Shrinivas Sugandhalaya – Beauty, Milan and Supreme

There’s really not many incenses harder to review than the plethora of (wet) masalas, durbars and champas that come from India and are all offshoots of a sort of the classic Satya Sai Baba blue box Nag Champa, probably the most famous incense, if not in the world, certainly in head shops and new age stores.

I’ve mentioned in the past, but Satya incense either doesn’t age very well or it’s subject to variation in creation. Months ago I mentioned the difference between two different boxes of Satya Ajaro incense and a similar experience happened to me with one of the incenses in question here, Satya Beauty, about 10 years ago or so. One form of Satya Beauty I’m very fond of, but I’ve found boxes with what seem like totally different incenses. And of course there’s the risk of old incense, dried out and losing potency as it sits in warehouses somewhere.

I’m not sure how long these three incenses have been available but I remember thinking of them as new ten years ago or so. In fact, SS’s latest batch of new incenses (including Midnight, Celestial, Patchouli Forest, Sunrise and Trishaa) may be the first new blends in quite some time. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to review these new blends, but except for the Patchouli Forest and Trishaa, which are quite distinctive, it’s very difficult to tell the difference between these champas.

With Beauty, Milan and Supreme, you’re dealing with incense obviously catering to the modern user, with the designer boxes. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to hear that the three of them were based on perfumes, as the oils on all three are very rich, at least if the incense is fresh. And, naturally, all three are fairly similar so it may be of some use to concentrate on the differences. Both Supreme and Milan have sticks similar to the classic Nag Champa. Beauty is a much paler color on stick and in some ways is closer to Satya Natural or Satya Nektar, although more pungent than the former and less than the latter. Supreme reminds me of SS’s Satya Royal blend and of the three may be the highest in resin content (it also reminded me fleetingly of Ramakrishnanda’s Narasingha Dev, although not quite as good). It’s heavy on smoke and possibly a bit too rich. Milan is the least distinctive of the three and fades into the background of various other undistinguished durbars. Like Beauty it has a rather perfumy top note and like most SS incenses it’s difficult to detect any specific ingredient and, in fact the perfume note tends to be pretty level with the base durbar, the oils, woods and muskier ingredients found in Nag Champa.

I’ve got a soft spot for Beauty, which I pull out occasionally, but it’s unlikely I’ll miss Supreme or Milan when they’re gone. These incenses are perhaps just a little too overwhelming, too fragranced to have or give notice to any sort of subtlety. I haven’t linked to any of these three incenses as they tend to be all over the place in catalogs, but it’s unlikely you’ll have trouble finding them at the usual places.

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7 Comments

  1. September 3, 2010 at 10:28 am

    […] of SS incenses and over time there will be more to discuss as well as past articles here and here. The company makes between about 50 and 100 incenses, many of them very difficult to tell apart. […]

  2. March 12, 2009 at 11:23 am

    […] Champa, Super Hit, Satya Natural, Satya Nectar, Black Blossom Beauty, Milan, Supreme Aastha, Ajaro, Vishwa Shanti, Fantasy, Valley of the Roses Hari Om, Rajdhani, Ratha Chakra, Sai Ram […]

  3. January 13, 2009 at 9:31 am

    […] Champa, Super Hit, Satya Natural, Satya Nectar, Black Blossom Beauty, Milan, Supreme Aastha, Ajaro, Vishwa Shanti, Fantasy, Valley of the […]

  4. Mike said,

    November 21, 2007 at 5:55 pm

    Japanese incense is definitely well worth saving for, although I do prefer Indian durbars/champas to the low end Japanese lines (around $5). Take care!

  5. Anonymous said,

    November 21, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    So far I’ve only ordered from incenseguru.com which is where I read some of the info about shrinivas nag champa: http://incenseguru.suddenlaunch3.com/index.cgi?board=favorite&action=display&num=1159757013
    I haven’t tried any of the other NCs you mentioned, although they seem to have Sai Flora at incenseguru so if I order from them again I will sure try it. At the moment though I’m saving a bit to buy some japanese incense from essence of the ages, haven’t really had the opportunity yet to try something other than the more common ones due to the small selection of japanese incense incenseguru have + indian incense being cheaper.. =)

    Cheers and thanks for a good blog.

  6. Mike said,

    November 21, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Hi, really good points! I too remember falling in love with the blue box Nag Champa many years ago and wondering if I was just tiring of it or if the quality had declined.

    I’ve tried the other NCs you’ve mentioned, in fact I think I still have some Goloka. Shanthimalai used to (maybe they still have it somewhere) also do a Sai Flora (the thick Golden Champa sticks) that I was wildly excited about a decade or so ago, but I haven’t run across it anymore. I agree their slightly muskier NC is very good.

    I’d recommend the Ramakrishnanda versions of Nag Champa, at least since they’re relatively new the incense is very fresh. I also like some of the Nitiraj colored champas well.

    Thanks for the comments.

  7. Anonymous said,

    November 21, 2007 at 2:57 pm

    I have also noticed shrinivas have very variable quality, like you I’m not really sure whether this is due to aging or changes in ther recipe/and or shifting qualitiy in their ingredients. I think I’ve read that they are possible changing recipe though, which is bad cause like many the first incense I came in contact with was their nag champa which, when good, I still think is among the best. Lately though the shifting quality meant i’ve gotten some bad packs which is so far away from the original smell that I had to throw it away.. I’ve noticed that sticks with black splotches seems to be paticularly bad. I think they changed som of their other brands as well eg Natural didn’t seem to smell the same last pack I bought, oh well.

    You might wanna try Goloka NC and Shanthimalai NC. These two are very close, doesn’t exacly smell like shrinivas blue and some of the price goes to charity. I like them alot.


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