Report #3 on Newly Imported Incenses

Well I’ve had a chance to go through the most recent Shroff incenses (basically all the ones Beth has listed as new at Essence) at least once through. Unsurprisingly the second time is really showing me what these are made of, which is very typical of Shroff, they all get better with experience, as notably so as any incense company out there. Honestly the Champa blew me away the second light, it was almost like burning a different incense, definitely as good a Champa as you’d hope from this company (it might even be better than the Bam which would be saying something). Akash Ganga also really improved on a second go as did Jungle Prince. Moonlight reminds me more of the floral champas akin to Incense from India’s Enchanted Garden scent. But in that case I still find it hard to beat Enchanted Garden which has a lemony subscent that helps the floral oils to not cloy too much. The jury is still out for me on Moonlight.

The Masala Base line is a tough one to describe and I really wonder what I’ll even be able to say with some experience. They’re basically all charcoals with heavy floral oils. Most of them, however, have bases that are flecked through with something a bit more masala like, similar to Sugandhi Bathi, and in those cases I felt the charcoal was balanced quite a bit better. But despite that I find this an inferior incense carrying system, there’s no doubting that some of the floral oils here are like fine perfumes. Both the Lilac and Lily 1938 were very impressive, as was the Night Rose which was deadly potent. In all these cases I can imagine you’ll not want to waste time on these as their intensity will likely fade pretty quickly. Overall though it’s hard to say more about these as I take it they line up floral to floral pretty straight through the line.

The larger line, as I mentioned elsewhere has a couple immediate gems with the Natural and Paneer scents, neither of which I could describe that well, but they’re potent and beguiling and I can’t wait for the second stick bump on both. They do a mighty fine Mogra as you might expect, a little less oil and a little more masala like than most mogra sticks out there. The Jasmine was a bit more natural and drier than the 1940 version but not as immediate either. I liked the Natural Loban a bit more than the Singapore version, it was not quite as earthy with the hoarier feel of the benzoin turned down quite a bit. I don’t remember much about the Poona Amber, except I liked it and it was different from the other ambers I’ve reviewed and I’m also a bit vague on the Rose Masala which I remember liking a lot and the Rosy Sandal which slips my mind. The Sandal itself is an excellent and fairly typical masala in this style with a fresh, potent but not too expensive oil on top.

I took a quick 5 second sniff of a number of Pure Incenses and found about half of them amazing and half of them typical. The ones I remember liking were the Vrindavan Champa (which totally earns its hyperbolic description), the Blue Lotus (almost like a hepped up Primo stick), both Agarwoods (the better of which was the first Indian stick I’ve tried that really had agar-like traits akin to the Japanese sticks), and both the Golden and Green Champas. The Frankincense and Myrrhs were both fairly typical masalas in style but both seemed to have an edge that was quite impressive. The Jasmine was disappointing with too much charcoal. But overall it looks like a strong line with some real gems in it.

I’ve only tried two Maromas, which doesn’t really give me much of an idea of the 30-40 incenses in all its lines, but I found one of them to be a nice if typically aromatherapeutic oil on charcoal blend but the other, Champak, was excruciatingly bad, I’m even wondering if the sample was old enough to have retained its oil as all I got was a harsh charcoal punk that ended up giving me a headache. Here’s hoping this was a fluke.

Still quite impressed with the Shechen red box in that line, a really strong incense for its price. The Blue’s a bit less potent, only striking the mildest of the Red’s notes. The other two Shechens in cellophane and in the $2-3 range are fairly typical for that range with cheaper materials lowering the potency somewhat.

And I have to say the Jinko Yozei by Gyokushodo is really something special, it even gives off notes that seem to indicate an incense at least twice the price so it’s well worth procuring a box. And I’m still just blown away by Mermade’s Aphrodesia, I’m quickly coming to think it’s one of the best floral incenses you can buy. Anyway that about wraps it up prior to true reviews which will be eventually forthcoming on the Shroffs and Shechens one of these days.

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12 Comments

  1. Mike said,

    July 13, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    There are so many champas these days and more and more I keep finding ones that get closer and closer to the way they were 10 years ago and longer. I thought Bam Champa might have been the closest, but I’m starting to think the Shroff Champa might be the best. Last time I burned one I had that intense feeling of deja-vu that comes from the early days of burning them. Either there’s a decent amount of halmaddi in the mix or they’ve managed to replicate that scent in some way. Either way this stick gets better and better with every burn, totally magical. Anyway I’ve got the wheels roughly spinning for a full overview of the six soft masalas. One thing I noticed last time with a stick of Moonlight is that it’s something of a berry champa in a way, with a lot of strawberry in it that I didn’t really notice right away, almost like when I thought of it as a floral it wasn’t as successful but as soon as I started thinking of it as a fruit floral its qualities started to come out more. Overall this is a really stupendous batch of incenses, I think only the Mothers Fragrance line was anywhere close for this style of semi-wets/durbars.

  2. Hamid said,

    July 4, 2009 at 2:36 am

    After reading your review Mike I burned a Pearl stick, you are of course correct, the note that I had been struggling to identify is lavender, which reminds me of another lavender based stick I think you might enjoy, its from a range called Sri Sri Radha Madhava, and is available in the U.S, from the Krisna online stores Their “Lavender” is particularly good.

