Pure Incense / Tuberose, P-Gokula, Pushkar, Pavitra Vastu; Revisits / Connoisseur / Agarwood, Blue Lotus, Parijata, Rosewood

Pure Incense have been kind enough to provide lots of samples for Olfactory Rescue Service review and I recently received a new batch, including four old sticks previously reviewed in order to give a taste of where these classics have been heading as ingredients and recipes change over the years. In my opinion this kind of transparency is to be highly lauded when so many companies just change things completely without notice and I believe it to be a true acknowledgement of the art of incense in that change is inevitable in this field and that your favorites will probably not be around forever. It is good to see that even with changes that new formulas are being added and experimented with and that Pure Incense really do have a way with the perfume notes in their incenses. So let’s start with the new and previously unreviewed formulas.

When it comes to certain floral incenses, a lot of Indian incenses tend to a high level of charcoal in them, after all you can’t really burn rose petals and have the scent smell like roses and so there is a high level of oils in incenses like this. Tuberose is one of these scents and I’m probably not alone in not being a fan of this format of incense. But just like when you compare Pure Incense to their US cousins Primo, the quality level seems to be a lot higher with Pure Incense and I found the base to be, if not pleasant, and least not offputting. I seem to remember Primo’s version being a lot harsher and eyestinging. The oil on the base, of course, is quite nice and while you can still sense a bit of the vanilla floating behind it in the base, the Tuberose is a soft, rounded and cushy floral, somewhat powdery and quite feminine.

The Pavitra Gokula scent, which seems to be a subline of Pure Incense’s Premium collection, appears to be a new riff on their classic Blue Lotus scent. And like anything even remotely similar to the Blue Lotus, this is a very beautiful and bewitching incense, almost like a caramel-tinged floral. It has some similarities to one or two of the Vrindavan incenses elsewhere in the line, and there’s that wonderful hint of sweet and crystal pink that these incenses are topped off by. The Gokula has an almost candy-like middle, giving it a real complexity (especially when you consider how complex the Blue Lotus perfume is on its own). Perhaps its only weakness lies with the base, but its likely most readers will already know if they’re OK with it or not. And if you’re not sure I wouldn’t let it put you off as the base layer actually adds more than detracts from the complexity. It’s really the kind of direction you want to see a company take, experimenting with their formulas for new takes.

The Premium incense Pushkar also riffs on the Blue Lotus incense, this time combining it with the Vrindavan Champa scent. I believe it is with some modesty that Pure Incense hasn’t ranked this with their Connoisseur level, as the crystal pink floral scent mixed with the Blue Lotus oil is really a product of master craftsmanship. The mix has some similarities to the line’s brilliant Rosewood incense as well in that the scent seems to have a bit of woodiness in the middle to give it a nice breadth. It’s almost like a mix of pink florals and evergreen foresty scents. It’s truly well worth checking out, a really fine entry to their line.

The Pavitra Vastu is notable for not having any flower oils in the mix and is instead a mix of herbs. The result is a spicy, tangy herb and wood heavy blend with a hint of citrus in the middle. It’s a very robust and hearty incense that has more than a hint of orange tea in the mix, although it really doesn’t get too spicy. After a couple of sticks, I wasn’t sure about how complex this could be, but it is nicely balanced and has a nice clarifying affect on one’s surroundings.

As could be expected the Connoissuer line has changed in scent in the few years since I reviewed them last. It would still be a good idea to revisit the reviews here and here in order to see where these new reviews get their basis from. I only had a stick of each of the new version to sample and so I can only really approximate the changes, but none of them are particularly severe, which leads me to speculate that the changes are mostly via the ingredients.

The Connoisseur Agarwood has, unsurprisingly, changed the most, which is what you’d expect. Of course it’s important to note again that Indian agarwoods differ a lot from the Japanese, but the Pure Incense version from a few years ago was easily the best of the Indian agarwoods, with a wonderful deep and resonant foresty camphor like note that gave it a huge amount of dimension. This new version (marked Autumn 2013) doesn’t strike me as being quite as woody and I wasn’t sure with just one stick if that note was as strong as it used to be, but the incense really hasn’t lost the agarwood scent at the center. It just seems maybe a little more concentrated, and it isn’t overshadowing the vanilla note in the base like it used to. But I think if I was coming fresh to this I’d still enjoy it a lot, there is really no other Indian agarwood on the market with this kind of scent. It doesn’t have a perfume based scent like other Indian agarwoods, and so it’s still quite dry and stately.

The new (Sept-Dec 2013) Connoisseur Blue Lotus is quite close to what you might remember from my original review and in a way is a lot more difficult to describe since essentially what has changed is the perfume oil(s). None of the subtle notes have disappeared so much as changed in just the way you’d expect from the flora the oils were distilled from. The overall scent still has the soft and floral notes the original did and honestly I don’t think this has changed for the worst, it’s at least as good as the stick I previously reviewed. And this is really a special incense, there’s no other like it on the market.

