Shroff Channabasappa / Amber Rose, Indian Flower, Jasmine 1940, Nargis 1931, Sugandhi Bathi

Shroff Channabasappa Part 1

Writing about the Shroff Channabasappa line is always a pleasant task. In the 20 incenses I’ve tried so far (with a lot more to come), I think only one of those I wouldn’t describe as being excellent and I may very well reevaluate that opinion before it shows up here on ORS. Many of the rest have quickly improved my impression of them after just a few sticks, particularly including the batch of incenses in this review, all of which could be described as florals. In my experience, Shroff C. are responsible for the most exotic, impressive and genuinely pleasant floral incense agarbathies in the business.

If you’ve ever wondered why dozens of rose, jasmine and other floral incenses bother you, if you’ve found them soapy, bitter or cheap smelling, this is the line to check out. Because even when it comes to their woodier or spicier incenses, Shroff are the apex of incense oils and perfumes. Nearly every single one is a masterpiece of subtlely, sidestepping cliche scents without a mistep. If you’re like me this is a line that can take the scents you avoid in stores and turn them into those that could become your very favorites. One stick could impress you, four or five of each scent are likely to convert you.

Amber Rose isn’t a true floral but it’s one of the classic Shroff C. blends, a highly addictive and beautiful scent that belongs in every masala collection. In fact as I write this, Essence of the Ages is completely sold out of it, which should be a good indication of its demand (and don’t fear, it should be back in stock soon). The amber and rose elements of this stick merge flawlessly, even while showing some diversion. On at least one stick I’ve noticed the amber coming out quite a bit stronger than it does usually, musky and benzoin rich, which I found to be quite amazing. For the most part, however, the rose oil hangs out on the fringes of this incense, never overpowering the scent, but certainly enhancing it in every way. It’s excruciatingly beautiful and masterfully created, an incense that could be weighed down by its elements, but is almost as light as air. So many subtleties and nuances are involved that I’m not sure I can even capture them all yet, which makes this endlessly fascinating.

Of the five incenses in this review, Indian Flower may actually be the least true floral, as it shares quite a bit of time with elements you might just as easily find in a woodier incense or even a champa. The champa elements are the soft and slightly spicy magnolia-like touches on the top, but there aren’t really any gummy or vanilla notes like there would be in a typical durbar. The floral parts share a lot of time with some heavy sandalwood oil, in fact in retrospect I might have switched this with the Singapore Loban from last week. In another company’s hands this would probably be a lot drier, however here the perfume has an almost liqueur-like aroma to it. It’s quite complex overall with hints of toasted marshmallow keeping it from being too much on the light side.

Jasmine 1940 isn’t much of a true jasmine incense, and as Shroff also does a straight Jasmine, this is probably something of a variation. It’s a brilliant incense though, one that’s started to impress me with more use. It has some similarities with the Red Sandal and Sandal Floral incenses by having a very thick firey red vibe in the mix. Jasmines to my nose tend to be more water element (or lunar) than fire element, so the scent is really in a different place here. In fact the center scent reminds me more of a cherry sandalwood, like oil mixed with that scent you might find in a cherry drink powder like Kool-aid. It could be argued that it overpowers the jasmine florals, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing in this case, reducing the flower to a note. I’ve found this one to be increasingly pleasant with use and currently it’s one of my favorites in the line.

Nargis 1931 moves away from the three above florals by being a much purer scent, in fact this and the Sugandhi Bathi are both sticks that might be mistaken as having charcoal in them since they’re dark brown. However you can see flecked in the sticks herbal elements and I don’t notice any of the off scents I do with charcoals in either one. But what the base does do is exist as a vehicle that allows the perfume to come through without any herbal or woody accompaniment. Nargis, from what I can research, is a Narcissus incense, although to my nose I also recognize this as being somewhat Lotus-like (maybe not quite all the way there but close).  The perfume is very rich and in a way the comparison between it and the Sugandhi Bathi show how Shroff can make very penetrating florals that are completely different but that the western nose might not easily place due to unfamiliarity.

