These are not arranged in order of wonderfulness or anything like that, but they are pretty much what I have found myself gravitating to through out the last month or two. I use my electric warmer quite a lot and my choices reflect this. The warmer opens up many more possibilities and also works well if smoke is an issue.
1. Divine Lover by Nathaneil Musselman
A Kyphi blend of very high standards and a wonderful scent. My recent review of this is here. Kyphi is a very old scent from Eygpt and that area that has been around for at least 3000 years. There are many different formulas for it, this one apparently comes from some new archalogical insights Quite a lot of it burned every night as an offering to Ra. One can only imagine what a city like Luxor smelled like when this was happening, rumor has it that the air got pretty thick with the smoke ( better smelling then LA however) :)
2. Mermade Magickal Arts Aphrodesia
One of the best floral’s anywhere. You can see the write up here. High quality natural ingredients and a lot of attention to detail make for an incredible incense with none of the synthetic overtones that most florals seem to have. One of these incense triangles will nicely scent a room for quite awhile.
3. Shunkodo Yoshino no Haru
Perfect for the Spring. Spicy florals with Aloeswoods and a bit of camphor to give it a slight edge. This is compounded to invoke Cherry Blooms and it does the job, but not in the typical cloying sweet style. I pulled this out the other day and fell in love with it all over again. I use the thicker long stick which might put out more smoke and scent. It’s really a treat and the scent lingers nicely. Shunkodo is one of the best companies out there right now and Kotaro and Jay from Kohshi have done us all a great service by bringing the line into the US.
4. Daihatsu Sandalwood Sliced Chips
As far as I can tell, this is the best Sandalwood one can get here in the US. It has a superb aroma that gives one a whole new perspective on how Sandalwood is supposed to smell. A little goes a long way and by storing it in an air tight container it will last for a long time. This has pretty much become my reference point for how Sandalwood is really supposed to smell.
5. Baieido Byakudan-Kobunboku
This is easily one of the best deals in sandalwood sticks on the market. Baieido still uses Indian Sandalwood and it really shows. They make higher grades but for the money this is pretty hard to beat. So, yes, you can light up a bunch of sticks at one time and do up your whole environment. :o ) It’s very clean and very soothing, quite nice after work.
6. Baieido KADEN KOBUNBOKU
This is classic Baieido. A stunning mix of Aloeswoods, Sandalwoods and spices all balanced in harmony, yet each standing on its own. A pretty good trick and one that Baieido pulls off oh so well. I have the long stick, which goes for around fifty minuets or so. Its scent is extremely grounding and centering in nature. It also comes in many differnt sizes and price points.
7. Tennendo Enkuu – Horizon
There is nothing else that smells quite like this(at least that we can get here in the US, Shoyeido’s Nan-Kun used to be close but seems to have been reformulated of late.) A certain almost caramel/butterscotch note mixed in with a really nice Aloeswood. There is a really deep interplay of flavors though out the whole experience, it’s very captivating and to me, something very special.
8. Shunkohdo Kyara Seikan
This is basically Ranjatai with a supercharger bolted on. It is one of my absolute favorites and has done a lot of damage to my bank account. It is not that expensive but I like to burn a lot! The addition of the Kyara really makes it and it is not to be missed. The musk element in this stick is so captivating it can become very difficult too not just keep lighting more… You have been warned :)
9. Shoyeido FLORAL WORLD STAR (bottom of page)
OK, this is sort of cheating as there are really three different scents in this set, but they are a really good mix that obviously is composed of very high quality ingredients. And yes, they also smell just ever so nice. Classic Shoyeido goodness here. The Jasmine and Violet sticks are a very good interpretation of the idea of the actual flowers and get the idea across while the sandalwood is just gorgeous.
10. Bosen Superior grade Vietnamese Hoi-An
I think this is a pretty good deal as far as Vietnamese woods go. It’s very much the straight up wood, hold the spice approach, and as such is rather refreshing and uncomplicated. Yet it also can really hold your attention and it perfect for meditation. It’s also at a fair price for something that will only continue to get more expensive and less available.
Some things to keep in mind about the state of incense at the moment. The actual availability of many of the raw ingredients( Aloewood/Sandalwood) is somewhat questionable right now. There are shortages of the higher quality woods and a lot of the blends we have gotten used to might be coming up for “reformulation” due to this. I think this is already happening within some of the major players. The price for the woods themselves is also very high right now and this will effect the street price and blends, probably sooner rather then later. Just something to keep in mind as you consider what to get during the coming months.