A quick note…

Hope everyone is doing well. I’ve had a bit of an uptick on various personal incense “advice” inquiries of late and unfortunately at a time where other activities are keeping me busy. I do intend to reply to most of these under the right circumstances, but at this point I’d have to say that inquiries that include asking me to do free research or to recommend incenses or resources for (usually start-up) business purposes I’m going to have to pass on, I’m afraid I just don’t have the free time to do these even when offered something in return. You can, however, ask for assistance on our Ask Olfactory Rescue service page. Although this won’t necessarily guarantee you a response, you might find some assistance among our other staff members or readers. If you’re unsure of the parameters of what is acceptable on this page, feel free to write me at the address on the About page, if questions are way off I won’t pass them through. I also highly recommend looking at the Review Information link (and some others) on the left if you’re a business asking for reviews as there are a lot of incenses that we won’t review here as part of our remit is to encourage the use of higher quality incenses which leaves out a lot of lines (like Gonesh or Hem for example) on the commercial market.

The other thing I would suggest before writing me personally, is to look around and get an idea of what Olfactory Rescue Service is about before writing me. I’ve had at least one or two inquiries that betray the lack of even getting a general idea of what we do here, like asking me to carry a line of incense (this isn’t an incense business it’s a resource) or include a business-run guest blog here. We’re not a business and don’t feel our readers will benefit from an invested interest here, although we certainly encourage others to create their own incense blogs (and I’ve always said, if you have one, we’re happy to link to you here). Anyway feel free to discuss here, and I’ll try to weigh if and when I can.


Kyarazen Monthly Newletter

Kyarazen posts a more or less monthly digest of informative articles, covering everything from fine tea to fine agarwood. I found this months to be most informative and timely, covering the two obvious lines of soil agarwoods on the market, as well as in depth information and pictures of what you should be looking for when you put large amounts of money out for wood which in many cases is coming from 1000’s of miles away with a “no return” policy. The article clearly points out how to tell the difference between what used to be traded as opposed to what is being sold in the last few years as meager copies. While many incense users only notice this as a decline in the quality of the incense stick they used to love, it was most noticeable in the quality of wood being sold out of Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and today, even from Japan as the last of the old logs are consumed. While I got to see only a sampling of this decline during my 25+ years of trading in the wood, it is hard to beat Kyarazen’s view from Ground 0, so to speak, in Singapore, as well as the vast amount of research that he has done over the years. I really appreciated seeing the pictures of what is no longer possible to obtain (barring a lottery win, inheritance, etc.), as well as concise and easy to understand information. The article can be read here http://www.kyarazen.com/soil-agarwoods/

A few words on the Kyara offer (closed)

I have closed discussion on this thread now that it as died down. The primary reason for this is because I’ve spent quite a bit of time listening to everyone involved, believe that everyone has had their say at this point, and do not want to get into it any further.

I had temporarily turned the previous offer from JK De Lapp private, but the intro paragraph has been edited, so please reread. One of my staff writers strongly believes that the wood pictured in the offer is not kyara. I’ve also received some documentation from JK on what’s being offered that I have not had a chance to digest yet, but at this moment I don’t think this is going to avoid controversy. Now while I do, I am going to allow comments on this thread if people want to discuss this issue. I am saying up front that civility is absolutely required here, discussion about the wood and the subject is fine, but no attacks on people please. I have respect for both JK and my staff, yet I am definitely not the person to judge the outcome of this. But I do want to make sure the post reflects any concerns.

Yellow Kyara, a message from J. K. DeLapp

The following is a message from our good friend J. K. DeLapp at Rising Phoenix. Please direct all inquiries to the e-mail address below. Comments are disabled on this post. There has been some controversy over this offer (including a member of my staff, someone highly respected when it comes to this subject), so I would like to direct your attention to the comments section of this page which I have opened up for discussion. These comments include JK’s documentation about kyara, which, even if you’re not going to go for the offer, is very informative and interesting and worth the read. I want to reiterate that JK runs a sound business and the controversy over whether this is kyara or not should not reflect on his ability to deliver on this offer. I have allowed civil discussion in the above linked thread because it’s not for me to make the call on what is kyara or not, but at least it should give the buyer information in order to make their choice.  – Mike


I’m in the process of getting my hands on some Kyara dusts – namely Red and Yellow Kyara dust.

