Highland Incense Powder (Discontinued)

[NOTE 9/28/21: Highland Incense Powder has been discontinued and is no longer imported to North America.] Highland incense sticks were one of my most exciting incense discoveries this year, so trying out their powder was virtually an imperative. The sticks are among the muskiest, richest and most powerful of the Tibetan sticks, almost a given due to the creator’s Tibetan Medical College training. And unsurprisingly, the powder disappoints not a bit, a creation that while not quite as musky as the stick, makes up for it with an amazing complexity that differs both by using heater or charcoal.

I got the impression after several uses that this incense might have real ambergris in it, as there’s a salty but very rich presence to this incense I’ve never noticed anywhere else, one with the same sort of power and energy as natural musk or pangolin scales but also reminiscent of the natural amber resins prevalent all over the incense world. The center of the powder contains a lot of woods and is similar to sticks like the Medicine Kings by having some similarities to corn or other grains. The spice goes very deep, extremely rich and pleasant, mixed with all sorts of earthy smells like leather, manure, the barnyard-ish tinge from musk and even cigar tobacco. Heating the incense helps to not volatize the oils and musk in the incense quite as fast as it does on charcoal, but at the same time the charcoal burn gives it a unique smokiness that brings out the middle anymore. So like most incenses, the two different methods provide different faces.

For such a complex incense, it’s really that unusual spice/musk mix that makes it work. It gives the powder a more lively feel to it than the stick, whose musky presence is bolstered more by an herbal richness than the cinnamon and clove scent here. Like most incenses that originated from Tibetan Medical College training, there appear to be a lot of powerful and very attractive extracts or oils in the mix. There’s also a slight agarwood bite to it in the background and the saffron works very nicely as well, just a touch to add to the intricacy of the scent. Overall it’s well worth the purchase and up to the usual standards of the high end of Tibetan incense, one that could easily fall into the overall top 10 of incenses from the region.