Kinam/Kyara

bhanny

Well-Known Member
#2
Ok, so I'm sort of marking Ensar's blank canvas here. But I feel once I experienced what I feel is a pretty pure reference kinam note, in an oil, Kynam No. 1, now it is much easier for me to find it in many others. Kinam Rouge, Purple Kinam, Hainan 2005, to name a few.

@Ensar, speaking of Purple Kinam, I believe I read somewhere, and I think there were GCMS peaks listed as well, that showed subtle differences between purple, green and other kinams/kyaras. I think it was Kyarazen. Is this a belief you share or is kinam..well kinam. And it's purple or red because of other components and qualities of the wood?
 

Ensar Oud

Well-Known Member
#3
If there's anything that's certain about Kinam it is that nothing's certain. :)

We can't agree on a cause of its formation, and all the theories posited by even the most scientifically inclined of connoisseurs all seem to verge on poetry more than anything else.

David Oller used to argue that there's a chemical in other agarwood that's completely absent in kyara. Then again, he's the only person I heard that from. I also read Kyarazen's article about the GC test done by Japanese scientists. The thing that immediately struck me about that, and which I could immediately connect with, is the yield they got.... 0.37%!

All of the woods we've distilled that end up giving the kyara note have incredibly low yields, albeit never that low!

Regarding the color, I believe the hues are definitely impacted by the chemical makeup of the resin. Different make-ups express different colors. The most incredible looking Kinam I've seen is green, though I'm not sure if this is due to the fact that the very first slither I was gifted by Dave Oller was a specimen of green kinam and as is wont to happen with all things olfactory, nostalgia and 'remembrance of things past' somehow ended up getting intertwined with that experience, brandishing it as the very best type in my mind.

In the current Chinese Market, 'white kinam' is heralded as the costliest and most highly sought after. To be honest, the only specimens I've seen looked like average oil grade wood to me, although they came straight out of the safe deposit box of the biggest 'boss' of the China Market. When he put those back and whipped out a 5-kg log of green kinam, now that's when I properly started salivating. I think I may have a picture somewhere. Let me try to dig it out.....
 

bhanny

Well-Known Member
#5
That is interesting the theory that a chemical is ABSENT in kyara that is present in other agarwood. Is that from the wood itself? Or from the resins formed? Yikes, if it is the wood itself I guess it would be in a trees genetic structure. Of course that wouldn't mean it would necessarily have to be isolated to one specific subspecies like sinensis. But that theory would lend that a tree would be born with the potential to be kyara or not. So fascinating. I'm sure there are a good many other theories and honestly, I don't mind the mysticism surrounding it.
 

Ensar Oud

Well-Known Member
#6
No, I think that's from the resins formed inside the wood.... If it were from the wood itself it would be pretty definitive proof that kyara is a question of species alone, and there would be no speculations / debates around what causes its formation....
 

bhanny

Well-Known Member
#7
Thanks for clarifying. Its very interesting. When kyara is found, is it often clustered in a patch of trees? Perhaps it is the trees response to a very specific insult? Thanks for indulging me here and clearly take this along any other path you see fit. I just find this so fascinating!

Back the picture, what does the raw, unheated material smell like in your hand? Does it have a "mossy" type feel to it?

Again, thanks for indulging me here. I have some actual kyara chips on the way here soon so I'm sure my questions will increase tenfold after trying them. Then again..maybe everything will just make sense then :)
 
#8
@bhanny

Taha once told me, once you smell and taste Kyara, you will never ever forget it. How true it was! Among all the wood chip I have in my collection, nothing is more precious than my Shoyeido Kyara wood chip. So precious that I will only burn a tiny sliver of it on very special occasion. :) Mine was very pliable and soft at room temperature with a very heavenly scent.

@Ensar

I really regret not getting any white Kyara while I was at Shanghai! What is the difference in the scent profile between white and green Kyara? I smelt the white Kyara and it has a bit of spicy note beneath the bittersweetness, unlike my Shoyeido Kyara.
 

Ensar Oud

Well-Known Member
#9
When kyara is found, is it often clustered in a patch of trees?
I'm guessing that would have been the case many decades ago, however since a few years now the only kyara that's ever found (if any is found at all) is under the ground.... Most kinam we find nowadays is by unearthing trees that were moribund and eventually collapsed, eventually ending up buried under the ground. Imagine how old that wood is, just lying there under the earth for decades, possibly even centuries, until it is found!

Perhaps it is the trees response to a very specific insult?
That's what I think. Different triggers lead to different types of resin. It's one thing if the tree is just eaten through by ants, as was the case with many fine trees we got back in the day from the legendary region of Nha Trang in Vietnam. But interestingly, the Nha Trang agarwood was not all kyara. I met with a scientist who speculated you need a different type of trigger – a chemical rather than a physical one – in order to induce Kinam: Such as the sulfur contained in the bullets that were shot into practically every single tree standing in Vietnam during the Vietnam War....

