Regenbogen Rauchfahne

Frankincense / Weihrauch: Pure vs. BERK

Above: Pure – Below: BERK
(I apologize for the poor photo quality.)
The two sticks look remarkably similar, except for the slightly different shade of green in the bamboo stick.

Holy Smokes is the brand of the German company BERK, so the incense sticks are very easy to find here in Germany. Typically, a pack of 10g costs around €3, occasionally they can be found cheaper. Pure is a British brand and rather hard to come by in Germany. Padma Store has a selection on offer. Additionally, I recently discovered the Czech shop Vykuřovadla Rymer, with an impressive range, which also stocks some varieties of Pure.
At Padma Store, 10g costs €4.45 – At the Pure shop, the price (20g) is £6.75 (currently about €7.90).

With these two varieties, we have two examples of “frankincense” incense sticks that smell good – but not like frankincense. They are quite sweet, vanilla-like, spicy, but you’d have to search for the typical notes of Boswellia resin. In such cases, I always wonder if the Indian word “Loban” has been translated to “frankincense” (instead of “incense”) even though it can refer not only to Boswellia resin but also to guggul, benzoin, and other resin incense mixtures. So, “Loban” is a bit like the German term “Weihrauch” that is often used as a synonym for “incense”, a fact that often causes problems with browser translation on my blog (and why I often prefer to use the term “olibanum”).

Pure – Absolute Frankincense has a very full-bodied scent profile with a rather heavy, dense sweetness, which I occasionally find “smeary” – like a rich buttercream cake that you can’t eat much of before feeling sick. A possible source of this smell might be guggul (“Indian myrrh”) in combination with benzoin.
Additionally, I smell spicy notes that remind me of clove or even allspice. They provide a pleasant counterbalance. Although I don’t doubt that the composition also contains olibanum, there seems to be so little of the resin present that I can’t isolate the smell.
Nevertheless, I like the scent. If you’re not put off by the somewhat misleading name and enjoy sweet smells, they are definitely worth a try. Regarding intensity, I find these incense sticks to be moderate, which is also quite pleasant.

By the way, “Absolute” is the line; there is also a higher-end version of this scent in the “Connoisseur” line, but I haven’t tried that.

BERK or Holy Smokes – Blue Line – Weihrauch [Frankincense] smell very similar. It’s the same kind of sweetness, just a bit less lavish and therefore less cloying, making them overall appear lighter.
The smell of these incense sticks seems somewhat more washed out, less defined in direct comparison. They also have spicy components, but they don’t evoke a specific association for me. Additionally, I find Holy SmokesWeihrauch to be somewhat woodier than Absolute Frankincense.
In my notes, there is an entry where I write that I occasionally perceive a hint of freshness that could be olibanum. So maybe the note in Pure is just being covered up.
Like with the Pure sticks, I find the name misleading, but the smell is good.

Which of the two I prefer depends on my mood and perhaps also the weather. Since I only had single sample sticks of both, I couldn’t make out a pattern.

I wonder how BERK‘s version compares to Pure‘s entry-level line “Classic“. These are in the same price range as Holy SmokesBlue Line, and I am now quite convinced that the incense sticks of both brands come from the same source, which, according to various statements on the internet, should be HMS.

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