Agarwood is basically divided into 2 major families:
Hoi An Family: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, India, Myanmar, Thailand, etc.
Xing Zhou Family: Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Papua New Guinea, etc.
Agarwood produced in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar were collectively referred to as “Hoi An Agarwood” because they were traded in Hoi An County in the past;
Agarwood which are mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia are mainly traded in Singapore, therefore they are listed as “Xing Zhou Agarwood”. Generally, the Hoi An Agarwood, which is mainly from honey-scented tree species, has a milder and sweeter scent, while the Xing Zhou Agarwood is mainly from the oil production of eagle wood, and its scent is stronger. This is the current basic way of differentiating the characteristics of agarwood production areas.
The following are the names of common production areas:
China: Hainan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Yunnan, Guizhou, etc.;
Vietnam: Nha Trang, Phuoc Son, Hoi An, Hue, Da Nang, etc.;
Indonesia: Kalimantan, Darakan, Manilau, Sulawesi, Ambon, Irian, Jayapura, Merauke, Sumatra, etc.;
Malaysia: East Malaysia, West Malaysia.
In addition, Cambodia (Krong Pursat), Thailand, Myanmar, India, Laos are also in the Hoi An’s family, and Brunei, Papua are in the Xing Zhou’s family.
If it is necessary to distinguish the grades, agarwood from the Hoi An family is better than that from the Xing Zhou family. Among them, the Hainan Qi Nan agarwood and sink-grade agarwood, Hong Kong Agarwood, Vietnam’s Nha Trang Qi Nan (Kynam), Phuoc Son Red Soil, Nha Trang Yellow Soil, Nha Trang sink-grade agarwood and Cambodian Krong Pursat Agarwood are well-known in the market.
Currently, the agarwood from Darakan, Manilau and Brunei of the Xing Zhou family is relatively well-known. The price of raw materials with the same oil content is also higher than that of other production areas’. Of course, East Malaysia, West Malaysia and Kalimantan also have some materials with special scent, which are also high-grade and top-grade agarwood. It is like the high-quality agarwood from production areas in the Kalimantan Pontianak agarwood production areas. Some have the scent of Qi Nan, the oil is special, it is the same as the honey-scented tree, it has the same oil in the wood fibre, and the taste is also bitter. It is the first choice for Xing Zhou Agarwood collection.
Table of Content
First of all, let’s talk about the most famous production place:
Nha Thrang, Vietnam
The main characteristics of Vietnam Nha Trang agarwood is its strong sweetness. It has neither a rose scent nor a jasmine scent nor a woody scent. It has a sweet and cool scent, just like freshly cut fruit. The pleasant scent of the melon flesh can be smelled, the cool air invades, and a sweet scent reaches directly to the throat.
Among the many production areas, the agarwood produced in Vietnam is recognized to have the best quality, among which Nha Trang and Phuoc Son are the best.
The top grade Nha Trang agarwood has a charming floral scent in its coolness and has a long lasting scent. But we need to know that even Nha Trang has average quality agarwood too, and not all agarwood produced in Nha Trang are top grade agarwood.
One of the main reasons why Nha Trang is so famous is that it is rich in Qi Nan, and only Nha Trang produces Qi Nan in the whole of Vietnam. The ancient once said: You must have cultivated good cause for three lives, only that you have the chance to smell the Qi Nan. It can be said to be on the verge of extinction, therefore it is sufficient to prove the preciousness of it.
Cambodia agarwood is sweet and slightly sour, similar to the taste of honey. Due to its strong scent, it can eliminate all odors, therefore it is the most popular in all markets.
The main production area is concentrated in Pursat Province. It is also known as Pursat agarwood. The material that can be used to make beads is very rare. If you come across it, you may might as well collect it. It appears mostly as smouldering material. Some of these agarwood circulating in the market now are mostly old stock, and are very expensive.
Due to the West Malaysia production area is relatively large, therefore the taste of West Malaysia agarwood will be different in each production area. In the industry, West Malaysia agarwood has no further subdivision. For agarwood produced in the northern part of West Malaysia, it is slightly sour and the taste is strong, and the quality is similar to that of the scent of dried prune. For agarwood produced in the southern part of West Malaysia, it has a slight floral scent, sweet and cool, especially the scent of honey-scent tree species, the scent is very good, and can be classified into the Hoi An family.
