Pure-Incense

This is sort of an informal post/thread for this spectacular company. I really think the Connoisseur level range of this line is among the finest in Indian incense, and is truly a high end range at just under a dollar a stick. But once you check them out you’ll be wondering where those 50g packets are like in the Absolute range.

I though the Absolute Agarwood was good, and it most certainly is, but the Connoissuer version is on its own level. As the description states, there’s a real amazing camphor note to this on top that really lifts it, and the agarwood oil being used is really something special, not at all in the Japanese heavy resin direction but certainly reaching in a sublime direction of its own, more reminiscent of descriptions of oud oils than woods. A whole stick of this just makes your space smell utterly incredible.

And even though there is no connoisseur version, the Absolute Vrindavan Champa is really something special, floral, sweet, and candy like all at once, utterly pleasant and kind of a side step to Mermade’s Aphrodesia in its own way, although not quite that floral.  A 50g package of this is a very good deal, it’s really hard to imagine how good a connoissuer version it might be. The same is true for both the Golden Champa and Green Champas, both superb and quite unlike the usual durbar styles for both. All three of these are easily recommended in their 50g packs.

The Connoissuer Rose and Blue Lotus are also quite amazing, each one a big step up from the already good Absolute versions. Like in all good rose incenses the oil has real clarity and doesn’t dissolve too early into bitter notes and synthetics, and even unlike many great rose incenses, these are created with real rose essential oil that just goes deep like a bouquet of the real flowers. Truly amazing and where a year or two ago I was wary of any rose incense I came across this is one of a few I’ve discovered that have totally turned my opinion around on the classic smell. The Blue Lotus is quite unlike any other Lotus I can think of an is quite evocative and mysterious as it should be, more so in the Connoisseur version than the Absolute.

I’ve noticed a great deal of the Absolute line (particularly scents like frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood and the like) are more or less the “classic” masala forms like you’ll find in Mystic Temple, Incense from India, Triloka, Blue Pearl and other companies, except perhaps even at this level there’s something startling about the ingredients. They make one very curious about the subsequent lifts in the connoisseur range, certainly at some point I’ll want to go through them all.

Anyway please post your thoughs and suggestions for this range, as without samplers, especially on the 50g packages, you get quite a lot of  incense for something unknown. In some ways it makes the connoisseurs the safer of the buys.

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25 Comments

  1. Janet said,

    August 18, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    In the last month, I’ve tried a few more that haven’t been mentioned, all from the Absolute line: Patchouli, Saffron, and Vrindavan Flower. I’ve also got a shipment coming soon with the Connosseur Frankincense and the Amber.
    I can unequivocally recommend the Patchouli and the Saffron, if you like those scents. A completely different Patchouli from the Solls I love, this version is very sweet (vanilla, maybe?) with little of the earthy undertone, but is a strong and mellow true Patchouli fragrance that has none of the sharp, perfumey notes that I have found in most Indian patchouli sticks. The Saffron is, as advertised, very potent and lovely. I’m a little less certain about the Vrindavan Flower. Though I by no means dislike it, I was expecting something along the lines of MT Green Floral Champa or Purelands Flower, both of which I am very partial to, and find different enough from each other to stock each. The pure version’s oil does smell a lot like the Purelands, to me, but it is a lot milder, and a lot more of the woody base is evident. It is not nearly as sharp or penetrating as the other two, which might be just perfect for someone who likes the fragrance but finds the other versions too intense.

    • Mike said,

      August 19, 2009 at 8:42 am

      There’s a Vrindavan Flower in the Krishna batch I just got that is remotely similar to the GFC and Purelands Flower, but it’s more along the lines of the Paradise Flower and a less overtly cooling and camphorous style. Is that more what the Pure Incense VF is like?

      I believe I tried the Patchouli – I think the vanilla you’re smelling is a part of the base of a lot of their incenses. Have not tried the Saffron yet, though, will have to make a note of that. Thanks for the report.

