Top 10 August 2010

This is, more or less, my top picks for the month. This does not mean that they are really in any kind of order (well OK, the Kyara Kokoh really is the top dog). There are also a lot more then ten incenses that I burn but we try and hold the line for the write up’s. I did find that as it got hotter in the Bay Area  my use of the Electric Incense Heater went up, as did my own blending for things to put on it. Great fun by the way!  -Ross

Kyara Kokoh by Baieido: I burn, maybe,  one plus sticks of this a month, in small “installments”. It is somewhat of an almost religious experience. Baieido says that this one is hand made by the owners using green oil Kyara that had been specially selected and I can believe it. It is pretty much beyond words and just gets better with each “installment”. Not inexpensive, but quite wonderful. Note to Baieido, if any of that green oil kyara is laying around ’cause it did not make the cut, I could find a use for it 🙂

Ogurayama Aloeswood from Baieido: Baieido is all about the woods. This one is from Vietnam and is considered a “sweet” scented Aloeswood. I love to put a small amount on the electric heater and let it gently infuse the room with it’s beautiful and very smooth scent. Trying to describe this is not easy, but basically it is about as pure of an Aloeswoods experience as you can get. If you like Aloeswoods then this is a great way to really start to understand them. Baieido’s Hakusui is another to try, actually any of them would work! At some point (when we get really brave) I think we might be doing some full reviews on the Baieido woods and possibly the Rikkoku (Six Countries) Set.

Saimei Koh from Gyokushodo: This is a wonderful Aloeswood and Sandalwood mix with a nice helping of spices, resins , herbs and  camphor. I do wish it packed a bit more “punch” and often find myself burning two sticks at once. It has a very classic “Old Japan” type scent. There are some similarities to a number of other makers scents but(at the moment) I think this one stands out.

Ranjatai or Kyara Seikan from Shunkohdo: Rajantai is one of my favorite scents; it pretty much has it all. Really good Aloeswoods combined with musk and resins. It’s deep, dark and wonderful, plus you get enough in the bundle to go on a real incense burning binge! Kyara Seikan adds Kyara to the mix and is also much smoother, it also cost more and is worth it (but not so “bingeable”) I ended up using both of these a lot during the Mystery of Musk series just to get a straight up scent logon for musk.

Honey Amber by Fred Soll: This is one of the very few incenses in the world to actually use Ambergris(beach caste). It has a really deep, yet clean amber note to it that the honey aspect adds an even deeper sweet note to. It is pretty strong so one stick can go for quite a few burns and still do up a room quite nicely. I think that Soll’s incenses are one of the best deals in the world and this one is right up there for me.

Copal Negro by Fred Soll: I would have to term this one as “heavy hitter” copal. It is smooth with a touch of sweetness in the background that kind of tempers everything together, but all that is riding on lots of deep dark copal. Wonderful stuff, great for grounding the environment of a room(or a person).

Japanese Musk from Koh Shi (Daihatsu): I am pretty sure that this does not use real musk, that being said it does really convey the idea of musk. It is  strong and has a nice, not too sweet, quality to it. It produces a wonderful scent to a room that also feels quite clean.

Swallows in Flight by Les Encens du Monde(Kunjudo): I had not used this a while and then “rediscovered” it last month. It is very complex, uses very good quality woods, resins, spices and maybe oils. Sometimes it almost seems a bit over the top in how much is going on here (another long learning curve)but having never been adverse to excessive excess, I just light another stick and go with it.

Deep Earth Premium – 2010 from Mermade Magical: This is something for the heater, to be gently warmed over a period of time. It has many musk like elements to it as well as resins and spices, It is a very deep, complex and meditative scent that really shows off Katlyn’s skills as well as the use of very high quality materials. It also takes quite awhile to make with a lot of ageing involved, which is reflected in the complexity of the scent. Beautiful.

Healing  from Mermade Magical: One of Mermades incense triangles, which is along the lines of a cone. This has a very clean and clear scent to it, I find it refreshing and uplifting; it seems especially good during the summer months. There is a great play between the resins and woods Somewhat unique and very nice.


  1. janet said,

    September 7, 2010 at 9:31 am

    You always cover a lot of my bases in your top tens, Ross, and this month is no exception!
    I’ve mentioned before how talented I think Katlyn is, and I love Healing…agree completely that it is a terrific, cooling summer scent.
    Ranjatai…..check, Saimei koh…..check
    Honey Amber, Swallows in Flight, Deep Earth Premium…..
    It’s going to be a loooong time before I can check off the Kyara Kokoh, as I burn my Jinkoh Kokoh about the same way Mike burns the Kyara, but – there’s always the lottery.

  2. Mike said,

    August 30, 2010 at 9:18 am

    I binge on Ranjatai myself, in fact I’m often afraid to take the roll out as I usually go through 5-10 sticks. But fortunately it’s one of the best deals for a high end aloeswood.

    Kyara Kokoh, well if it was affordable I’d probably burn through box after box, for now, I nub my one stick centimeter by centimeter. It’s pretty much a stub now. Fortunately I think Koh Shi Boku’s a nice compromise.

