One of my favorite times of year to wear incense perfumes is during Indian Summer — when days are hot and nights are chilly. Light and soft incense perfumes fit perfectly with the scents of dry leaves and the lingering aromas of smoke from neighborhood fireplaces.
Many of my once-favorite incense perfumes no longer appeal; their artificial ingredients have become obnoxious to me, maybe due to reformulations or my nose getting accustomed (and sensitive) to Iso E Super, Cashmeran, Ambrox and the like. (And must vanilla be in everything?)
Though I appreciate many Byredo fragrances (I love Pulp), I missed Encens Chembur's debut nine years ago. The perfume is named after a suburb of Mumbai (these days, Chembur has lost its 'country' vibe and is one of the most polluted places in India due to heavy industry). But there is no corruption or "pollution" in Encens Chembur; it's a lovely perfume.
When I first sniffed Encens Chembur, I realized a more recent favorite fragrance — Etat Libre d'Orange Attaquer Le Soleil Marquis de Sade — smells like it (Encens Chembur was released eight years earlier). Both perfumes build their structure around beautiful cistus labdanum (Cistus ladanifer). In both perfumes, cistus labdanum is lightened by citrus aromas. Though Encens Chembur is mostly linear in character, I do notice some ginger in the top notes and incense-y elemi in mid-development.
Encens Chembur is a quiet incense perfume; it sits politely on the skin and stays close to the body (no one around you will look about for an urn full of temple incense or a priest swinging a smoking censer). If I rated incense perfumes by the number of incense sticks, Encens Chembur would be a single stick burning on a home altar; it lets me 'focus.'
If you've been considering buying either Atttaquer Le Soleil Marquis de Sade or Encens Chembur, I'd say Encens Chembur is easier to wear: it has less of a musky/overripe edge. I'd recommend doing a side-by-side comparison before purchasing. I want one or the other but can't make up my mind!
Byredo Encens Chembur was developed by perfumer Jérôme Epinette, and has listed notes of lemon, bergamot, ginger, temple incense, nutmeg, cistus labdanum, amber and musk. It is available in 50 ($150) or 100 ($230) ml Eau de Parfum. A coffret of three 12 ml travel sprays is $110. For buying information, see the listing for Byredo under Perfume Houses.
Note: top image of shows rakhi bracelets in a gold bowl, and is by the author.