Ever hear of the American tiger?
Some will tell you agarwood is plentiful and the trees are safe. That artisans disguise the truth. That oud is flourishing and there’s plenty to go around.
The bitter truth is, trees are anything but safe. There are no tigers left. Because trees – any trees – are no more. Not only are our aloes going fast, our spring is gone and our winter endangered. Where have the bees gone? The bugs that once hit your windshield? Where are the trees supposed to grow when whole forests are razed to make room for palm?
This Kampot has an eye missing, and a bruised face. Its arms are Koh Kong, its legs Pailin. Its kidneys Kampong, and maybe a distant bladder hails from Pursat. This is a scarecrow of a Kampot, made of straw. A play-dough pastiche of what’s left in our jungles. A tribute to every con artist who would give me the lie.
If you trust those who say agarwood is abundant and bound to thrive, surely you must’ve mistaken aloes for palm trees?
Our ecosystems are on the brink of collapse. There were tigers pouncing around the jungles of India and Vietnam, crouching in ambush for prey. Now the Sumatran tiger is down to 400. They’ve got nowhere to go and their only ‘Plan B’ is the zoos of America. What does that say about Sumatran aquilaria? What of the future of hirta?
As for those who say it’s all bluff… Every species is endangered save for the rampant cyber oud artist (read: con artist). The internet is full of ‘oud’ much like the supermarkets are full of salmon. The jungles and rivers tell a very different story.
Oud has always embodied healing and spirituality. Now it’s about one-upping whoever came before, smear campaigns, and fake public forums. The only way to make people believe you is to convince them whatever they knew as fact was misinformation. Only then can you sell them your wares. Salmon for everyone and oud to swim in.
People’s Kampot is the cry of the jungle, its neck caught in the canines of Homo Consumer, choked by folks with a dream to chase, or a scheme to see through.
Medicinal red, bitter-fruity, infused with the resinous core of old Kampot. A scent with just enough RAW to compliment a chord of oolong, tobacco leaf, and lightly smoked puerh. Tamarind tart instead of candy and peach (like you’d smell in those Thai ‘Cambodis’) and a lasting drydown with a scrumptious peppery base.
The bulk of the agarwood distilled was wild, collected along the mountain range where Koh Kong meets Pursat and rare batches from Kampot and Siem Reap; and the trees are decades old.
Don’t be surprised to discover that ‘ouds’ that sell for this much are only 30% oud. Crocodile wood, cedar, chanthana, you name it. When the jungles run dry but demand goes up… what do you expect?
The sad news is that there will never be an oud revolution, and this oil will go the way of all oils before it, into the realm of the hornbill and tiger. And I’m sure all of our great frag influencers will have many an oud tale to tell you for years to come.
A note from the brand – “I had trouble flying into Dubai last week because of the number of Cambodian visas that have fallen off from my passport. That should tell you how many visas there are that haven’t fallen off… I’ve been to Cambodia more times in the last few years than I can count or remember. Sometimes every month, collecting the few kilos of material entire Cambodia had to offer each time and carrying it in my suitcase to my mentor in Taiwan. Along the way, I ran a distillation or two on the ground, in the tigerless jungle, now 15% of what was as recently as the 80s. I will continue to craft so long as the trees we’ve left standing are standing.
I didn’t fly in to take a picture one time so then I could tell you this story. I flew in with my wife and her mother and sister, and Kruger and Coburn, on countless occasions, just so I could borrow everybody’s luggage allowance. I know Cambodia, and it knows me. This is my story. A tale lived and breathed. It stinks and reeks of bile and sweat, gall and zen, and smell most people find too natural and tragic to don in their malls of plastic and glass in the aquariums where they subsist, protected from the tiger’s claw and lion’s roar and the song of the hornbill.”