Best Incense – October 2009

[For previous Top 10 lists, please click on the Incense Review Index tab above or the Top Ten Lists category on the left down the page a bit.]

  1. Kunmeido / Asuka – These top 10 lists get harder to do on some months, particularly when I spent a lot of that time in incense note taking or writing mode. At those times I don’t often have favorites or think in terms of best of the month, so for this month this is sort of a ragged list of the scents that really had resonance with me and drew my attention more than most. With Kunmeido Asuka, it was like discovering another level of depth in the incense. This is a very greenish aloeswood stick with a much heavier aloeswood oil in the mix than the comparable Heian Koh, it wasn’t one I noticed until I brought it out recently. I love pungent green incenses that remind me of ancient jungles and prehistoric vistas and this one really does invoke that kind of imagination with me. And this time it started edging into my top 20 all time list.
  2. Dzogchen Monastery / Lotus Ground Incense – This one is resonating with me a lot like Holy Land did with me in the first few months after purchase and this is as red and spicy as the Asuka is green and singing with chlorophyll. This is truly a Tibetan incense on another plane, very different from just about any other comparable incense, with a lot more oil content than you’d normally expect. Definitely a regular for me.
  3. Shoyeido / Premium / Sho-ka-kuI always kind of chuckle when this terribly expensive stick makes the list because in nearly every case I’ve probably burned a stick of it during the month at most, and this month I think it was about half a stick left over from a gathering. Sometimes this incense is just too rich, but there are times when it seems like the oils aren’t as heavy where the base wood comes through and when it does, it’s very difficult to find a better incense as this just comes through ancient, black resinous and full of sweet kyara and licorice-like spice. But undoubtedly it’ll go back in the box for another few months before I get the courage to deplete the stock even further. And to Steve who I haven’t seen here in all too long, cheers!
  4. Yamadamatsu / Hyofu – Like I mentioned in my recent review this one went from the back of the group to the front when reviewing it recently. I think there’s a layer of this that’s almost too reminiscent of aloeswoods not quite up to speed, but once you sit with it a while it almost feels like a facade and then almost like what it’s hiding comes through in a rush. Kinda got a thing for it now and waiting for the Koh-Shi fellows to get their new stock in.
  5. Pure-Incense / Connoisseur / Rose – Just the ultimate in rose incense, a whopping stamp of floral beauty for just about any occasion, I’m just amazed at how something could be so heavy yet so beautiful. What an oil they must use forย  this.
  6. Shoyeido / Premium / Misho – This was a fairly early Japanese discovery for me, so I hadn’t out in a while, much to my surprise I’d forgotten what a brilliant aloeswood incense is, about half way down the premium line. It too is nicely green with the wood less the oud-ish oiliness of the higher ends and more a dry sort of feel, which acted as a nice contrast. This is really not a bad place to start to hit the premiums when you’re done with the sampler packs. And this one’s got a bit of the spikenard in it which is as much a strong feature of the best in the Shoyeido premium line as the wood is.
  7. Pure-Incense / Connoisseur / Agarwood – This stick just has crazy complexity to it and is really unlike any of the Japanese woods and not particularly comparable to any of the Indian masalas other than the absolute version which is slightly duller in comparison. In burning this one tends to be drawn to the crystalline and camphor like note somewhere in the middle that just almost acts as a kaleidoscope where all the various notes blend playfully with each other for all sorts of new hints. A classic in a classic line.
  8. Anand Agarbathi / Special Fluxo – A new discovery for me thanks to the trading circle, this is an incense I’ll talk about more in depth when I do a survey of various thick flora incenses in the Sai Flora vein. But it’s big, powerful and terribly beautiful with less of the earthy tones and a more sublime floral mix on top.
  9. Shroff Channabasappa – Akash Ganga – No top 10 list is a top 10 list without the latest Shroff rediscovery, for me it’s this borderline dry to semi-dry take on the desert flower formula. This one will be covered in the next Shroff installment but needless to say this is much more complex than I had originally thought and given that it’s temporarily sold out at Essence probably goes to show it has been taken to quite well.
  10. N. Ranga Rao & Sonsย / Woods – Thanks to Janet for bringing this up in the Mystic Temple thread and comparing this to their Sacred Woods (at least I think it was that one) blend, as it really is almost identical. This is one big, aromatic durbar with a really pleasant and distinctive oil blend to it that I loved immediately undoubtedly due to the familiarity. The question is whether I cover it in the champas or floras at this point…
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30 Comments

