Tree Trip

Tree Trip

19 December, 2016
Journey of Discovery
A tour of Asia Plantation Captial’s distillery and plantations
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Over the past two years, Asia Plantation Capital (APC) has welcomed and hosted many of Europe’s most influential investment and fund managers, state officers and private bankers at its Southeast Asian facilities, which include the company’s new processing plant in Johor, Malaysia. I have been one of the lucky few to have been able to join the tour. The tour began with a trip to the distillery at the Masai Industrial Park in Johor.

Syed Aizat, the Operations Director of APC Malaysia, presented us with an introductory video which showed us how the company is run. We were then treated to modest cups of agarwood tea, otherwise known as gaharu tea, before being directed towards the back of the factory where the processes of obtaining oud oil takes place.

Nadiah, the R&D Manager of APC Malaysia, briefed us on the different species of Aquilaria that are involved in the production of oud oil, and their respective plantations in Johor, Negeri Sembilan and the South of Malaysia. APC’s trademarked inoculation was also explained. The strong aroma of burnt bakhoor, with its rich thick smoke, filled the air as Nadiah described the kinds of incense produced by APC from agarwood after it has undergone the oud oil extraction process. From incense sticks to oud dust, we were mesmerised by the whole process. As an end to the demonstration, a sample of pure oud oil was dropped on our wrists for us to indulge in its unique colour and luxurious scent.

The tour then continued with a look at the equipment involved in the drying of agarwood chips, along with its fermentation and hydro-distillation methods. Agarwood chips are carefully selected based on the amount of resin seen in the centre of harvested pieces of wood, before being spread out on trays for manual drying. We were given the opportunity to experience a day’s work at the factory by taking turns to stir the fine bits of ground agarwood and soaking them in purified water to speed up the fermentation process. The separating funnels, a part of the apparatus involved in hydro-distillation, showed a clear difference between the layers of products obtained. As the density of the oud oil is lower than the density of water, the golden-brown layer at the top is therefore collected and tested.

Meanwhile, incense sticks and agarwood bracelets are produced in the manufacturing area tucked in a corner of the factory.

The laboratory was the last stop on our tour. Here, soil tests from the plantations are done, along with oud oil grading and the monitoring of Aquilaria seeds. Further research and development is also being carried out to improve the growth of APC’s trees and their inoculation technique.
The tour concluded with us browsing goods – oud oil perfumes and agarwood bracelets – at the Fragrance Du Bois counter at the front of the distillery.

We then bid our goodbyes to the APC staff who were more than happy to show us around, before being ushered off to view the new and matured plantations located at Batu Pahat and Paloh respectively. The two locations are roughly an hour apart from each other.

The Batu Pahat plantation houses two young plots and a nursery. Guests were allowed to ride atop a Hilux around the plots to get up and personal with the plantations and also the workers that maintain the health and growth of the trees. The trees in Paloh were more than ten feet tall at five years of age. These trees have only been inoculated for the past six months, but are already producing adequate volumes of resin (oud oil).

All-in-all, it was absolutely one of the more interesting tours of industrial sites that I have been too, as I gained much knowledge about agarwood, oud oil and everything there is to know about how they are turned into unique and wonderfully luxurious indulgences.

About APC
Although operating privately since 2002, Plantation Capital was officially established in 2008 in the UK, before incorporation in Sri Lanka in 2009 as Asia Plantation Capital, followed by Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. The group expanded in 2015 to include Africa Plantation Capital in Kenya, and America Plantation Capital in Florida, US.
The Asia Plantation Capital Group now has a corporate presence, plantations and agricultural projects on four continents, with operations at various stages across the globe, making it one of the largest vertically integrated growers, manufacturers, and distributors of many end products such as Oud oil, agarwood, and bamboo.
Asia Plantation Capital Berhad is part of the Asia Plantation Capital Group. It recently opened the largest agarwood distillery in Southeast Asia, and has been collaborating with several small to medium-sized plantations in Malaysia to aid in the provision of the necessary skills and expertise to set up and manage their own Aquilaria tree plantations.
The group is one of the world's fastest growing plantation management companies, leading the way in sapling cultivation, forestry growth, pioneering inoculation methods, harvesting techniques, distillation methods and product processing, while bringing important economic benefits to local communities. It also provides sustainable forestry and agricultural land acquisition and development services to the global forestry and agricultural sector for more than 10 years.

By: Stephanie Lam
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