Notes from the Jungle

Why does one bottle of oud cost $300 more than the next, or even $700 more?

You’ll hear it’s all about the raw materials, but what exactly does that mean? And is that all there is to it?

In the coming weeks, I’d like to share a series of insights that give you a peek at what makes good oud good, and what makes some even better.

I want to talk about mainstream perceptions—and misconceptions. I want to take an up-close look at agarwood trees, the way they’re (mis)treated, the way they’re harvested, and how, when all’s said and done, they end up in liquid form poured in small sturdy glass bottles that sell for hundreds of dollars each.

On the way I’ll take a jab at the oud biz: a cutthroat trade where big wads of cash change hands, sometimes high up in Tokyo penthouses, sometimes in the mud beneath the rain amidst the hiss of insects in an Indonesian jungle.

The oud world is filled with confusion and I hope that this series will be a team effort that helps clear up many things. There’s a growing community of oud lovers out there, some who recently started their oud journey, others who’ve been sniffing their wrists for a decade, and all of us are still learning.

So, please let me know which themes you’d like to dig into, which questions haven’t been answered, or which answers are still unclear. With everyone’s feedback, we can tackle as many oud mysteries as possible. Email me anytime.

The series will run here on the blog, so please subscribe to automatically get the latest updates. (Don’t worry, I’m not a post-a-day blogger, so your inbox won’t take a hit.)

For now, the story starts half-way, with a tree. Watch this space…

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