      • Janet said,

        August 23, 2009 at 6:31 pm

        I don’t know, it’s hard to pin down…I *do* think the scent is more like the Paradise Flower, you’re right-lighter and less sharp. The thing is, though, to me it is as if that scent is just a light veneer over the base, which appears to be dry and woody, without any hint of sweetness or vanilla. I also have caught a bit of a soapy note. I’m still working on it, but out of the nine pures I’ve tried, this one is my least favorite.
        Just tried the connoisseur Frankincense this week. On first sniff, it seems similar in makeup to the Patchouli-an unusually sweet base with a vanilla aroma, and a potent Frankincense scent that, to me, smells more like the oil, with none of the resinous peppery notes that I’ve found in other Indian franks. Both the patchouli and frankincense caught me by surprise-they are pretty singular in their sweetness, and I wouldn’t consider either a traditional rendering…but they are both gorgeous scents.

  2. Ali said,

    August 2, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    FYI, the August news update at http://www.pure-incense.com says that “we may bring out some new Connoisseur types”. See http://www.pure-incense.com/news.html

    • clairsight said,

      August 2, 2009 at 9:49 pm

      Thanks for the tip Ali. I was sampling some of their line this week, this is some of the best of India style incense I have ever gotten to try, along with the Shroff Channabasappa they have become favorites.
      -Ross

  3. Janet said,

    July 9, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    Here’s a description of cultivated agarwood oil/oud:
    http://www.whitelotusaromatics.com/newsletters/cultivatedagar.html

    All this being said, The “unique agarwood bouquet” Christopher McMahon refers to is very unique, indeed – pretty animalic and fecal, and a little in perfume is a wonderful thing – but goes a long way. I have a small bottle of the cultvated CO2 extraction, and every time I open it my daughter complains that the house smells like feet.

    And a newsletter describing White Lotus’ foray into incense-making, which might be of interest (a few incenses left from the project are available at Mermade):
    http://www.whitelotusaromatics.com/newsletters/incense.html

    The White Lotus site, in general, is a treasure trove of information – certainly focused primarily on essential oils, but so much more – and these folks are the best around.

    • Ross Urrere said,

      August 5, 2009 at 4:32 pm

      Mermade Magickal Arts is selling the White Lotus incense sticks.

      http://www.mermadearts.com/index.php?cPath=11_38

      I am under the impression that their stock of it is not real big. I have tried it and they all hold true to their names and discriptions, plus they really have been made with some of the best stuff available.
      -Ross

      • Janet said,

        August 5, 2009 at 5:08 pm

        Yeah, two or three varieties have gone away in the past month or so, with only four or five scents left. I just tried the saffron sandalwood, and like both it and the forest blend.
        Btw, Ross, I wanted to return to a couple of things but can never remember where stuff is posted….
        You had given me some advice about differentiating between the Baieido sandalwoods and I was wondering if it would help if I laid off the Indians for awhile before spending time with the Baieidos. I like Indian incense, too-there are a lot more misses, but I’m crazy about the hits, and i tend to mix everything up. Occured to me that the Indians might make it tough for me to pick up subtleties in the Japanese.
        Didn’t have any problem picking up the camphor in the Jihi, which I just got and fell for instantly. Hard. Are there any other blends that have that heavy of a camphorous topnote? Really sweet heavy stuff tends to bug me quickly, but the combo of everything in the Jihi strikes such an amazing balance!

        • Mike said,

          August 6, 2009 at 8:48 am

          Most of the Shoyeido granulated blends are so heavy in camphor they almost sting your eyes, especially the ones in the middle of the range. I’d probably recommend the Essence sampler of the range to get a taste of each one though, as I think they’re perhaps a bit too oil rich or heavy for granulated incense (the oil volatizes a lot faster than the woods do).

  4. Ali said,

    July 9, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Hi,

    I’ve been reading this blog from time to time for a few months now. Glad to see you review this line. I found http://www.pure-incense.com a little over a year ago when searching for affordable quality incense for meditation. I’ve enjoyed their Agarwood, Blue Lotus, Rose, and Sandalwood in both the Connoisseur and Absolute ranges. I can also highly, highly recommend the Connoisseur Pink Sayli. I don’t have the scent vocabulary to describe it, but I find it complex, intriguing, and easy on the nose (no sneezing like I get w/some other florals).

