James came by the other night, like a wise man from the East, bearing aromatic resins. I lit a charcoal and we burnt each incense separately. The baltic amber came from Denmark. It's tens of millions of years old. It doesn't smell like amber in a perfume sense. I think what we know as the amber smell is usually cistus labdanum or benzoin. Smoldering baltic amber smells like locomotive fuel. It reminded me of the Reading Terminal station in Philadelphia in the early 1980s.
I chewed a drop of mastic gum and it tasted like pine. Its lit smell reminded me of frankincense. Piney and lemony.
This is a proper boswellia tear from Yemen. I shaved off a slice and placed it on the charcoal. Smoking frankincense is one of my favorite smells.
The most unexpected scent of the night came from the Indian guggulu resin. It smells like burning leaves coated in caramel. The gum itself was slightly sticky when I cut off a sliver with my pocket knife, like a dessert from a sweets shop on Brick Lane.
After a touch of sal tree resin and myrrh we ended the smoky progression with the glorious smell of Los Tres Reyes, a cathedral incense blend James had picked up in Spain. Its smoke was symphonic.