  1. Hamid said,

    November 12, 2009 at 9:08 am

    On the subject of incense fatigue, I wonder if anyone else has experienced the reverse effect. Occasionally on lighting a stick that is new to me I cant smell it all…It last happened with a beautiful Sandalwood ( Sandalwood Supreme ) from IncenseGuru. By the second and third stick I was revelling in its creamy sandal base notes and almost pine like top notes, but the first stick …nothing.

    • Steve said,

      November 12, 2009 at 10:39 am

      Frequently! I think that’s part of what plays into “getting” an incense. It’s strange how our nose operates, isn’t it? Some aromas, maybe because they are new to us, require our nose to develop some type of sympathy or receptor. Or it may just be that with competing components in an aroma, the louder components grab our attention and it requires time to see past them to the more subtle shades beyond. I think Baieido incense in particular is known for not being immediately apparent, requiring a great deal of listening to begin to “get”.

      – Steve

    • Janet said,

      November 12, 2009 at 1:04 pm

      I don’t think I’ve ever just not been able to smell something at all the first time, but I have had a number of things smell not great the first time around, and much better after I had tried a couple of times, and I wondered about that….I guess I assumed my nose *was* fatigued the first time in regards to a particular facet of the scent….and I can understand why that would make it smell different – but why would it smell unpleasant the first time? That’s happened to me with at least 3 Indian incenses, that I can think of.

  2. Ian said,

    November 8, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Hi Mike and everyone

    I have been religiously studying your website for the past two years. I have been an incense appreciator for many years but your site and reviews have opened up a whole new world of fine scents for me. Your information was invaluable in deciding which high end incenses to purchase and experience. Your site is educational, fun and it connects me to other incense addicts. I would have written earlier but I am fairly computer illiterate. Thank you all for your contributions and thoughts on this wonderful site.

    P.S. My dealing with Essence of the Ages has always been terrific for purchasing any products that have been reviewed by you.

    Thanks again
    Ian from Canada

    • Mike said,

      November 9, 2009 at 9:16 am

      Hi Ian, thanks for the kind comments. If you feel the urge, let us know what some of your favorites were, further consensus on scents has always proven invaluable to readers….

  3. Steve said,

    November 5, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Hey Mike – thanks for the shout! Looks like things continue to grow and expand here and I hope you and Ross are doing well! So many more contributors now than the early days, huh?! And it looks like the Indian side of things has really taken off – you’ve got me thinking about trying Indian incense again. It’s funny – I just counted and over the last year or 18 months I purchased 97 different Japanese and “Tibetan/Tibetan-style” incenses. The analytical and compulsive side of me got so wrapped up in learning and differentiating and reviewing and rating and cataloging that it actually became overwhelming for me and I lost the ability to just light something and enjoy it. I am always amazed how you and Ross do it! Nowadays I just grab something, try not to even identify it, and just enjoy it for what it presents. No note-taking allowed. I still burn a lot of incense each day and I suspect I have a slight case of chronic fragrance fatigue – I regularly burn Tibetan Monastery Incense and sometimes don’t even notice it! What has been most interesting however is that favorites do shake out over time and I have found my 2 “stranded on deserted island and nothing else” incenses: Holy Land and Kunmeido Reiryo-koh! They epitomize everything I love about Tibetan and Japanese incense, respectively. Ironically, the former is the expensive luxury item and the latter is the el cheapo.