We might then ask, what about Kinam that was formed centuries ago? – Perhaps the trees were drinking some crude oil of sorts via the roots, directly from the soil? There is tons of crude oil under the ground in Brunei, and this is the last Kinam spot on the map. I've handled and smelled agarwood bangles made from Brunei Kinam, and it is AMAZING.

Any traditional Kodo practitioner reading this would be frowning at this point. That's okay. I should actually include some sort of disclaimer right about here that I do not subscribe to the Japanese school of Kinam exclusively myself, given the exposure I've had to the Chinese sifus – not to mention one of them being our chief distiller with whom we've been working since the birth of Oriscent. And I say as a way of responding to allegations made elsewhere that 'Kyara' and 'Kinam' are mere marketing terms.

The people we've studied and worked with live and breathe Kinam. They eat and drink it the way we do tea and coffee. They carve it. They heat it (all day long on the low heat electric heaters which never get unplugged, and anytime you want a fresh whiff you don't need to put new kinam on the plate, you just draw the heater to your nose and inhale). They've even distilled it. I'm not kidding. So for someone who has never seen or smelled or handled kinam in their lives to say 'That's just marketing' is just a tad uncouth.

Back to the picture, what does the raw, unheated material smell like in your hand? Does it have a "mossy" type feel to it?
Since this was unearthed White Kinam, the texture is a bit rough, as with any dead wood that's taken out of the ground. If you carve a thin slice off with a knife though, you see shiny glossy, quite dark looking resin immediately underneath the surface. This particular piece didn't have a scent unheated. The green one whose picture I couldn't find smelled like I would imagine the Hereafter to smell like..... It was also quite greasy, oily, waxy, your fingers sticking to it as they would on a spot where there had been adhesive that was removed.

I handled Vietnamese Kinam bangles of the highest caliber also, and the texture was incredibly greasy. If not for the lack of a few hundred K on hand at the time, I would be wearing them now :rolleyes:

I have some actual kyara chips on the way here soon so I'm sure my questions will increase tenfold after trying them. Then again..maybe everything will just make sense then
That's amazing! Let us all know how your first experience with Kinam goes. And no worries about the questions!

Taha once told me, once you smell and taste Kyara, you will never ever forget it. How true it was! Among all the wood chip I have in my collection, nothing is more precious than my Shoyeido Kyara wood chip. So precious that I will only burn a tiny sliver of it on very special occasion. Mine was very pliable and soft at room temperature with a very heavenly scent.
Oops! It took me a good while to submit all of the above, and it looks like you beat me to it! :)

Welcome, welcome! :D

I really regret not getting any white Kyara while I was at Shanghai! What is the difference in the scent profile between white and green Kyara? I smelt the white Kyara and it has a bit of spicy note beneath the bittersweetness, unlike my Shoyeido Kyara.
What a pity! Well I'm sure you can always pick some up on your next visit! Let me know when you plan to go and I may just tag along with you, can? ;)

I'd compare white and green kyara like white and green peppercorns. The white is equally spicy but drier in tone, whereas the green is more lush and zesty. These things are entirely subjective, but nothing I've ever smelled matches that singular slither of Baieido green kyara I was sent by Dave Oller way back. Then again, apart from this singular encounter with white kinam, all the specimens I've sampled have been either green, black, red or purple. My second favorite, after green kinam, would have to be purple kinam. It is incredible!
 
#10
Now i have always been curious about the different colours of the kinam. Is the colour classification according to the Taiwanese system? I do not recall or remember the Japanese classification system having so many different colours. For example, Shoyeido only has definition for Kyara or non-kyara. Is there any authority to rubber stamp and catalogize the wood accordingly? Or is it based on certain scent profile?
 

bhanny

Well-Known Member
#11
Wow, this is great conversation. Really great.

@Oud_Learner

I totally believe it. Haven't done the burning yet. But just these kinam oils. Its not that I don't enjoy and/or wear others, its just that I'm so drawn to this spectacular note and how it makes me feel, its awesome.

@[email protected]

I am really interested in the color classification as well. I know we were talking about different characteristics in the resin lending to the color. But a good point raised, WHO or HOW is it called one color or the other? To an expert, could they tell the difference by scent alone between the different colors?

@Ensar

Yeah, I've read the "just marketing" drivel and it gets old. I've come to the conclusion that being its propagated by a handful of the same people out of a place of jealousy and I have no place for it. I've experienced Kynam No.1, Kyara LTD, Kynam Emerald and am about to own a handful of your kinam based classics. There is NO question you, your chief distillers and those you have studied and worked with know kinam and it is directly translated into the oils you make. I'd bet those who accuse you of the whole "marketing" ploy have never even tried the oils, they don't even realize how foolish they look.

