Cardinal by James Heeley for Heeley 2006


Post by Poodle



I went to a Catholic grammar school. Many of my childhood memories are of being in church. Damn, it seems like there was always a reason to have to go to mass. I have to admit I hated it. We’d even be taken to church during school hours to practice singing so that at mass Sr. Carmeline would be happy and convinced that we were loud enough for God to hear. She was a large, scary woman and had this giant bell she would ring to get our attention. The bell meant business, let me tell you, but that’s another story altogether.

During Lent there wasn’t much singing but we had to go to the Stations of the Cross every week. To a kid it was dreadfully boring, but I loved Lent because there was more incense. Incense was my favorite part of church by far. I still love my incense perfumes in times of stress and when I mentioned Cardinal in my last post Portia asked me to tell you more about it.

Avignon was a blind buy for me and I fell hard for it. It was all dark. brooding, churchy incense. It was love. On my quest to acquire more incense fragrances I stumbled upon Cardinal and found another to love.

Cardinal by Heeley 2006

Cardinal by James Heeley

Cardinal James Heeley FragranticaFragrantica

Heeley gives these featured accords:
White Linen . Baie Rose . Black Pepper
Labdanum . Frankincense . Myhr
Vetiver . Grey Amber . Patchouli

Cardinal is a church incense but it’s more like church on a sunny winter’s day. I remember sitting in church and it was usually cold. If you were strategic you’d try to sit near a window. You wanted to be in that ray of sunlight streaming through the stained glass. It would offer some warmth which was hard to come by in those big, old churches. Cardinal is a lot like that. It has dustiness and cold damp stone notes along with the incense but there’s also that visible ray of sunshine.

heeley-cardinal St.-Marys-Church Mount Pleasant granaryMount Pleasant Granary

It’s all about the aldehydes. They tend to brighten and freshen up a perfume and that’s exactly what they do here. Add to that the amber in the base and Cardinal becomes a much warmer, happier take on incense. My only complaint is with the lasting power. On my skin Cardinal isn’t a powerhouse and it doesn’t last very long. Some days I may get a couple hours out of it but not others. It does linger on clothing nicely. Your mileage may vary.

If you love Chanel No 22 as I do but have always wished the incense was a bit more pronounced then I think you might like Cardinal. If Avignon always seemed a bit too masculine to you then Cardinal’s floral notes and brightness might be just perfect. Yes, it’s still contemplative and calming but it’s also hopeful, like going into dimly lit church, lighting a candle, saying a prayer, and walking out into the sunshine.

Cardinal Heeley St. Augustine's Church, Hedon GeographGeograph.UK

Further reading: NST and Olfactoria’s Travels
Healey has €125/100ml and sends to the world
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $5.40/ml

Have you tried it? Do you like it? What’s your favorite incense?


27 thoughts on “Cardinal by James Heeley for Heeley 2006

  1. Hey Poodle,
    CHURCH! I spent half my life the early on too.
    Have you tried Reve d’Ossian by Oriza L Legrand? It is my current favourite incense, lasts on me for hours and has a really nice trajectory, I think you might like it.
    Portia xx


  2. I am an incense ADDICT! My favorites are Goutal’s Encense Flamboyant and Rebel & Mercury’s Encense. I like the drier, true incense scents. But I also like some blends. Adore Killian’s Incense Oud. Tauer’s Incense Flash and Incense Rose are very likable. Tauer’s Lonestar Memories, Incense Extreme and Lair are favorites. As for Heeley, I just bought 16 ml because a friend thought I would love it. It was just a like for me. It went on cloyingly sweet, not like Annick Goutal; dried down to a sweet church or nag champa incense that sits close to the skin, not FB worthy; doesn’t even last 2-3 hours on the wrist.


    • There is a sweetness to it. Too bad your skin amplifies it from what you describe. I’ve had that happen with Incense Extreme coincidentally. I like Cardinal for bed due to the lasting power and sometimes for work depending on what fragrance-phobic coworker I might be meeting with.


  3. Hi Poodle!

    I haven’t tried this one yet, but I betcha I have a sample! It sounds lovely, and your evocative post is nudging me towards The Sample Sea.


    • Adrift in the sample sea… Whenever I head for a dip in the sea with one destination in mind I always get distracted by something else along the way and forget what my original perfume goal was. My sea isn’t very well organized though so its easy to veer off course.


  4. Total incense fiend, it seems like 10% of my collection consists of one variety or another. Top favorites are Cardinal, Incense Extreme, Encens Flamboyant, Olibanum and Shanaan. I also have all 5 of the CdG Incense series. Cardinal lasts all day on me but sadly Rêve d’Ossian is gone in an hour.


    • Yay! A Cardinal fan. You’ve got all 5 CdG’s? You’re my hero. I have Avignon and I keep saying Kyoto is next but I haven’t gotten to it yet. My perfume budget has taken a hit so it may be a while before I get the rest.


  5. Hi Poodle,

    As a fellow product of Catholic grammar through HS I can certainly identify with the scenes and characters you mention in your post. I actually enjoyed the choir component of my education, as that was the only music we had available to us at school. Any other musical experience was via private teacher. I have vivid memories of singing requiem masses in the choir loft as funeral processions were passing below, the incense wafting up to us from the swinging censers.

    A favorite incense perfume? Actually I don’t think I have ever tried an incense type that I didn’t like, at least a little bit. I suppose Goutal’s Encense Flamboyant is right up there with the many other incense favorites that include several from M. Micallef and, believe it or not, M. by Mariah Carey – incense and marshmallows , the perfect grammar school incense!