    Your and Ross’ past comments on Seijudo has me wanting to try them. And I am still on the fence about Shoyeido premiums – which to go for? I have the sampler and will just have to set aside some quiet “listening” time to decide. I reread your Shoyeido premium reviews and am so compelled to jump in! Fortunately, my wife Terry has a handbag addiction so with each of her purchases I feel less guilty about an incense purchase: 2-wrongs-make-a-right, right?!

    Wanted to let you know I still drop by to check on the neighborhood and get the occasional recommendation. As always, thanks so much for sharing your passion with such a valuable blog and helping the rest of us develop our own aroma passions! Hmmmmm – need to go light another Holy Land…..

    Steve

    • Janet said,

      November 5, 2009 at 9:20 am

      Hi, Steve…
      I just wanted to tell you how glad I am, for one, that you still drop in, because I got SO much valuable guidance from your comments and thoughts!
      Is there really such a thing as chronic olfactory fatigue?
      I’ve found myself wondering that when i go through “excessive” periods…I imagine myself a few years down the road, not being able to smell anything at all and I find that prospect pretty upsetting, as I’m sure you can imagine.

      • Steve said,

        November 5, 2009 at 3:54 pm

        Hi Janet!

        Your random act of kindness just made my day – thank you for the kind words!

        Aroma fatigue…a real nuisance. It’s pretty easy to induce – just burn the same incense non-stop for a day and after a while you will either just stop registering it or the scent and its nuances will be greatly diminished. Just our physiology I guess.

        As Mike has mentioned, just getting away for a bit then returning to an aromatic room can help rejuvenate the ‘ol nose. I’m always shocked returning home after vacation to realize my house smells like a Tibetan monastery or Buddhist temple!

        The other help is diversity, which is where it helps to have samples of a few different incenses. By continually burning something different, it kind of jars the other parts of your nose “taste buds” to wake up and lets others rest a bit. You know how folks smell coffee beans between sniffs when shopping for perfume? That’s the same principle. It’s probably also why you now see automatic Glade room fresheners that alternate between two scents: otherwise you would begin to think it had stopped working!

        The good news is that incense over-indulgence doesn’t seem to cause permanent aroma fatigue. Just mix it up occasionally or take a break and things get back to normal!

        Consumer Warning: All scientific theory presented here is to be considered suspect and my extensive qualifications to offer such theory include frequent over-indulgence in Japanese sake and watching Spongebob Squarepants reruns ๐Ÿ˜€

        Thanks again! – Steve

        • Janet said,

          November 6, 2009 at 8:22 am

          No problem, Steve – I absolutely meant it.
          It was great, when I was just finding my way around, to read the official review of something, and then be able to augment it with other people’s impressions. I remember, in particular, a series of comments by various people about frankincense sticks….
          and you were definitely a major player on the comment scene!
          Besides, if my memory serves, you are from NC, too, which adds bonus points, Spongebob reruns notwithstanding ๐Ÿ˜‰

          • Steve said,

            November 6, 2009 at 9:29 am

            Hey Janet – yup, Cornelius, NC. An incense desert if there ever was one. I have always been green with envy of Mike and Ross’s locales and being able to actually walk into shops selling Japanese incense. Simply not possible here. Thankfully we have reputable online shops these days. Are you around these parts?

            • Janet said,

              November 6, 2009 at 9:39 am

              Ummmm, Mecklenburg?
              I’m in Pittsboro – Chatham County.
              About your list? Don’t know if you’ve been to EoA lately, but I think most of your Shroff choices are sold out for now. Do you have any of their dry masalas, or had you given up on Indians when they rolled around?
              Ganesh is simply awesome – that whole line is a favorite of mine.
              I’d really recommend trying a pure-incense, and maybe one of the Purelands, just to get a representative sample of all the real winners.

              • Steve said,

                November 6, 2009 at 1:26 pm

                Janet – I basically gave up Indian incense about 2 years ago. After so many cheap charcoal sticks dipped in chemicals, I fully embraced the Japanese offerings available at the time and largely discovered through the help of Mike’s Prattle (the birthplace of ORS). I do still keep a few Satya/Shrinivas around (Nectar, Beauty, Aastha, Milan, ubiquitous blue-box nag champa) as well as a few nags (Goloka, Raj Laxmi, Shanthimalai). I think I missed out on this apparent renaissance of better Indian offerings.

