November Top 10 (from Ross)

This is at least some of what I have been using this last month. The list is not arranged in any particular order as I have come to realize that for me it depends on what works in the moment.

Next months list will be very different, something along the line of a Top 20 or so  of the über Greats, plus maybe some mention of companies and products that deserve a look (well, sniff in our case)

1 Koh Shi Boku from Baieido:  This has tons of levels to it, but you need a clean environment and fresh nose( or at least I do) to really even start to get in tune with it. I fell in love with this at Lake Tahoe last month while burning this in a tent in a forest. This is all about the quality of the wood, in this case Kyara, that Baieido uses. The very minimal resin and spices are only there to showcase the Kyara.  There are sample packs and this is a good way to start.

2 Nefertum – A Premium Kyphi Resin Incense from Mermade Magickal:  This just came out and a full review is forth coming in a week or so. Very complex mixture of resins, herbs and spices. The aging process works wonders and produces a very multi layered experience. An electric heater on low is the best way to go. Really well done and as usual the quality of the ingredients shows up in the final product. There is a reason this style was so popular for so long in Egypt, Rome and the area, this is a great example.

3 Kurogata from Yamada Matsu: This is one of their kneaded incense balls made from Aloeswood and spices and, I am assuming, oils. The scent is very reminiscent of a high end Kyara blend, with, maybe, a touch of vanilla, very smooth and very long lasting. I would not say this is a traditional kneaded type scent, but it is for sure  a winner.

4 Benzoin from Fred Soll: I have been on Benzoin run of late and this really fits the picture. Deep, almost caramel scent without much in the way of florals and such and the stick lasts for around an hour. This is a great deal. We have a bunch of reviews coming on the Fred Soll line soon, he makes a great product and this is a fine example.

5 Jinko Yozei from Gyokushodo: There is a really nice sweet Aloeswood scent mixed in with low key oil and spice chords that hits a very elegant note. It took me a while to really get this one, Now it has become a “go to” stick for “Aloeswood moments”. I think this is the most recent addition to what has been brought into this country, great stuff.

6 Sho-Ran-Ko from Kyukyodo: A truly beautiful, long burning stick using high grade Aloeswood combined with a stunning combination of spices, herbs and oils. It is a very large bundle that can last for quite a while. A bit scares at the moment, let us hope that more is on the way. Really something worth saving up for. Can’t think of anything else really like this in the US, although they do make several grades above this one that are also wonderful. Hopefully, some day, someone will bring them in. Until then, this will make you happy.  🙂

7 Solitude / Hitori-Shizuka from Seikado: A Sandalwood blend with a beautiful oil/spice top note, like a light, very clean, floral perfume. Just smelling the bundle is a treat. A great way to scent the room and also something I enjoy as I drift off to sleep.

8 Saiun from Yamada Matsu: When I use this I am reminded of the scent of leather and pipe tobacco in a very classy library at a upscale Men’s Club. This is a very deep Aloeswood blend from one of the best companies in Japan. Check out Mikes write-up here. You will need to contact Japan Incense by email or phone to order. Rumor has it that a bigger selection will be coming in next year.

9 Kai Un Koh from Baieido:  Really one of the greatest deals in incense. Strong Aloeswood scent combined with a serious blast of herbs and spices. A classic and with good reason. Very grounding and centering. Not what one would call a light scent, in fact it is pretty bold, but once you get caught up in it there is no going back.

10 Sun Fire from Mermade Magickal: This is a reformulation of one of their standards that was good and is now great. The notes list Blood Orange as one of the ingredients, to me there is that oh so wonderful scent of Orange Flower. I have seen a number of people come through a room where this is burning and fall in love with it. Lots of smoke but the scent lasts long enough that you could burn it before people arrive.  Really nicely done and a very captivating scent.

Enjoy  – Ross


12 Days of Christmas Sale at EoA

Essence of the Ages is having their annual Christmas Sale. It runs for the next 12 days with different  sale items each day. There are great deals but  you need to swing by the site each day to see whats up as they only last 24 hours. Have fun


Scents of Japan / Firefly Series / Beech, Amber

Scents of Japan has had these two low smoke incense sticks custom blended for them in Japan. They both use the low smoke charcoal process to produce their scent and at the same time when you light the stick in a draft free area, it will remain standing with a white ash tower and you can watch the red/orange part of the burn moving down the length of the stick. Thus the “Firefly” moniker.

