Top Ten Incenses for July 2010

I have the pleasure of writing up the Top Ten Incenses for the month. Below are my top ten for July 2010. In the review process, I’ve re-acquainted myself with forgotten favorites, and have had to revise an opinion of an incense which at first I didn’t particularly care for all that much. That’s one of the bonuses of writing top ten reviews – old favorites resurface and remind you why their favorites and other incenses get additional chances to impress.

Well, without further ado, here’s my July Top Ten for 2010:

Pure Incense Blue Lotus: Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and indeed, that’s what I’ve found with this incense. It’s been a while since I’ve burnt some Blue Lotus incense, and I only recently returned to it, but I’m glad that I did.  I’ve been critical in the past about Pure Incense, citing their base blend of charcoal, vanilla, and sandalwood creates a generic shared aroma to all their incenses.  I still think that is the case, but that shouldn’t detract from the fact that they make very good incenses. This Blue Lotus is floral and perfumey, and sweet, and really all around lovely.

Shroff Patcholie (Patchouli): Earthy and perfumey, with just a touch of sweetness, this is a wonderful patchouli scent. It’s got a good scent throw, and one stick will scent a large room easily, leaving a lingering patchouli scent that is sure to please. One of the best patchouli incenses out there, with an authentic aroma, very affordable, and lasts a good long time. If you like patchouli, you owe it to yourself to try Shroff’s Patcholie.

Fred Soll’s Desert Patchouli: Different from Shroff’s patcholie in that there’s Soll’s signature blend of pinon resin present in this incense. This is a really nice patchouli pinon combination, with the pinon adding a nice resiny finish to the stick. Unlike Shroff’s version, the patchouli scent doesn’t have that sweet note in it, either.  This is a lighter and drier patchouli scent and worth trying as well.

Hougary Frankincense: This is the King, nay, the Emperor of all franks, and if you like frankincense, then you really must sample Hougary.  Resiny rich, with the balsamic base note and the wonderful citrusy lemon and/or orange top note, Hougary, which comes only from Oman, is in a class all by itself. Hougary is more expensive than other frankincenses, but you get what you pay for, and here you’ll get top notch quality. Even unlit, these resins perfume the air with their unique rich resin scent.

Al Haramain Bait Al Arab Cambodi Oudh Bakhoor: Baby, it’s bakhoor, and what a bakhoor! If you are unfamiliar with bakhoor, it is a type of incense from the Middle East.  Bakhoor can come in tablets, pellets, and/or chunks of woodchips. Bakhoors generally contain oudh (aloeswood) scent and are usually very aromatic and/or perfumey. Seriously, virtually every bakhoor that I’ve ever tried has packed a serious scent wallop. A little goes a very, very, very long way with these incenses. Al Haramain’s version of Bait Al Arab shouldn’t be confused with Swiss Arabian’s Bait al Arab (which was previously reviewed here on the ORS).  Firstly, Al Haramain’s Bait al Arab comes in perfume drenched wood chunks or chips, and not dry tablets like the Swiss Arabian version. Secondly, these woodchips are just permeated with one of the loveliest mélange of scents. A lot is going on here; the overall scent is a complex blend of oudh, amber, floral essences, and resins.  It’s very rich – and err, so is the price tag for this bakhoor.  Available at ParadisePerfumes.com, this retails for $39 CDN for 100 grams. However, since it is such a potent bakhoor, a little does go a long way and therefore this will last a long time. So in the end, you will get quality and your money’s worth. This is just my personal preference, but if I had to choose between Swiss Arabian’s version or Al Haramain’s version, I’d go with Al Haramain’s Bait Al Arab.  Incidentally, note that you will need charcoal tablets and/or an electric incense burner for this bakhoor. This type of incense cannot be burnt by itself, and needs a heating element like a hot coal or an electric incense burner.

Swiss Arabian’s Kashkha Oodh Muattar: Another bakhoor, this time from Swiss Arabian. This bakhoor smells like a sophisticated aloeswood floral perfume. I’m not kidding, if you like perfumey aloeswood, or just perfumes and colognes in general, you should consider trying this bakhoor.  Kashkha comes in small agarwood (aloeswood) pellets, and even unlit, smells of oudh, musk, and floral essences.  This is because the agarwood has been drenched in concentrated perfume, and thus emits its  oudhy floral goodness into the air. Though bakhoors aren’t generally aimed as for being for one particular gender, I would classify the Kashkha scent as being more feminine. It truly does remind me of a high end women’s perfume. This bakhoor also requires charcoal tablets and/or an electric incense burner to burn it. Note that this bakhoor is available for purchase at: http://www.mukhalat.com/Bakhoor_c2.htm.  I hasten to add that I did not purchase my Kashkha bakhoor from Mukhalat.com, so I have no idea what their customer service is like. However, note that Mukhalat offers free shipping on all products for delivery within the USA.

