The Rising Phoenix Perfumery / Musk Rose Bakhoor, Resin Bakhoor, Ambergris Souked Sandalwood Powder

I’ve been really looking forward to writing about Rising Phoenix since I started corresponding with JK DeLapp some months back. It may not be known to all readers but there’s really an amazing community of incense artisans in the United States now and often even when it looks like I’m posting about a new company with new incenses, I’m actually posting about veteran work in the field. We’re talking about high quality incenses on the level of Katlyn Breene and Ross Urrere but with a distinctly individual direction and focus that is expressly JK’s. Two of three of these incenses are intended to be in the middle-eastern Bakhoor style and yet while they carry forward the qualities of this style of incense, they avoid all of the trappings of the cheaper stuff and instead move closer to what might be considered mid to high end Japanese incense quality. The other incense, while not a bakhoor, has a similar level of quality. All three are fabulous incenses made with numerous high quality aromatic ingredients covering multiple levels of activity whether one heats or uses them in charcoal and those who have enjoyed the work of other artisans we have featured here should immediately line up at Rising Phoenix Perfumery’s Etsy store before the incenses are gone.

The first of these incenses is called Musk Rose Bakhoor. Like all three incenses, this one comes in a 3.5g sized glass jar wrapped in Japanese Washi paper. The incense is a fine earthy powder that is immediately redolent of the finer materials in incense. I remember a day when you couldn’t buy a good rose incense, but even fresh from the jar you know you’re onto a good thing here. The ingredient list is impressive with the wood base combining sandalwood and four different kinds and origins of aloeswood. On top of this blend we have a mix of Russian Centifolia Rose (an attar I assume), Champa and an all natural and extremely fine Hina Musk. You would think almost any one of these top ingredients could suffice for a great incense, but all three of them together make for an exceedingly complex and heavenly blend of scents that deliver an aromatic epiphany over and over again. These are the types of fine scents whose descriptions couldn’t possibly live up to the billing, the kind of subtlety lost in cheap floral incenses. There is one caveat here though, this is the kind of aloeswood heavy incense that the Golden Lotus incense most of us use from Mermade Magickal Arts isn’t quite hot enough for even at maximum and so in order to fully experience the whole scent, I had to experiment with the blend on charcoal as well (good news though, I believe there will be new methods of heating on the way in the near future from MMA that should allow the woods to come out more). It is truly hard to encapsulate how much goodness is going on with this blend. The rose hits you first as any good rose scent does, but the finer ones have personalities that transcend the usual experience of walking through a rose garden and this one is a scent you could just fall into. The champa will bring back memories from the years when champa-based incenses were at their best, I had multiple hits of deja-vu with every use of this incense, I’m not sure any other word could describe it better than awesome. One wonders just how much the champa and musk ingredients modify the overall scent as I also seem to pick up more of it a bit later in the heat when the sandalwood starts to come out. I’ve always found it interesting as well how Sandalwood can work so cleverly in an aloeswood heavy mix, although this may have been the way it works with a low heat. Needless to say there’s so much going on this incense that it will take many uses to really explore all the directions its going. It’s quite simply a masterpiece.

Rising Phoenix’s Resin Bakhoor is something of a high-end take on frankincense and myrrh resin mixes.  I was charmed to learn that this incense actually started as an Abramelin incense because you can actually sense that this is the origin, particularly from the way aloeswood and frankincense are mixed. This has a similar type of base to the Musk Rose Bakhoor, although in this case even if the aloeswood mutes a bit at low heat it doesn’t affect the scent quite as much as the previous incense, simply because the resins here are really arresting. There’s a real melding of scents here to create something quite new and special, a real eye to how each ingredient modifies another. Frankincense and myrrh are kind of the peanut butter and chocolate of the incense world anyway, but I really like the way the limier aspects of the green frankincense meld with the good quality Ethiopian myrrh here, it’s as if they were one resin with multiple faces. Some of this is due to the benzoin and labdanum in the mix, both of which seem to intensify the overall fruitiness going on at the top. And what a fruitiness it is, not just the typical lemon or lime qualities you usually get with resin mixes, but a sense of age and subtlety as well, which is a nice trick that is enhanced when the method of burning or heating makes sure to bring out the deeper qualities of the aloeswood and sandalwood. It’s actually somewhat rare to see a resin blend formulated with such a wide array of fine materials and even rarer to find one where every ingredient counts in the mix.

Rising Phoenix also offer various types of aloeswood and sandalwood, and offer as an option with their Indian Sandalwood Powder, An Ambergris Souked Sandalwood Powder (scroll down). Those who have had the pleasure of trying Ross Urrere’s take on this theme will recognize the style, where the crystalline, high-end scent of fine, fresh sandalwood is modified by the salty and sublime scent of ambergris. However, Rising Phoenix’s version of this uses (Golden) Irish Ambergris, rather than the more common New Zealand sourced material, which makes me want to eventually compare the two. I find this style of incense to be simple in terms of getting a two-scent, highly clear aroma, which is a good thing as the materials being matched here contain enough complexity in their own right that they would be drowned out in a more complicated blend (ambergris in particular does not shout, it sings). And of course if you’re only familiar with sandalwood in stick incenses, then experiencing what fine powder is like is a must as its better qualities are always revealed in a heat. In fact I would even think this would work quite at well at lower temperatures as a little goes a long way.