The Firefly Beech really does smell like a beech tree with a sweetish finish to it. Kind of interesting as I have not seen or smelled anything like this before. This is not really the type of scent I gravitate towards but I can see how many people would, especially as it is pretty faithful to what a beech tree smells like.

The Amber stick has a rather nice amber scent to it, on the sweetish side of that category, but not overpowering. The low smoke(really almost no smoke) means that people who normally cannot deal with the smoke issues could, most likely, use this.

These are great fun in low light conditions as it makes the “Firefly” aspect stand out and would probably work well at a party or similar environment.

Samples were provided by Scents of Japan.

Nikhil / Pineapple Champa, Strawberry Champa, Vanilla Champa (Discontinued Line)

[This line appears to be discontinued – Mike, 6/18/21]

Apple Champa, Banana Champa, Cherry Champa
Coconut Champa, Musk Champa, Patchouli Champa

My opinion of these “flavored” champas has actually degenerated quite a bit, not only since I first tried them several years ago, but also since I started writing about them. If there’s anything obvious about the whole series it’s that in every case the same generic nag champa stick (which like every other company isn’t as good as it was a decade ago) is dipped into a fragrance oil, likely synthetic and inferior even in cases where one doesn’t have to pay great expense to get a good scent. Some of these scents have to be synthetic, particularly in the fruit category, as essential oils of many of these do not exist and have to be approximated. And you can often tell as one’s opinion might be fairly positive at first, but by the end of the stick the one dimensional nature of the scents starts to cloy and becomes bothersome. And in this trio’s case at least two of these are scents you can find elsewhere in much improved fashion. So these are definitely scents, especially when you consider your minimum order is 100g of each scent, you want to try first.

Pineapple Champa was actually quite superb in the days where the champa “punks” where high quality and made with halmaddi. The rich honey and vanilla like scent merged quite nicely with all of the fruit scents and there was a time when this scent, the Apple and the Banana were all favorites of mine (the Banana in particular smelled like Banana bread, a fabulous scent), despite the use of synthetic oils (which might have been better then as well). Even to this day burning a stick of the current version is fairly nostalgic for me. The Pineapple oil here is very stylized, more like pineapple candy or flavoring than the sharp and pungent scent of the fruit, mellower and almost distinctly synthetic. Perhaps that’s for the best in some ways, as you really don’t want the more citrus-like elements of the fruit to come out in a champa blend, but the result still lacks distinction. In fact had this been shunted into the Shrinivas line (ironically this has actually been the case – although these pictures did not originate at Essence and thus are not filed on the Shrinivas page) and given a different name it would probably fit in quite nicely in between some of the company’s 100g boxes.

Likewise the Strawberry Champa merges generic nag champa with fragrance oil and this one in particularly seems to burn surprisingly long. And this is unfortunate as the longer it does burn the more obvious the synthetic nature of the oil becomes until it starts to grate. It’s actually kind of easy to pick out as strawberry is so common as a scent and flavor addition to so many air fresheners and food products. And by comparison it also doesn’t hold up, both Blue Pearl’s version and especially Fred Soll’s (the latter a natural approximation of the scent) are much better, neither one holding the deep red coloring this one has.

Finally the very common Vanilla Champa scent. Particularly with amber this is a plentiful and excellent Indian durbar (Mystic Temple, Incense from India and Blue Pearl all do superior versions), unfortunately Nikhil’s is one of its lesser renderings. Like with the Coconut champa the off scents of the oil come through much more than the central scent, making it a very cloying stick in the end. For a scent like this you want your vanilla to be drier, particularly when a champa base is going to impart some vanilla anyway, here it’s overkill to the nth degree, distracting rather then being pleasurable.

Overall and despite the synthetic oils being used here, I do think much of the problem is the champa base being used in this whole series is rather dull, much closer to, say, Goloka than Bam. When halmaddi was more plentiful it added a depth to these that made up a lot for the oils, which now seem responsible in carrying most of the aroma. In every case I’d request samples before ordering a full batch of these as in nearly every case the sticks are quite thin, so you’re probably getting at least 100 sticks in every group and that may well be a lot more than you’d want.

And Happy Thanksgiving everyone, I’ll see you all next week!