Reliable supplier whom I’ve done business with for a long time.

The material is sourced from a construction company that uncovers the materials on building projects (as most Kyara is buried in the soil between 1-5 meters). So – this is definitely ethical material. 😃

The dusts are of superb quality, comes from “breakaway” loose pieces when the chunks are unearthed, and is ideal for making compounding further into incense – or using as is. Less than rice grain quantity is needed for use on it’s own – and will fragrance a room for hours. I use it in my clinic to great affect!

Whereas the price of buying Kyara is often closer to $750 per gram, these Red and Yellow Kyara dusts are being offered at the nominal price of $75 per gram.

I’m purchasing a fairly large quantity (part of why I’m getting a great price) – and could use a little help with the hefty bill of the large score.

Would be great if folks could handle picking up 1 or 3 or 5 or 10 (or more) grams!

**This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to pick up the rarest of incense materials at a fraction of the market price.

Payment would be up front – and I’ll have the material direct from the source in 3-4’ish weeks. I can then ship the quantity you’ve purchased directly to you.

A little goes a LONG way in compounding incense (used kind of like “salt and pepper” in food…just a pinch is all that’s needed) – or can be used as is for the most luxurious experience.

Again – this is for Red Kyara and/or Yellow Kyara dust. This is known as “breakaway dust” from larger pieces (as they are cleaned of any loose pieces), which is why I am able to get such a phenomenal price on this incredibly rare material.

This offer is a bit time sensitive – so if you’re interested – please do speak up ASAP!

If interested – please do email me ASAP at: JDeLapp@TheRisingPhoenixGroup.com

Thanks! 😃😃

PS – a photo of a 53.2g piece of Yellow Kyara that I have – as an example of the quality these dusts come from:

123 4 5

A few guidelines to think about before posting a complaint here.

I’ve tried to make Olfactory Rescue Service a place where you can share complaints about businesses, but what I had in mind was when there is a serious problem, like if someone runs off with your money for good. And yet I’ve let some minor complaints through and unfortunately what this has done, particularly in Essence of the Ages case, is send people over here en masse to complain about things that actually should be directed to the business itself. We do realize that over the last year or two Essence has changed the shipping times from within a few days to seven business days. This is now clearly stated on the site. And seriously if it goes over a business day, let’s not complain. I realize we want our incense as fast as possible but let’s not pretend that most incense businesses are corporations on the level of Amazon who have the infrastructure to deal with things in a way one single person running a business can’t. One thing I have noticed is that when Beth gets a complaint here, she will respond to it and 4 times out of 5 there isn’t a counter response, because her logic is tight. On the other hand, I think people need to pay close attention when something is out of stock. If you don’t want to wait for something to restock let her know that on the order when you place it. Believe it or not, I don’t work for any of these businesses and yet I’m having to play middleman in a way I don’t really have as much time for at the moment due to other concerns. But I do know that Beth is good people and I’ve probably let out the leash too far on letting things pass through here and I’d bet money the incense orders would go out faster if she didn’t have to keep explaining herself or replying to repetitive emails. Just have some patience. Be good people yourself.

From now on, one’s complaints must be serious for me to let it pass through. You see some of the complaints here have been petty about people who have been almost extraordinarily generous. Complaints about Mermade for example better be damn convincing, because the evidence is far more in favor of extreme generosity than it is about making mistakes about orders. If I have to be honest by allowing complaints against people who process orders above board, I should be equally honest when I know the business integrity of someone as well. Let us be kind to each and understanding to each other.

Also, and I think I’ve said this before, if you’re a stranger complaining, I’m going to be very likely about deleting complaints unread, because unfortunately most of you don’t come back when your complaint is responded to by the business. People who read these complaints should pay attention to the responses and not automatically assume a complaint is valid if a business follows up.

Finally, let’s be clear about who runs Olfactory Rescue Service. It’s not any of these businesses. It’s me and my staff. I will explain the rules as kindly as I can and I will do the utmost to be honest and fair. But I have no fear of moderating severely when these rules are not respected. I would prefer the site to be as drama free as possible.

