I have recently been looking for a quality cultivated agarwood. I’ve heard of farmers being able to produce sinking-grade material from cultivated agarwood trees. Traditionally, it was only wild material that had the potential to be so resinous that it sank in water. This is exactly what industry leaders have been trying to replicate for decades now.
When farmers first began cultivating agarwood, the quality wasn’t initially very good. It was barely usable. A lot as changed since then and decent cultivated agarwood is now available, but can it yet compare the wild agarwood of olden days?
Let’s find out.
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The Search for Quality Cultivated Agarwood
Today I am reviewing Scented Mountain.
They are a company from the United States of America who sell cultivated agarwood products from Vietnam. From what I can gather on incense forums and other related websites, they have been in business since at least 2013, although I did not ask them for their exact start date.
Scented Mountain apparently offers 2 grades of agarwood. One is considered their “premium”, while the other seems to be their “standard” grade. Initially, I wasn’t sure if their “emperor’s grade” was a higher grade, or simply a larger specimen, so I sent them an email and received a fast and courteous reply letting me know that the “premium” grade is the same quality as the emperor after all. Fair enough, but since I am reviewing them, I figured it was only fair to purchase their flagship product.
I went ahead and purchased 5 grams of their “premium” agarwood.
Upon checkout, I did notice that I was charged over a dollar extra for shipping. The shipping section of their website states a flat rate of $7.15 for shipping, but I was charged $8.30. I understand shipping costs have recently increased, but you should also keep your website updated to reflect that. I didn’t bother mentioning this to them because it was only about a $1 difference.
I received my package about a week later via USPS priority mail.
The packaging is pretty. The agarwood comes in a labeled bag, which is then placed inside of a labeled drawstring bag. It’s nice, and I’ll probably keep the bag to use even after the agarwood is gone.
The wood itself looks reasonably resinous on one side, while the other side has much, much less. Pieces of one side almost glisten when looked at from a certain angle. They don’t look to bad for cultivated agarwood, but the dark resin doesn’t penetrate very far into the wood.
I was hoping I would be able to smell at least a little bit of fragrance off the bare wood, but I was not able to. They do not have any smell at all at room-temperature. Maybe the faintest bit, if I really, really try to pick the aroma up.
These are advertised as “agarwood chips” and appear to be quite thin. I weighed the agarwood inside of the bag and it weighed 5.27 grams, so apparently they sent me an extra quarter-gram of agarwood. That was very nice of them.
Burning the Agarwood
Interestingly enough, the Scented Mountain website says to either use charcoal, or to literally light these on fire with a lighter or candle. I think that latter part is a bit silly. Nobody should be lighting their agarwood on fire with a lighter or candle. I know royalty used to do that in ancient times, but they didn’t have many better methods back then, and they were also using much higher quality material which would produce a stronger scent when using such a method.
Anyways, I opted to burn the agarwood on a subitism-style incense burner, which should help get the most fragrance out of the wood.
Please note that in the video I have the temperature turned up on the subitism incense burner in order to show the resin content of the wood. Normally I would burn the wood at a lower temperature, in order to conserve the wood and allow the initial sweetness of agarwood to permeate the room.
A good bit of resin does sweat out of one side of the wood, but it creates only small bubbles on the other side of the wood. The other side of the wood seems to char up pretty quickly. There is a decent bit of resin in the wood, but not enough to stop the wood from burning quickly.
The wood itself has dark resinous notes of a somewhat flat agarwood scent profile. Notes of sweet oudh, jungle swamp, toasted chicory and burnt cocoa with some soft floral and dark fruit notes in the background.
The smell is nice, and the wood looks quite good, but I wouldn’t say this wood is very economical. At times, I can get a whiff of that true oudh scent, but it doesn’t stay steady. I could see people burning a quarter gram of this wood at a time, and it doesn’t last long time, even on a subitism incense burner. On low heat, the chips seem to burn up in 10 to 15 minutes.
I’m not sure how they are telling people to use charcoal, or even a lighter, because it would burn the wood chips up even faster then it does on my subitism incense burner.
The scent seems to dissipate in an hour or so. I found this a bit underwhelming. I really wish the aroma lasted longer, but after experimenting with different slices of wood, different temperatures, and other variables, I was not able to get the scent to last any longer.
While the service was friendly and courteous, and the product is alright for what it is, plantation wood, it lacks character. It looks good enough visually, and has decent resin content, but the fragrance profile is a bit flat (a bit underwhelming potency-wise) and the chips burned up a little faster then expected.
It’s certainly not the worst cultivated agarwood I’ve seen though. The agarwood chips do have a nice bit of resin in them, and at times you do get a whiff of that true oudh scent, but they could be stronger.
Have you tried Scented Mountain agarwood chips?
Let us know what you thought about them in the comment section below!