Comments RSS Feed

I just mentioned this aspect of the site in the Ask the Olfactory Rescue Service page, but then thought it might not be a bad idea to feature it. In the links towards the bottom left, there’s a Comments RSS link. This comes in handy if you have a news reader for blogs and want to make sure you don’t miss all the discussions going on here, especially as some of them occur on very old threads people may not be subscribed to. I’m not an expert at this stuff, but the way I have it set up is I have an iGoogle page where you can add modules to it to create your own personalized version of Google. One of the modules is a Google Reader which you can add blog and news feeds to read them all at once without having to hop all over the place. Of course my guess is there’s probably other ways of doing this that are more convenient or useful, perhaps a search on blog reader will turn up some other options or anyone who has any ideas is encouraged to share how they do it i in this thread. I can also follow comments from the WordPress dashboard, although I’m not sure how to set this up without moderator status.

SAMPLER NOTES: Ancient Forest

Ancient Forest Incense is created in the Southern Cascade mountains in Oregon. The incense the all-natural company creates is quasi-Tibetan, thick, short sticks that contain large amounts of woods and resins, however I’d say in many cases that the resin content is particularly high for its style and imparts to the incense a strength that most similar Tibetans don’t often reach. In fact the scents could be somewhere in between the Tibetan style and the deluxe, high quality sticks created by Mermade Magickal arts (think Earth Church), kind of like a combination of the wood base of the former with the pungent, evergreen touches often used by the latter. The incense is then distinctly natural and American with ingredients that range all along the West from Red Cedar in the Cascades to Mexican copal. The following five samples run the gamut of what they offer, all striking me as natural, authentic product. These can be purchases with crafted holders or as refill packages, I found them to burn hot but work well with an ash filled censer.

The Cedar/Sage combination is authentically North American if not Native American, like most incenses with sage there’s the flavor of a smudge wand at work, although it’s not quite as strong here as it is in the Sage Blend. As true with most natural incenses, this has a strong campfire-like woody center to it and perhaps the addition of sage covers up the most subtle notes of the red cedar (perhaps only Incienso’s Red Cedar quite captures them). However what’s replaced has a distinct evergreen tint to it, an almost oil-like strength that’s exceedingly pleasant. As is the warning with many Tibetan incenses, the woods can occasionally come across a touch harsh, although I suspect this could be circumvented by crumbling the stick and using a heater.

The Cultural Blend is similar, building on the cedar and sage combination but sharing time with sweetgrass and copal. This is quite a beautiful blend with even stronger hints of evergreen, which I’d guess is the combination of the golden copal strengthening the blend. With less volume of cedar and sage involved, the woodiness is tempered and there’s even a balsamic or possible amber-like note in it that seems a result of the incense’s combination. This one is perhaps the blend to start with, it’s really impressive and quite complex.

Unsurprisingly the Juniper is heavily woody in the same way the Cedar/Sage is, however a great deal of the stick seems to be created from Juniper tips, which gives it a very attractive and lovely evergreen essential oil like scent to it that really lifts it. In fact this is almost exactly what you want juniper to smell like and certainly the type of scent you get in the Pacific region rather than what tends to show up in the Tibetan blends. A very powerful and simple incense.

Lavender Dream goes for a very herbal and natural lavender flower scent rather than going the essential oil route. Anyone whose worked with fresh lavender in incense blends will recognize the scent here, a bit lighter and airier than the oil with an herbal note that shares some characteristics with the sage (or perhaps there’s a little sage in the blend, it’s hard to tell). However there still seems to be something of an evergreen note in the mix, which is quite complimentary and perhaps a moderate quantity of woodiness. Definitely something of a western take on a Lavender incense (the lavender coming from the high deserts of Eastern Oregon) and somewhat unique for it.

The Sage Blend (High Desert and White Sage) is not far from the Cedar/Sage blend naturally except this is even more in the direction of a smudge wand, with a noticeable element of the type of sage used in cooking, very savory. Of course being mostly sage, there’s no real overt woodiness here except what’s used in the base and binder and it ends up being the least woody and most airy scent of the group in question here, although as with all of the line there’s still a distinct evergreen backnote that I find very appealing.

Ancient Forest have quite a few more blends than this available and based on these five, I know eventually I’ll have to check them out. There’s something really unique about Western American incenses, a tradition that seems to combine Native American cultural elements and a real sense of partnership with nature, that seems to be emerging as a distinct corner of the incense world, one that seems to capture elements from our topical geography, deserts and forests with a true ecological respect.