Zen Minded

I’ve actually been amazed at the amount of spam that goes through here from incense sites and I do my best to keep it off the site. I’ve recommended on a number of occasions that businesses interested in getting some exposure to contact me first and amazingly, this actually happened, one of the first for sure! Anyway just as a reminder the links on the left are from shops where I am confident they will deliver good service either from personal experience or from one of our staff or if I hear enough good things from our regular readers, people who I see frequently here (that is if a stranger shows up and goes hey this one’s good, well we’d need a little more than that) although we’d still appreciate your recommendation.

Anyway I am happy to have heard from Jim at Zen Minded in the UK. Please check out his site and better yet let us know what kind of experience you had in this thread!


Aromatic Vaporizer Set available at Mermade Magickal Arts

I just wanted to quickly mention that Mermade Magickal Arts is, for a limited time, offering a newly updated Aromatic Vaporizer. I believe the initial count on these devices is 30 and dropping, so if it’s interest to you, you’ll want to act fast!

The Rising Phoenix Perfumery / Musk Rose Bakhoor, Resin Bakhoor, Ambergris Souked Sandalwood Powder

I’ve been really looking forward to writing about Rising Phoenix since I started corresponding with JK DeLapp some months back. It may not be known to all readers but there’s really an amazing community of incense artisans in the United States now and often even when it looks like I’m posting about a new company with new incenses, I’m actually posting about veteran work in the field. We’re talking about high quality incenses on the level of Katlyn Breene and Ross Urrere but with a distinctly individual direction and focus that is expressly JK’s. Two of three of these incenses are intended to be in the middle-eastern Bakhoor style and yet while they carry forward the qualities of this style of incense, they avoid all of the trappings of the cheaper stuff and instead move closer to what might be considered mid to high end Japanese incense quality. The other incense, while not a bakhoor, has a similar level of quality. All three are fabulous incenses made with numerous high quality aromatic ingredients covering multiple levels of activity whether one heats or uses them in charcoal and those who have enjoyed the work of other artisans we have featured here should immediately line up at Rising Phoenix Perfumery’s Etsy store before the incenses are gone.

The first of these incenses is called Musk Rose Bakhoor. Like all three incenses, this one comes in a 3.5g sized glass jar wrapped in Japanese Washi paper. The incense is a fine earthy powder that is immediately redolent of the finer materials in incense. I remember a day when you couldn’t buy a good rose incense, but even fresh from the jar you know you’re onto a good thing here. The ingredient list is impressive with the wood base combining sandalwood and four different kinds and origins of aloeswood. On top of this blend we have a mix of Russian Centifolia Rose (an attar I assume), Champa and an all natural and extremely fine Hina Musk. You would think almost any one of these top ingredients could suffice for a great incense, but all three of them together make for an exceedingly complex and heavenly blend of scents that deliver an aromatic epiphany over and over again. These are the types of fine scents whose descriptions couldn’t possibly live up to the billing, the kind of subtlety lost in cheap floral incenses. There is one caveat here though, this is the kind of aloeswood heavy incense that the Golden Lotus incense most of us use from Mermade Magickal Arts isn’t quite hot enough for even at maximum and so in order to fully experience the whole scent, I had to experiment with the blend on charcoal as well (good news though, I believe there will be new methods of heating on the way in the near future from MMA that should allow the woods to come out more). It is truly hard to encapsulate how much goodness is going on with this blend. The rose hits you first as any good rose scent does, but the finer ones have personalities that transcend the usual experience of walking through a rose garden and this one is a scent you could just fall into. The champa will bring back memories from the years when champa-based incenses were at their best, I had multiple hits of deja-vu with every use of this incense, I’m not sure any other word could describe it better than awesome. One wonders just how much the champa and musk ingredients modify the overall scent as I also seem to pick up more of it a bit later in the heat when the sandalwood starts to come out. I’ve always found it interesting as well how Sandalwood can work so cleverly in an aloeswood heavy mix, although this may have been the way it works with a low heat. Needless to say there’s so much going on this incense that it will take many uses to really explore all the directions its going. It’s quite simply a masterpiece.