The location is close to Kalimantan, therefore it smells very similar to that of North Kalimantan’s. The characteristic of East Malaysia agarwood is that the lipid is heavier and shinier, and the wood colour will not have slight yellowish like West Malaysia’s. East Malaysia’s agarwood which is near to Brunei is cool and sweet, and is very similar to Brunei’s, therefore it is also sold and processed as “Brunei in a broad sense”.
And for most of East Malaysia’s production areas, the agarwood scent is cool and have slight herbal scent, which is a scent that is relatively fresh.
Brunei agarwood belongs to the first-class scent from a first-class production area. The production is not high due to the relatively small area. In the current market, most of them are posed with East Malaysia agarwood.
Brunei agarwood’s characteristic is that its scent changes. It smells sweet and cool, and there will be milky scent when you savour further, with some mellow post-scent.
The first scent when you first savour Darakan is surely its coolness, the slight coolness will assail the nostrils. Immediately after calming down, you can feel a very strong and wonderful milky scent, with a very mellow post-scent.
Darakan can be said to be the most “well-known” production area currently, and has even become synonymous with high-end agarwood. Due to its scarce production, strong and first-class scent, it is relatively likeable, and therefore the price has always been firm.
Manilau production area is very small, and the characteristic scent is very similar to that of Tarakan’s, but the cool taste is not as sufficient as Tarakan’s. Its milky scent exceeds that of Tarakan’s and is long lasting. The scent has a sweetness similar to that of sugar cane, and it belongs to high quality scent.
The scent of Ambon agarwood is slightly cool, with an obvious grass scent, and has a similar scent to Kalimantan’s, but it does not have the mellow explosive power of Kalimantan sink-grade agarwood. In recent years, Ambon agarwood has gradually become sought after by agarwood lovers. In addition to its affordable price, its never greasy scent is the main reason why it is loved by the majority of incense lovers.
Irian is a large island that belongs to Indonesia and it borders to Papua New Guinea.
In terms of scent, Irian’s has a slight medicinal scent, and the change in scent is relatively insignificant. Most of them appear as sink-grade or half-sink-grade agarwood, and the quality is all good. It is a second-tier production area.
The production areas to the north of Irian, and the production areas surrounding Jayapura are called as Jayapura. Jayapura agarwood is basically the same in appearance from Irian agarwood. In terms of scent, the scent of Jayapura agarwood is slightly cool, similar to the coolness of watermelon, and is comparable to that of Irian agarwood.
Merauke is a coast near Irian, and is near to Sorong Islands. It is also called Sorong Agarwood, and it has only been classified recently. The characteristics are no different from Irian’s, and the scent is also slightly medicinal. Merauke, Irian and Jayapura are all second-tier production areas, and the price is much more affordable than that from the first-tier production areas. In recent years, Merauke agarwood has gradually become popular among incense lovers, mainly because of its relatively affordable price.
Papua New Guinea
A major feature of Papua’s material is its jet black and deep colour. Even under the same weight as another production area, quality of Papua’s looks much better. The grease line is very clear, and the beads made are good looking, black and shiny, and the sink-grade ones are also easier to produce compared to the first-tier production areas’. If you only compare the appearance, Papua agarwood must be of first-class. It is at second-tier production area because of its scent. At the beginning, Papua agarwood will have a slight spicy taste and slight milky scent. It is very unstable, and the scent changes frequently. Over time, the smell will gradually become mellow. In general, Papua’s material is slightly better than Irian’s, and therefore the price is also slightly higher.
Sulawesi agarwood has the characteristics of typical Indonesia agarwood. It is affordable and accepted by the public. It has a cool taste, and a very elegant and fresh taste, sweet, mellow and attractive, and some have a slight medicinal scent. However, this kind of agarwood is relatively tender, and relatively lacks the ability to retain and diffuse the scent. But as a long-term used agarwood, it is still a very good choice.
In terms of price, Sulawesi agarwood is slightly cheaper than East Kalimantan and Tarakan agarwood.
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