I wrote about the highest end of the four sets of Shoyeido Floral incenses a while back, a set that contains some of the most beautiful and refined floral incenses available, with oils that are so well defined that the incenses are among the most complex florals available. Moving down from this box is difficult because you have that general idea that the next item down won’t be quite as impressive, but at least in the case of Shoyeido’s Royal box, the drop off is fairly insignificant. The incenses here do lose a part of their definition, but to speak of them as less enjoyable is something of an exercise in splitting hairs.
The comparison between the Star set and the Royal set, however, are somewhat appropriate as both sets share Jasmine and Sandalwood incenses, even if the styles of both are quite different. The Sandalwood incense in both sets is about the same green color, but the Jasmine in the Star is red, while here it’s blue. Rather than Violet, Royal has the line’s highest end Rose incense. And there’s a $20 difference between boxes, with Royal retailing at $39.95. This keeps Royal well within the highest end of all floral incense ranges.
Like with Star, Royal leads off with a Jasmine incense, in this case a dark, powdery blue type of scent, rather than the lilting and subtle aroma of the Star Jasmine. While one immediately notices that the jasmine oil used in the Royal doesn’t have as much complexity (which is not a criticism really, it’s a characteristic common of most florals), it’s still high quality, but it’s not like one can attend to the intricacy like one can with the Star version. While the Royal Jasmine does lose this sense of mirage-like movement and the decorous, delicate nature of the oil, it’s very difference as an almost night-time and mysterious sort of Jasmine, helps to contrast the two as two very different scents, both of them extremely worthy in their own way. That it really doesn’t suffer much in comparison is quite impressive.
I’ve mentioned often enough as a disclaimer that I’m not much for Rose incenses. Prior to the Royal version I might have picked Shoyeido’s Xiang-Do Rose as my favorite due to its concentration and base, but this version is definitely a step up. For one thing its rose aroma seems quite authentic and of the three incenses in this set it definitely has the most oil definition. Where in many other rose incenses I could point out bitter, astringent or even sour qualities around the edges, the creators have managed to balance those out nicely here. But above all the main reason why this succeeds for me is that it also reflects the rose as an esoteric symbol, its aroma continually unfolding, sweet, uplifting and multidimensional.
Royal’s Sandalwood strikes me both as very similar and quite a bit different to the Star Sandalwood, probably because they’re both sandalwood florals that have quite a bit of complexity to them. Both of these sandalwoods aren’t sandalwoods in the most common sense in that neither are particularly woody, it’s more that the aspects of sandalwood that most closely conform to floral highlights are accentuated in these incenses. In this Royal version the incense is fresh and spicy as well as floral. It strikes me as similar to a hybrid between a 12 Month and a LISN incense with its perfume, the rich base of the former style with the sultry perfumes of the latter. Here the scents bring out cinnamon, pear, spearmint, green tea and sweet patchouli.
I’ve actually made this set the centerpiece for a floral starter kit, because it covers three important elements, an excellent jasmine, an excellent rose and an excellent floral sandalwood, all of which free up the rest of the set to concentrate on other floral aromas. Even with the Star hanging overhead with promise, this set is indeed Royal and well worth the price for its fine representations of these perfumes.