In the next couple months…

I’ll be rolling out reviews and notes on:

  • Sampler Notes on Ancient Forest (rolling this one out today or tomorrow), Nippon Kodo, Sorig, Lhundup, Maroma and others.
  • The final installment of Nikhil’s flavored champa line up (Pineapple, Strawberry, Vanilla)
  • Various Nag Champas from Goloka, Nitiraj, R-Expo, Raj Laxmi, Shantimalai, and a couple others
  • Various Flora incenses including Sai Flora, Sai Deep, Sai Leela, two from Anand and Darshan Flora
  • several more installments in the Primo series (Night Queen, Patchouli, Ruh Khus, Sandalwood, Spice and Yellow Rose in the next one)
  • several more installment in the Fred Soll series (mostly the patchouli blends up next)
  • cones and ropes from Triloka
  • Stupa’s Buddha sampler set
  • continuing installments in the Shroff Channabasappa line up (next up 5 more dry masalas)
  • Puspa Green Mogra/Parekh Great Himalaya/Mysore Gateway to India
  • Lots of Pure-Incense Absolutes
  • and a unique Top 20 coming from Ross and I next month

…taking us a ways into 2010. I’ll be breaking from reviewing the last half of December during the holidays (not to mention Thanksgiving weekend coming up) but will still be taking out time note taking and sampling when I can.

Pure-Incense / Absolute & Connoisseur / Frankincense, Jasmine, Parijata, Rosewood, Sandalwood

In this group of Pure-Incense sticks, I’ll be tackling the back five of the incenses that come in two forms, the Absolute and Connoisseur lines. Some of the Connoisseur packages also say Double Absolute, so one might be safe in guessing that the top line doubles the relevant oil or ingredients from the Absolute and that’s actually not a bad gauge to go by, it really does seem in many cases (although there will be two exceptions in this group) that the Connoisseurs are twice as intense or strong as the Absolutes. [NOTE 10/8/21: Due to variation in natural products it is unlikely Pure Incense reviews written from 2009-2013 will be completely accurate in 2021. Links below are to new versions, so please use caution in purchasing. Pure Incense uses different grade levels and you’re likely to find their best work in their Connoisseur and Connoisseur Vintage ranges.]

For this back five, we have three sticks that are very common in the Indian masala world: Frankincense, Jasmine and Sandalwood. These are the incense archetypes one might find in any Indian incense range from Mystic Temple to Triloka to Primo to Incense from India, however, it’s easy to say that while the Absolute version of these three scents is quite comparative to similar incenses found in these other lines, the Connoisseur Pure-Incense line introduces these scents at, perhaps, their finest. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot more to say about them that I haven’t mentioned in a previous review or two. On the other hand both the Parijata and Rosewood sticks here are quite unique to Pure-Incense and present variations on other incense woods.

In both the Connoisseur and Absolute forms, Pure-Incense Frankincense is the most common masala form of the scent, one that carries the aroma of the resin quite a ways from its natural state, embedding it in a charcoal, vanilla and sandalwood base and thus transmuting the resin’s qualities into something different, a masala that seems to work more with a resin extraction than the resin itself. The combination of the perfume elements and the base end up creating something of a third note that varies depending on which company creates it, but ends up being something like a confectionary, anything from cocoa powder to caramel to nougat. It’s a noticeable element that one won’t find at all in frankincense resin per se, so it’s important one sets one’s preconceptions aside if you’re coming from a pure resin perspective or perhaps even the sort of frankincense you might find in Minorien or Tennendo lines. In the Connoisseur version this frankincense oil note or the combination of ingredients that make it up is refined to a very high degree thus surpassing any of the masalas that vary from the Absolute version and hail from different companies. At this oil strength the scent is sublime and the strength of the aromatics give it a scent like some fine cognac or wine which really sets it apart from other Indian masalas, making this, perhaps, the best Indian frankincense you can buy that isn’t a champa or durbar style. If you’re familiar with the style based on one of the above companies’ offerings then I’d advise to skip the Absolute and move right onto the Connoisseur, however if you’re not at all familiar with this style than you’re likely safe with either one.

Likewise, there’s a similar comparison when it comes to Pure-Incense’s Jasmine charcoal. In fact of all the sticks that cross from the Absolute to the Connoisseur, I’d say the least amount of aromatic difference exists between the two jasmines. This is the typical jasmine essential oil on charcoal base that you’ll see from many of the above-listed companies and as such it varies very little from one to another. Unfortunately as pretty as the essential oils seem to be on these sticks, the charcoal bases in nearly all cases often compete or overwhelm the oil, no doubt due to the pretty, ethereal and gentle scent of the jasmine. The combination creates a combined note that while not terribly off putting isn’t nearly as distinct a jasmine note as you might find in the Shroff catalog. Even the sparkly fixative used to bind the oil doesn’t seem to help with the dissipation and this characteristic makes it fairly difficult to tell, after some aging, that the Connoisseur version contains a stronger dose of the oil, in comparison it only seems vaguely more intense. Perhaps fresh off the batch it might be more impressive, but again I think this reflects more of the weakness of oil on charcoal scents than it does on the oil itself.

