Took a quick drive past the local new age store (East-West) yesterday to be greeted by an entirely new display of incense, none of which I’d encountered before. You could tell immediately how fresh it was coming of the display, and since many of them were obviously in the durbar/masala category, I figured I’d check a few out, three samplers and three other packages I thought I’d like right off the bat.
Now the name is going to be resonant of Indian incense and stylistically it definitely is, although the lack of a “made in India” insignia made me wonder if these were handrolled in the US. Nevertheless, they’re beautifully done and fresh enough (at least this batch was) to make the eyes sting, giving me nostalgic feelings several times of old forgotten sticks. Anyway I haven’t had a chance to check out all 15 scents yet, but have checked out a few…
Balaram is maybe what you’d call a clove & lemongrass champa, a blend I’ve never experienced anything close to before and quite impressive, the clove the top note, the lemongrass the bottom. I wish I’d brought a full package home, but I couldn’t imagine how well balanced this was going to be just reading the package. But it’s got a spice feel to it I really like and it reminds me of the since deleted Blue Pearl Spice Champa to enough of an extent to be reminiscent.
Ganga is one I did pick up a package on, its deep red stick and hints of cinnamon did the trick. Balanced with lavender and jasmine, neither strong enough to overwhelm the spice, it was about as good as I hoped and expected. I find it hard to find a perfect incense with a strong cinnamon sense, so it’s kind of nice to be on my third so quickly. Gorgeous stuff for sure.
Gokula is like a deluxe Satya Natural in style and it brought out in my memory the distinct myrrh note to this fragrance, one I’d never considered before. Whatever you call it, Honey Dust, Natural, etc., this is a pretty standard blend, but the Ramak. version may be the best one, or at least it’s fresh enough to seem like it.
Narasingha Dev was subtitled Frankincense Champa which I interpret as “buy me” every time out. But like every incense with this description it differs and I’ve actually never had an incense quite like this. It doesn’t actually have the citrusy, resinous nature of frankincense so much, more like it deepens the essential base of the incense, so that it comes off more like a deluxe Nag Champa. Overall it had a depth to it that was very promising.
The rest are here, and the best part is I have eleven more to check out and I can see that at least five of them are likely to be excellent or better. The one I checked out but didn’t go into above, and which I need a little more time with, was the Yamuna, which seems to be a charcoal/dipped stick and reminds me by similarity of some Primo styles, not a recommendation in my book. But this seemed like it was a little more intricate, even if I’m still not likely to rate it highly.
I also picked up some tibetan incense on a lark, including the alluringly named Red Crystal, which turned out to be very thick sticks created from 23 different ingredients that only ended up smelling like really good white sandalwood. Not bad at all, but not what I need at the moment. Also checked out a gift pack by Green Tara, which includes that incense and several others. The two I checked out, the Green Tara and the Kalachakra (I probably have this spelled wrong), both seemed to have that kind of sour agar-ish quality I tend to like, so they seemed promising if not particularly exciting.