Minorien / Frankincense, Fuuin Sandalwood, Fuuin Kyara

Minorien export four incenses to the United States market. Three of them are in the title, the other I reviewed a little while back. All four incenses have in common a unique earthiness that accentuates the natural ingredients and base materials of the incense more than any spices or oil top notes. For those looking for sweeter, friendlier incenses you might find the Frankincense to  your liking, however the rest of these might be termed difficult incenses in that the notes are generally strong wood, an almost wet type of aroma and little in the way of balancing the aromas to make them friendly to Western noses. All incenses are quite affordable, although the highest end Fuuin Kyara is likely to be pretty costly despite it not being in the usual kyara price ranges.

The Frankincense seems to have been specifically created for the Western market and it’s likely to appeal to anyone who enjoys the type of resin blends burned in Catholic or Eastern Orthodox churches. While it has an obvious woody base due to the format, little of that aspect of the stick gets in the way of what is more of a blend rather than a pure resin stick such as Tennendo provides. It’s kind of a triumph in a way, as I’ve never tried an incense stick that was anywhere close to this kind of resin blend and found it instantly user friendly.

I also found the Fuuin Sandalwood to be very nice. As someone who grew up with various Indian sticks and dhoops, a lot of the purer high end old mountain sandalwood sticks don’t actually appeal to me as much as less costly, often accentuated Indian sticks do, which is one of the few reliefs to my pocketbook. Minorien’s Fuuin Sandalwood is actually very similar in ways to some of the better Indian dhoop sticks with the wood containing a more saturated sort of smell that’s slightly sweet and a bit more powerful than most purer Japanese wood sticks. In fact this could end up being one of my favorite sandalwood sticks and it definitely has the Minorien signature “wet” smell, something perhaps a bit more attractive for sandalwood than for aloeswood.

Fuuin Kyara is Minorien’s high end stick, but don’t let the kyara name evoke the very high end Shoyeido and Baieido kyara sticks; this isn’t even close to the same league as those and I’d bet that the actual level of kyara in the Fuuin sticks to be very low; it would have to be to be sold at this price. As such, this stick isn’t all that far off from the Fuuin Aloeswood, with all of its aristocratic, bitter characteristics. The kyara leavens the unfriendliness of the wood a little and you’ll know when your stick hits the ingredient, as the aroma will get a bit richer and friendlier.

Overall both the Fuuin Aloeswood and Kyara sticks are very unique in that neither has a lot of softening ingredients, leaving the wood to be brash and in your face. I actually find this to be the strength, rather than the weakness, of the whole Minorien line, that the sticks can provide a contrasting bitter, woody note to other sweeter and spicier incenses. It makes them fairly unique among all Japanese incense sticks.

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15 Comments

  1. September 2, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    […] Minorien / Aloeswood – As I cycle through various incenses I often come across this one and am impressed all over again, particularly surprising as the two above it in the Minorien line are more refined and impressive. But there’s something so ancient and hoary about this aloeswood that it tends to scratch that itch I have with aloeswoods that aren’t too sweet. Like Baieido, Minorien’s products have a way of continuing to impress long after one’s initial purchase. […]

  2. May 31, 2010 at 10:57 am

    […] I have been a long-time Tennendo Frankincense person, but recently decided to try Minorien Frankincense based on the many positive comments here. Its darker, pungent, resinous character is a great […]

  3. Pinjie said,

    March 18, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    We have found that the quality of Minorien Fu-in Kyara varies from batch to batch. The first batch we had was absolutely wonderful — potent, sweet and pure. We called it “the King” at home because to us it was the best Aloeswood incense we ever smelled. The second batch is a different story, though. Not only is the Kyara scent weaker, but it also has an off-scent.
    I call it “earthy” to be nice and my husband calls it a “urine-scent”. In fact with this batch, I’d say I like the Fu-in Aloeswood better, too.

    Thanks, Mike, for being a great guide in the incense world!

    Pinjie

    • Mike said,

      March 18, 2009 at 2:36 pm

      Wow, Pinjie thanks for the warning and kind words. I think the ever diminishing supplies of aloeswoods are causing just about everyone to adjust with mixed effects. And sure hope the change hasn’t hit Minorien’s Ryugen kyara which is one of my all time favorites.

      • Pinjie said,

        March 18, 2009 at 3:12 pm

        Hi, Mike,

        I had the great fortune to have received a couple sticks of the Ryugen from Kotaro as a gift. This is the stuff to die for. I’m still keeping the last two sticks safe in my drawer. Since I can’t burn it freely, which means probably at least 5 sticks a day :), I haven’t bought a box of it yet. I surely hope the quality of it didn’t change, either.