Parijata (nychanthes arbotristis) is another of India’s aromatic flowering trees and appears to be the scent the incense matches up with, but not having actually experienced the aroma of the tree itself, the scent of it seems to me to be almost a variation of sandalwood and a mighty fine one at that. The only other parijata I’ve examples is the Krishna store version and it’s a completely different incense to either Pure-Incense version here. To my nose the Parijata incense here is almost like a chandan sandalwood stick pepped up with light fruity elements, for some reason I always seem to get hints of apple with this one or perhaps citrus in the mix, not to mention an unusual floral subnote. It’s a really attractive incense at the Absolute level and only slightly more intense at the Connoisseur version, the difference obviously the amount of oil being used. And the oil in the Connoisseur version seems to impart an even woodier quality with hints of, perhaps, saffron in the background – really beautiful stuff.

The Rosewood appears to be one of Pure-Incense’s newest catalog entries and like Parijata is a tree in its own right, although I believe what we’re seeing in incense form is something different as the rosewood trees appear to be named as such for their wood colorings rather than aromatic qualities, that is, except for Brazilian rosewood from which an essential oil is distilled. Just about every rosewood incense I’ve sampled has been quite different, so I’ve never been able to guess at what could be the standard, however it’s not difficult to think of Pure-Incense’s two versions as among the best I’ve tried. Even at the Absolute version this is a floral incense that’s as sweet as a durbar and suffice it to say, this doesn’t appear to be a mixture of, say, rose and sandalwood. The rose or floral element that dominates the incense has hints of ripe or even tart cherries and one can detect behind this powerful scent a rather mild wood backing. At the Connoisseur strength these elements turn even more elegant with the tarter elements of the top floral oil mellowed out a slight amount and perhaps a bit more in the way of a woody character. I’ve really yet to get into either deeply but found both really impressive and in this case even at the Absolute level there’s quite a bit of potency at work here. Only the Pink Sayli could be described as prettier.

Finally, Pure-Incense also has the classic Sandalwood oil masala in both Absolute and Connoisseur versions and as one might have experienced if one has dealt with better grades of sandalwood, the Connoisseur is the real treasure here with a really high quality sandalwood oil at the center that does exhibit elements of the heartwood. While the oil is at a strength level that it perhaps obscures certain aspects of the wood itself, I tend to like to think of this as a different experience overall and there’s a real almost antique-like side aroma that comes out of high quality oil at this strength. At the Absolute level we’re almost dealing as much with the vanilla base and thus more of a vanilla sandalwood mix than something purely woody. At this strength it’s a scent that’s almost a dime a dozen, one that can be found in nearly every Indian incense line. The Pure-Incense Absolute version does indeed hold up quite well in comparison to similar scents from other companies, but only the Connoisseur level is truly special here.

Anyway that takes the Pure-Incense overview through the Connoisseur line and thus the next few installments will get into the Absolute only lines. At this point one will notice in many cases that the Absolute versions are at strength levels more comparable to the Connoisseurs in some cases, likely due to more inexpensive ingredients making it possible. Next up I intend to cover some of the Absolute champas and Vrindavan scents, many of which I find the most pleasant in the Absolute line.

Baieido / Tobiume

Baieido has introduced a new incense in their Meditation or Woods line up called Tobiume. I got the 60 stick small box about a week ago and have been slowly working my way into it. It is somewhat reminiscent of Syukohkoku in that there seems to be a similar spice/herb/resin mix but it is paired with a different Aloeswood then the Syukohkoku, in this case from Indonesian sources. I found this to be a very grounding and meditative mix, strong and one that can seemingly change scents from stick to stick. Really it depends what other scents are in the room and, I believe, aromatic fatigue could play a huge role with this one. I have found both vanilla and chocolate(not huge, but there) notes as well as what I considered a very Chinese herb like mix. There are no oils in this blend, but there certainly very high quality ingredients, which is something that makes this company so good.

I find it very interesting and like so many of Baieido’s incenses, with a long learning curve. Which to me means a long term relationship! I think many people will find this more approachable then Syukohkoku. It comes across a little lighter but with all the levels going for it. It is priced very reasonably and hey, Christmas is coming and you could get yourself a present.