In fact, I’m not quite sure what’s in Sugandhi Bathi as that basically means “fragrant incense.” It’s definitely a similarly styled incense to the Nargis, but completely different in perfume with hints of a dozen different charcoal Indian incenses you’d tried before, but so much better than any of them (I’d name a few but they weren’t the type I’d keep around). There are hints of wood and spice in this one but only as part of the perfume rather than the base. Overall it’s definitely an eastern exotic with a lot of strength and a penetrating complexity, and certainly one of the better florals I’ve been lucky to experience.

Batch 3 will likely contain five more ambers, the 505, the 707, the Bouquet, Floral and Royal variations; batch 4 the Dashanga burning powder, Frank Incense, Green Durbar, Guggal Bathi and Parrot Green Durbar. And apparently that will take us almost half way through the soon to be available line. Many of these are the best bang for the buck in incense.

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28 Comments

  1. Ben said,

    March 8, 2013 at 11:44 pm

    The floral elements in Shroff Amber Rose remind me of the floral elements in raspberry blossom honey.

    • Ben said,

      February 27, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      Amber Rose from Shroff Channabasappa is an old favorite. The aroma of natural ingredients tends to vary from harvest to harvest. At first the current batch of Amber Rose seemed a bit less amazing than previous batches. However, after some time on the learning curve, I find the new batch of Amber Rose just as enjoyable as previous batches.

  2. C.J. said,

    December 4, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Amber Rose is GENIUS. Reminds me of the parfum, “OMBRE ROSE”. Jasmine 1940 is that kind of ingredient/gently oiled masterpiece, to which I’d add the royal-animalic Parrot-Green Durbar, Amber 707 and perhaps Amber Floral and amber 505.

    Mysore Sandal is a sister of Amber Rose who has gone off on her own path–not bad & dryly delicious! Mysore Dashang the distant mysterious cousin…Paneer another distant cousin on the other side of the nation, just the hint of rose among woods to make it MAJESTIC without being overwhealming.

    Sughandi Bathi is my all-purpose home outdoors feel-good/workplace deodorizer–I have a few packs of it where I need it! What an amazing oil/masala combo! Basic, functional, better that mass-market brands. Red Sandal a great bitter-sweet assist to other scents, and a clarifier on its own.

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  13. Maharani said,

    August 2, 2009 at 9:09 am

    To me the Jasmine 1940-at least the jasmine part of it-smells exactly like an attar of jasmine (kachi kali) that my mother recently gave me. Kachi kali means “newly pressed”, so you know its good, and it is. It was purchased in Bengaluru. I enjoyed the Sugandhi Bathi’s slightly lemony scent-it IS rather redolent of a number of less good incenses used in public spaces, but more complex, with wafts of other scents coming out-a “cool” rather than a “hot” scent to my mind. Still-I am hardly the best reviewer: I think I am actually losing my sense of smell with age, alas.

    My favorite Shroffs so far are Green Durbar, which I think is especially lovely, and Amber Rose, simply exquisite. Ive tried 7 or 8 and like them all. I love the old fashioned packaging! When we were kids, we were rather embarrassed by it-Japanese incense for example being so beautifully packaged, but now I find it charmingly retro and it brings back memories. I hope Shroff keeps it.

    • Maharani said,

      August 2, 2009 at 9:26 am

      Im sitting here enjoying a stick of Sugandhi Bathi and wondering what is in it. I looked at the Shroff list and saw they have Kewada incense. Kewada/kewra is screwpine (Pandanus), which is typically used as a food flavoring in biriani. It has a piney scent and you sprinkle it on the biriani just before you bake it-then, when you open the dish, it perfumes the air along with the saffron and spices in the biriani. My point is, I’m thinking there MAY be kewada/kewra in the Sugandhi Bathi as well….It has the same rather “masculine” profile to my mind. It would be intersting if anyone could confirm this.

      I have never seen a kewada incense, though I have seen kewada essence all over the place.

      • Mike said,

        August 3, 2009 at 9:11 am

        Interesting, I had no idea about the kewada, so I’ll make a note of this when I review the base masalas (a difficult job as with most of them I have no idea what their base notes are supposed to immitate). Thanks!

        • Maharani said,

          August 8, 2009 at 8:53 pm

          Here is some information that might be of interest as you explore these incenses.

