This is Part 2 of our Fred Soll’s reviews, there are at least three more coming. In a nutshell these are great incenses, done in his own style and using very good ingredients. The sticks seem to last for a minimum of an hour, sometimes more and are generally very strong so using a smaller amount becomes an option.
Red Sandalwood with Special Herbs: To me this has an almost classic Indian scent to it, the Sandalwood is in the background with an almost camphor and cinnamon and spice foreground. It is mellow, not overwhelming and is simply very pleasant. The perfect scent to have in the background for study or relaxation.
New Mexico Sandalwood: This one has more of a Sandalwood presence up front . However there is also a lot of depth in this stick, more so then just Sandalwood but the other spices and/or herbs involved are difficult to nail down. It is very relaxing and at the same time does a great job of pulling you in as you start to wonder what the other subtle scents really are. Fun!
Spicy Cinnamon Incense: The name really captures the scent profile here. This is way past any of the Japanese Cinnamon blends in strength. I am pretty sure there is ground Cinnamon spice as well as a very large amount of Cinnamon Essential Oil in this one which gives it the spicy aspect. There is also a very light burnt scent in the background, which might be the base or possible the stick. This one really reminds me of Cinnamon toast. If you are a cinnamon fan you should try this one.
Benzoin: This one is really interesting. It uses both the Siam and the Sumatra resins for a really nice effect.They tend to work in harmony here and balance each other. It is a very rich, deep and smooth blend with what must be an huge amount of resins on the stick. When I first tried this it did not seem that great, however that was also after having gone through a lot of other incenses. When I tried it by itself, then all its really excellent qualities came out. If you like resins do not miss this one. Also this one seems to stand on its own, it is not in the Indian or Japanese or anyone else’s camp. Think of it as independently wonderful!
Rosemary and Sage: This one is very different the ones above, The Rosemary adds an incredibly cooling and clearing aspect that is really nice, refreshing and when mixed with the Sage just wonderful. Perfect for a summer or spring day, it really reminds me of being out doors near Lake Tahoe. The stick is very sticky so I am assuming there are lots of Essential Oils involved here (you pretty much have to cut the package open to get a stick out). Also the are small bits of (I think) Sage on the outside of the stick for, sort of, flavor blasts. This is so nice its like scent therapy.
Amber and Honey: This uses real Ambergris in the mix as well as honey. I have to tell you up front I love Ambergris so I am not what one would call an impartial judge here. This is a very deep, complex, warm and almost hypnotic scent. I would not call this a day time incense, it’s much more oriented towards the night. The impression I get from this one is of a very luxurious and perfume worn by a very confident woman. It demands to be noticed and will set the atmosphere in any room it is burned in. Ambergris has almost magical properties in the world of scent and perfumes that are very much sought after. It tends to amplify other scents and at the same time has amazing longevity and staying power in a blend. In this case the amber note mixes with the honey for a really beautiful incense. The Ambergris is beach caste( meaning collected from beaches).
A note on the cones from Fred Solls:
I got the smaller cones, called Cone Cuties in both the Amber and Honey as well as the Spicy Cinnamon. I personally find them to have a better scent then the stick, less burning stick if you will 🙂 Soll ‘s makes two sizes of cones, The smaller Cone Cuties and the large size Cones. Cones produce a lot of smoke for a short period of time and are designed to scent a space in a hurry, they also travel very well, less breakage. I would love to see these blends done as extruded sticks in the Japanese style. I am sure it would smell quite wonderful, although given the amount of oils and resins involved it might not be possible. Enjoy