                Thanks for the tips! Ugh, you’re right – all my Shroff choices are out of stock at EotA ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I’m looking to add the Mother’s Fragrances line of 5 champas (I recall Mike loving these just as you do), the Purelands lineup of 6, and Agarwood, Blue Lotus, Nepal Musk and Parijata from Pure-Incense’s Connoisseur line. That should hold me for a while and let me see what all the buzz is about!

                – Steve

                • Janet said,

                  November 6, 2009 at 2:12 pm

                  Really good choices for the pures….some of my favorites, for sure – Parijata was my first purchase from the line and it was instant love. The only other thing I would say is, since you’re going all-out, DO consider some of Shroff’s dry masalas, which are so cheap as to be not much risk even if you hate them – which is not super likely. If you look in August, there was a “shroff Recap” posting, and lots of folks posted their top 10…there were enough similarities in the lists that you could probably get a good idea of the ones that are safe bets!

                  • Mike said,

                    November 9, 2009 at 9:15 am

                    Good advice and I’d add that Hamid’s recommendations in many of these threads were instrumental in me finding a lot of great new scents, and I think you can find them in a lot of the Indian incense threads through the last year. In fact I still have his Jivada recommendations on my list, hopefully for a 2010 future order…

                • Mike said,

                  November 9, 2009 at 9:13 am

                  As far as the Mothers fragrances go, I’d say go 4 out of 5 there. One of them, maybe the Laxmi is a lighter version of the regular and thus slightly redundant. My review goes into that a bit.

    • Mike said,

      November 5, 2009 at 11:02 am

      Steve,

      Fantastic to hear from you again, I really felt ORS got to where it has in no small part due to your feedback and contributions and I see Janet backs me up there. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I think we’re terribly lucky to have her and a nice group of regulars here. I think with incense you’re never really in a vacuum and everyone’s perspectives often help to shift my own with incenses, often helping me appreciate certain ones even more. Running a blog, you often have to kind of fight the idea that you’re on a pedestal and I rather think we all have equal and valuable opinions to share. In fact I know at some point I’d like to add another writer or two, but probably will have to concentrate more on that after the holidays.

      I know exactly what you mean about the cataloging and reviewing. Of late I’ve realized most of my incense time is spent gearing up and preparing for reviews and not enough of it just doing what you suggest, so I plan to be aiming for that as the holidays get started (which is kind of why I want to get the reviews out now before I gear down for a while). But in a way being far apart from favorites for a while really makes you appreciate them more when you get back to them, thus my love for Asuka this month.

      As to Indian incense, I think since the last time we’ve talked the quality being imported is much much higher than it used to be. You really can’t go wrong with Shroff or Pure Incense, they’re really much better than what’s generally available. Yeah there is that threshold going back and forth between the Indians and Japanese sticks, it’s definitely hard to get used to the different smoke contents, but I knew to give breadth to ORS, I really had to make that leap to Indian incense, and I was fortunate so much good stuff started coming in around the time I took the leap (and so was my pocketbook :)).

      I’m with you 100% on Holy Land, I think it’s one of the best incenses you can buy, with a scent so complex, rich and fabulous that I’m arrested with every stick. Do check out the Dzogchen Monastery Lotus Ground too, that’s a new favorite of mine up there with the best of the Tibetans.

      Seijudo vs Shoyeido. That’s a tough one. I think the best in the whole group is probably Shoyeido Myo-Ho, their number two if we’re just counting the kyaras. The high end for both companies, I compare them to truffles, they’re utterly rich and decadent but I think you enjoy them more if you don’t overindulge. I know my plan is to milk my high end boxes for as long as possibly can, another few years at least. Also, I hardly ever pull them out unless I have company, the mileage feels a lot longer when friends and family are also enjoying them. With Seijudo, also, I think the low end Shiragiku is only very marginally not as deluxe as the top two and it’s much cheaper, so I’d start with that one. I’m still not at the point where I might be able to tell them apart in a blind taste test, like I could with the Shoyeidos at this point. When they get to such deluxe levels they’re so heavy and full of complex material that unless you get the right space with them they could almost go to waste. But of course when you do hit the right one there’s little better.