    • Mike said,

      July 4, 2009 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks for the tip Hamid, will have to look for that.

  3. Mike said,

    June 30, 2009 at 11:45 am

    It struck me on my third stick that Shroff’s Pearl is something of a cousin to Mothers’ Ganesh Nag Champa in that it too uses lavender in its durbar mix. the results are quite different, the lavender oil in the Shroff is more of the traditional scent with the wilder notes of actual fresh lavender, but the results are the same: lavender and durbars were made for each other. Just a classic incense and so far my favorite in the latest Shroff batch. It’ll be on my July Top 10 without a doubt.

    But my #1 is still probably the Dzongsar Monastery Lotus Ground Incense. Could be one of the best incenses I’ve ever tried, so mellow for a Tibetan while still incredibly complex, I notice new things about it with every stick.

    Along with the new Seijudos and Yamamatsus (which also improve with use) it’s been a great last 30 days for newly imported incenses.

  4. Hamid said,

    June 27, 2009 at 1:58 am

    I have grown to love the Shroff Kasturi. My first stick didn’t make that much of an impression, possibly because I had overloaded my olfactory mechanism with Shroffness when I first tried it ! ..I then began to appreciate its soft , subtle floral slightly minted, sweetness. Very unlike other incences which are called ” Kasturi “.

  5. Mike said,

    June 22, 2009 at 8:31 am

    These Shroffs have a crazy learning curve, my appreciation for them skyrockets with each use. I enjoyed my second round of the semiwets MUCH more than the first round. I think Pearl is probably the real winner in that group but all of them save for perhaps Moonlight, only come behind it about a hair. There’s this really slight, but wildly sagey note in the Pearl that adds a wonderful complexity behind its essential durbarness. On a whim I ordered 100g boxes of this whole line, after the first round I wasn’t totally sure I needed that much, after the second I was thanking my lucky stars!

    I think the Night Rose is probably the best of their more overtly charcoals, it’s an extremely wonderful floral with a mysteriousness about it that’s quite alluring. I think my opinions on the others are likely to come out more with use and as I connect the aromas with the names in a more obvious ways. One or two of them let the charcoal bleed through a bit too much (I want to say the Kewada or Kasturi). The Mogra is really awesome. I smelled one about a decade ago that really set the standard for me and this one’s as close as I’ve found since. Not too oily like most of the charcoal sticks seem to be.

    I’m having to be judicious but I do like a lot of what I’m smelling from the Pure Incense line and will have to eventually get quite a few packages. All their champas are very nice, albeit quite different than the usual durbar style (which is a good thing). I though the Connoisseur Blue Lotus was very sublime as is their Agarwood. I definitely can’t wait for a batch of the Vrindavan Champa, which I took too immediately.

    And I have to admit I’m still way over the moon with the Dzogchen Monastery Lotus Ground incense, I think it’s quite the find. It is extremely sublime, not nearly as overt as most Tibetan incenses and it has incredibly “subtle energy” to it, filling the space with something of a spiritual electricity. A stone classic in my book.

    • Hamid said,

      July 5, 2009 at 1:35 am

      I have ordered some of the Dzogchen Monastery incense for Madam Hamid, who has more of an appreciation of Tibetan Incense than do I. I’ll let you know her thoughts. Or even persuede her to share them herself..

      I enjoyed my second stick of Shroff Paneer, I expect to enjoy my third even more.

      • Mike said,

        July 6, 2009 at 9:09 am

        Sounds good Hamid. Hope she likes it as much as I do!

  6. Hamid said,

    June 21, 2009 at 9:38 am

    I have just enjoyed the Mogra which resembles the Jasmine 1942, but imo is better. Mogra being a variety of Jasmine I believe.
    The Champa Dry is a gem, it bears comparison to the wonderful Green Champa or Golden Champa from Pure Incense, or the Champa from Purelands. Warm and honeyed.
    I will have to give the Paneer another go. My first impression was not that positive, but again I have only burned one stick…Onwards and upwards!

  7. Hamid said,

    June 21, 2009 at 3:48 am

    Some initial thoughts, of those ” new” Shroffs I have tried so far, the Vanilla and Night Rose strike me as remarkable, the Musk Flora and Rose Masala ( The latter reminded of a Autumn vacation we had in the Languedoc area of France where the smell of the late roses blended with the begining of the smell of fallen leaves ) as excellent. As yet I am undecided on the Kasturi, and Poona Amber. I hasten to add that I have only burnt one stick of each, so early days. The Rosy Sandal is a pleasant enough stick but suffers in comparison with the Sandalwood And Rose lines offered by Pure-Incense and Jivada.
    The pleasant ask continues….

  8. Hamid said,

    June 20, 2009 at 3:49 am

    Just opened my ” new ” Shroffs, its like Christmas time Chez Hamid ! I am resisting the urge to tear through them all too quickly, I dont have Mike’s amazing ability to retain the impressions, good fun to be had though.

  9. Ross Urrere said,

    June 17, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    So really, how much incense do you burn in a day? 🙂
    Actually, the way that you can remember all these and write them down in a readable manner simply humbles me.
    The Jinko Yozei really is a winner, this company packs a lot of really fine scent into a very affordable stick. makes me want to re-investigate the rest of the line.
    -Ross


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