Gangchen Healing Buddha Incense:  Excellent and affordable incense from Gangchen. The box states that “These Aroma Therapeutic incense is made from very special thirty-one (agar 31) natural ingredients. This incense specially made for Lungny (wind diseases) which we got from nervous and fear, such as heart attack, insomnia, shivering, temporary loss of consciousness, back pain, dryness of the mouth.  This incense can help.  Also it’s very good for massage.”  This is gentle and soothing incense, with a soft woody aroma. The scent is comprised of aloeswood, juniper, and Himalayan herbs.  I personally find it very calming and relaxing, and one good for decompressing and unwinding.

Baieido’s Koh En:  A delicious spicy aloeswood treat that is to be whipped out for those special occasions, or when one is feeling particularly indulgent and/or flush. This is one of Baieido’s more upscale aloeswood incenses, and retails for $120 USD for sixty 6.5 inch sticks (though given how expensive some of the kyara incenses are, this is really more like the mid-tier or low end of the upscale level!).  My budget doesn’t allow for this to be an everyday treat. But when that aloeswood craving needs to be satisfied, this incense is one that will certainly fit the bill (alas, in more ways than one! 😮 ).

Minorien Fu-In Sandalwood: Classic sandalwood scent, using classic “old mountain” sandalwood from India.  If you’re looking for an authentic sandalwood scent that won’t break the bank, then try Minorien Fu. This is excellent sandalwood incense, and one that is not likely to disappoint.

Tibetan Medical College’s Holy Land Grade 2: This is a surprise entry even to me, given that when I first tried Holy Land Grade 2 a few months ago, I was underwhelmed. All the hype and praise heaped upon it had built it up to mythical levels, plus I was still in my perfumey incense phase, and was at the time, taken aback by this incense’s muscular rawness, its combination of musk and floral and spice and dark earthiness.  To give you a point of reference, if you’ve tried Dzogchen Monastery Lotus Incense, think of Holy Land Grade 2 as similar to that, but amplified and expanded upon.  Anyway, as time passed and I fell into a Tibetan incense phase, I started burning the HL Grade 2, and slowly, little by little, I went from being disinterested to liking it, and now to really loving it. In a previous email to an ORS reader, I had stated that once I had used up my HL Grade 2 that I wasn’t going to re-purchase it, opting instead to spend my money on other incenses. But now, as I look at the last few sticks of it in my collection, I’m forced to reconsider that notion…

Well there you have it, my top ten for the month – all incenses that I heartily recommend. What ten incenses are in your top ten for July? Chime in and let us know what you’ve been burning, and why. 🙂

Best,

Anne

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Tsenden Poe Zhokang / Assortment (x5), Pink Roll, Yellow Roll, Zupoe

Tsenden Poe Zokhang are a Bhutani incense entity who Sensia have just introduced to the country along with a few other incenses I’ll discuss in a second installment. Tsenden’s incenses end up giving us further clues on just how different Bhutani incenses are compared to other Tibetan incense producing countries in the region. Like other Bhutanis there’s an almost plastic-like consistency to most of these incenses, like they have just a bit more tensile strength. We’re given a few ingredients in their incenses – agarwood, gentiana crassoloides, bibhitaka, haritaki, juniper and cypress – although I’d guess the agarwood content is higher in the pink and yellow rolls than in the obviously budget conscious assortment pack.

