Opinions of these incense fragrances (and suggestions for more)

Dec 11, 2021
Hello everyone!

I've lurked for a while and finally decided I'm going to try and be part of this community in a more active way, I certainly have a lot to learn still and I hope I'll be able to learn lots from you all.

And so, on topic, I'm currently looking for a cheap(er) incense forward frag, dark, smoky frag for everyday wear in the coldest weeks of the year, something with just a tiny bit of sweetness or less, and with good enough performance that I could wear it in the dead of winter and still have decent performance.
My references are Armani Bois D'Encens, of which I own a decant that I try to conserve for special occasions, and Memo Tiger's Nest, which I thought was too two-dimensional, with just slightly smoky incense and barely anything else to complement it.

Digging around I've found the following bottles for really reasonable prices, though I haven't managed to find any sort of comparative review, nor lots of reviews that were really focused on the quality of the incense, so if you have some clearer and more in depth info regarding the following I'd really like to hear them:
Zadig & Voltaire This is Him!
Collistar L'Incenso
Ikon Zirh
Bentley for Men Absolute

And, of course, if anyone has some better/more suitable suggestions I'm all ears.
 
Dec 11, 2021
Thanks for your inputs everyone, it's interesting to hear what everyone likes best.

I guess what I'm looking for though, more than hearing your preference and personal taste, is hearing your impressions about how the scents I mentioned compare to each other, or how another incense-forward scent that you like compares to any of the ones I mentioned, so that I can decide on whichever is best aligned with my own tastes.

So I'd really appreciate it if you could write a few words to say how they compare, or at least about the characteristics one fragrance or another might have (one's more smoky and balsamic, one's more resinous and ambery, one's brighter with some citrus, one's darker with vetiver and earthy notes...).

Thanks in advance!
 

UncleBuck

Basenotes Dependent
Oct 23, 2009
Thanks for your inputs everyone, it's interesting to hear what everyone likes best.

I guess what I'm looking for though, more than hearing your preference and personal taste, is hearing your impressions about how the scents I mentioned compare to each other, or how another incense-forward scent that you like compares to any of the ones I mentioned, so that I can decide on whichever is best aligned with my own tastes.

So I'd really appreciate it if you could write a few words to say how they compare, or at least about the characteristics one fragrance or another might have (one's more smoky and balsamic, one's more resinous and ambery, one's brighter with some citrus, one's darker with vetiver and earthy notes...).

Thanks in advance!
There’s plenty of reviews on the internet for the frags that have been mentioned. I’d suggest you start with reading the reviews and decide which ones sound like what you’re looking for. Then buy samples and try them for yourself. Unfortunately, the only way you’ll know what it’s like and how it performs is if you try it yourself.
 

slpfrsly

Physician, heal thyself
Basenotes Plus
Apr 1, 2019
Zadig & Voltaire This is Him!
Bentley for Men Absolute
These are good but are by no means a 'pure' incense scent. This Is Him is also very sweet (similar to Encens Satin by Armani, so close to Bois d'Encens, just with vanilla) and Bentley is quite woody and oudy.

If those two don't satisfy you, I would recommend seeking out a clove-based scent, like a bay rum. Incense fragrances tend to be really quite difficult to wear, even the expensive ones, whereas clove in bay rum gives you a smokiness and depth, as well as a Church-like scent, whilst being much more wearable. Good ones can be had for very little money as well.

You might also want to try Commes des Garcons 2 Man. It's not too expensive and you might enjoy it.
 
Dec 11, 2021
There’s plenty of reviews on the internet for the frags that have been mentioned. I’d suggest you start with reading the reviews and decide which ones sound like what you’re looking for. Then buy samples and try them for yourself. Unfortunately, the only way you’ll know what it’s like and how it performs is if you try it yourself.
I've spent a significant amount of time reading reviews about all of those fragrances, the big issue is that different reviewers might as be talking about different fragrances in a number of cases - opinions about what the same fragrance smells like may vary wildly, which is why I've mentioned I'd really appreciate a comparative review, so that I could at least get a general idea of the difference between all, or some of them.
I would recommend seeking out a clove-based scent, like a bay rum. Incense fragrances tend to be really quite difficult to wear, even the expensive ones, whereas clove in bay rum gives you a smokiness and depth, as well as a Church-like scent, whilst being much more wearable. Good ones can be had for very little money as well.
Thanks, I'll certainly keep that in mind!
Is there any specific fragrance along those lines that you'd recommend?

