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