This Assortment Pack comes in two sizes, the large and the small, and unlike many Tibetan incenses, the five scents in each assortment use artificial coloring, separating the scents into blue, orange, tan, green and maroon scents. However the colors end up being kind of a nice touch as there’s no sense of the artificial in the actual scents themselves and they do tend to symbolize the type of incense scent. For instance, the blue colored stick is definitively watery, with a slightly fruity and sweet top note on top of what seems to be your average juniper wood and binding base. In fact it’s almost like a Japanese floral in some ways and seems distinctly different than the other four colors. The rest all seem to have a sort of “generic” Bhutani spice mix along with the woods, so if you’re familiar with incenses from Nado Poizokhang you’ll have a general idea of what to expect here, although these do tend to be at the low end of the quality axis, relatively speaking (meaning a generic Bhutani is almost always likely to compare favorably to a generic Nepali). The orange blend is very hot and definitely firey with some citrus hints (perhaps resins here) that end up evoking sandalwood, all top notes that sit on the usual spice and juniper wood base. The tan blend is the lightest and perhaps the “vanilla” of the group in that there doesn’t seem to be much added to the spice and wood mix, giving it a very airy feel. The green blend is very similar except with some added notes I found difficult to parse with the sample, it’s tempting to think there were the usual green suspects here (such as patchouli or evergreens) evoking earthiness but that’s not exactly what I was picking up, it came off more as another slight variation, if a very pleasant one. Perhaps the maroon colored stick was my pick of the five as it had the strongest top notes with obvious cherry/berry notes and what was almost like an herbal tea note in the mix. It’s the one of the five that hints at the more  premium offerings from Tsenden.

Both the Pink Roll and the Yellow Roll incenses definitively move the style to a different ratio of quality spice to wood base and in fact seem to evoke the same sort of grading curve you see with Nado (or even Mindroling), with what I’d guess is the Grade B with the Pink Roll and the Grade A with the Yellow if it weren’t for the fact both are priced identically. That is both are quite similar incenses, but the pink roll seems to have the telltale juniper/berry content at a higher level. The type of spice mix, at which we can only guess at with the ingredients list, found in the assorted incenses is at a much more intense ratio in both incenses and puts both in a similar category to the better Nado Poizokhang incenses. Where the red berry scent creates a very nice incense with the Pink Roll, the high level of fresh woodiness in the Yellow Roll is really a fine thing, as if one combined the original Red Crystal with a high grade Nado incense. Where the scents might be described as vague in the previous incenses, here the scent is fresh cut with a mix of wood and spices that evokes sandalwood after being cut, sweet and crystalline. The combination of these woody characteristics and the intense spice base makes this an extremely pleasant incense and it’s particularly impressive that you can get this sort of quality at such a low price, given how high the Nado range goes. Given that the Pink Roll is a pretty great buy at $3.50, it definitely makes the Yellow Roll a superb deal.

Finally, even though I’m mostly eyeing the pictures here, the Tsenden Zupoe appears to be the most premium incense in this bunch and where you can find common notes in all the preceding incenses this one’s quite a bit different. For one thing, the base is different providing a skinnier stick with less tensile strength. This is a much swankier, herbal mix that hints at some possible asafoetida content, but fortunately it’s not too much and if I’d guess at where the agarwood fit in in this group, it’s likely the strongest in this scent. Unlike the other incenses I could easily see this in a group of Nepalis as the familiar spice content is mostly covered up by the tangier herbal notes. With this scent I had run out of samples before I could really do the scent justice, which should tell you that this is probably the most complex of the incenses here. And there is a strength of scent here that hints at a high quality ingredient to base ratio.

If you’re a bit stretched in paying in the high teens for the top Nado Poizokhang grades, I’d definitely recommend giving the Pink and Yellow rolls a try and it should be said that the Assortment is a LOT of incense for very little money without one ending up feeling like you just ended up with a bunch of cheap juniperwood sticks. And better yet the next post in the Bhutani realm will feature three very solid Tibetan aromas, one in particular I found extremely impressive, so look for that group in the next week or two.

Mystery of Musk Pt 4: Verdigris, Musk eau Natural, Temple of Musk (Ross)

Unfortunatly it took awhile for me to get the time necessary to write these up, sometimes life seems to get much too complicated.

Verdigris from BellyFlowers: A somewhat anise like  top note as well as an all to brief hint of cedar, that quickly fades away into a lavender and clary sage blend that is a lot stronger on my skin then the blotter. The name pretty much says it all, green, fresh and upbeat.  To me the musk aspect is very faint and may act more as a fixative then as an attention getter. In this composition this works well and I think it helps to keep the fresh/green aspect more towards the fore front. Nicly done and the scent seems to hang in there for quite awhile

Musk eau Natural from Dawn Spencer Hurwitz: Stunningly nice spices at the start that persist down into at least the heart, there is a beautiful resins accord that mixes well with the spices and in the background we have beeswax giving it all a nicely rounded shape, although I think there might be labdanum in here also. Actually there could be quite a lot of other ingredients as this one has many levels going on at the same time, like a large orchestra where all the many parts make up the beautiful finished piece. I must admit that this type of scent really appeals to me and it also reminds me of many different aspects in the incenses that I tend to use most, spices mixed in with Aloeswoods. Depending on how much was applied one could wear this for a casual time or for the “special” night. It doesn’t hurt that Dawn went for the 30% perfume concentration, I am finding that this can be very important in a lot of natural compositions. Musk eau Natural  is elegant, sophisticated and a touch of wicked. What more could one want?