The Connoisseur Parijata seems to be a much milder incense this time around and seems to lack a bit of the punch and personality of its predecessor. Keep in mind again I’m only evaluating one stick and the nose has the ability to close up on some occasions. But this one strikes me as light and airy and so the base comes through quite a bit and seems to render it a bit more generic than I had remembered it (I still need to dig out the old stick as I’m going mostly on memory here). It’s a bit powdery, woody and sweet but ultimately I found the burn a bit too mellow to get my attention.

On the other hand the Connoisseur Rosewood was an improvement to an already excellent incense and I found this new version to be absolutely superb in every way. It’s hugely rich, floral and fruity, having those fine wine-like qualities all good perfume oils have. And like all good oils, the scent has lots of subnotes, all of them red or pink. It’s hard to quantify why this is much better than most Indian rose incenses, maybe the hint of wood or spice in the background helps to make up for the bitter notes often found in these sticks. Nonetheless this is superb and the biggest upgrade in an already fine group.

It’s good to see Pure Incense still going in what has been something of a difficult market of late and nice to see they still have a commitment to quality and connoisseur level scents.

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8 Comments

  1. June 27, 2014 at 8:55 am

    I am at present writing a comparison for Ascension publishing herd in London on Pure incense,Jivada,Go kula,Perfume oils,Primo, as comparisons on the madhava magnificence.
    If you like Primo or Pure incense then you must discover the comparison ranges and compare in price,range,service and quality from these U.K.retailers specializing in Madhava incense.You may be surprised at my findings.

    • Mike said,

      June 30, 2014 at 12:50 pm

      Interesting, feel free to share your findings when you have finished at your convenience. A comparison seems a worthy project.

      • July 2, 2014 at 8:20 am

        Thanks Mike,Am having problems getting the Primo range as very limited here in U.K.
        Also difficulty in getting samples from the superb Pure Incense.
        I would like to rate all these ranges to pure incense on ‘classic’ level,’absolute’ and ‘connisseur’,which I will call ‘basic’,’premium’ and ‘supreme’.
        Hopefully I will get samples from Adi Guru?I would like one of ALL to give a current July 2014 comparison with all of these makes(and thier price,presentation and service).
        I would be completely happy to pay full retail price for all samples if this is what is needed to finish my,(most surprising)project.!!

        • July 2, 2014 at 8:22 am

          Dr.Joseph Cymrank A.K.A. ‘hellosailorboy’!!

        • Mike said,

          July 16, 2014 at 10:21 am

          I’d just contact Pure Incense directly, I’m sure Adi Guru can help get you samplers, especially if you’re willing to pay for them. Am not sure about Primo though, although you might be able to find one of the big incense sellers in the US that can ship them overseas. Primo has a website I’m pretty sure and they have premade sampler packages, but I don’t know if they ship to the UK or not. I’d just look around on the internet a bit for it. Good luck!

  2. June 27, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Hi,yes,I have noticed a shift.
    The connoisseur agar wood is noticeably weaker,lacking the strength,impact,depth of wood tone than I am used to.From all this the standard base is more noticeable making the incense lighter,more ‘standard’,rather ‘food’ like cake in its tone.Sweet and pleasant but closer to cheaper versions than connoisseur.

    However,the recent taste of blue lotus and hari levels is as good or even more powerful than ever.The potency,purity,depth and impact of tone is truly sublime and must be experienced.

    Also tried conneisse pink sayli,which is as good as ever.If you like this sweet and lovely almost violet like scent then you will not be dissapointed I am sure.

    Now the connoisseur sandalwood.As dissapointing as agar wood was reversed with this quite transcendental level of sandalwood.Really a fan of agar wood and a little bored with even the best sandalwood,this pure incense connesseure has to be experienced to be believe.

  3. Frances said,

    October 14, 2013 at 11:46 am

    Hello people,

    I ran into Adi-Guru recently at a local Hare Krishna Festival, and bought a pack of the new Pavitra Gokula and the Pushkar to try, and also one of their Vrindavan Leela.
    They are all very nice; the P. Gokula stays around for hours after burning, and I think is best in a fairly large, airy space. I agree, there is a distinct caramel note that comes through and it is a complex stick. The first shipment of Connoisseur Blue Lotus that I bought some years back was even better, I thought, although a subsequent re-order did not seem to smell the same.
    The Pushkar is delightful and very complex, with hints of some nice spice coming through here and there and so many different notes it’s like a whole orchestra playing! Definitely a daytime scent, not for night burning. An amazing aroma.
    The Vrindavan Leela is smoother than the other two, and can be used early evening as well as during the day. I think it is truly lovely.
    I tried a small amount of their Connoisseur Sandalwood, a very liqueur-like stick of high quality, but actually I personally prefer a different kind of sandalwood scent, more like the old Dhuni.
    Also sampled the new C.Rosewood, and haven’t quite made up my mind about it: it seems to me that the base might have changed? I will have to try a couple more sticks before I make a verdict here.

    If anyone has tried the other Pavitras – Vrindavana; Rasa; Radha, etc., please tell me what they are like! At these prices, I try not to make mistakes on what I think I will enjoy.

    Frances

  4. Ashok Kapur said,

    October 4, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Hi,

    Pavitra Gokula is really great. It does have a different base. That’s what Adi-Guru from Pure Incense told me. And I agree, it is a very good thing, that Pure Incense is developing.

    Ashok


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