It is good news to see these incenses on the market and better news to know that even more styles are planned! Those of us who await every new Mermade blend with that sense of pre-Christmas anticipation will likely start finding themselves doing the same thing with Rising Phoenix. But this company doesn’t just have us awaiting the next blend, it encourages people to learn about and create their own aromatic products. You can find informative videos at this link. To see more than the introductory video, all you have to do is sign up with your name and e-mail address. And with new methods of heating and burning on the way, there should be more informative videos to share with you all in the near future.

7 Comments

  1. Terra Renee said,

    July 13, 2015 at 11:08 am

    I almost ordered the Mysore Sandalwood and the Souked Sandalwood from RisingPhoenix, but Mermade just had too many goodies that I couldn’t pass up. I’ll probably try RisingPhoenix when I get a hotter heater. I know a company in Taiwan that provides great heaters that go much hotter than 250 like the GL.

    • Mike said,

      July 13, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      Terra, the Sandalwood and Souked Sandalwood work great on the heater, it’s really aloeswood that’s the trouble. And as BringyourownBIOs mentioned anyway, it looks like a work around is possible if you’re willing to use the heater element directly.🙂

      • Terra Renee said,

        July 13, 2015 at 4:23 pm

        I really want the Mermade Aromatic Vaporizer, but it’s super expensive. I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford it until late August, which it will likely be sold out by then. I know this Rising Phoenix stuff would be great on that, just like my other wood chips that I just can’t seem to enjoy as much as I should.

        • Terra Renee said,

          July 13, 2015 at 5:53 pm

          Yeah, I’m afraid I’m horrible disappointed with Mermade for making the vaporizer inaccessible to so many people. I would have even settled for the lesser-quality one that only cost $60 or so. This $150 one is way out of range for someone with bills and a family. Mermade is usually priced so well for everyone, but it seems only people who are rich or friends with Katlyn will be able to get a vaporizer. I know you will, Mike. I look forward to reading your review and turning green with envy.

          • Gregg said,

            August 14, 2015 at 11:13 pm

            Let me reply to the price question on the Mermade vaporizer/wood heater and to its value. Yes, perhaps compared to a cup, bag of ash, and a piece of charcoal, it is indeed expensive. However, it is 1/2 the price of the Shoyeido electric wood chip heater with equal functionality. Compared to 1 gram of kyara these days, it is 1/3 of the price. Heck, it is cheaper than most boxes of decent Japanese incense these days, and you get a fine instrument for the price. It heats everything from the most delicate of sandalwoods through the lightly grained agarwoods to the densest kyara with ease, no scorching (as long as the uber easy instructions are followed), and best of all, can be used plugged in or portably, something no other wood heater that I know of will do. After several months, I have yet to find any real issues with it, however I would recommend using the supplied foil over the heating screen to save cleaning time.

  2. BringYourOwnBIOS said,

    July 13, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Great review, excited to try these new blends! Rising Phoenix has some excellent oud oils also..

    I can’t agree about the Golden Lotus not working for agarwood/aloeswood and other woods though – I just don’t get that.

    Here’s how I use the GL heater:
    I have taken to not using the little metal cup for anything – I take whatever incense I’m using and put it right on the actual heating element – and I do everything at 150C – this brings out the best scent without harsh notes coming up. I have a whole pack of those little square razor blades – the type for cutting carpet, like would go in a utility knife – basically, you just scrape out the remains of whatever was in there – even resiny blends that melt scrape out cleanly and easily. If you scrape out a melted sticky resin blend while it is still warm or hot, it will scrape out as a goo that dries/hardens in seconds and is easily then removed from the razor blade – if you scrape it out once room temp it will be a crystalline powder. The heating element looks about as clean as when I first got it – razor blades remove the residue very very well.

    Anyhow though, if you use thin shavings and slivers of agarwood in this fashion the GL heater is awesome – I don’t even need to go past 150C.. The complexity and uniqueness of each variety of agarwood is revealed mostly in the first 15-40 minutes of the heating session – I always put the wood in there before turning the GL heater on, as this allows the scent to unfurl in a most delightful way..

    • Mike said,

      July 13, 2015 at 9:29 am

      Thanks for the compliments. I’ve used woods on hotter heaters and there are qualities that come out at those temperatures that don’t come out even at the hottest setting on the Lotus. In fact my first heater was a Shoyeido ceramic heater whose heating core kind of died down at one point, and I went from enjoying woods on it to the heater not being hot enough. But hey if you’re enjoying the way the GL works no worries and I do hope that what you’re saying further encourages people to try RP’s incenses. All opinions welcome here!


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