Perfume Reviews

Positive Reviews of Cardinal by Heeley

Total Reviews: 30
Admittedly I am not a massive fan of pure incense type fragrances. Luckily for me this one is a fresh incense. Very nicely put together. If I was going to pull the trigger on one of the incense based fragrances this would be it!
08th January, 2018
The Incense for us Catholic Lights - i.e. Episcopalians and Anglicans - it's got a "happy" feel to it - we jokingly laugh with our HRC friends that we're just like Catholics - all the fun with half the guilt - and this Incense is a lighter take on heftier predecessors of the same genre, such as Unum Lavs. It is simply gorgeous and I am so glad to finally have it in my husband's wardrobe (though, I might sneak some sprays for myself!).
20th November, 2017
Cardinal is a light incense compared to the others I own and have tried, i.e., Olibanum by Profumum and 07 Tanoke by Odin. I really have enjoyed wearing Cardinal. Although it's light, there is a slight smokiness to it. But, I must say that the most surprising thing to me was how much Cardinal reminds me of Mona Di Orio's Vanille. There is something in the competition of Cardinal that really brings MDO's Vanille to mind when I put my wrist to my nose to smell it. In fact, I'm going to do a comparison and I'll come back and report on whether I was just imagining it or if the MDO Vanille is really anything like Cardinal. This is a fine fragrance and one I believe is bottle worthy.
31st October, 2017
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Pretty straightforward incense, much more interesting than Avignon (Commes des Garçons) although quite similar — perhaps Cardinal is more richer, more natural feeling. The incense notes persist for a good two to three hours. The base notes are pleasant, resinous/ambery, but admittedly not super exciting. Unobtrusive overall.
20th July, 2017
Cleanliness is next to godliness.

An early afternoon in a southern European country. You see a young man, not quite a cardinal yet (a priest perhaps?), walk through the dark halls of an abbey's courtyard, the cold stone floors smoothed with time. Fresh-faced, his white collar starched, a stack of books under his arm, absorbed in thought. Sunlight streams in from between the pillars, catching specs of dust in its golden beams. A still and peaceful scene.

Just when you are tempted to look away, the young priest breaks into a skip.
09th July, 2017
Oviatt Show all reviews
United States
Cardinal is a light and beautiful fragrance that evokes the Frankincense of church incense (as the name suggests) without smelling literally like you just left Mass. All the elements are there--the incense, the old wood of carved pews, the pressed linens of the vestments, snuffed candles and humanity--but it wears as a wonderful, masculine-leaning skin scent. A Cardinal might smell like this--if he was lucky--but even the lay person can smell this great with a bottle of Cardinal. Along with Cuir Pleine Fleur and Sel Marin, this is my favorite of Heeley's scents.
11th April, 2017
Cardinal is a Heeley Fragrance that carries the same quiet contemplative precision that admired in all his offerings.

Heeley's treatment of Frankincense is linear, precise and carries an ethereal, contemplative quality different. It's quiet and it's beauty is in it's slicing intimacy!
Full Bottle Worthy!
10th January, 2016 (last edited: 09th January, 2017)
Not much to add - this smells really good, with just the right level of strength or 'power', in my opinion. I mostly smell frankincense which I guess is olibanum or close to the same thing. Smells like it is made from high quality ingredients.

I give it a thumbs up but I already own CdG 2 Man, which is somewhat like this but better in my opinion, more complex with a little variety within the fragrance. They both have that clean incense vibe, like a light burning incense. Which I do like but I don't need both. From Heeley I would rather wear Spirit of the Tiger.
31st July, 2015
Yeah, I would call this twin brother of "Montale Full Incense" which is a little sweeter and also a little bolder than Montale but stays pretty the same as far as the smell goes.
It's a modern and very classy frankincense mixed with sweet resins and some peppery aroma all the way through.
Just like Montale it doesn't have that aldehydic feeling of "CDG Avignon" but they do have lots of things in common. "Montale Full Incense" and this one a little darker and more modern and "CDG Avignon" a classic take on frankincense which I love them all without any exception!
I'm getting better projection and longevity out of this one against those two. above average projection and around 6-7 hours longevity. lovely!
23rd July, 2014
The younger, brighter brother of Avignon: less heavy, with a light floral breeze providing a general "airy" mood, and also a sparkling, sugary, fruity fizzy personality underneath. The incense note is not resinous-olibanum, it's pure, abstract, polished Iso-E, so it shares the same (creative) "artificiality" of Avignon – of which, as alfarom correctly says, Cardinal smells basically like a washed-down "eau de cologne" version. Still, Cardinal has much of its own, quite enough to differentiate it and make it a bit more fascinating, playful and charming. Above all, that pleasant dusty, silky, sugary base layer halfway balsamic, floral, fruity, woody. A delicate, ethereal (in typical Heeley's linear and minimalist style) blend hiding behind the main abstract but dense incense fog. To some little extent this reminds me of Exultat by Maria Candida Gentile – not for the olibanum, but rather for this fruity-floral accord which adds a pleasant taste of "life" and colour. A sophisticated, luminous, classy and creative take on the contemporary incense theme.

