Sunday, 2 August 2009

Scents in Orthodoxy: Byredo Encens

Celebrations in the Orthodox calendar are numerous. Whilst I grew up far from my Greek heritage and motherland, as an adult married to a Serbian woman, I find myself more and more immersed in the rich tradition that Orthodoxy embraces. Today, on August the 2nd, my wife and family celebrate the Serbian Orthodox feast of Prophet Ilias... an annual observance of the family's patron saint. The day often begins with a ritual visit to the Orthodox church where slavski kolac - a traditional bread is blessed, and then taken home to be eaten with lunch.

Whilst I'm not particularly devout, I do enjoy the opportunity to visit the church with its highly decorative wall paintings and cavernous ceilings. The interior is usually dimly lit with flickering candles which illuminate the centuries-old icons around the room. The air is thick with the smell of beeswax candles and billowing incense, which spills from golden swinging censers. Our occasional visits to these closed spaces result in a sensory blitz of enormous proportions, but when we arrive home again, we find our clothes have been imbued with exotic resinous perfume. For some time now, we have wished for the perfect incense with which to scent our home in the very same fashion.

In my opinion, French perfumer Olivier Durbano best interprets incense in his seven stone poems, however I have finally discovered another treasure; one that we can use to scent our domicile. That is, the hard-to-come-by Encens by Byredo - an ambient room spray and votive candle that are true to their name. Encens is one in a series of discontinued Byredo ambient perfume products that I have enthusiastically taken under my wing. It is tarry and thick with the aroma of smokey benzoin, fragrant clove and bitter cinnamon. There is a soft floral quality

at its heart - something akin to rose - but this only lends a tender dewyness to the mix. I sense the green tang of bay leaves at its core too... the sum of these ingredients make for a comforting, warm, mouth-watering spray that perfume the home magnificently.
It may be a far cry from the censers of the Greek or Serbian church, but Encens is what we want our home to smell of... husky incense; perhaps coupled with the persistent aroma of gingerbread baking in the other room. A few spritzes on the sheer curtains pulled across an open window will scent our house for hours.

It is unfortunate that Byredo have decided to cease production of this product. It could quite possibly have been one of those 'best-kept secrets' that people pass on to one another by word of mouth.
I am shouting it from the rooftops in the hope that you, cherished reader, still have the time and motivation to get out and source some. While you're at it, have a sniff of Byredo's Bibliotheque room spray for a ground-breaking olfactory experience.

While stocks last.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love Encens. But now they have discontinued it. Darn, Encens is the best scented candle of ALL time! Lucky me I got one candle left. Appearantly they have released a new one called Boheme. Supposed to be similar to Encens. It sold out the first day at their website but they will put some new ones up soon. Check it out at