    Azar xx


    • M has incense? Really? I didn’t know that! And marshmallows too! I need to check that out. I don’t think I’ve even bothered to sniff Mariah’s perfumes because I figured they’re all like the others out there. Shame on me.
      I can’t believe some of the things that happened in school but most of us made it through it seems. We definitely had more respect and fear than today’s kids. If the nun said you were bad, you were bad. Mom was not taking your side. No how. No way. At least mine wasn’t.


  6. Dear Poodle, I’m so happy that you wrote about incense. I am on the perpetual search for incense. I love Avignon. Maria Gentile’s Sideris is lovely as well. I got a sample of Cardinal and loved that also. The churchier the incense, the better. The best I ever tried was Norma Kamali’s Incense which is sadly discontinued and hard to find. I hope you will expand today’s blog and put together more names of potential fragrances with this particular note. Thanks again.


    • More incense? That’s a thought I will happily consider.
      Sideris (which autocorrect really wants to call Spiders) is quite nice.
      It’s funny how people that love churchy incense really love it. On Epiphany in January my mom’s church gives out little packets of incense. Mom used to burn it on the electric stove burners now and then. I never asked why. Cleansing the air perhaps? As a kid I thought that was the coolest thing.


  7. Hi Poodle! Incense, along with cinnamon, are two notes I do not care for in perfumery, if they
    are dominant. Heaven knows (no pun) I have tried with incense but mostly it makes me feel a sick. The only perfume I own with incense that I love is Coromandel. But next time I am in Vienna I will drop in and try this out on paper and see what happens. Hugs. xxxxx


    • I have a hunch it won’t win you over. You’re a tough cookie. (lol). It might work but if your nose picks up too much sweetness that might be an issue for you too. We must not have a sick Cookie Queen. Stick with Coromandel. You smell fabulous!


  8. What a beautiful description of Cardinal! I’ve discovered my love for incense only last summer when I noticed how well it fits in the warm season. Cardinal is truly a sunny incense. As much as I admire Heeley’s perfumes (Cuir Plein Fleur, Hippie Rose, Sel Marin, L’amandiere)I have big issues with its lasting power so I never bought a full bottle. I can’t imagine carrying the 100 ml bottle always in my bag.


    • I know. Lasting power for this line seems pretty weak. This was a blind buy for me. I’m disappointed with lasting power but happy for the big bottle although I would not carry it around with me either. I figure incense is good to layer so I usually have something else in my purse to spray over it when it fades.


  9. Hi Poodle, lovely review, particularly your description of your school time. I think the Catholic schools have changed a bit. I’m not sure the kids now would actually know what incense smelt like, and the nuns are few and far between.

    Longtime incense fan here. Yes I do enjoy Cardinal, it is certainly towards the upper end of my list though Profumum Roma Olibanum is my utter love with CdG Avignon close behind. Others that I’ve enjoyed include Mikmoi Vesper, Le Labo Labdanum (18? I can never remember their numbers), Le Labo Benjoin xx (eye-rollingly gorgeous, of course, because it’s only available in … Moscow), Miller et Bertaux Spiritus Land, Aedes Copul Azur (just a smidge towards the masculine side), Naomi Goodsir Bois d’Ascèse (a huge smoke-bomb) and MPG Eau des Iles (incense with coffee). Strangely, Kyoto and I never quite clicked. Maybe I should stop now.

    I love the idea of the Sample Sea. I also go sailing with a destination in mind and end up taking the scenic route.

    I also love Heeley’s Verveine d’Eugène. I’ve found it fabulous for travelling; there, but not in your face, and I can handle it in the confined space of a car/plane for long periods of time, and strangely, despite my many loves, there aren’t many that I can say that about.


    • Thank you, Greennote2.
      Yes, I’m sure catholic school is very different. I’m going to guess that my 2nd grade teacher, Sr. Renilda, demonstrating what the devil was going to do to us by pulling my ponytail might be frowned upon today.
      You have listed quite a few fabulous scents. Some I know and some I’m definitely going to put on my list try. Eau de Iles caught my attention with the mention of coffee. I bet that’s wonderful. I love Vesper and Copul Azur too.
      Kyoto reminds me of that Christmas tree incense that you can find in gift shops up in Maine, only better.
      I can never keep the Le Labo numbers straight either. I do remember Oud 27 because it traumatized me for life I think. Lol. Eau de Dead Mouse in the Wall.


  10. Hi Poodle, I loved this post – I know that feeling of seeking some warmth under a ray of sunshine. I have a particular fondness for the colored patterns that filter through stained glass: gothic French cathedrals work very well in this respect! 😉
    I am not an incense fiend: I usually find so much more comfort in orientals à la Shalimar or l’heure bleue, but like Gina above I adore Encens flamboyant, and like By Kilian’s Incense Oud. Yesterday I bought Seville à l’Aube and was noticing that it is as much about incense as it is about orange blossom…a striking combination!! 🙂 Take care!


    • I think that orientals like Shalimar can have a similar comforting effect as well. Maybe even more because they really evoke that warm and fuzzy feeling where incense seems cold to a lot of people.
      Seville a l’Aube is one of the few perfumes I have a backup bottle of. I just love the incense and orange blossom combination too.
      Stained glass windows are so lovely. I especially love when I see them in old Victorian homes.


  11. La Curie’s Incendo that just won an Art and Olfaction award is absolutely stunning. Can’t believe I forgot that. Currently only available to ship in the States. I haven’t had perfume lust like this in a long time. My precious 1ml is going to just disappear.


  12. Sorry, I haven’t tried that one. M.Micallef is a line I really haven’t had a chance to explore very much. Since Shanaan keeps being mentioned I think I’ll need to sniff it.


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