Also thanks Brooks for your take!
I've checked out some reviews of 7 Anonimo but wasn't able to find any store near me carrying it; how prominent would you say the leather is?
 

Andy the frenchy

Basenotes Dependent
Sep 16, 2018
Zadig & Voltaire This is Him!
Bentley for Men Absolute
These 2 are your best bet for a cheapie incense.
Z&V incens-y vanilla
Bentley Incens-y/peppery woods

I also support the suggestion of Loewe 7 Anonimo, and would also add Oud pour Lui by Alyssa Ashley. Yeah... I know... celebrity frags are always raising eyebrows, but here, I have to admit that it's a nice, cheap (even if a bit linear) spicy frankincense frag (no oud at all), blended by Luca Maffei, who is the nose behind several fragrances by Houbigant, Jacques Fath, HdP and Perris MC.
 

The_Cologneist

Basenotes Institution
Feb 27, 2010
I can only comment on Ikon. It's a frag I've bought and sold a lot because it's hard to wear. It's a good deal if you like really odd stuff. I wouldn't think it's a very good incense frag for people wanting traditional incense. For those looking for a different take on incense though, you can't go wrong with Ikon. With how cheap it is, and how unique, a lot of people like that. Personally though, I can't get over the burnt rubber smell, which makes this one a scrubber for me.
 
Dec 11, 2021
I thought I'd update everyone after your comments and impressions:
I've tried most of the fragrances you all have mentioned and then some, and among the cheap ones the one I've found most to my liking is Zirh Ikon, it's not quite as dry as I'd like but it's the one requiring me to compromise the least, so that's what I'm using as a daily for the colder days out.

Among the more expensive ones, which I don't think I'll buy anytime soon because I still have that Bois D'Encens decant, the one I liked best was Incense by Franck Boclet, because of its natural quality and unclutteredness, for lack of a better word.

So thanks again, I really was interesting going through your suggestions and being able to try out mostly everything in the span of a few days.
 

badarun

Basenotes Institution
Jan 15, 2013
Some good suggestions already.

Norma Kamali incense is the gold standard, but it's an unicorn that we can't find any longer..I'd add Sahara Noir, Tom Ford, if you can find it. Discontinued, but certainly still available on ebay and few online sources.

Amouage Jubilation XXV is another good one.
 

jdnba

Basenotes Dependent
May 30, 2007
Cardinal by Heeley is my favorite Incense fragrance. I owned it once….to me it’s immediate happiness upon spraying-like incense and sunshine mixed in a bottle
 

uhbhatti88

Basenotes Junkie
Jan 13, 2012
...My references are Armani Bois D'Encens, of which I own a decant that I try to conserve for special occasions, and Memo Tiger's Nest, which I thought was too two-dimensional, with just slightly smoky incense and barely anything else to complement it....
Welcome to incense!

Consider:

L'Artisan Timbuktu - a woody floral centering around incense
Aedes Musc Encensee - skin-scent musk and incense, just a transparent basenote
L'Artisan Passage d'Enfer - incense, lily, musk. A delicate incense, not floral as you'd think
Heeley Eau Sacree - A church incense one f-stop darker than the Armani
CDG Kyoto - clean incense
Papillon Spell 125 - a sparkly incense with ambregris. Interesting and rewards multiple wears
Tauer Incense Extreme - phenol incense
Tauer Incense Rosee - cola candy incense (actually a result of the incense/rose/guaiac combo but smells fantastic)

I could probably go on for a bit given it's my favorite note, but sampling the above will give you a good "state of the field" review of some of the best incense scents around which aren't attars/oils etc.
 

BoxPred

Super Member
Jan 19, 2016
I own and enjoy Bentley Absolute, but I prefer Comme des Garcons 2 Man which for me is more of an incense fragrance and of generally higher quality. I have been tempted by Zirh Ikon but have held back based on reviews suggesting it may be too similar to the aforementioned fragrances.
 

ccdan

Basenotes Junkie
May 7, 2017
If you like Bentley for Men Absolute, you should try Montale Greyland - it's similar but of higher quality and has better performance. And not very expensive.

