Santal Sultan by Ensar Oud (2017)

Thumbs Up

I have conflicting information about when this fragrance was released, but sources indicate the sample I have was available in 2017 but compounded from oils distilled in 2005, so we’re sticking with that. Ensar Oud Santal Sultan (2017) is, or probably I should say was, a super-limited attar combining real Indonesian santalum album (same species as Mysore) sandalwood oil with oil from the red heartwood of Tanzanian sandalwood trees, both being over 100 years old in the ground. All other detected notes here in Santal Sultan are merely implied except for frankincense, as this is literally just an attar of two different vintages and species of sandalwood tree oil touched with olibanum. What supposedly made this special was it saw compounding in a manner identical to Ensar Oud’s actual oud attars, imparting some residual odors from that process since the same equipment was used. For all the artisanal perfume fans out there all about the quality, naturalnessm and provenance of ingredients used, this is tops if you enjoy sandalwood in the raw with a slightly unorthodox treatment all around. Plus, due to the extreme actual real-world rarity of the materials used, those who get off to pride of ownership thrills may just want to collect this even if they don’t plan to wear it. Just don’t expect any fancy packaging because with Ensar Oud, it’s all about what’s inside the vial, not what’s on it.

The opening is slow (like most attars) and due to the contents, unsurprisingly animalic in nature, as real sandalwood is not this clean fuzzy pencil shavings or creamy blob material as various aromachemcial odes to the stuff have trained us to believe, but a huge depth of woody aromatic sillage awaits past this opening. The slight astringent funk is partly to blame on the red Tanzanian sandalwood, but is countered with the oft-described “creamy” santalum album, which brings in some indolic floral implications as the two intertwine in drydown. Finally, the frankincense weaves a conflicting spell that is dry and salty like ambergris on one hand, but ambery and also animalic in another, ultimately feeling a bit like old lacquer dried on a can. For some this may sound unpleasant, and it is if you’re used to clean ambrox or aquatic scents, unchallenging fougères or green chypres, but lovers of authentic orientals have already been to this place. Wear time is literally until you wash it off because this is pure oil, and Santal Sultan doesn’t have a ton of projection, but it will glow and slowly develop well into the 15 hour mark before reaching anything you might consider a traditional perfume dry down. After spending a day with it on a particular patch of skin, I get mostly the reedy and ambery elements of the sandalwood mixture at the very end, with any creaminess or floral intonation gone.

Something this indulgent doesn’t need time of year or contextual recommendations for you to justify using, because if you had the cash to spend the $350 Ensar Oud wanted for just 3ml of this stuff, you’re gonna wear it where you damned well please. On that note, I think as an indulgence for the “deep perfume journey” type that can wax poetic endlessly about a perfume, and wants nothing more than to be engaged “with the higher self” to the detriment of all other sensory stimulation when wearing perfume, Santal Sultan is an olfactive experience worth having. You will literally be transported away to the exotic locations of these ingredients’ origins, and feel something of the emotions and energies imparted with their compounding. Unfortunately, Santal Sultan is long gone after being introduced and if you thought $350 for 3ml of oil was bad, you don’t even want to take a peek at what it goes for in the aftermarket, if you even find a seller. Literal perfume jewelry this, not far from an antique bottle of scotch worth more as investment than as a drinkable spirit, Santal Sultan by Ensar Oud offered one of several once-in-a-lifetime ultimate experiences for people on the furthest end of the exclusivity spectrum. Too rich for my blood, but nonetheless a breathtaking attar of back-to-basics perfumery. Thumbs up.

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