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.