi.
Many people who have tried Qandahaar I and II praise them to be the best Hindi oils that they have ever smelt, Qandahaar III will raise that bar of praise a notch higher, this is a Hindi that will masterfully etch her place in your heart and mind.
Note: Every Fully bottle purchase will be accompanied with a small sample of wood that was used in the distillation.