November Top Ten

Welcome to the November Top Ten. As is usually the case for me these are not necessarily laid out in any kind of  “order of wonderfulness”! I like to use many different styles and types of incense so getting it down to ten is an interesting endeavor and something of a difficult task. I would also like to mention we try and hold these to ten selections so if you current favorite is not listed, remain calm and perhaps light another stick 🙂

Next months Top Ten will turn into our “end of the year, completely over the top, blow out list” which we hope to get up by mid December. We are holed up in the secret ORS testing lab wildly waving sticks at each other to back up our various favorites. It’s getting a little smoky in here and I hope the extra fire extinguishers show up soon.

You can find all the incenses listed below in past reviews at ORS unless I have added a link as they are too new to have a review. Enjoy  -Ross

Baieido’s: Rikkoku Aloeswood Set: Quite simply put this is a work of natural art. It comes in a wonderful presentation box that is stunning all by itself. All the woods are great and at the same time very different. The Kyara is mind bending, but then again, in their own way, so are the others. There is a lot of study potential here. Used in the recommended manner this set will last one for quite awhile. You can also sometimes find this in the “mini” size.

Baieido’s Kokonoe: This is one of my “go to” wood scents. I find it very enjoyable and the cost makes it pretty easy to use. It has a clean aloeswood scent and does a great job of showcasing the Indonesian wood. Its also a good place to start looking at specific examples of regional scents within aloeswood as any extra spices or resins in these sticks is there to highlight the wood.

Nippon Kodo’s: Gokuhin Kyara Taikan: This is the second rung up in NK’s high end Kyara ladder. It features a more distinct wood note as well as more refinement in the top notes then Tokusen Kyara Taikan. It is a very elegant incense and quite potent at the same time. There is a sort of resin/floral/powder feel in the overall scent that is a wonderful counterpart to the wood notes. It’s only draw back is that it makes you start wondering how you can afford to get the next one up, which is much more money.

Kyukyodo’s: Sho ran Koh: This one is on our Top Tens a lot and with good reason. It is a very beautiful scent, an elegant floral that is not overdone and has some quality Aloeswoods backing it all up. Not to mention the roll is very large, just opening the box is a huge treat. Koh Shi in San Francisco tries to have this in stock.

Seijudo’s: Kyara Horen: Seijudo decided to create the best Kyara blends that they could for as long as they can get the materials to do so. The top three in the line up actually use Kyara in their blends while the other 4 have very similar notes but use aloeswood. Sometimes the differences seem very subtle. This one is the third from the top. I find it the easiest to get along with, it has tons of Kyara notes mixed in with spices and maybe a hint of musk. It is refined and elegant, but still friendly. It’s also something to be burned first and savored. There is quite a lot going on here and you will get the most out of it this way.  Not inexpensive but a real treasure as well as a treat for the soul.

Mermade’s Scared Grove: Lighting this will almost instantly surround you in the scent of a very large forest. It is very clean and for this time of the year I find it a great way to sort of “open up” the room it’s burning in. High quality and natural ingredients play a big part in Mermade’s success. I notice that there is a bunch of new offerings listed on their site right now.

Daihatsu’s Kaizan: Not only does this has a very nice amber note but the story I was told is that it was formulated by Daihatsu’s Ko Shi ( Fragrance Master) to mimic the scent that geishas used in their hair. Nice scent and a great price. A strong and long lasting aroma that can easily fill a room. Just the thing for all us amber fans.

Shunkohdo’s Houshou: A quality aloeswood at a very reasonable price. It has subtle top notes of chocolate that play with the aloeswood. Quite a beautiful combination and at the price($20) is a great deal not to be missed. Great gift for the incense people in you life.

Incensio’s Palo Santo Wand: If you like Palo Santo then you will be in heaven. The incense look’s sort of like thin cigars on a stick. They are packed with a wonderful and very woody scent that is particular to Palo Santo. These are available at Mermade and a full review of the line is in the works. By the way, using just a portion of a stick will do the trick; these people did not mess around when they put the woods in! Very interesting and at a good price.