Temple of Musk from Strange Invisible Perfumes: The citrus notes at the top are very interesting to me, there is no one type of citrus that I can peg, but I found myself very infatuated by them ( why yes, I do walk around a lot with my forearm jammed up to my nose, why?) The myrtle listed in the notes as well as the Black Current seem to dance in and out of the heart notes for another interesting pairing. This perfume seems to have very sharply defined timing. What I do not get is where the musk aspect went. I just could not seemingly find it, which my just be my take on musk.

Sadly the sample from Alfredo Dupetit did not survive its run in with our Postal service, the envelope it can in looked like it had gone Mano e Mano with a fork lift and lost big.

Categories

I plan on taking some time (over a long period I might add) on adding some more sort categories for the site. Included in my plans so far is a way to tag each post by the author as the current template doesn’t do it, as well as to start sorting posts by main ingredients (I’ve added sandalwood, aloeswood and champa to this list, but I can imagine adding more). Before I start to do this, I figured I’d ask the list to see if there are any categories they’d like to see. Please keep in mind I’ll be more likely to use suggestions that fall in a middle between a category that would come close to capturing every post or one that would only capture 2 or 3. That is I don’t want to be too general or swamped in detail. Please post in the comments section and thanks for your contributions in advance…

Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery/Pure Land (x4), Tibetan Healing, Tibetan Incense, Rhododendron Forest, Lawudo, Wisdom

Nearly everyone who starts with Tibetan incense thinks of it in terms of it’s thick stick, extruded style; but over time (years for me), it’s possible to make some geographic generalities about the Tibetan incenses that come from Nepal, Bhutan and the area in China called the Tibetan Autonomous Region. From the latter area we receive the style’s most traditional and thus transgressive blends, in that we can usually guess from the scents that animal products have been used in many of the blends. However this is far more unlikely when it comes to the small groups of Bhutani and Nepalese incenses. Incenses from Bhutan often have a spice blend that stays close to a certain style, in fact many could be determined just from the almost plastic-like feel of the sticks and the variations on red/pink coloring, many of these are far less likely to break even at longer lengths. When it comes to Nepalese and Indian Tibetan scents, there’s certainly a range of different scents, but from monastery to company, you tend to find a great deal of repetition over time. No matter what style of Nepali incense, whether it’s the highlanders with heavy evergreen content, the plainer sandalwoods, the tangy or herbal woods, the Medicine Buddha/Agar 31 combinations, if you sample far and wide you’ll tend to notice more similarities. To some extent this has acted to put a restraint on my purchasing of Nepali incenses, as in so many cases I’m not finding a lot of new blends, rather than variations on scents I already know.

With Nepali Khachoe Ghakyil Ling Nunnery, the similarities even come down to the packaging. The style and fonts of all four Pure Land incenses are nearly identical to that of three of the Mandala Trading incenses (The Earth, Ribo Sangtseo, and Tibetan Peace). I’m still not quite sure if this is a commanality in a certain Tibetan motif or the products of a different printing company (or both), after all this case is as similar as the Red Crystal incense packaging is with the Boudha company’s. However unlike the latter comparison, the actual incenses themselves differ quite a bit in strength and individuality between the KGLN Pure Lands and the Mandala Trading scents, with the latter having much more distinctive and interesting scents.

Unfortunately (and if you’re harshed out by negative reviews this may be where you want to disembark) I was terribly surprised to find the Pure Land line to be so dull and nondescript. Pure Land Healing might be the dictionary definition of the inexpensive Nepali wood incense, the type that leaves a black ash residue as it burns and a mild, airy, inconsequential aroma. 25 different ingredients that end up smelling like poor quality cedarwood or juniper? I was  really wondering if I was missing something here as this is a scent that really doesn’t offer much more than what the random campfire might exude.