Rising Phoenix’s Resin Bakhoor is something of a high-end take on frankincense and myrrh resin mixes.  I was charmed to learn that this incense actually started as an Abramelin incense because you can actually sense that this is the origin, particularly from the way aloeswood and frankincense are mixed. This has a similar type of base to the Musk Rose Bakhoor, although in this case even if the aloeswood mutes a bit at low heat it doesn’t affect the scent quite as much as the previous incense, simply because the resins here are really arresting. There’s a real melding of scents here to create something quite new and special, a real eye to how each ingredient modifies another. Frankincense and myrrh are kind of the peanut butter and chocolate of the incense world anyway, but I really like the way the limier aspects of the green frankincense meld with the good quality Ethiopian myrrh here, it’s as if they were one resin with multiple faces. Some of this is due to the benzoin and labdanum in the mix, both of which seem to intensify the overall fruitiness going on at the top. And what a fruitiness it is, not just the typical lemon or lime qualities you usually get with resin mixes, but a sense of age and subtlety as well, which is a nice trick that is enhanced when the method of burning or heating makes sure to bring out the deeper qualities of the aloeswood and sandalwood. It’s actually somewhat rare to see a resin blend formulated with such a wide array of fine materials and even rarer to find one where every ingredient counts in the mix.

Rising Phoenix also offer various types of aloeswood and sandalwood, and offer as an option with their Indian Sandalwood Powder, An Ambergris Souked Sandalwood Powder (scroll down). Those who have had the pleasure of trying Ross Urrere’s take on this theme will recognize the style, where the crystalline, high-end scent of fine, fresh sandalwood is modified by the salty and sublime scent of ambergris. However, Rising Phoenix’s version of this uses (Golden) Irish Ambergris, rather than the more common New Zealand sourced material, which makes me want to eventually compare the two. I find this style of incense to be simple in terms of getting a two-scent, highly clear aroma, which is a good thing as the materials being matched here contain enough complexity in their own right that they would be drowned out in a more complicated blend (ambergris in particular does not shout, it sings). And of course if you’re only familiar with sandalwood in stick incenses, then experiencing what fine powder is like is a must as its better qualities are always revealed in a heat. In fact I would even think this would work quite at well at lower temperatures as a little goes a long way.

It is good news to see these incenses on the market and better news to know that even more styles are planned! Those of us who await every new Mermade blend with that sense of pre-Christmas anticipation will likely start finding themselves doing the same thing with Rising Phoenix. But this company doesn’t just have us awaiting the next blend, it encourages people to learn about and create their own aromatic products. You can find informative videos at this link. To see more than the introductory video, all you have to do is sign up with your name and e-mail address. And with new methods of heating and burning on the way, there should be more informative videos to share with you all in the near future.

Mermade Magickal Arts / Dionysos, Icaro +

One of the things I’ve been noticing of late is that I can often have a Mermade incense in queue to review (the latest two are the fantastic Heart of the Sun and Honey (Amber Champa) incenses) and then they’re already gone by the time I make a move to writing about them. So it should be said that in general Mermade vintages are going out to higher demand, so it behooves oneself to move quick on these things, perhaps even quicker than waiting for our reviews as unfortunately we can’t get to everything in time as much as we’d like to. Olfactory Rescue Service is of course well pleased that more and more people are experiencing Mermade and Katlyn’s bountiful creations as I can’t imagine a time where we wouldn’t have good things to say about them. The latest creations could be gone by the time I get this posted and it would be a shame as both of these are comparatively unique to the roster and well worth checking out.

Another thing I’ve been noticing is how Mermade’s linking of myth and magick to the incenses give them a sort of power in their own right. Dionysos is one of these and the label immediately puts in mind the feral Greek wine God and his intoxicated entourage. When the first notes of the incense arise from the heater, the scent is grape, berry and wine all of some mysterious vintage. But woven through this central note is the wildness you’d associate with this God, an evergreen, balsamic and grassy mélange that speaks of remote pagan locations. Two of the incense’s notes are Greek Aleppo pine resin and Bay laurel leaves, both of which work with frankincense, myrrh and labdanum to give this scent a noticeably different feel to it. It’s a brave creation and has that touch of the weird to it that helps to get these images rolling.