As for actual incense, I find Casbah very nice - not overly churchy, it has some other notes that make it smell like a good fragrance. A bit on the expensive side.
 

Owen Bawn

Basenotes Member
Oct 18, 2021
I enjoy Dunhill Custom. Starts off with a simple apple and black pepper that soon fades and is replaced by cedar and incense. The apple never completely goes away, but the wood and incense is delightful. It seems to have gotten a lot of mediocre reviews, but I wear it at least once or twice a week all winter. And the price is right. You might be able to find it in a package set with a very nice after shave balm with the same scent.
 

drseid

Sound Scents
Basenotes Plus
Jun 1, 2003
Lots of great options have already been mentioned. I'll add Sanctum by TRNP. It is great as a focal frankincense perfume alone, but maybe even more impressive is how the perfume slowly morphs from lemony support to peppermint to herbal/floral to dry sandalwood... The subtle shifts throughout each wear really are amazing.
 
Dec 11, 2021
Thanks for the continued suggestions!
I'd like to remind everyone, as I've written a number of times now starting from the first post, of the fact that I'm looking for opinions on CHEAP incense fragrances.

I'm sure a number of fragrances, incense-focused or not, are worth a splurge, are very expensive but also very good and so on and so forth, but when it comes to that I've already found a number of fragrances, incense-focused and not so much so, that really tick all the boxes for me, so half of your suggestions are off topic.

So please keep the on-topic suggestion coming!
 

Palicao

Basenotes Member
Dec 3, 2008
(all written by them to me. hope it helps, hope it confuses even more)

Zadig & Voltaire This is Him!
Sit down child. You have been warned, you have been told this was smelling like something else, like something better. But you can't expect strangeness here, only the commodity of being frank, direct, masculine. Is this the man you want to sleep with at night to wake up in the morning, you ask myself? Or is it just an illusion of something that could be but it's not? Still the cheapness is all. Indulge. Into my long hair it makes sense to be the man you want me to be, the man you will never be as well.

Ikon Zirh
I SCREAM I DARE I AM ABSOLUTE MASCULINE. I am also cheap. I look at you and I laugh, did you really think incense would be church and only church? did you really think that I could simply be accustomed of being the second choice? No way, NO WAY. I will make repent you, I will be all the men in whose neck you slept a bit, I will be their afterhsave dressed in the bolderness of new hyper synthetic future. I will not make you forgive me, soon.
But then I will disappear. The dream I was will linger with you for a little while. Then you will be sleepiong alone, again.

Full Incense
Do please pray, my dear. Kneel down, bow to the god. I am here to remember you are not alone. I am here to remember you can sing and pray and cry but I will endure, I will be the churches the roses the prayers of your infancy, the stain on your memories of nevernding search for the perfect incense. I will be strong but I will be smart, never reaching the top, never drying down to the bottom. I shall caress you and you will feel cherised.
In the end I will be the home you seek yet the one you will never find. I shall simply be.

7 by Loewe
You thought you were safe? You're not. Here I am godly and metallic, fresh and minty, making you salivating to kiss my lips yet I will be one step ahead you, distant, forever volatile. I shall be beauty for you, sinergetic, modern, inhuman. But as I am reaching the sky I will wane easily, I am not tirless. I cast down my bolt to earth and it's now just raining. I will be your favourite yet tragically the one than never sticks to your poor unsofisticated skin. Oh all the love you give me, all the attention for my benzoine heart. Yet I am nothing in the end. I don't endure but in your dreams.

Kyoto Incense by Commes des Garconnes

Are you joking? Why are you staying down there into the earth, the heart, she soil? Why don' t you come up here, in the clouds we have rain, we have wind, we have fresheness beyong your mortal memories. Do come, do enjoy our wrath, we are creatures that forget easily but we are but a twist of the currents, as the incense that reaches god is nothing but a faint memory. Do run with us in the blue, do run with us in the sky as we jump one temple to the other as we collect your prayers. Your trip will not be in vain. We shall make you near to the gods, just for one second.

Avignone by Commes Des Garconnes
You are dead. You are human. Let's celebrate your hymn one last time.

(in order
  1. cheap
  2. super cheap incredily cheap, stupidly cheap
  3. not cheap but not expensive
  4. moderate to cheap sometimes
  5. expensive per see but moderate for a bottle)
 

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