@Ensar

The chemical exposure theory is really a cool one. Makes one wonder, are there experiments happening to cultivate Kinam? And the Brunei Kinam is amazing sounding as well. You have talked about it in wood and bangles, has it been distilled as of yet?
 
#12
Wow, this is great conversation. Really great.

@Oud_Learner

I totally believe it. Haven't done the burning yet. But just these kinam oils. Its not that I don't enjoy and/or wear others, its just that I'm so drawn to this spectacular note and how it makes me feel, its awesome.?
I too used to share the same thought as you and for a period of time, were chasing after oils that gave this spectacular green note that you mentioned. However, once you listen to the actual kyara wood, you will realise it does not smell anything at all like the kinam oils. Don't get me wrong, i have nothing against the kinam oils and in fact they are among my favorites, especially Kynam No 1! Whereas the heated wood has a very diffused scent profile, I can imagine how the kyara note would smell like if it is to be concentrated and focus into a single drop of oil on your skin to give you that elusive green. :D

Remember to heat the kyara wood on low heat or otherwise you will be missing out all the delicate top notes!
 

Ensar Oud

Well-Known Member
#14
Is the colour classification according to the Taiwanese system? I do not recall or remember the Japanese classification system having so many different colours. For example, Shoyeido only has definition for Kyara or non-kyara. Is there any authority to rubber stamp and catalogize the wood accordingly? Or is it based on certain scent profile?
I am really interested in the color classification as well. I know we were talking about different characteristics in the resin lending to the color. But a good point raised, WHO or HOW is it called one color or the other? To an expert, could they tell the difference by scent alone between the different colors?
I first heard about colors from the Chinese since my entry into the world of Kinam was through them – but I've also met enthusiasts who bought 'color' ranked kyara in Japan from trusted sources such as Yamada Matsu, etc. If you remember ListensClosely from BN, he is as traveled and resourceful a Kodo enthusiast as you can find, and he had a piece of actual purple kinam wood which he brought with him (sourced and graded in Japan from one of the top houses) for the sake of conducting a little experiment. We listened to the notes of those glossy little slivers VERY closely on his low heat electric heater – against a swipe of Purple Kinam....

After a 20-30 minute discussion and super finicky note comparison, ListensClosely drew his own conclusion: "I would have to admit, the naming of this oil is correct, given how the scent profile matches up to actual purple kinam."

People say many sorts of things, it is true, but I have yet to find anyone as passionate about monkoh in the West, or as outspoken and incorruptible a character as ListensClosely. So I knew when he nodded in approval that he meant it, and wasn't just saying it to please me.

You can pick up the different scent 'colors' in the various profiles of the wood when heated, thought the 'look' of the wood also seems to vaguely imply a color, at times more clearly than others. I've seen red oil kyara that was literally red in color. Green oil kyara that was green. Black oil that was black.....

'Green oil kyara' is a term I first heard from adherents to the Japanese school, though colors such as yellow, black and white I have only heard in the China Market.

The chemical exposure theory is really a cool one. Makes one wonder, are there experiments happening to cultivate Kinam?
Not to my knowledge....

And the Brunei Kinam is amazing sounding as well. You have talked about it in wood and bangles, has it been distilled as of yet?
Sure has.... If the scent of Vietnamese kyara is superior in the wood vs the oil, the scent of Brunei kinam oil I would have to say is hands-down more beautiful than the scent of heated chips. The only difference of course being that there are no oils in existence that were distilled from 100% Vietnamese kinam, whereas the Brunei variety being a more recent discovery it was possible to distill some oil from very high quality batches that were available for a fairly 'reasonable' price several years ago....
 

bhanny

Well-Known Member
#15
@Ensar

So say there is a nice sized kyara/kinam log. Is the entire log suitable for incense/burning? If not, what happens to the wood the barely misses the cut?

And cool to story on the Purple Kinam, I'd love to do that experiment some day. As soon as my sinus infection clears, I will be running a little test of my own. A nice swipe of Kynam No.1 with a pinch of kinam skins on the burner. VERY excited to try this. Likely will do the same with Kyara LTD.

And the Brunei Kinam sounds to die for, especially since is was actually distilled from the kinam wood itself. We will definitely need to revisit this one.
 

Ensar Oud

Well-Known Member
#16
So say there is a nice sized kyara/kinam log. Is the entire log suitable for incense/burning? If not, what happens to the wood that barely misses the cut?
Hehehehe.... :) That, my friend, is the million dollar question right there.... Over a decade of oud distillation, and no one ever asked that same question!

