Kathok Monastery Formula Incense

Kathok Monastery Formula Incense is strange in that it reminds me both of much cheaper Nepali incenses you find imported to the US as well as more mid-level monasteries. If you check on the reviews at that link, you’ll find a few positive reviews that might be read in comparison/contrast to what I have to say. I’m not super sure this one works for me exactly. It definitely has a bit of summer harvest sort of scent to it that I believe probably comes from a lot of Himalayan flora native to the area. There’s a bit of burnt leaves to this part of the aroma and some campfire tones. It has a great deal of wood to it which is partially why it seems somewhat Nepali and maybe enough to give it a note that I either don’t like much or haven’t got used to. There’s some juniper and/or cedar to the mix and like most Tibetans a light touch of musk as well. So in many ways this is kind of a down-home Tibetan stick. I’m not sure I would have caught the clay notes myself without reading those reviews but once I tuned in it was less like earthy wet clay like I think of with patchouli or vetivert but more like the clay scent you get from pottery. It also has a kind of strange note like raisins and prunes in the mix which again sort of bolsters my summery impression of it. Also, it has just a slight amount of funk to be reminiscent of another monastery in the Nyingma tradition, Dzongsar. Anyway I’m glad this incense does have its appreciators and I think they’re well worth reading on to get some breadth on this incense. This very well could be a just not my thing rather than a fair incense, because really that’s quite a few notes from one stick – it certainly has the complexity and activity to it to make it worth checking out.

2 Comments

  1. July 3, 2021 at 6:56 pm

    Surprise surprise, either this current incarnation of Katok isn’t as good as the one I have or we just associate different things. The clay is very interesting to me and I think the clay/musk interplay is something that sets this apart for me and made it one of my favorites. While they no longer carry it, there was a ‘milder’ version with more earthy/musk notes called ‘Katok Valley’ that I also got from incense-traditions that didn’t differentiate itself enough for me to sing it’s praises.

    • Mike said,

      July 3, 2021 at 8:41 pm

      Yeah I mostly hope I got across that this was a complex and involved incense, certainly this is more a matter of taste than anything else. If it ever catches on for me I’ll back around. Good to get your thoughts though, I think this one does have its appreciators.


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