Pure Land Inspiration has a little more personality but I’m not sure it’s one most Western users will gravitate towards as the result is a mixture of strong sour and bitter tones. It might have the heaviest rubber/tire like hit I’ve ever found in a Tibetan incense, a scent that is almost unbearably astringent. Of course incenses like this might be called invigorating, given what seems to be a high quality of lemon or even straight camphor wood, but the mixture of these elements with rubber tire like scent falls short of balance.

Pure Land Meditation has the lowest smoke level of all four incenses in the range, yet ends up smelling like a combination of the previous two incenses, with the dull woodiness of the Healing and a slighter version of the sour scent found in the Inspiration. Again, it’s difficult to really parse anything whose elements add up to such a restrained whole and while I detect some resinous undernotes (myrrh, guggal?), they’re too low in content to add to the bouquet.

Pure Land Relaxation is marginally the best of this group, although its spice and wood blend isn’t something that’s likely to leap out at you. While it doesn’t seem like the base is any higher in quality than the previous three, at least the elements interact to produce a scent that doesn’t leave me edgy or reaching. It may be damning with faint praise to say that this was the only incense of the Pure Lands not to end up in my give away batch, because I would think further comparison with other Nepali incenses may not leave this in as much of a favorable position.

Fortunately KGLN incenses improve a little outside this line. The small package Tibetan Healing does have a lot of similarity to the Pure Land version, but seems to have a bit more aromatic strength to it. There seems to be a bit more juniper in the mix as well a hints of a slight cherry tobacco mix that helps to give it some personality. But it’s likely it succeeds more in comparison to the Pure Lands than other incenses because repeated burning tends to bring out its more generic qualities.

Tibetan Incense exhibits one of the line’s most distinct personalities, in this case an unusual coffee-like blend mixed with fragrant leaves, however while these herbal hints seem to imply something a bit more original, the base is still that airy, cedar heavy, black ash producing wood that I tend to associate with lower quality scents. And overall even if this has some distinction, it’s not one I necessarily find pleasant, perhaps because I’m not totally convinced coffee is a good incense scent, but in that case your mileage might vary.

Rhododendron Forest is a scent very much like the Maya Devi Rhododendron Anthopogon and at least in an incense like this you’re going to know whether you like it or not as the scent is definitely right out in front. Thus the incense could be a good introduction to this sort of slightly evergreen scent, somewhere between floral and leaf. Of course the base tends to accentuate the more campfire like woody scents associative with this whole line, but in this case it’s little different from any Rhododendron incense.

I only ended up with small samples of the Lawudo and Wisdom incenses, which are packaged in Lokta boxes similar to the Dhoop Factory line. However, given the rest of the Nunnery’s incenses I didn’t expect that further sticks would bring any more revelation to the table. Lawudo is heavily campfire-like with what seems like a mix of cedar and juniper berry. There are some similarities to the herbal aspects of the Rhododendron Forest and a coffee like scent similar to the Tibetan Incense, implying that either my nose was growing dull to these scents or only picking out a few different directions. By the time I got to Wisdom I just felt like I was dealing with another  very inexpensive wood incense with a slight herbal tang and little distinctive personality.

So before I close this up I want to make some comparisons to other Nepali incenses that you’re likely to find much more assertive. For example, many of these ingredients and blends can be found among the Dhoop Factory line but with much more aggressive personalities. Both the Alpine and the now-called Vajrapani are going to check off a lot of wood, campfire and evergreen boxes, but with these you’ll also be able to detect the needles and green flair that are absent in the KGLN blends. Dhoop Factory’s Ganden will have some sour similarities to a couple of the Pure Lands as well as a heavy campfire like middle, but you’ll also be left with the subtleties of the herbal mix as well. While it’s more difficult to go one to one with Stupa’s Shanti Dhoop trio, it seems like there are a lot of similar blends and with Stupa you’re also usually getting a bit more power, perhaps a better ratio of quality ingredients to base. And of course with Mandala Trading and the Yog-Sadhana “trio” you can sense Nepali/Indian-Tibetan incense at its most distinctive.

And as a final note, as part of the trading circle I received an incense that originated with this Nunnery that I would have easily classified as an excellent incense and tried to match it up with new packaging, but wasn’t able to, which implied to me that there might have been some ingredient changes in the mix somewhere.