Blue Star’s: Lavender: This is from a small producer in Canada (I can hear Anne getting excited). He uses all natural ingredients and the sticks are done in a sort of Tibetan Japanese fusion style, so they are thick and go for around 30-40 minutes. This one stands out for me as it has a nice light wood base note overlaid with a very clean and clear Lavender scent. Just a tiny bit sweet and really beautiful. Lavender Essential Oil is used and then the stick is rolled in Lavender flowers. This one is a winner and a review of the lineup is coming soon. Not to be missed and you get 10 sticks for around $4.00


  1. ember said,

    December 12, 2010 at 12:54 am

    After checking further, it seems that the only way an order from Blue Star would be worth the shipping is to place a large bulk order. Otherwise, the shipping is way too high, but at least it does not seem to increase as the order gets larger. I strongly dislike the practice of high shipping costs on a small amount of product, and I’m irritated enough about it to permanently forgo ordering. I have ended up with so much incense that I hate because I have always tried to keep the shipping costs reasonable for the amount of product ordered. I won’t do that anymore.

    By the way, great site! I really enjoy these reviews. I’m so glad a site like this finally exists.

    • clairsight said,

      December 12, 2010 at 11:33 am

      Hello ember
      I just calculated the shipping and what he charges is pretty much what the going rate is from Canada to the part of the US where I live. I believe his rates are very much in line with anyone elses. No way would I order only one item to have shipped, I always get enough to make the shipping charge worth it to me. Given the quality of the ingredients of his incense I am clueless as to how he keeps the price of it so low. If I were making the stuff it would be going for a whole lot more. I really do not see where this is a big profit maker for him, more a labor of love. This is much higher quality then most of the market, IMO-Ross

      • ember said,

        December 12, 2010 at 4:59 pm

        Thanks for your response, clairsight. My issue was not with the incense price, which is very reasonable for the quality, but rather, with the minimum shipping charge. My point is that if I only wanted try a bundle or two of the incense, the shipping is just too much for me. The total would come to about $15 for just 10 sticks! That’s too much for me. Again, a large order would bring the shipping more into balance, but some of us just cannot afford large orders, and other retailers offer better shipping on large orders too, although they are larger retailers, so I understand that it’s easier for them to do so, but I still have to go with what I can afford.

        Much as I love incense, it’s a luxury for me these days, so it has to come last in my budget, unfortunately, and I try to keep my orders small. I know that most incense retailers have a minimum shipping charge, but this one is just too high. Nevertheless, I look forward to hearing more reviews on this incense!

        • ember said,

          December 12, 2010 at 5:04 pm

          Oops! I meant to address you as Ross, not clairsight. Sorry Ross. 🙂

    • glennjf said,

      December 13, 2010 at 2:56 pm

      Small Packet (surface) > 0-100g > $5.44CAD would appear to be the cheapest option to post to the US, assuming you are in the US ember. This is me consulting the website.

      Add to the postage cost above the need for adequate, protective packaging then add to that the cost to buy or aquire that packaging, then then time involved to pack the incense, address the package and get the item to the Post Office and entered into the post service process. Now set these extra costs next to Williams websites minimum quoted cost for shipping ie $8.95CAD for U.S orders the difference is $5.51CAD. Seems reasonable shipping to me. Am I missing something obvious?

      • glennjf said,

        December 13, 2010 at 3:16 pm

        That difference was $3.51CAD. Time I got either a new calculator or new glasses 😉

  2. ember said,

    December 12, 2010 at 12:36 am

    I was really interested in trying the Blue Star incense until I saw the shipping costs. What a disappointment. I refuse to pay substantially more for shipping than for the product. There is no way to get 10 sticks for around $4, because the guy will nail you on the shipping. I despise it when shipping is obviously part of the profit. He can keep his incense for that price. There is no way he’s going to get my business.

  3. glennjf said,

    November 30, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Baieido Kokonoe, Seijudo Kyara Horen and Shunkohdo Houshou are now added to my wish list. That’s the easy part by the way 😉

    I’m imagining how the Incensio’s Palo Santo Wand might be. I’ve just found a shop selling 20g packets of Palo Santo wood being sold locally (Byron Bay Australia). There’s 5 or 6 short 7cm finger length pieces in each packet. The smallest shaving burned or warmed releases a wall of amazing scent.

  4. Anne said,

    November 30, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Ross! Blue Star incense is such a find! A homegrown canadian incense – and I wasn’t even aware of it! Shame on me! :O

    I’ll definitely be checking out Blue Star’s lavender incense. I love lavender, even more so than rose or jasmine scents (which is saying something because I really do love my florals).

    BTW, great write up on the top ten – very descriptive and informative!

    • Anne said,

      November 30, 2010 at 2:56 pm

      “I’ll definitely be checking out Blue Star’s lavender incense. I love lavender, even more so than rose or jasmine scents (which is saying something because I really do love my florals).”

      Doh! When will I learn and remember to eat before posting! Lavender is as much a floral as rose and jasmine! Can’t think when I’ve got low blood sugar…

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