24th January, 2014 (last edited: 15th July, 2014)
As was said below, this has a surprisingly sour opening, which strikes me as under-ripe grapefruit peel (might actually be vetiver) accompanied, of course, by a boatload of frankincense. In my opinion, the sourness sets it apart from other incenses fragrances. As the sourness recedes, the frankincense warms up a bit, aided by perhaps amber, and dry woods--woods that I imagine have been polished with incense oil for years and years. A very atmospheric, austere, and transporting scent, which, once it gets going, strikes me as more authentic (less synthetic) than many other incense perfumes. Longevity seems average, with projection slightly less-than, but still respectable. As usual for Heeley, the bottle, graphics, and packaging are a joy to see.
30th April, 2013
A fresh, light incense including a warm frankincense note. Reminds me of Montale Full Incense, but it's much lighter. I've found this to be the second most wearable incense scent I've sampled (the other being CdG Kyoto; although it is not similar to Cardinal).

Make no mistake, though. You will smell like a Catholic church.
11th February, 2013
An airy, cool, virginal, sour incense. It’s a peculiar thing to do to incense, the harbinger of warmth in numerous middle eastern perfumes, but here resolutely crossing a chilly stone floor. Turin remarks on the citrus in this, but to my nose the sharp notes appear to be from the edgier parts of the cedar-vetiver spectrum.
Anyhoo, this is yet another clever, curious composition from Heeley, if bearing his trademark aloofness and linearity (though towards the end of its active life the progression is towards the vetiver base). I imagine the days when my dirty mind will be in tune with this fragrance’s supremely chaste aura will be few and far between, but there is much to like here.
14th December, 2012
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I'm giving this a thumbs up b/c I am a sucker for incense. Having said that, this is fairly linear with an opening sparkle of pepper and frankincense. It doesn't develop into anything more, but it is a wonderful spicy incense anyway. My problem with Heeley, is that I prefer monster longevity and sillage, and Heeley has neither. I compare this house to Penhaligon's who has wonderful variety of great fragrances...all with no longevity at all. Both Heeley and Penhaligon's are good if you want a little "snack" of fragrance without the commitment of all day.
29th November, 2012
Want to smell like the inside of a church? This is the perfect scent. Brings back memories of when my grandmother forced me to go to church as a kid. Thumbs up for the memory. As a cologne, i wouldnt be rockin' this one out, but its nice to sniff.
02nd June, 2012
Elzéard Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Long ago polished wooden benches. The sweet yet mildly decadent smell of the dusty aging pews. The smell of robes belonging to someone who has spent enough time in a church to acquire the status of cardinal. Very authentic and accurate in its rendition.
22nd November, 2011
As an ex catholic school girl I can't not like this. But I'm also a big incense fan. It reminds me of the childlike anticipation of Easter and Christmas, smoky ceremonial frankincense that stuck to your clothes in church. Now more of a yogi,it reminds me of shops that have bells on the door and boxes of crystals. I can't pick much more than the dry, woody resin but I love it. It's sparkly at first then It sweetens a little on warming, a touch of amber maybe? The only thing that is a let down is the lasting power. But that first hour is so good I'd buy a bottle for those moments of memories.
05th October, 2011
Incense, especially the dark, atmospheric kind, has been a rather new interest for me. Since falling in love with Chanel Coromandel, I have been so eager to find other well-done incense based fragrances.

