Cardinal is a recent fragrance release from the niche line Heeley, and the notes include incense, cistus, grey amber, patchouli and vetiver.
Cardinal is easily my favorite scent from Heeley so far. As you might guess from the name and the notes, it is a take on church incense, and so immediately invites comparison to what I think of as the industry standard, Comme des Garçons Avignon. Like Avignon, Cardinal starts off rather strong, but it has nothing like Avignon's uncompromisingly gloomy stance: it is brighter, smoother, and not quite so bone-dry, although I wouldn't go so far as to call it sweet. The dry down is soft and mildly earthy, and like many incense-focused fragrances, has a meditative quality.
Is church incense really church incense if it isn't brooding and dark? Well, if Avignon is your idea of perfection, you might answer no, but if Avignon was too much of a good thing for you — or if, like me, you think there just can't be too many variations on incense — Cardinal might be just what you're looking for. And for those of you in the bring-on-more-incense group, I'll also put in another plug for Encens Mystic by Crazylibellule & The Poppies (the bestest under $20 incense I know) and the Aedes de Venustas Parfum d’Ambiance by L'Artisan (a room spray, but very wearable on skin).
Cardinal is $80 for 100 ml of Eau de Parfum, and the lasting power is good although it stays rather close to the skin after it dries down. For buying information, see the listing for Heeley under Perfume Houses.