People’s Series

You might have heard the gossip. All that End of Oud talk of ours is bogus. Just a marketing ploy, they say. Oud is abundant and here to stay, they say. You see their campaign slogans everywhere: Democratize, and Make Oud Cheap Again!

But you know what? Oud has never been cheap. When we first helped pioneer authentic oud to a Montale mindset, guess what we got flak for? Not the purity of our ouds, not the quality, the exclusivity, or our marketing. It was the price. How can anyone charge $390 for a bottle of Oud? It was unheard of.

It feels like we’re reliving those first days when oud washed onto Western shores. People didn’t like it when we refuted mainstream ‘ouds’, saying they don’t contain any real oud (or if they did, it was low-grade). DOP laced concoctions, or mixtures of a hundred additives sold as ‘oud’ upheld a tradition folks didn’t want to let go of. “What do you mean those aren’t real ouds?”

Back then it was heresy. Now, it’s common knowledge.

Aside from still complaining about our ‘high’ prices (while it’s public for all to see that our mean asking price is less than everyone else’s), you now get those who take offense when we say many modern oils aren’t as artisanal as they claim to be, selling for prices that are so hyper-inflated it makes me cringe; when we say that getting oud through Facebook or Alibaba doesn’t mean you’re getting a better bang for your buck, if you’re getting clean oud at all (not to speak of high-grade). The oils they praise have as much to do with artisanal oud as MDF has to do with solid wood… and they don’t like hearing that.

They want to make ‘artisanal’ oud available to everyone. How? By saying any oud is good oud. Propaganda about the quality of the raw materials not being such a big deal and other demands that nobody would tolerate in another industry. Let me see them go to Rolls Royce and complain about why they waste three weeks to finish their interiors with genuine bull hide to avoid stretch marks. Kia doesn’t do that, so why do you?

The same people are okay with young saplings prematurely harvested and injected with growth stimulants, and then complain that Oud Yusuf is ‘overpriced’. That SINKING-grade oud oil aged for 17 years should be available and affordable to all, and that any generic Malaysian distill is basically the same as Purple Kinam.

It boils down to this: they are fine with a ‘nice’ smelling oud. If it’s nice and doesn’t cost much, anything that also smells good but costs more is an outrage. How’s that for logic?

Oud has never been for the masses, either. Emperors and Emirs always had first dibs, like Chinese business tycoons do now. As much as there’s been a boom in designer oud sprays at every Duty-Free and a splurge of ‘direct from the distiller’ deals, top shelf ouds are now more exclusive than ever because they’re far rarer to come by and much more expensive to produce than ever before.

That’s why it infuriates me to still see people mock and diss and moan about our prices. We break our backs to keep costs down and make our ouds—gram for gram—cheaper than everyone else’s, while the price of high-grade agarwood doesn’t budge. In fact, agarwood has become so ridiculously expensive it makes less sense than ever to distill such wood. And then when we do, the oud commies get on our case for being ‘expensive.’ When we launch an oldie at the same price we sold the same caliber for ten years ago, it’s still not cheap enough. When they can’t for the life of them get anything close to Dhul Q, they don’t say a word.

Ignore the naysayers. That’s the easiest way, and that’s what everyone tells us to do. Or… you can do what Ibn Arabi did when someone wanted a castle.—He just gave him one.

So, allow me to inaugurate the first distill of its kind, and a bottle of oud out to smash down the price barrier that keeps so many of us from smelling like the whirling dervishes, without sacrificing quality even one iota.

This one goes out to YOU, and to all the oudheads who are let down by the oils of the New Regime—and to all members of its parliament, too!

But, the People’s Series comes with a disclaimer. Don’t think this is normal. Don’t think this proves the anti-artisanal mascots’ claim that good oud can—should—cost less than it does. Don’t believe that we’ve been forced to finally steep down to market reality.

Good oud isn’t cheap. It has never been. And new distillations are getting more expensive by the day. If the ‘artisanal’ ouds advertised today truly were what they claim to be, they ought to cost a lot more than what they sell for. So…

Blink! says Malcolm Gladwell. Something’s fishy. When you see a black incense-grade chip advertised next to a bottle of oud but the price seems to be missing a digit, blink. Something’s wrong. When you hear of high-grade artisanal oud distilled from 9-year-old trees, blink. There’s something they’re not telling you.

People’s Series is a rebel with a cause, out to tear down the $$$$ wall everyone who steps into the world of oud is forced to face. Here’s your chance to own an artisanally distilled, quality bottle of oud at a shockingly d̶e̶m̶o̶c̶r̶a̶t̶i̶c̶ affordable price.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Blink. How can an oil at this price still be high-grade when I’ve just told you these kinds of ouds should cost a lot more?

You’re right. People’s Series oils should cost more. In fact, they do. But here’s how we sidestepped a large chunk of the cost to make oud of this quality as affordable and accessible to as many aspiring oudheads as possible:

We made wood deals on the side to help fund the distillations. We sold rare batches of agarwood to dealers who couldn’t source the likes of them and deducted the earnings from our cost of People’s Sultan—i.e. calculating our profit as your discount instead.

On top of that, we’ve put our markup into our PR fund. So, yes, this is another marketing move. Torch our wood sales and blow our profits to the wind. Nobody does that—(blink!)—UNLESS they have a point to prove. With all the fudged and false info and mediocre ouds being pushed as the next Purple Kinam, we are obliged to raise our fists and punch back at the farce that is the new “Democratic People’s Republic of Oud Oil” (aka DPROO).

With the People’s Series, our cost literally became your profit. We bent over backwards to make this happen. Just so we could use People’s Sultan as a megaphone to shout out: Viva Artisanal Oud! at a time when everyone else demands cheap, cheaper, cheapest! (And as a result, the market is being flooded with oud that’s bad, worse, worst.)

They wanted oud to be cheap [again], so here you go. They wanted ‘decent’ oud at a reasonable price… how does a co-distillation of pure kyen and wild New Guinea gyrinops sound? How does taking the same caliber agarwood used to make the likes of Sultan Murad and Sultan Fatih infused with the sencha vibe of Satori Kensho sound? How about the delectable, aquatic glitz of Sultan Abdül Aziz for a fraction of the price?

People’s Sultan should sell for a lot more. It is worth a lot more. Unless you’re doing these crazy backroom wood deals, there’s no way to capture such a pristine, aquamarine New Guinea incense aroma without paying through your nose. That’s exactly what we have been doing throughout the Sultan Series. Jumping through hoops to bring these smells to life.

I didn’t dedicate my life to this olfactory wonder, the sacredness of Oud, to see it ‘democratized’ beyond recognition. Don’t swallow the hype about how widespread agarwood ‘actually’ is. Don’t fall for the ‘quality for cheap’ trick without a blink. Artisanal oud has NEVER been cheap. And it’s more expensive now than ever. And it is running out.

Do yourself a favor and find one, just one, other kyen/NG co-distill. Track down another oud that displays such crystalline distillation prowess and mastery (my heartfelt gratitude goes out to the many hands that made this happen) with such a steady scent progression and intoxicating blue-green top notes. Find it, and buy it on the spot. It’s rare enough, and at this price… unheard of.

The cost of quality artisanal oud is as much of a hurdle for us as it is for you. But we’ve done all we humanly could to help pull down the price and still give you a bottle of oud that’s worth more than you’re paying for it.

Now, how’s that for Democracy?!?

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Ensar

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