Icaro moves across an ocean from frankincense and pine to copal blanco, elemi and Breu Claro, from European forests to the rainforests of Brazil. The comparison between these two incenses shows how different scents can be. It is something of a hot, dry incense especially in comparison to the liquid resin-like qualities of Dionysos but it’s also defined by an intense cactus-green scent that likely comes from the ground ayahuasca that is buried in the copal-heavy mix of ingredients. This combination speaks to the shamanic myths of the area and strangely enough I’m also reminded of how close to the word Icaro (defined at the Mermade link), the Greek figure Icaros sounds, and how both speak of long voyages and journeys. Once again, we’re seeing new directions being assayed by Mermade and this is a heady combination that has an impact similar to the Dream Snake of many years ago.

I was sent other current samples of Mermade works, including two variations of a stick version of Pan’s Earth, one an aloeswood version thereof. I had enough to know these were beautiful and heady blends that speak of how strong Mermade’s stick incense has been getting with new variations (and this goes for the Honey/Amber champa sticks to which I’m looking forward to more of after I rocketed through my tube of the amazing things). Mermade is also selling Styrax Benzoin, which comes looking like a fragile geode of dark crystals sparkling in part due to the added tincture/essential oils. This nurturing of the natural brings out a very gentle amber-benzoin scent on a heater, mild and unassuming and avoiding some of the harsher qualities of cheaper benzoin.

I also received a sample of small disc-like lozenges of Deep Earth, but when I opened the little package, I lost one of them as it shot out of the package into that same dimension lost socks go. The other landed on my heater where its familiar but variant scent reminded me of how much I love the lineage of this incense, I believe I still have samples going back at least five vintages.

In summary, it’s just always a joy to go through Katlyn’s latest work and share it, but don’t forget these incenses are getting more and more fleeting as people learn about this venerable company, so it doesn’t hurt to grab a vial or two right away. Also, next review I should have some incenses from a new entry into the nicely growing US field of incense artists, a “newer” company I have really been looking forward to talking about…

Kunlha Incense: Jetsun Dolma, Lotus Pema, Shing Tsa, Pangpoe, Loong Pö

These are produced by Kunlha Incense, which is a small family business. They are made without any animal materials and also seem to be made of very high quality herbs and woods. They are also pretty much “non sweat sock” or “funk note” in style. At the same time they are very approachable to a pretty broad range of people if you don’t demand the above two stylistic elements. Other than Loong Po there do not appear to be any oils used. At this point I have re-ordered three times so I am pretty sure I like them :)

Jetsun Dolma (Green Box): I think this is modeled after Green Tara as it is listed as “curative and healing incense”. The scent is a bit heavier then any of the other sticks, which might be valerian or mugwart. It is also very relaxing (to me at least) and is great later in the evening. This one seems to be herb heavy with some wood notes in the background. I find it fairly pleasant but not something I would use just for the scent.

Lotus Pema (Yellow Box): This is the wood scent one hopes to find when trying out anything that says “cedar” or “juniper”. It is beautiful, subtle, and very clean with no off notes at all. Really a great stick of incense in the pure wood style. This has become my “go to” woods scent. Highly recommended and I have yet to find anything comparable to it.

Shing Tsa (Blue Box): The cinnamon, rhododendron, and juniper in this blend seem to inter weave themselves yet at the same time you can sense each separately, which is a pretty good trick in incense or perfume. It can be very entertaining to sense them as they play out in the room. Great for mornings and afternoons. Really a well-rounded incense, almost Japanese in style. Uplifting and not overdone.

Pangpoe (Red Box): This is along the lines a of a fairly traditional “red stick” Tibetan incense. Lots of herbs and some woods totally blended into an overall combined scent profile. Classic but at the same time maybe not as much a standout like the three above. IMO, as always.

Loong Pö (White Box): This one seems to be designed as something to use for post work chill out. It has a mellower background scent then the Pangpoe with the addition of a perfume note added into it. Since my box is at least two years old and the note is still there (somewhat reduced) I am assuming there are some synthetic aspects to the scent. Essential oils or Absolutes, especially any floral’s do not tend to last that long unless tightly sealed, which these were not. However it is an interesting scent, like a light floral mixed with (maybe) aldehydes, pretty classic in style and not overwhelming at all. A nice mix and a pretty good stick that should appeal to many people.


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