          Paneer means rose water in Kannada. This incense has primarily rose and sandal notes on top of the masala base.

          Akash Ganga is mainly woody.

          Sugandhi Bathi is a mixture of 4 to 5 flowery notes along with woody elements. S. R. Channabasappa confirmed that it contains Kewda, as well as that there is a separate Kewda Incense.

          Hope this helps. One experiment might be to compare Sugandhi Bathi w/ Kewda in order to isolate the screwpine scent.

    • Mike said,

      August 3, 2009 at 9:09 am

      It’s really hard to beat that Amber Rose, both that and the Red Sandal are my favorites (at least in the first batch and not counting the soft and base masalas), with the Amber Boquet, Jasmine 1940, Sandal Flora and Green Durbar closely behind. Like all great incense they all seem to improve my opinion of them with further use.

      As to the packaging, I know with some of the larger soft masalas, they’re using yellow boxes now. The only issue I have with the cellophane packaging is over time pieces of it start to break off and given the strong perfume contents I’m not sure the broken packages protect the incense all that well. So it’s perhaps fortunate that all of these are so new, it’ll be years before they noticeably lose their strength.

      • Maharani said,

        August 15, 2009 at 8:25 am

        Try the Paneer by Shroff-it really is a beautiful scent. The rose element is very light, conjuring up “rosewater” rather than “attar of roses”, so its less oily. Shroff said it was primarily rosewater and sandal, and I think the 2 are blended really nicely, with the rosewater predominating, but not at all heavy, against a quiet background. It is now a definite favourite! I love rose agarbathies-I know not everyone does-and to my mind this is one of the most unusual and beautiful ones I have ever encountered. Id be interested to know what you think.

        • Mike said,

          August 17, 2009 at 8:35 am

          I think the Paneer is great, I burned one this weekend in fact. Of the last batch of dry masalas Shroff sent I think it was the one I liked the most. I’d point out that it’s very strong on the wood side which balances it perfectly.

          • Maharani said,

            August 17, 2009 at 6:04 pm

            It’s gorgeous! I am nearly through the roll I bought in a week, and will have to re-order soon-this one is a keeper!

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  17. Mike said,

    March 9, 2009 at 8:20 am

    Rob, thanks for the comments and your viewpoint. I was having trouble thinking of some of the incenses the Sugandhi Bathi reminded me of, but the one you named is definitely one of them (although I like SB much better). There’s also a famous Indian actress named Nargis, so in passing I wondered if the scent was named after her.

    Apparently a lot of the newer incenses are actually still being made! Really looking forward to them, as well as 100g stocking a number of others. I’m really warming to ALL the ambers, familliarity really opens the Shroff line. Green Durbar too, I’m appreciating it even more in comparison to other company versions.

  18. Hamid said,

    March 7, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Yes beautful incenses and I am grateful to the ORS for the heads up.

  19. Rob M. said,

    March 5, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    “Many of these are the best bang for the buck in incense.” How true! As you know, Mike, I have been using the Red Sandal for many, many years and it is still my favourite. However, the above incenses are all excellent. The Sugandhi Bathi is very similar to Sugandha Shinigar, a very popular incense in India. When I go in to my local Indian video store, this is the fragrance that greets me. The Nargis is a wonderful heavy and very floral fragrance, very sensual. The Jasmin 1940 ( and I assume that the “1940” , like some of the ambers, refers to the creation date) is – to my mind – a great fusion of sandawood and jasmine. Some jasmines can be overwhelmingly sweet and synthetic but this strikes me as just about right. The Indian Flower is very similar to Vinasson’s Green Rose but smoother and not as strong. The Amber Rose is just plain beautiful, a lovely combination of the two ingredients with the – seemingly – natural rose not overpowering the other facets of the fragrance. All the Shroff are among those I burn most often, with the exception of the Singapore Loban; the excellence of the Tennendo Frankincense has pretty much destroyed my enjoyment of lesser scents.

    Wow, while checking the correct spelling of the names I have mentioned, I just noticed that Beth has posted a more incense in the Channabasappa
    line. Looks like a lot more goodies will be available soon. My nose is twitching at the thought of Mogra (jasmine sambac) and Paneer!

    Best Wishes,

    Rob M.


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