Scent From Heaven: Oud Perfume

Scent From Heaven goes in search of the history and story of Oud, also known as Agarwood, the basis of some of the world’s most exclusive perfumes.

Agarwood, aloeswood or gharuwood is a fragrant dark resinous wood used in incense, perfume, and small carvings. It’s formed in the heartwood of aquilaria trees when they become infected with a type of mould (Phialophora parasitica).

Prior to infection, the heartwood is odourless, relatively light and pale coloured; however, as the infection progresses, the tree produces a dark aromatic resin, called aloes or agar, as well as gaharu, jinko, oud, or oodh.

The response to the attack results in a very dense, dark, resin-embedded heartwood.

The aromatic qualities of agarwood are influenced by the species, geographic location, its branch, trunk and root origin, length of time since infection, and methods of harvesting and processing.

The Agarwood this documentary looks towards only grows in parts of South East Asia, it is also one of the world’s rarest and most expensive commodities – kilo for kilo more costly than gold.

The fragrances it releases have long been of huge cultural significance in the Gulf and the Middle East where they are used as tokens of hospitality and welcome. But more recently leading western perfumers and Chinese investors have also been beguiled by its unique scent.

Now supplies are drying up as consumer demand grows, profit-hungry speculators close in on the market and the tree from which it is sourced becomes increasingly endangered.

Scent From Heaven: Oud Perfume
  • Info
  • Release date2016
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)Dom Rotheroe
  • Production companyAl Jazeera