Cardinal by Heeley has been suggested a few times as being true church incense. I'm not a big church-goer, however I do love the smell of a chapel full of smokey incense and mustiness.

Cardinal opens rather strongly and masculine, with a somewhat dirty earthiness coming to the fore. Pepper, patchouli and vetiver tend to stand out on my skin the most. The aldehydes provide a smoothness in texture and smell, which is both intriguing and a little strange.

I was a little disappointed that the incense didn't seem to feature so readily in the first hour or so. However the more the fragrance settled, the less green and earthy it was and the smokier it became.

I can understand how some see the sweetness here, however it's more of a dusty and resinous cedar chest smell to me, with that delightful incensey goodness.

This fragrance does however sit lightly on my skin, without making its strong presence known. I'm actually anosmic to this fragrance at times, which is woeful.

Cardinal tends to lean on the more masculine side of things, however a woman that enjoys wearing rich woodsy or primarily patchouli and vetiver based scents will enjoy this.

I can't say that this is my favourite incense fragrance, however it was extremely enjoyable, nonetheless.

24th September, 2011
I read the blog Bois de Jasmin frequently. The writer seems to be very well-versed in perfumery. In one of her recent posts (June 1, 2011, to be exact), she described the smell of frankincense as a perfume note. Rather than try to paraphrase, and subsequently butcher, her description, I'll provide a quote:

"The smell of frankincense oil in its pure state is fascinating. At first, it is reminiscent of freshly ground black pepper, with a twist of lemon peel in the background. As the oil dries down, it reveals its dry woody character, which lies halfway between balsamic richness and flinty mineral crispness."

As I thought about it, that pretty much describes Cardinal. I'm not sure there's a whole lot more than frankincense going on here. Maybe just a touch of something a bit sweet to smooth it out, maybe just a tingle of vetiver in the very deep base to give it some oomph. However, for most of the life of the fragrance I smell something that could very easily be described using the words above from Bois de Jasmin. It's quite discreet, longevity is just okay. Still, it's captivating in a way, and even though it's simple, quiet, and not all that long lasting, I can't help but give it a thumbs-up. As for comparisons, it seems to me to be somewhere in between Avignon (though not as heavy/woody as the CdG), Messe de Minuit (though not as musty/dusty as MdM), and Passage d'Enfer (but not as floral as Pd'E).
02nd June, 2011
Owing to my Italian roots and youthful years, I think I know pretty well what a Roman Catholic Church smells like and I have to admit Cardinal does a pretty good job at reminding me of that experience..

I haven't tried yet many of the incense fragrances mentioned in other reviews here so perhaps my valuation is that of a newbie but I do appreciate it when a scent delivers on what it promises.

This is a pretty simple sweet incense, one I enjoy wearing from time to time, at least in part because because of the fond memories it the positive rating here is, to a good extent, the result of a very personal bias..(but isnt that always the case..??)
01st June, 2011
A lovely woodsy, aerial incense with a note of rose whirling all around. As well as already said, Cardinal is vaguely similar to Avignon but is a sharper and brighter kind of fragrance because of the airy earthiness from its vetiver, the patchouli and cadar and because of its less dark/resinous and austere sort of temperament. I've inhaled its aroma for the first time nearby a niche shop located in a renowned touristic town of mountain and while smelling my wrist immediately later in the frost outside (observing in the meanwhile the white peaks of mountains) it was like inhaling the waft of rituals of an outdoor mass celebrated outside a small church under the snow. This fragrance is green and rooty like an aromatic kind of incense "from the forests". The top note of black pepper is decidedly perceivable at the beginning enhancing the typical "molecular-sparkling" prickliness of the juice itself. Labdanum than balances the strong earthiness coming from the woodsy notes providing a touch of boise softeness. An hint of amber and the "atmospherical" addition of aldehydes impress airy mildness, final "consistency" and spacious projection. The rose of the top, soared higher and higher by aromatic elements, frankincense and airy aldehydes, provides an ethereal beat to the scent. Another wonderful incense prominent concoction for us.
18th April, 2011 (last edited: 23rd February, 2015)
Revised review
Top: white linen, bay rose, black pepper
Mid: labdanum, frankincense, myrrh
Base: vetiver, ambergris, patchouli

