Dark days compounded by even darker nights: the winter is a time when even the most adventurous souls like to cozy up indoors. But being inside can be an experience that transports you. Light up a good candle and you’ve got fresh pine forests, burning wood and gentle coastal breezes. These seven candles do that and more. Let it be known: you won’t find any of these in the Yankee Candle clearance bin. They’re all carefully made, many of them in small batches, using sophisticated waxes that burn slowly. As a friendly reminder, if the smell of Japanese cedar or lavender lulls you to sleep, blow out the candle before you curl up in bed with Whitman and a glass of Oban.
Square Trade Goods Balsam Fir
Best Holiday Candle: After hauling your tree out to the curb, it’s normal to feel that post-holiday hangover. Square Trade Goods aims to ease that pain with a candle inspired by the great pines of the North. All of their candles are made in small batches (which means they sell out quickly) using domestically cultivated soy wax poured into amber jars. Although nothing can truly compete with a freshly cut tree, for 55 hours this candle will fill your pad with the subtle scent of an evergreen forest.
Snow Peak Camp Candle
Best Candle for Outdoorsmen: Snow Peak’s double-wicked candle has notes of lemon, Japanese cedar and balsam. It’s made with farm-harvested beeswax and soy wax, and is fixed in a stainless steel cup intended for use as a mug or bowl next time you hit the wilderness for an overnight.
Joya Gunpowder Green Tea
Best for Forlorn Surfers: Beneath a matte black porcelain and pirate-marked facade, this soy-and-beeswax-blended candle has a decidedly softer scent than the others. With notes of lemon, fresh mint and the sea breeze, it evokes the feeling of looking out the window of a seaside cottage in the middle of winter. And don’t let its small size fool you: this candle will burn for 75 hours.
Diptyque Feu de Bois
Best for Bookworms: When lit, this candle is the best approximation of a fireplace, sans the smoke (or the heat). It’s cut from the same cloth as Diptyque’s other legendary scents: the wax is hard, made with an amalgamation of 8 high-quality waxes, and this one is endowed with birch, juniper and cade.
Le Labo: Pin 12 195G
Best Boutique Candle: We’d give this vintage-inspired candle extra points for presentation, but it doesn’t need them. Set in a crushed can container, each Pin 12 candle has its time and place of origin printed on its label. The lit candle creates a demure piney aroma, which starts off subtle and grows more pungent with time. Soft and warming, it’s a great scent to compliment a late-night, post-meal brandy.
Cire Trudon Empire
Most Sophisticated Candle: These French candle makers date back to the 17th century. They’ve seen (and outlasted) several French empires, as this candle’s name suggests. Their wax is created from several vegetal materials — the exact recipe is an old and well-guarded secret. And as for its smell: it’s complex, giving off earthy and warming notes of sage, lavender, pine, thyme and rosemary.
Maak Lab + Tanner Goods Chateau Scent
Editor’s Pick: The Chateau candle creates a warm ambiance that smells of fresh tobacco, black pepper and medicinal herbs. The wax itself is a soy-and-beeswax blend that burns cleanly and evenly. Each candle hails from Cascadia and comes in a ceramic cup, which can be used after the residual wax is cleaned out.
D.S. & Durga ’85 Diesel
Best for Top Gear Fans: New York-based olfactory powerhouse D.S. & Durga has become a household name in fragrance after their Hylnds collection hit Barney’s and they partnered with J.Crew for a more modestly priced fragrance called Homesteader’s Cologne Water. Their bread and butter is making fragrances that tell a story and evoke strong imagery (see: Burning Barbershop). The ‘85 Diesel candle does likewise: while subtle compared to the Diptyque or Tanner Goods, it has a warm smell of leather that’s also floral and earthy. One of our automotive writers gave it a sniff and said, “Smells like a car. I’d like that candle.”