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.