I paid attention and really got a good sense of the top notes. Definitely presents a white shirt, freshly-ironed aspect amid a brief flora and spicy pepper combo. Very interesting.
The amber and incense combine, a bit rubbery but also coniferous, woody, and soapy.
Very smooth. Dry but rich, substantial but not heavy.
Wears very well, in fact has amazing longevity.
A lovely scent.
13th February, 2011 (last edited: 31st October, 2014)
Ecclesiastical but easier to wear for me than Avignon...the notes soften nicely but retain that churchy scent without the gloom.
02nd December, 2010
Cardinal successfully integrates fresh themes with incense. It is a pleasant fragrance, both fresh and classy. Notes, per the Heeley website:

Top notes: baie rose, black pepper, aldehyde
Heart notes: labdanum ciste, frankincense
Base notes: vetiver, gray amber, patchouli
28th March, 2010
I agree Cardinal is just more wearable than CdG's Avignon and also that it makes a more faithful reproduction of the incense I used to know in the Catholic church of my childhood (long live smells and bells!). I read somewhere that Giorgio Armani's Prive Bois d'Encens had the same intention (and that it may even have been a favorite of Senor Armani ). But Cardinal has the edge, no question.
20th December, 2009
Heeley Cardinal

Incense will always be one of my favorite notes because I've found that every perfumer is able to do something different with it. In 2006's Heeley Cardinal this might be one of the most accessible incense scents out there. It is certainly one of the most straightforward incense scents out there. Cardinal is a simple composition of five notes; incense, cistus, grey amber, patchouli and vetiver. As you can tell this is incense straight, no chaser. No floral accords or wood accords to get in the way just straight ahead incense. The top of this starts out with the incense in full flower just like you get from a swinging censer at High Mass. It stays that way for quite a while before it becomes modulated by the appearance of the amber which adds some warmth to things. The patchouli and vetiver show up in the base but they never become prominent more like grace notes to the incense. The cistus never seems to breakthrough to my nose at any point which is too bad because a light rose at the same intensity of the amber at the top might have turned this from very good into spectacular. What is here is the best incense "soliflore" I've worn. I like it better than Avignon because it is lighter on my skin and that makes it more versatile to wear.
23rd May, 2009
It's lighter and fresher than I thought it would be. It's not particularly complex, but it's very nice. It smells just like the airy interior of a Catholic church. It's clean without being astringent and smooth without being syrupy. The effect is the nostalgic scent of a traditional church without the stale or heavy quality of actually being in one filled with a bunch of people. Ultimately, it develops into something that smells a lot like eucalyptus after a new rain. I think it would make a great cold-weather, outdoorsy, or formal occasion men's fragrance.
09th January, 2009
I never thought I'd find a more "churchy" incense scent than Avignon, but Cardinal is it. Compared side-by-side with the CdG, Cardinal is more natural smelling (Avignon has a chemical undercurrent I never noticed before - and still only notice when comparing it directly to Cardinal). It is also rounder and more interesting. Sadly, I don't get great longevity out of it - couple of hours at best - but it is so heavenly I'm happy to make allowances for that. HUGE thumbs up!
24th September, 2008
Heeley Cardinal has a pretentious name and a wonderful smell. It's light, bright incense of a very Roman Catholic variety; and contrasts with CdeG Avignon, which is darker and more gothic. It is also clean with just a touch of a soapy note in the development which I find works very well. I don't know if the current rage with incense fragrances will continue, but I hope this stands the test of time. I wonder, was there ever a Cardinal Heeley?
19th April, 2008
Cardinal is Catholic Church incense all the way… Until I tested Cardinal, I thought that Passage d’Enfer was the best representative of the old Roman Catholic Church, and Passage d’Enfer STILL is the best representative IF one is looking at the total ambiance of the church service: The lilies are the clincher for Passage d’Enfer keeping the Catholic title. But if we consider just the incense, Cardinal wins hands down. Cardinal is Avignon light, and it opens strongly with full-on incense that has that unmistakable resinous frankincense bite to it … it is like being there walking down the church’s main aisle alongside the swinging censor as I had done hundreds of times in my youth. In the background to the incense is a trace of vetiver and amber, but the lasting tone of the fragrance is incense all the way. Cardinal is masculine, it is linear, it is quite long lasting, and it is very wearable – more wearable than Avignon, which is darker and heavier and not as adaptable as Cardinal.
16th April, 2008