        Pinjie

        • Pinjie said,

          March 18, 2009 at 3:14 pm

          I meant to say, I,too, hope it hasn’t change yet…

        • Mike said,

          March 18, 2009 at 3:22 pm

          It’s a good thing they come in those neat little pawlonia boxes now, which at least brings them into the range of more people’s budgets. But I know what you mean, the first time I tried Shoyeido Shokaku, I’d take the stick from the sampler out, light it, groan over it and immediately put it out and back in the box lol.

          • Pinjie said,

            March 18, 2009 at 10:19 pm

            Yeah, the little paulownia box… It’s cute but so small. I heard somewhere that you’d have to have accumulated eight lifetimes of merit or good karma to be able to encounter Kyara. I’m not sure if I have that much merit piled up. When I was sampling the Shoyeido Premium line at Asakichi in Japantown, I didn’t dare to ask for the top few to be lit. I guess I’ll have to work on the merit part a little more.

  4. Mike said,

    October 26, 2008 at 11:57 am

    It took me getting Minorien’s high end Ryugen to appreciate the Kyara. Until then I liked the Aloeswood better as well, it’s more immediate. The Ryugen teaches you what to look for in the Kyara, as what’s prevalent in the Ryugen is only in trace amounts in the Kyara, which really is the midpoint between the Aloeswood and Ryugen. With you all the way on the antique shop vibes, that’s often what comes to mind first with a quality aloeswood. I suspect much of it is the laquer and staining involved in those woods, the ingredients of which partially come from tree resins and woods. Curry smells with aloeswood tend to be Shoyeido trademarks for the most part.

  5. Beavis Christ said,

    October 26, 2008 at 10:36 am

    I actually liked the Minorien Fuin ALOESWOOD better than their Kyara. I found it much woodsier and woodier. It’s how you would imagine a very expensive wood object to smell like or Antonio Stradivari’s shop back in 1712. No weird curry smells at all.

  6. Mike said,

    April 14, 2008 at 7:13 am

    Yes, I really like and appreciate how different all three are. I think of the Shoyeido/Gourmet more as a blend than the other two though, or at least the Minorien and Tennendo versions remind me the most of using pure frankincense on charcoal or heater, while the Gourmet still has that Horin-esque base to it.

  7. Steve said,

    April 14, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Hey Mike – enjoying the Minorien Frankincense this morning for the first time. It has less of the citrus/melon note of Tennendo’s Frankincense and is overall drier, “smokier” and more resinous than both Tennendo and Shoyeido’s Gourmet/Nan-zan. I think this is what Bernd says in your Gourmet review and is also what I’m hearing from you above. A nice contrast to those other two franks, which are either more bright or sweet, though at the end of the day, Minorien would be my close third of the three. You really can’t go wrong with any of ‘em…

    Steve

  8. Kohdude said,

    March 7, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    I have burned the Kyara twice now and find it to be nice.I am not sure I would buy it,but it has a strong unique quality about it.I prefer a little more spice and sweetness.nice but there are others in this price range I would consider first.it may smell better if blended with other woods,spices,resins and flowers to make it a more complex smell.I like it none the less. I am on the fence about buying it though.I will burn it a few more times and make my choice to buy a box or not. at $1 a stick , there are others I enjoy more at or below this price.I am going to give this one more time to integrate in my senses. Thank You…..

  9. steveski said,

    February 10, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    I recently picked up the Minorein Fuuin Sampler and here are my impressions

    Frankincense: For a stick, this works very well. I usually like my franks in resin form as I believe this to be a much better representation of this scent. That being said, this is a fine frankincense but to me it’s a bit overpowering and intense. That might sound odd coming from someone who burns the resin but to me when I burn a “stick” I expect something that’s a little less powerful then a resin.

    Sandalwood: I’ve had mixed impressions of sandalwoods in the past. For some reason they’re all amazingly different (which can be a good thing depending on your perspective) but I think this is perhaps my favorite sandalwood I’ve ever burned. And I think you’re right about the “wet” working much better on this one then on the aloeswoods. It’s quite powerful but mellow and a bit sweet at the same time.

    Aloeswood: I’ve reviewed this one elsewhere

    Kyara: This is a nice still with some obvious Kyara present, along with the expected Minorein touch. Not as wet as the Aloeswood (to me anyway). Not as great as some of the finer Kyara’s out there but it is an extremely pleasant stick, couple that with a fair asking price and you have a sure winner for those of us who are budget-minded.

    All of these are bold and in your face. They’re also all heavy on the smoke which can get a little overwhelming, but does not necessarily detract from the enjoyability of the scent.

    Well done Minorein.


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