Report #1 on Newly Imported Incenses

Last night I got to try some new incenses including a few of the new Shroffs. I was interested in all the new incenses of course, but particularly so of the new semi-wet masalas which I guessed would be the Shroff versions of the champa/durbar style. As I’ve been so impressed with the dry masalas that they do, I wanted to see what magic they could do with this other classic Indian Incense style.

So the first one I tried was their Champa. I should mention that nearly all of their semi-wet masala incenses are actually pretty skinny and I’d guess you’re getting quite a bit of incense for the price. Shroff’s Champa, as you might imagine, is actually both familiar and very different from the scent you usually associate with champa. In their case it seems to tilt a bit more to the floral side. I took something of a risk and went for 100g boxes of the 7 incenses in this style, assuming they’d be superb and while it’s too soon to say if I’m right they’re certainly very unique. The oils are almost eye stingingly rich, I assume because they’re all so fresh, yet they seem to be different in some way I can’t quite word yet.

I then tried the Vanilla and realized about half way through the stick that it would reduce my sampling time for the evening as it burned for at least an hour if not longer. It’s one of the more natural smelling vanillas in that it’s more like the extract than the typical, say, ice cream or candy aroma and was very different from any of the other vanilla champas I’ve tried. It’s extraordinarily potent and like the Champa I wasn’t sure what to think, while considering that once I get used to both of them I might like them very much indeed. But more on these when I get to reviews…

I switched to Akash Ganga next because like the semi-wet masalas, it came in a yellow box. I’m not sure if it belongs with the original cellophane wrapped group or the semi-wets, it really could go either way as while the stick seemed fairly dry it still had an almost champa like feel to it. I could barely describe it though, it reminds me of an unusual floral with some sandalwood hints in the background. Also very potent.

My last Shroff of the night was the Jaji in the Masala Base group, all of which look like they’re florals in the Sugandhi Bathi or Nargis 1931 mode, that is, kind of a sandy flecked black stick infused with perfume oils. Like the lion’s share of Shroff florals it was quite nice, but I have really no benchmarks on which to compare it to other than the aforementioned Shroffs. But at least I feel I’ve tried enough of these to know that my true feelings are likely to come out around the third or fourth stick once I get used to how exotic they are.

I didn’t burn any of the Purelands sticks yet but based on sniffing the unburnt sticks I can already make some observations as I’m familiar with 2/3 of them under different names. My guess is the Indian manufacturer that makes these is the same one that Mystic Temple and/or Incense of India have used in the past. Emphasis on the past, as all of these seem like they must be incredible. Both the Golden Champa (nothing like most incenses under this name) and Saffron & Rose (which was extremely impressive fresh) seemed unique to my nose. Purelands Flower was almost identical to Mystic Temple’s Green Floral Champa, which I’ve reviewed elsewhere, the strong camphor element made it quite obvious. Their Sandalwood is reminiscent of many of the better sandalwood masalas I’ve seen under different names in both the MT and IfromI lines, but heavily rich with quality oil. My favorite discovery in the bunch was to find that the Rasa Leela was the same aroma that Mystic Temple’s Reservoir of Pleasure *used* to be, which was one of my very favorite incenses of 10 years ago or so, so I’m really psyched to be finding it again and can’t wait to burn a stick. If the burning aroma also matches up to this I’ll need a larger batch for sure. And the Shanti is the classic scent that’s close to Satya Natural, Incense from India Honey Dust and Mystic Temple Vanilla, the aroma and lavender colored stick gave it away. But I must say every box looked at its highest possibly quality level reminding me more of the scents as I used to know them rather than what they’re sold under these days. In fact I used to love Honey Dust when I first tried it and felt it was one of the hardest hit scents when the ingredients started changing, so I’m hoping this one reminds me of the old version.

The best discovery of the night for me was the Dzogchen Monastery Lotus Ground Incense. Beth, you really outdid yourself on this one! What an incredible incense and so hard to explain. For one thing it’s a high end Tibetan for sure, but at its price it’s probably the best high end buy in Tibetan Incense right now. It’s like a combination of spicy and musky all at once with such incredible depth and a vibrant red stick. Those of you who like Holy Land, Highland, Medicine King, Samye et all just can’t miss this one, it’s phenomenally good yet very different. Over the moon on it and at $13 a roll it really brings the Chinese/Tibetan style closer to most price ranges. But then again I’m wishing I went for the double now.

Anyway I’ll continue early mini reports on these as I sample, since I know there’s been a lot of interest on all these new brands and at this point it could be months before I absorb everything enough to do good reviews on them. And of course a caveat that my opinions are very early on these so buyer beware, I’ve occasionally done about faces over time.

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