And Now for Something Completely Different…

A Review of Air Sponge – The Odor Absorber

The ORS is dedicated to finding and reviewing the best incenses and letting our readers know about them. Incense can be a great way to refreshen a room, change the atmosphere, or mask unpleasant odors. However, sometimes strong scents or even scents of any kind are undesirable. Be it incense that you don’t particularly care for, burnt food, or your teenager’s unkempt stale smelling bedroom, or your husband’s musty old gymbag…etc. There are areas and/or rooms (i.e. the bathroom) that can require a neutralizing agent, where odor is removed.

Air Sponge is an odor neutralizer. It’s a great little product that comes in 8 oz (227 grams) round plastic containers. It can be used anywhere, and can remove virtually any odor. The write-up on the container states that it absorbs and removes odors caused by tobacco smoke, cooking odors, pet smells, paint fumes, cleaning solvents, detergents, wet carpets, fire damage, locker rooms, gasoline, sewer gases, mildew, and decay. Air Sponge is biodegradable too, and resembles poppy seeds encased in turquoise blue putty or play-doh. It won’t win any beauty contests that’s for sure, but then again, it wasn’t made for its looks, but for its ability to neutralize odor.

I’ve been using Air Sponge for months, and I do recommend the product. In the wintertime, my little apartment can get stuffy and smokey due to the various incenses that I’ve been burning. Opening the windows and letting fresh air in can be problematic as that it lets out the warm air, too. And with heating costs rising, opening up windows in the winter can be cost prohibitive. Similarly in the summertime, if you’re using an air conditioner, opening up the windows will let the cool air out and the warm air in! Therefore, if you need to neutralize odor and are unable to open your windows to let fresh air in and circulate in your home, then Air Sponge can be a nifty product to have on hand. It’s very simple to use, all you do is crack open the container, remove the lid, and place the Air Sponge in the area in which you want odors to be neutralized. Incidentally, one Air Sponge can cover an area of up to 300 square feet. Note that Air Sponge emits a faint floral soapy scent, rather reminiscent of Ivory or Jergens soap. The scent quickly fades, though.

There is also an Air Sponge spray, which comes in a 118 ml bottle. The spray works instantly, whereas the round containers of Air Sponge can take a little while to kick in. For example, if you badly burn food, and want to remove the burnt aroma right away, the spray is the better option to use.

Air Sponge is an American made product that is available in North America. It can be purchased in hardware stores, Walmart, Zellers, and even local grocery stores (look for it in the cleaning products aisle).  If you are outside North America, you can purchase Air Sponge online. Go to: http://www.airsponge.net/

Best,

Anne

New Shoyeido Website

Mystery of Musk Reviews Pt3: Tallulah B2, Drifting Sparks, Dionysus

Tallulah B2 from A Wing & A Prayer Perfumes: As soon as this goes on there is a somewhat sharp but nice citrus blast backed up with Rosewood, which tends to hang in there a bit longer then the citruses. It also severs as a bridge into the vanilla/ambery notes in the base. The middle is a very light floral. Under it all there is a musk note that seems to act as the foundation for all the rest, rather like they all rise up out of it to present their parts in the dance. As it moves towards the dry down stage  one gets really elegant amber, vanilla notes with what I think are some of the roses mixed in. This reminds me quite a lot of a room where I burn a lot of incense and have my collection of EO’s and such as well as perfumes I am working on. Someone walked in there recently, after the room had been empty for the day and was amazed at the complexity and depth of the scents that were still there.  She asked what it was and I “somewhat” flippantly said “Oh, about 10,000 sticks of incense”. This perfume is like that, depth and complexity with the end notes  etheric and a bringer of pleasant memories. This is a light scent (at least to me) and goes through its changes quickly, it would be very interesting in an atomizer with a number of sprays.

Drifting Sparks from Artermisia Perfumes starts off with a strong alcohol note and then immediately transitions into a tremendously fine floral, almost Lilac like note that becomes a Rose and Jasmine hued wonder. From there the musk notes come in, way in the background . More of a woman’s musk then an animal note. I get the feeling that it is a very personal scent, one leading to close intimacy rather then being vampish. I also notice that this one really plays to skin chemistry, even to the point of smelling different from the morning to applying late at night. In the morning I noticed the base notes, the woods and Black Current and also how the Ambergris can lift all the others up. The sillage is not strong, but again, I find Drifting Sparks more for the close and personal experience rather then the whole room.