      Anyway, glad to hear you’re still dropping by and great to hear from you as always. – Mike

      • Steve said,

        November 6, 2009 at 9:16 am

        Hey Mike!

        Thanks for the kind words, as always, Mike! I found others’ comments so helpful here, so I’m glad mine may have helped some, too. Rather than just be a blog-mooch, I’ll try to weigh in more often as I try new things or have something to add to other folks’ comments. That’s what makes this place even more fun – the sharing of thoughts! And I had forgotten how cool my little icon-thingie is when I leave a post – may have to be my first tattoo ๐Ÿ˜€

        Am slowly putting together a next order. In addition to standard favorites-resupply, I am looking at:

        Seijudo – Shiragiku
        Dzogchen Monastery Lotus Ground
        Shroff – was thinking Champa, Moonlight & Pearl
        Mother’s Fragrance – Ganesh Nag Champa
        Shoyeido premium – TBD

        After hearing so many positive comments here on the good Indian incense available now, I am excited about giving them another go. If you have any comment on what I have chosen here or can offer another must-try Indian incense, would love to hear it.

        I’m glad for the amazing volume of information you publish on incense, but am also glad to hear you’re going to wind things down and enjoy yourself over the holidays! A much needed break I’m sure.

        So I’m burning Asuka right now. Kunmeido really makes nice stuff (I think I have everything by them that Beth carries). I know you and I once discussed Heian Koh vs Asuka, my preference then being Heian Koh (by a slim margin), yours being Asuka. Am going to revisit my impressions today. I know Asuka is considered the more premium. I think we had the same stances with TMC Nectar vs Holy Land – me preferring the less-premium Nectar. I believe my opinion has shifted now to Holy Land, and I’m curious to see if I feel differently about Asuka, having had some time away from it. I think you “get” an incense before I do, so it takes me a little more time to discover the layers you have already noticed and written about. How come it’s inevitably the more expensive ones that smell the best??? So unfair ๐Ÿ˜€

        Talk to you soon…

        – Steve

        • Mike said,

          November 9, 2009 at 9:07 am

          Steve – I think Janet mentioned elsewhere that the three Shroffs you mentioned are currently out of stock, however my guess is they should be restocked pretty soon, maybe later this month (something Beth would be able to best confirm). But I do agree very much with Janet that I wouldn’t leave out the regular masalas from the company at all, there are so many good ones: Red Sandal, Amber Rose, Jasmine 1940, Green Durbar, to be honest there’s very few if any you can go wrong with. I’m even really warming to the base masalas now due to just how varied and unique the floral scents are in it.

          Anyway that’s a nice looking list. I might actually suggest checking out Misho or Nan-Kun as a Premium Shoyeido starter. To this day both are just so impressive in every way and in particular Misho is relatively affordable and has a really nice aloeswood kick to it. Nan-Kun is more expensive but I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like that one, it has such a strong and amazing spikenard presence that its description as an aloeswood incense almost seems secondary at times. But it’s sweet, musky and fantastic. To be honest, as good as the top 3 are, I enjoy the next 3 just as much and often if not more so.