    For me, the Agar & Sandal work best for sitting meditation – they’re good for quieting the mind. Blue Lotus, Rose, and Pink Sayli seem better for scenting the room while working or web surfing. My nose seems to want to more actively enjoy them.

    • Ali said,

      July 12, 2009 at 10:28 am

      By the way, one other note on the Sandalwood – uniquely among the scents I’ve tried, this one is too powerful for a small room, at least for my nose.

    • Mike said,

      July 13, 2009 at 8:20 am

      Thanks for writing Ali. I think you may very well be right about the Pink Sayli, I’ve got a sample of it and based on the quick burn on the tip, it does seem to be amazing. In fact I think maybe the only connoisseur level incense I haven’t totally gone for yet would be the Hari Leela, probably because it’s a bit higher in charcoal content than the others, even at connoissuer level. Nice, no doubt, but missing the over the top subtlety of the Agarwood, Blue Lotus and Rose so far. I’ll probably be singing the praises of Parijata soon too, that was another in the connoissuer samples that was extremely impressive.

  5. Claire said,

    July 9, 2009 at 10:42 am

    Hi Mike,

    please could you confirm if the the Pure Incenses that you are referring to are the ones from Pureland on the following page (which offers free UK shipping):

    http://www.purelands.co.uk/?page_id=3&category=4

    Also, how well do they compare to the ‘Saffron & Rose’ and ‘Rasa Leela’ that you previously recommended?

    Thanks, Claire

    • Mike said,

      July 9, 2009 at 11:10 am

      Hey Claire,

      I believe most if not all of the incenses on that page that aren’t Bhakti Yogis are made by Pure Incense, basically the ones in the middle. As far as I can tell the Purelands Bhakti Yoga line number 6. As far as these go, I think you can split them, with Saffron Rose, Shanti and Rasa Leela all durbar/champa type styles (and maybe even Pureland Flowers) and thus different from the rest. The other two, Golden Champa and Sandalwood are closer to the Pure Incense style in that they are drier masalas. However, Pure-Incense clearly use very high quality natural products in their incense and the base of vanilla, charcoal and sandalwood is completely devoid of offnotes, at least in the ones I’ve tried already (and this is completely true for the Connoissuer lines).

      This is the home company site:

      http://www.pure-incense.com/

    • Hamid said,

      July 13, 2009 at 3:01 am

      There is an informal connection between the two companies, in addition to Purelands carrying some of the Pure Incense range, both companies are run by Vaisnav ( Krisna ) devotees. I dont know who the Purelands people are, but Pure-Incense is the brain child of Adi-Guru Das, who started it on a shoe-string. Just for info.

  6. Janet said,

    July 9, 2009 at 10:03 am

    I thought the connoisseur Parijata was a knockout – an instant hit with me. I didn’t try that fragrance in the absolute range.
    I just got a package yesterday with the absolute Rosewood and the connoisseur Nepal Musk, and only got a trial sniff of each – but I think the musk is going to be outstanding, based on first impression.
    As for the rosewood…..it didn’t give me a headache, didn’t smell “off” or synthetic, it just wasn’t what I expected. I am a bois de rose/rosewood oil lover, but this was less the fragrance of the wood or oil, less a “rosewood” scent, and more of a “rosy-wood” or a “woody-rose” aroma, as in the scent of the flower blended with a lot of wood. If that makes any sense at all.
    I gravitate heavily towards woody/resinous/earthy fragrances, and much less to sweet/floral/or fruity scents, so this one may wind up being too floral for me, but as a personal preference thing, not a quality thing.

    The Maroma rosewood almost was more of a match for my expectations, because I think it was dipped in true rosewood E.O. – which couldn’t compete at all with the high charcoal content.

    • Mike said,

      July 9, 2009 at 11:03 am

      Hi Janet,

      I was thinking my next choice to try out in the line would be the Connoissuer Nepal Musk, so I’m glad to hear it was good. Interesting to hear your thoughts on the Rosewood as well, I’m curious if there’s an incense in that vein you prefer. It’s a fairly common scent and I’ve never found one that really stood out to me. I would also describe myself as preferring the same sorts of scents you mentioned.

