[As of 7/31/09, these two incenses have been discontinued]
Shoyeido have a number of smaller ranges that seem to fill the interstices between their normal ranges. The Aesthetics line itself seems to be sort of a mish-mash. It includes five incenses, three of which are smokeless and will be discussed later. The other two are Shino-Nome (First Light) and Miyako-Gusa (Botanica), one or both of which also show up under the “Classics” range. The versions I am going from are in the Aesthetics small boxes, the motif which is shared with the Heart series. Both incenses are sandalwood blends and very inexpensive.
Shino-Nome appears to be a limited edition, although I’ve seen it available for at least a year so it doesn’t appear to be going too fast. It’s the least of the two, a very subdued, mellow and traditional sandalwood blend with a light spice and faint oil. It’s leavened a little by cinnamon and benzoin, the latter in particular seemingly responsible for most of softness. It’s quite close to an every day sandalwood, but a little more deluxe. Unfortunately it doesn’t hold up as well to a lot of other Shoyeido traditionals, for instance the Heart series works with a similar style but with more distinct oils to set the various scents apart.
Miyako-Gusa works quite a bit better, it’s a definitive step away from a more generic sort of sandalwood bouquet. Perhaps this is due to the clove and patchouli, both of which spice this up a lot more than the previous blend and are actually more distinct than they are in most Shoyeido low enders. The spiciness is really well balanced with what seems like a very slight floral background note, however the name “botanica” probably implies it’s a bit more floral that it really is.
I find it fairly interesting that I tend to like the low end sandalwood blends Shoyeido do more outside of the Daily range than in it. Perhaps I find the bases of those incenses a little less interesting than the ones in this range or the Heart, Kyoto Moon and Zen ranges due to their slight modern touches. Whatever’s the case, one should be able to check these out without too much financial damage.