          I definitely would check out the Pure-Incense line for sure, I think they share top spot with Shroff. I see Janet’s given you some good recommendations, but I’d say you’re dead safe with any of the Connoisseurs, it becomes pretty clear they earn their name. I just don’t think most Indian masalas being exported here usually have that level of quality ingredients, you pay more but it’s worth it. My favorites are the Blue Lotus, Nepal Musk, Rose and Agarwood probably. Depends on mood. And checking out the Purelands six is not a bad idea either given their inexpense. I love their Saffron and Rose…

          As to holidays, I’ll be out Wednesday through the following Monday, but I’m hoping to get one more review batch up today or tomorrow… Started work on the later half of the Pure Incense Connoisseurs last night so maybe I’ll have those ready next week…

          I have to admit with Asuka vs Heian Koh it’s such a close call. Asuka does have the finer oud oil as a finish but Heian Koh has the thick stick. I even bought the later in the long stick form recently as I like it so much. As to Holy Land, though, I definitely think it’s by far the superior to Nectar, even the long stick second version’s great. For some reason even though it takes out some of the higher end top scents, the polish it leaves behind is barely inferior and makes for a nice change.

          As to expense, yeah it’s pretty tough, although I do think if the newer Indian ones float your boat that you’ll find quite a bit of financial relief there. I think Shroff is ridiculously cheap for how great their incense is. But I also think I’m fairly lucky in that the aloeswood I tend to appreciate the most is the high end right before it gets into the sweet kyara ranges. As amazing as kyara is, I almost prefer the drier woody scents more. Or at least maybe I’m trying to tell myself that. ๐Ÿ™‚ I just got the Baieido Koh Shi Boku and it’s kinda blowing my mind lately…

          • Steve said,

            November 9, 2009 at 10:44 am

            Thanks for the thoughtful reply, Mike! Thanks to you and to Janet for helping me on the selection process and to all the folks who pitched in on the Shroff recap in August with their list of favorites!

            – Steve

  4. David Oller said,

    November 2, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Mike,

    I was curious reading your lists and grateful for your mention of Baieido, wondering how long has it been since you tried Koh Shi Boku and if you have ever tried Kyara Koko? Also, have you been able to examine different raw Kyara’s, do you have the equipment to present raw woods via Kodo style?

    David Oller
    Baieido USA

    • Mike said,

      November 2, 2009 at 6:32 pm

      Hi David, I assume you’re talking about the list I posted for Janet down the thread a bit, as the Top 10s of the month are quite arbitrary and usually based on what we’re concentrating on now.

      I received a batch of Koh Shi Boku a few days after I posted that list, having only tried it in a sampler a couple years ago, but I can safely say that I’d add it to the other 12 in that list below, it’s absolutely amazing, easily the peer of any incense. I’ve never tried the Kyara Kokoh though, as its expense vs the quanity has been beyond my means to try it, but I hope to eventually. I did try the 350th Anniversary incenses a while back and noticed similarities with those to the Kokohs so always though the Kyara version might also be similar.

      As to raw kyara, yes I do have a kodo set up as well as heater, and although I haven’t tried the green kyara that I see Baieido sells (and what I believe is in the Koh Shi Boku), I’ve tried a couple different raw kyaras, from Shoyeido and Yamadamatsu iirc, in kodo style and/or heater. With Koh Shi Boku I detect a much different kyara though, one slightly camphorous, sweet and evergreeny, which seems to me to be of the highest quality among these.

      • David Oller said,

        November 3, 2009 at 9:08 am

        I’m going to have to give this some thought. I’m wondering if I might set something up at Kohshi in San Francisco where a group could sample Kyara Koko, raw Kyara’s, and perhaps some other raw ingredients. I know I found it helpful to be able to take the actual ingredients Baieido uses and examine them individually. I’ll talk to Kotaro about this and see what is possible. If you think there would be an interest.

        • Mike said,

          November 3, 2009 at 9:59 am

          Ross might be the better guy to talk to as far as interest is concerned as he’s in the bay area and much closer to Kohshi, I live in the capital, but I can imagine if there’d be interest anywhere there would be in the SF bay area.

        • clairsight said,

          November 5, 2009 at 10:18 pm

          Hello David
          Been a crazy week so i just saw this. I went to lake Tahoe a couple of weeks ago and sleep outside in my tent. I seem to have the best experiences with baieido there, something about the cleaner air probebley accounts for it. I was so impressed with the Koh Shi Boku as well as the Kun Sho. It really does come down to the quality of the ingredients and the craft of the incense master. Never gotten to try the Kyara Koko as of yet. Someday!
          I think a group event would be an easy draw in the Bay Area, especially from Baieido. Please let me know if you need any help in setting it up.
          -Ross

  5. Gary said,

    November 2, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Its great to see Woods mentioned. My wife was in India in August and bought a case of a dozen boxes. Very nice and burns forever.