Dionysus from Lord’s Jester: The name really fits the scent of this creation. Dionysus was, and may still be, the god of ritual madness, joyful worship, and ecstasy. What’s not to like 🙂  Wine plays a big part in his image, which the opening notes of this perfume have, there is also a certain almost effervescent quality to it, which is pretty unique. It seems to move from there into a middle phase where I think the Jonquil (which I have only sampled once at Mandy Aftel’s) plays a big part and then it’s on to the base notes.. The Ambergris and African Stone produce a really grounded and anchored scent to me, one I find surprisingly pleasing, it’s not pretty but it is like having something very strong to hold onto. This perfume is named after a god and like any god it demands that it be noticed. It is very different from all the others and I would consider it more on the “male” side. After trying this I have decided I need to order Adams sample set.

There are still many reviews coming in from the different sites, this many perfumes does take awhile to do justice to. Be sure to check out the other blogs involved.

I Smell Therefore I Am – Abigail Levin
Perfume Shrine – Elena Vosnaki
The Non Blonde – Gaia Fishler
Indie Perfumes – Lucy Raubertas
Bitter Grace Notes – Maria Browning
CaFleureBon – Michelyn Camen
Olfactarama – Pat Borow
First Nerve – Avery Gilbert
Olfactory Rescue Service – Ross Urrere
Grain de Musc – Denyse Beaulieu

BaseNotes

Cravings drawing winner!

The winner of the bottle of Cravings from  Perfumes By Nature” is Dionne. Please send me email with your full name and address and I will pass this one to Ambrosia at Perfumes By Nature. You can find my email in our “About” page, last line on my Bio

The drawing was preformed by a three year old friend of mine who decided this one looked the most interesting. I am still trying to understand how this worked for her.

More reviews coming tomorrow -Ross

Mystery of Musk, The Reviews Pt. 2: Musk Nouveau and Sensual Embrace

There is still time to get into the drawing for “Cravings”. Leave a comment here.

Musk Nouveau from Providence Perfume Co, to me, nails the idea of a musky, deep and intense perfume. I am a big fan of Aged Patchouli and Aloeswoods/Oud’s and this one uses both to good effect.  The light note of coffee supplies an almost caffeine driven high to the low notes and the restrained use of Champaca and Jasmine( which could get overblown very easily) are done with skill, as well as an very inspired touch. This also has a Sherry top note with Pepper. The Sherry is a nice opener for mids and base notes, To my nose the Pepper gets a little lost. This mixture has some staying power as well as some decent sillage (not overbearing but if it’s on ones wrist you get to experience hints of it as you go about your day), and it seemed to last for around five hours on me. As it is going through its dry down it really reminds me of some of the better incenses from companies like Kyukyodo(woods & florals), Tennendo (resins and spices) and Shunkohdo ( serious musk). This one really works for me, plus it goes through many changes, which is always a selling point for me. In incense I would call this a long learning curve, something to be devoutly studied for  understanding.

Sensual Embrace from JoAnne Bassett has a very classic scent to me. The top notes come in with a light citrus burst that fades into a mellow floral( a lot of different florals, to be sure). Down in the dry out stage there is a sort of Sandalwood/Ambery base that holds the whole creation together. I do notice that this perfume actually starts to have a stronger scent about five to ten minutes after applying it. I wanted the middle notes to last longer, which was annoying as I found them very nice. The Amber and Sandalwood finish also blend into a musky  note.

Kewdra from Anya’s Garden is a true exotic, born of a dream somewhere between ancient India and A Thousand and One Night’s. It is potent, sexy, demanding, and sexy. It has great sillage (which to me means around 2-3 feet ) The combination of exotic floral notes mixed with a very out front musk are a stunning combination. Really, this one is an instant trip to far away places, where anything, mostly involving sex, could happen. : )

Perhaps not for the timid or faint of heart, although a spray of this might invest one with courage or at least passion(really not all that different). Great stuff. For an incense that is along these lines one could look at the Pure-Incense line or, perhaps, Mother’s India Fragrances Champa Blends.

Be sure to check out the other blogs involved in this, it’s quite fun to read the different impressions.

I Smell Therefore I Am – Abigail Levin
Perfume Shrine – Elena Vosnaki
The Non Blonde – Gaia Fishler
Indie Perfumes – Lucy Raubertas
Bitter Grace Notes – Maria Browning
CaFleureBon – Michelyn Camen
Olfactarama – Pat Borow
First Nerve – Avery Gilbert
Olfactory Rescue Service – Ross Urrere
Grain de Musc – Denyse Beaulieu

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