Friday, 17 February 2012

Incense part 2

So, following on from my previous incense post, I aim to list and briefly describe some incense fragrances that stand out for me. Like I said in my roses post, this is not even remotely a comprehensive list and very subjective. So, drumroll, dim the lights...

Incense Pure by Sonoma Scent Studio - Brief review here. If you like your incense unadulterated and uncluttered, Incense Pure may be just up your alley. I certainly love it. Like a lot of seemingly simple perfumes though, Incense Pure achieves something far more complicated, without ever seeming boring.

Incense Series by Commes des Garcons - I think almost anyone who has an interest in incense fragrances will have heard of these and probably tried a good few. The most well known in the series is probably Avignon, which is a churchy, very frankincense-heavy take on the genre. The others are very interesting too. I could certainly recommend Kyoto and Ouarzazate, both quite meditative and very different to Avignon. I haven't tried Jaisalmer or Zagorsk, but I have read quite good things about them.

Cardinal by Heeley - Another very incense-focused perfume, particularly in the first half. Later it becomes much woodier, but is a lovely fragrance.

10 Corso Como - ok, I know a lot of people would classify this as a sandalwood perfume and yes, it is. However, there is enough incense in here to make my list. A classic.

Profumum Roma Olibanum - another good example of a fairly straight up incense perfume. It is lovely, but as I mentioned a few months ago, it smells a bit like a toilet cleaner used in one of our local hotels! Still good though.

Andy Tauer Incense Extreme and Incense Rose - I only group these together because they are great incense perfumes. As the name implies, Incense Rose could also be discussed as a rose perfume, but both perfumes have hefty doses of incense and like most Tauers' serious longevity. If you don't like these, you will need to scrub, as they won't fade quickly.

Etro Messe de Minuit - woah, now we're talking. I think this is a love-it-or-hate-it perfume. It smells moldering and musty to me, like chronic dampness in the church crypt. I think there's a fair amount of Myrrh in here too. One thing I can say, is that this is like nothing else you've smelled before.

Lots by Amouage - being a lover of incense and Amouage, its no wonder I love so much from this house. I could write pages, but suffice to say that Amouage uses a very distinctive incense note in its deployment of Omani Silver Frankincense. Try Jubilation XXV for starters.

Annick Goutal - Encens Flamboyant. Not totally up my alley, but it has a lot of fans. Quite thick and heavy, but worth trying.

Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline. This is complex and long lasting. It's difficult to decribe what I like about it, but it is very unique.

L'Artisan Dzongha - this is what I'd term a spicy incense. It has a lot going on, without being that strong. While we're dealing with L'Artisan, I would also classify Timbuktu as an incense fragrance. Both are very good.

Serge Lutens Serge Noir - funnily enough, I can't really think of many incense-dominant Lutens perfumes. Gris Clair has a feel of it, as does Encens et Lavande, while Serge Noir is possibly the strangest. Its opening in particular is feral and very odd.

Guerlain Bois D'Armenie - smells a lot like those paper incense strips. Certainly different to a lot of what I've listed so far. If I have a criticism it is that I find this one very slight and subtle.

So, I've come to the end of my incense list. I know many of you will read this and probably think that I've missed off a good few, and I'm sure I have. Let me know what you think of my choices and feel free to recommend a few of your favourites.


  1. Michael, I'm sorry it's taken so long for me to comment, but this post set me off on a crazy incensy journey! The last few days have seen me sifting through decades of incense memories, from reggae thumping shops in the Caribbean to downright scary encounters with practitioners of the "dark" arts - they did have some "righteous" frankincense, though : )

    I also FINALLY ordered a print of John Singer Sargent's "Fumee d'Ambre Gris" that I've wanted, like forever!

    I've tried or own several of the scents you mentioned in this post. I love wearing Messe de Minuit in the summer - it brings out more of the sweet incense and orangey smell. Have you tried it in hot rather than cold weather?

    I mentioned in a previous comment that I was sampling Phaedon's Grisen and feel that it is very similar to CdG Monocle: Hinoki, but not as intense therefore a little easier to wear. Hinoki can get on my nerves after a few hours and I usually do better with it sprayed lightly on fabric, like a scarf.

    I'm really interested in trying the Guerlain Bois d'Armenie - not sure why I haven't already. Is it available at one of the London stores? If so, I'll put it on the list of perfumes to try when I'm there in April.

    Oh, I almost forgot to mention the Tunisian Frankincense oil I just received from Attar Bazaar. Meg gave it high marks it on her Parfumieren blog recently, so I had to check it out - it's wonderful! (and not awfully expensive)

    I'm loving your "theme" posts, Michael. Thanks for letting us benefit from all your hard work : D

  2. Cym, thanks for the kind comments as always. I stand corrected, but I'm almost certain that Bois d'Armenie is stocked by Selfridges. They certainly carry a lot of other Guerlain perfumes, including the more recent City Exclusives. Some of the other incenses you mention do sound unusual and interesting. I'm always on the search for more incense, so I'll see if I can track them down!

  3. Oh Cym, I should add that no, I haven't tried Messe de Minuit in warmer weather. Etro isn't stocked in my town, so London (LIberty) is the only place I'm likely to find it. Next time I'm up there I will try it again.

  4. It's so interesting to see how much our noses are similar. I love Ouarzazate - I would probably buy a bottle of this before Avignon even though I adore Avignon.

    That Etro sounds fascinating!

  5. Thanks Frida. Messe de Minuit is certainly an interesting fragrance.



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