Drigung Monastery / Drigung Fragrant Incense

I wanted to bump up the review of this Drigung Monastery Fragrant Incense for a couple reasons. The first is because it’s downright amazing. The second is because it’s a perfect example of something to introduce that might subvert expectations of what we’re smelling. The bottom line with any incense we buy is akin to the recipe of a famous chef. We may know the basics of what we’re getting but we’re never going to get the full recipe. This is understandable as we don’t want anyone to steal our recipe and sell it and not be able to benefit from our own creation. Unfortunately this sort of grey area can often be where the potential for ingredients sourced from animals, particularly ingredients that might entail cruelty, can hide. The fact of the matter is no incense package is going to trumpet it if its there.

Now if you hadn’t told me Drigung Fragrant Incense was a vegetarian incense it might have been one of the first incenses I’d pick as having animal provenance. The musk on it is super strong and it reminds me of civet, in fact the closest scent I can remember to it is the original Highland Incense from years back. It is downright powerful and animalistic and quite frankly I love this sort of aroma. So I am of course deeply grateful to know that you can actually get this kind of scent and still stay vegetarian with it. That’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned and I think it puts me in a much more skeptical framework when it comes to some previous incenses with strong musk; I’m not likely to ever assume a musk’s source again. The trend seems to be that monasteries are successfully creating recipes from plants to avoid using these sources. The one thing I really like about Drigung Fragrant, which I’m not sure I’ve tried in quite the same way is how the strong musk on it seems to be mixed in with a bit of cinnamon-clove mix. Add a really health helping of sandalwood and you’re on to a real winner as far as I’m concerned, an incense I’ve moved up to my top personal echelon. This isn’t too sweet either and just has the right amount of tanginess and it seems rather lively with fire-y energy, like an aromatic fire breathing dragon or a lion midleap.

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