Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Incense Pure was my introduction to Sonoma Scent Studio’s collection. The first time I wore it, I was reminded of the initial role of perfume as a healing potion—one drop of Incense Pure on my wrist, and I felt uplifted and refreshed. Since then I have tried most of the Sonoma Scent Studio’s fragrances, and my initial favorable impression of the line remains unchanged. With every fragrance, regardless of whether it made my list of favorites or not, I have been delighted to discover not just a memorable scent, but also the very distinctive fingerprint of its creator. This is what touched me about the fragrances; they make a coherent, yet diverse collection and provide a glimpse into someone’s universe.
Incense Pure is an introspective fragrance, but unlike most dry, dark incenses like Comme des Garçons Avignon and Armani Privé Bois d’Encens, it does not have strong liturgical connotations. Despite its rich notes of myrrh, amber and woods, there is a fresh, bright element that lends Incense Pure an effervescent quality. The smoky amber forming the core of the composition along with the bright, peppery frankincense and elemi, evokes the crisp scent of autumnal air, distant bonfires and wet earth. The sweetness of vanilla and the musky softness of angelica provide an alluring counterpoint to the rich notes, with the end result being quite polished.
While Incense Pure stays close to the skin, it has a very gentle and caressing presence, the olfactory equivalent of a soft cashmere wrap. It has a great tenacity and a pleasant, if intimate sillage–it is not a fragrance that announces its presence; instead, Incense Pure encourages others to lean in closer. It creates a very comforting aura, which makes Incense Pure my fragrance of choice when I want something soothing and relaxing. Those who likes Comme des Garçons Incense Series would find Incense Pure to be an interesting discovery, which explores the incense theme as a fresh and vivid accord.
Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure (an updated version of Encens Tranquille) includes notes of frankincense CO2, myrrh EO, labdanum absolute, cistus oil, natural oakmoss absolute, aged Indian patchouli heartnote fraction, sandalwood, cedar, ambergris, orris, angelica root absolute, elemi EO, vanilla absolute. It is available as the Eau de Parfum and is quite reasonably priced: 5ml ($20), 17ml ($31) and 34ml ($80). It is available directly from Sonoma Scent Studio.
Sample: my own acquisition
Photograph: “Incense” by eviltomthai, via flickr.