The Scent That Is Pricier Than Gold

The Scent That Is Pricier Than Gold.

Most have never heard of agarwood, and would not recognise it, even when its priceless scent crosses their nostrils. Nevertheless, its resin costs about US$7,500 per kilogramme in 2014. Its extracted Oud oil costs even higher, at US$38,500 per kilogramme. Agarwood is an aromatic resinous wood that forms within some Aquilaria trees. It is also produced in a closely related genus called Gyrinops. Both of these trees, classified in the Thymelaceace family, grew sparsely in the rain forests of Asia but are now considered endangered in most countries and rarely found in natural forests.

For thousands of years this resinous wood was burned as incense during meditation and prayer to help people achieve a higher level of consciousness and a state of deep inner peace. Many religious groups including Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Taoists and Christians consider agarwood the most precious of materials. Agarwood incense is said to have a calming effect. It is also an important component of traditional Chinese and Malay medicine. Its pleasing fragrance has been enjoyed throughout the world and has developed into a beautiful aromatic art form in Japan called the koh-doh ceremony. Not all agarwood is exactly the same and slight differences in aroma are common. Incense masters from the 16th century identified several types, and named them Rakoku, Manaban, Sasora, and Sumatora, with flavours like spicy, sweet, salty, or bitter. The one that is considered to have the most elegant scent, Kayara, combines all the flavours together in the same piece of agarwood. Credit: Scented Mountain.

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