      As to the Maromas, all I can say is that from a reviewing perspective I try to write more from positive experiences when I can and my samplings have left me pretty disappointed with that line, so rather than spending time writing up mean thoughts, I’m far more likely just to leave them unsaid and give them the benefit of the doubt that perhaps I just haven’t tried the good ones, but I think you hit the problem directly on the nose for the few I have tried, whatever may be good going on up front is completely masked by the base.

      • Janet said,

        July 9, 2009 at 1:08 pm

        Mike,
        I know my description of the pure-incense rosewood may have sounded a bit garbled – I guess it is that I think of rosewood as a unique wood scent, and this smelled like it had a genuine “floral” element to me. Not a critique at all, I just need to adjust my expectations. I looked again at the description, and it said “rosewood oil” very specifically, so maybe my sniffer was just a little off. With a 50 gram package I have plenty of time to try again….and again!

        I’m going to burn a full stick of the musk later, and will certainly let you know if it lives up to its initial promise!

        Being a newbie,I haven’t had much time to try other rosewoods, so far I’ve only gotten to a couple of incenses that specifically call themselves “rosewoods”, but I’ve mainly been focusing on unadulterated sandalwoods, frankincenses, and patchoulis, those being three of my favorite oils. I know NK has a rosewood, and if you could refer me to any others, that would be great.

        • Janet said,

          July 9, 2009 at 5:22 pm

          The nepal musk is lovely.
          And, on another try, I can say that the rosewood is a very nice dry rosy scent that I think I will like very much.
          Everything from this line has been very potent.

          • Mike said,

            July 13, 2009 at 8:21 am

            Excellent, will have to try both on my next order!

            • Janet said,

              July 13, 2009 at 11:58 am

              Still have to say that the Parijata is hands-down the best of those I’ve mentioned!

          • Janet said,

            July 17, 2009 at 7:39 am

            I still am liking the Nepal Musk, but I think this is one of those that might fall victim to preconceptions….I’ve tried some Tibetan incenses with (I’m assuming) real musk, and this really isn’t like that at all.
            I haven’t tried many musk incenses, although I have a sample of the Soll on order, so I can’t really compare to much.
            It is a nice fragrance, and strong, but to me doesn’t have as much of a “personality” as the Parijata.

            • Mike said,

              July 17, 2009 at 12:35 pm

              Musks vary a great deal all over the place, especially outside the ones we guess get their scent from the deer itself. I’m mostly expecting the PI one to be good based on the rest of the connoisseur line as I never tend to expect the herbal musks to be anything like the animal ones. Certainly the one you have on order from Soll (assuming the Egyptian here) is pretty spectacular and it’s nothing at all like Nepali musk, herbal or otherwise. A lot of the Japanese sticks have musky elements to them as well (Encense du Monde Golden Waves comes to mind).

        • Mike said,

          July 13, 2009 at 8:17 am

          I think most Indian lines have a rosewood in them, both Mystic Temple and Incense from India, for example. Not that I’d specifically recommend either personally. And I think you might describe Shoyeido Daigen-Koh as a rosewood as well, but again this isn’t what I’d call a superb incense. But hey I went into this site thinking it would be rare for me to like a rose incense and I’ve had to an about face on that opinion, so you never know with the Pure-Incense brand.

          • Janet said,

            August 7, 2009 at 6:41 am

            Well, I have to revise my opinion of the pure-incense Rosewood yet again, and have decided it would be wise to take under advisement your incense reviewing guidelines, although what I was expressing was not an attempt at a review, just babbling about a “disappointing” first impression, that came entirely from my own preconceived notions.
            Unlike some other incenses, which I know immediately won’t ever grow on me, I could tell there was something with this one I was missing.
            Now, I’m a complete convert. The Rosewood is, to me, as marvelous as all the others in this line that I have tried. It is a drier and woodsy fragrance with a strong rosey clout – not “rose”, and unlike anything else I have experienced.
            Shoyeido’s Daigen-koh has always been pretty unspectacular to me, as is NK’s long stick Rosewood, also called Daigen-koh, although that one does have a somewhat stronger scent.
            I guess the reason the Maroma smelled like what I expected is that what I expected was the scent of the EO, and it probably was dipped in just that. My bad.


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