  6. Janet said,

    October 28, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Oh, and I would *love* to hear what your all-time Top 20 consists of –
    and Ross, too!
    It kind of puts a little extra emphasis on the ones that are not only appreciated, but loved, if you know what I mean.

    • Mike said,

      October 28, 2009 at 1:38 pm

      Hi Janet. The incenses I consider my first tier number 12 and they’re these in alpha order and don’t include anything you can’t find in the US via a retailer or anything discontinued (the list might be a little longer including those and then I’d have to think about it – for sure we still haven’t see the best Yamadamatsus here yet for example).

      Baieido / Jinko Kokoh
      Kyukyodo / Sho Ran Ko
      Minorien / Fuiun Kyara Ryugen
      Mother’s India Fragrances / Ganesh Nag Champa
      Shoyeido / Sho-ka-ku
      Shoyeido / Myo-ho
      Shoyeido / Ga-Ho
      Shoyeido / Nan-kun
      Shroff Channabasappa / Pearl
      Shunkohdo / Kyara Seikan
      Tennendo / Enkuu-Horizon
      Tibetan Medical College / Holy Land

      My next tier would be over about 20 incenses so the next 8 could probably change at any moment but today maybe they’d be:

      Baieido / Koh En
      Baieido / Kun Sho
      Dzogchen Monastery / Lotus Ground Incense
      Highland Incense
      Kunmeido / Asuka
      Purelands / Saffron & Rose
      Shoyeido / Horin / Muro-machi or Ten-Pyo
      Shunkohdo / Ranjatai

      I think newness plays something of a factor into what I consider really great. I love the recent Seijudo incenses that have come in but haven’t parsed them enough. I hesitated to put Shoyeido / Xiang-Do / Forest on the list but it was very very close, but it’s a very nostalgic scent for me. Shroff Red Sandal too, but I think a recent OD on that scent probably kept it off just barely. I also haven’t had Baieido Koh Shi Boku in stock for ages but I can imagine if I did that would be on here somewhere too. And I should say a lot of Shroffs and Pure Incense scents are edging slowly up the list, I could easily see Shroff Amber Rose on here some day or about half of the Pure Incense Connoisseur sticks. And of course these days I can’t afford a few of the scents on my top 12, so practically speaking the list can look different that way too.

      • Janet said,

        October 28, 2009 at 1:51 pm

        Thank you!
        I’m sure I’ve seen people ask you the same question, but I don’t even begin to know where to look for your response.
        It will be interesting to see how the list evolves with time…..

  7. Janet said,

    October 28, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Mike,
    I’m so glad you liked the Woods!!! I took to it instantly, and still love it dearly, even as I keep discovering new treasures.

    A question – is the Anand Special Fluxo the same as the Anand Flora Fluxo? I’m asking because the pic shows a similar blue foil package, but it looks a little different than the one I have. Either way, I actually like the Anand Flora Fluxo better than many of the Sai Floras I have tried, I thought it was a great balance of resinous and floral – and if the Special is better still…….!

    I just got the long stick version of Heian-koh, but haven’t burned it yet, as I am still treading verrrrry carefully at the edges of Aloeswood territory. I know what’s going to happen to me when I venture too far, so I’m delaying that moment as long as possible – and your review of Asuka is not going to help matters! It sounds like something I would love…..::sigh::

    Thanks to Pinjie, I’m going to get a whiff of Sho-kaku really soon ๐Ÿ™‚
    And thanks for a great write-up, Mike – as always!

    • Mike said,

      October 28, 2009 at 1:23 pm

      Hi Janet, the Special and Flora fluxos are indeed two different incenses. I love them both, but the special struck me as particularly nice. Course I’m quite fond of the entire style!


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