    Ogurayama’s really a tough one to beat, I think I go back and forth with Hakusui on which one I like more. Hakusui I like for its spiciness, but when you get the right temperature on the heater, Ogurayama has an aroma like a magickal liqueur. When it does that I can hardly believe you’re getting that much scent from such a small piece of wood, it’s really quite remarkable. Here’s to whoever thinks they can do justice to the reviews. 🙂

    And yeah Swallows in Flight is remarkable, it’s just a shame that Encense du Monde/Florisens continues to eliminate the best incenses from their lines so often (or at least from the Karin line).

    • Steve said,

      August 30, 2010 at 9:45 am

      I’m always surprised at the volume of richness that comes off the amazingly slender sticks of Ranjatai. I can’t think of a thinner incense…

  3. Hamid said,

    August 30, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Interesting list Ross..thank you.
    My own incense of the month is Radha Madhav Sandal Supreme imported by Chaitanya Exports and available through
    For the last few months I have been burning Sandalwood incenses that are very much predominantly Sandal although varying in intensity, such as Pure-Incense, The Sandalwood Supreme from the Hawaiian Ashram and Minorien. I had therefore to adjust to this complex masala with a good Sandal base and with citrus, chocolate and a delicious hint of turpentine in the mix.
    It has become a mild addiction and as a result of the enjoyment I have got I have ordered the Saffron And Sandal and Tulsi ( sacred basil ) and Sandal from the same line. Of which more anon.

    • Ross Urrere said,

      August 30, 2010 at 8:52 am

      be very interested in hearing about these Hamid. Are these actual masala style? I generally find that the charcoa lsticks with oils rarly do it for me (although in the blends I make now I find a little charcoal can help with the burning or heat distibution). Maybe its a matter of degree or amounts!

      • Hamid said,

        August 31, 2010 at 12:26 am

        Hi Ross , they are described as ” aromatic barks, herbs, roots, resins, honey and natural essential oils hand rolled to produce traditional herbal Masala incense sticks ”

        Certainly there is no hint of charcoal in the colour, texture, or aroma. If Minorein Sandal or the Sandal Supreme from MInimela are the equivalent of Single Malt Whiskeys, then Radha Madhav are a very good blended Whiskey , which at under nine pounds Sterling for 250 grams represent a wonderful bargain.

        • Hamid said,

          August 31, 2010 at 12:51 am

          Just to add. a while ago I bought some of the White Rose from the same line and did not like them at all……..

        • clairsight said,

          August 31, 2010 at 10:38 pm

          Thanks Hamid, this does sound like a winner as well as a buy for me.-Ross

          • Hamid said,

            September 1, 2010 at 12:07 am

            Hope you like them….NB They are very much an Indian incense, Big , sassy and assertive.

            • Hamid said,

              September 2, 2010 at 6:59 am

              I have posted three more reviews under “Review Your Incenses ” as that seemed more appropriate.

  4. clairsight said,

    August 29, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Whats really fun is when you get to rediscover stuff. Sort of like a mini Christmas!

  5. Steve said,

    August 29, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Nice list, Ross – lots of things I’ve never tried. I need to give Soll’s another go – have only tried a few but liked them all. Hadn’t burned Ranjatai all summer so thanks for the reminder. Just lit a stick. It really is stunning…

    • Mike said,

      August 30, 2010 at 9:22 am

      The thing that strikes me most about Fred Solls is that since they’re so dependent on pinon resin, I’m finding that I think only certain ingredients go well. Personally I find more and more than frankincense and pinon together doesn’t really float my boat, at first I used to think it might have been a frank quality issue, but now I’m not so sure. On the other hand cedar is just perfect with pinon, and I would think patchouli is as well if it wasn’t for my suspicion that it’s that very combo that is difficult to make stay lit.

      • Steve said,

        August 30, 2010 at 9:40 am

        The plain ol’ Pinon stick is nice – though it simply won’t stay lit for me. Have always enjoyed Sacred Sage, too. Have some Frankincense & Myrrh Classic, but haven’t lit any in a long time and not since I discovered hougary frank resin on the burner – will be interesting to see how Soll’s frank holds up in comparison. These are such heavy, permeating sticks that I tend to think of them as cool-weather choices…

        • Mike said,

          August 30, 2010 at 12:37 pm

          Heh I think the main issue is nothing stands up to Hougary on a heater.

          • Ross Urrere said,

            August 30, 2010 at 1:28 pm

            Just you wait, me gots some new scents in the works 🙂

            • Mike said,

              August 30, 2010 at 1:33 pm

              I was just referring to the pure frank experience, but I was wondering what was going on behind that closed ORS lab door with all those amazing smells coming out of it. I am now all anticipatory-like 🙂

    • Anne said,

      September 2, 2010 at 7:35 pm

      I’m a little late with my comments, but I just gotta echo Steve and say this is a very nice list, indeed. There are some incenses here that I haven’t yet sampled. But you write so lovingly of them that they are now on my “to get” list.

      And oh, btw, I totally agree with you about the Fred Solls and Mermade’s Deep Earth Premium. They’re gorgeous incenses and imo, good purchases.

      • clairsight said,

        September 2, 2010 at 9:51 pm

        It actually amazes me sometimes as to how well the American incense makers do. There is a lot of creativity and a willingness to try differnt materials. Plus they most likely do not have easy access to the sandalwoods and aloeswoods that the Japanese do, so they find ways to work around it. I actually have fantasies about Katlyn or Solls somehow getting free time in major Japanese makers production setup. Bet it would be amazing.

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