I also noticed at Baieido’s blog (discontinued) that there is mention of a Mint based incense that has been released in Japan. A little something to look forward to from what is to my way of thinking is one of the very best incense companies around.

SAMPLER NOTES: Awajishima Senko, (Nihon Senko Seizo), Saraike Kunbutsudo (both incenses Discontinued), Keigado (Kaori Discontinued), Kunmeido

Time for another batch of samples, four relatively new imports and a couple old scents I’m managing to get around to now…

Two scents have arrived from Nihon Senko Seizo (now Awajishima Senko), the first a cedar incense called Momiji Koh that comes in a ten roll set with single rolls sold individually. This does what it says on the box, however unlike cheaper cedar incenses, Momiji Koh manages to exhibit some of the wood’s finer qualities, with notes of evergreen and especially conifers floating lightly on the top. Undoubtedly this is an inexpensive incense that could easily be filed with daily sandalwoods and there are some interesting subtleties that imply there may be a bit of sandalwood in the mix, but overall this tends to hit a sort of generic cedarwood in the middle. It’s definitely more pleasant than the cedarwood you might find in Tibetan incenses, on the other hand Indian masalas and some American red cedarwood is perhaps a bit more overtly aromatic.

Tsukiyama is also a very evergreen incense, this time going for a pine scent, however where Momiji-Koh is decidedly cedarwood, Tsukiyama seems decidedly more complex. There’s definitely the evergreen notes you’d expect for a pine incense but there seems to be something of a less traditional oil mix on top that modernizes the scent to some extent, making the finish fruity, bright and attractive. At times I’ve detected hints of patchouli, apple, spearmint and berry in the mix, all of which I assume are less notes and more attributes of a certain intricacy in the mix.

Saraike Kunbutsudo also now exports two modern incenses  to the United States via Kohshi. Mt. Fuji is an incense somewhat similar to Shorindo’s Wayko discussed last installment, with sandalwood and cinnamon listed as the two main ingredients, however Mt. Fuji is a more traditional mix even with the spice blended with some unidentifiable light floral qualities. As such the cinnamon doesn’t cut through so much and make the incense stands out and the result is actually quite mild and mellow which I can imagine are likely to be attractive qualities to some purchasers. It has a very restrained feel to it. [This appears to have been discontinued. – Mike 7/6/21]

Shizuka-No-Sato comes in a huge 500+ stick box making it necessary to get a sample to see if it will have such lasting power for you. I found it to be not terribly different from the previously mentioned Tsukiyama incense, although as shown in the ingredients the jasmine/floral mix is certainly prominent. I found it to be just as mild and smooth as the Mt. Fuji overall, as if the characteristics of the company were an elegant restraint, but such a quality makes it difficult to discuss from a sample. It is quite pretty with no offputting qualities found in relatively inexpensive florals (per stick here of course) with a mix of slight woodiness, a light spice and berry along with the jasmine and likely rose mix. [This appears to have been discontinued. – Mike 7/6/21]

I forgot to mention Keigado’s Kaori when last discussing the two Magnolias but I didn’t want to forget it as it’s a very nice affordable sandalwood with a slighty minty tone as well as hints of cedar, pine and patchouli in it – a very green incense overall. Like several of the Keigado traditionals there’s something of an oil strength to it and as such it also has a touch of something reminiscent of the line’s Full Moon, perhaps a slight touch of whatever it is that creates the amber in that incense. Overall though the  middle is somewhat airy, giving the whole incense a fleeting smell and as such it’s one of the lightest incenses in the Keigado catalog. [This appears to have been discontinued. – Mike 7/6/21]

Had good luck with Kunmeido’s wonderful Hosen incense, but the sandalwood, lilac and cedar mix of Unjo Koh isn’t nearly as immediate. By proximity, it did remind me a bit of the Kaori, but without the amber-like depth to it and a much woodier middle. Strangely I didn’t detect lilac much at all, but I can imagine it’s the sort of scent that could get buried among the ingredients and here the woodiness is probably responsible for that. It’s slightly sweet and evergreen and perhaps the cedar is the most dominant note. Certainly pleasant, but fairly dull especially for a Kunmeido scent.

Next up in the sampler notes series, a pentad of scents from American company Ancient Forest. I’ll be out and away for about a week at this point so bear with me if comments or questions addressed after today aren’t attended to until next week. Thanks!

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