Having been the first artisan Oud vendors to release Sri Lankan oils we couldn’t sit idly by and not showcase our ability to produce oils that could exceed expectations. What better way to do this than taking you on this journey with us! So after the successful release of Sinharaja – our third Sri Lankan Oil – we packed our bags and prepared for our visit to the ancient island.
Going as a tourist is easy, plenty of hotels, transfers are simple, relaxing on the beach, its no problem. However the murky world sadly associated with agarwood is a lot more difficult. We had forged strong relationships already, our oils and wood are a testament to this but to go into the jungles is a completely different ball game. First of all we would on an ethical basis not go near any reservations or areas under protection so our network had to lay the ground work with various tribal leaders and landowners. Secondly we had to hire or “employ” for want of a better word Guards to keep us company, its a risky business we accept that however we dont want to be in any potentially deadly situations.
Arriving in Sri Lanka the first day was spent in the distillation house going through material that had been collected and deciding what was acceptable for the Super High grade distillation and what would go into the pot for the Sinharaja style cook. Let me make it clear, even the wood for sinharaja is considered very high grade and extremely well resinated and with a lot of oil content.
You can see not only the outside part of the logs has resin which is quite common, the internal wood also has resination. This generally happens with much older trees, and some of the wood here is perhaps a century old.
Over the course of the next 4 days we trekked through the jungle of Sinharaja and Sri Pada – an area north of Sinharaja which is fabled to have received the first man on Earth (Adam pbuh). Trekking through the hot, humid climate navigating mountainous terrain crunching through 7/8km per day would have been impossible without our guides. They were very keen to show us trees that they had come across however not all of them were suitable. Many trees were young, less than 5 years and some which were 15/20 years old didn’t show much sign of resin production. The reality of the Oud scene started to dawn on me as we went back the next day and the day after… there isnt much more high grade wood available. The very best kinamic wood is all but extinct, gone to chinese collectors or held by kingpins in Colombo. Dried sinking wood is available from various hunters but the price has escalated to $20/g which makes it impossible to use for distillation, only for sale as high grade burning wood.
Walla Patta Tree (20yrs old)
We were lucky enough to come across some wild wood which we could make use of however material for cooking is almost exclusively with seasoned hunters. These guy have stock piles of wood which theyve managed to locate in their local vicinities, also a point to note it is illegal to log anything from the Reserve areas, all our wood comes from land which is open to all or from private land owned by local jungle tribes. There are hundreds of small villages dotted throughout the jungles who have very skilled hunters, people who have used the walla patta bark in the past for weaving baskets and other “furniture” and now have gone into the Oud trade.
We’re very pleased to let you guys know that we will be releasing some lovely sinking chips which have now fully dried and still sink, also some amazing log pieces. These pieces have had the oily wood removed as thats gone into our pots however the outer skin contains a huge amount of resin. The very best of these logs has a strong aroma even at room temperature so will make excellent display pieces. Keep a look out on the site for when these are released.