If you refer to what we mentioned a little earlier, there is hardly ever a 'kinam log' that is harvested live anymore. Most kinam harvests are 'archeological' excavations that involve unearthing dead kinam trees from decades & centuries ago. Any cleaning dust resulting from these would miraculously end up in some fine incense sticks offered by Baieido or Shoyeido. But that is only my speculation.

I know what happens to non-Vietnamese kinam carving dust after a harvest. But that is for me to know and you to find out! ;)

And cool to story on the Purple Kinam, I'd love to do that experiment some day. As soon as my sinus infection clears, I will be running a little test of my own. A nice swipe of Kynam No.1 with a pinch of kinam skins on the burner. VERY excited to try this. Likely will do the same with Kyara LTD.
Definitely! I wish I had some purple kinam to share with you for the sake of doing that experiment. But the Kynam No 1 / Kyara LTD test drive you're about to embark upon with those Hainanese kinam skins.... I think that ought to be revelatory in and of itself :D

And the Brunei Kinam sounds to die for, especially since is was actually distilled from the kinam wood itself. We will definitely need to revisit this one.
It absolutely is, bhanny! And you should have seen Kruger on his last visit here, literally pleading with me for just over 2 grams for him to share on the website as a small sample vial.... I had a heck of a time bringing myself to let any of it go! The palpitations... the trepidation! To me, that's the Mona Lisa right there ;)
 

bhanny

Well-Known Member
#17
@Ensar

I will gladly let you do the knowing, as long as you let me do the finding out!;) I think I like where this is heading..

I will definitely know my thoughts on the comparisons as well. I'm really pumped to try it out. Finally starting to breathe and thus, smell, a bit better. There's not much worse than getting a nice box of treasures and not being able to fully appreciate them!

And oooh that Brunei Kinam, I know how you feel about these "babies", just make sure it goes to loving hands!
 

bhanny

Well-Known Member
#18
So I've been burning some awesome Hainanese kinam skins nearly every night , thank you Ensar, and they are absolutely amazing. And seriously Kyara LTD and Kynam No1 are definitely aptly named IMO. It's quite nice to get wafts periodically of both the oils and the skins burning.
 

Ensar Oud

Well-Known Member
#19
Wow! You are a lucky guy, bhanny! Not many people have access to that kind of luxury (including yours truly most of the time). I predict you're well on your way towards becoming a kinam fiend, and will soon enough lose all taste for anything else – especially 'auxilliary note' oud oils which seem to have become quite the fad lately; they're generally classified as 'clean smelling' and what you get from them is a bouquet of light sweet notes, but they lack a true 'agarwoody' core. Of course, no oil is going to have a 'core' unless some serious resin goes into the pot!

What predominates in the likes of Kyara LTD and Kynam No 1 is the medicinality and bitterness of the aromas which is where they truly resemble kinam.

If you have more note-specific feedback on any of the individual oils, I'd love to hear it! :)

PS: And again, a gentle reminder to all members and newcomers, this is a discussion forum, not a blog. Please help us keep the discussion going by taking an active role and participating, even if it's sharing what you're wearing today. If it's just going to be a chat between bhanny and Taha and I, we might as well take it over to private emails....
 
#20
Thats great bhanny, I am sure it is revelatory to finally connect the oil to the wood. No doubt oils which espouse the 'kinam' note are only described as such based on prior experience of the vendor which the real kinam/kyara burning experience. From my vantage point, I just try to find a common olfactory link between such oils in my collection and build a mental image of what the real burning experience would be like.

Somehow, ive never been too motivated to score some Kinam. Partially because I am quite happy with my collection of sinking woods and find it hard to imagine how much better it would get. That being said, I had the same opinion about regular vs Legend oils and i've evolved from that so to speak.

I also have a concern that my oud burning practices are too 'arab' for kinam haha. I would have to approach it with different burning style as well as a different mindset.

On the 'taste' issue. Mis-perceptions of pure/high quality Oud has been something which has smacked me a few times...I have literally started sitting with different oils and trying to do 'blind' tests to try and train my nose to pick up on quality and distinguish synthetics in an oil. Its really tough, an oil may very well smell 'nice' but unfortunately that is not a factor that can be relied upon (at least for me) to deduce the inner dimensions of its reality...which matter alot.

I am not sure if it is a result of having already been told the reality about certain oils and looking back at them with that in mind...but there are a few cases now where I feel like I am experiencing the 'foulness' and plasticky notes which Ensar and Taha spoke about in so much detail. It has completely put me off those oils and I can begin to imagine how someone naturally attuned to such adulterants would immediately have alarms go off and find these oils distasteful from the get-go.