Shroff Channabasappa / Soft (Semi-Dry) Masala Incenses / Champa, Jungle Prince, Moonlight, Musk Flora, Pearl, Vanilla

Shroff Channabasappa Part 1
Shroff Channabasappa Part 2
Shroff Channabasappa Part 3
Shroff Channabasappa Part 4

The flood of Shroff Channabasappa incenses appears to be well underway as 24 new incenses have finally reached the shores of the States including a total of 13 in two new categories. One of these categories is that of the Soft (Semi-Dry) Masalas which is, perhaps, Shroff’s entry into the worlds inhabited by Nag Champa and other durbars. To the touch, all of these incenses are slightly wet and perhaps a touch more fragrant and intense than the incenses in other lines. I can’t say whether or not this is the presence of halmaddi or something similar in these incenses, but it would not surprise me at all if there was a small amount in there keeping these damp.

There are six incenses in this line and all of them are world class incenses, immediately rivaling and in many ways surpassing the champas and durbars offered by other companies. Because we’re dealing with a company here whose unique take on incense, due to many old oil and incense recipes, is basically not found anywhere else, they’re almost all unique in Indian incense, something many discovered through their regular masala line and its dozen or more classics (you can read about these in the links at the start of this article). These aromas are all well rounded, without any bitter or off notes, in fact even in their Masala Base line, which are largely charcoal and oil incenses, the relative dearth of offputting scents is particularly low for the style. But with the Soft Masala line we’re talking Shroff at their most potent, pungent and powerful, indeed just the fresh sticks of a few of these incenses could scent a small circle around a stick. In the 100g yellow boxes the aroma pops immediately with the removal of the top.

So it’s perhaps fitting to start with the line’s Champa. Champas, of course, are among the world’s most famous incenses, indeed the Shrinivas Sugandhalaya blue box Nag Champa may be the world’s best selling incense. However as is well known among those who’ve explored Indian incense to some extent, the most popular is not always the best and due to wholesale changes in champa ingredients many of the bulk companies have made changes that have virtually harmed the aroma they had become famous for. So it’s quite fortunate that some of these smaller companies, like Shroff, have created new Champas and in this case we’re possibly talking about one of the finest champas on the market, one at least as good as Bam Champa, Raj Laxmi Champa, the Shantimalai red box series, Goloka Nag Champa and at least a dozen others. It’s also quite different than these, given that so much of Shroff’s work tends to be with the perfume oils. Shroff’s Champa is almost mercurial as a result, with a floral (likely a plumeria mix of some sort) oil on top that shifts and changes depending on one’s attention. But what becomes apparent with use is that unlike many new reformulations, this Champa really does have some elements that resemble the rich scents of a decade past and older. By my fourth and fifth stick, wafts of what smelled like halmaddi would curl out and evoke deja vu, as well as the common vanilla and sandalwood accompaniment found in the midst of the floral intensity. So with each use it’s like looking at a gem from a different angle and only in doing so does one see the magnificence of the creation, truly a Champa that well lives up to the Shroff name.

Jungle Prince moves this soft masala base into more exotic, woodier directions and is a strange, mysterious scent that is very difficult to parse into its subelements. It shares in common with Moonlight and Pearl a very intense perfume oil that really comes out of the box at you. There are slight top hints of lavender and bergamot mixed in but the primary oil seems to be of a woody type, perhaps a mix of sandalwood, cedarwood and what may be a slight touch of oud oil, as the combination evokes a fecund, almost animal-like scent to it that creeps around the edges like a tiger peering from tall grass. The closest stick on the market to Jungle Prince is possibly Mystic Temple’s Precious Forest in that they both share a heavily woody, almost cologne-like and masculine feel to their bouquets. Overall it’s unusual, exotic and befitting its name both regal and feral.

Moonlight is also resplendent with fine oils and in this case it’s almost eye-stingingly fruity in a way that’s quite rare to be this successful on an incense. I’ll have to credit our reader Hamid for noticing the orange blossom top note on this, as when it was brought to my attention, it made this incense almost terribly obvious, and I could smell both the stinging citrus tint of freshly squeezed juice along with the type of orangepeel smell you get in a fruit bread. To some extent, however, it doesn’t stop at orange peel, I also notice some slight hints of strawberry especially in terms of the way strawberries smell in the heat in a patch, but this all works underneath the orange. And of course, like all soft masala types there’s the usual vanilla and intensity, and in fact that very intensity in the oil almost distills the orange scent into a liqueur like Grand Marnier and the combination with the vanilla also evokes those orange creme popsicles. Truly it’s difficult to compare this incense to anything else and I would probably not have blinked had it been called Orange Champa as it could very well be one, except for the slight spice content in the base that also evokes hints of spice tea.

Musk Flora in comparison to the rest of the line is probably the quietest and least oil rich of the incenses in this batch, and it’s not at all far from Blue Pearl’s Musk Champa, especially in the formulation it was, say, 10 years ago. In this case the musk is typically dusky and herbal, without the overwhelming power an animalistic musk carries and as a result it helps to create a mysterious note on what is basically a rather standard, vanilla, sandalwood and spice base. It’s hard to call any of Shroff’s soft masalas typically champa-like, but this one’s perhaps the closest, with only a hint of the perfume to make it obviously Shroff.

Pearl is the true gem in this grouping, and it’s not only the most powerful and penetrating of all the incenses in this series but it could be the most complex. It took me a few sticks to notice what in retrospect is a rather obvious French lavender oil as a large part of the bouquet, but to this day, even burning this in handfuls, I keep noticing all sorts of different notes, perhaps in the way that even though a pearl is white it can reflect an almost rainbow like refraction of light at its edges. Recently a stick of this evoked for me the lost and missed Mystic Temple scent Ascension which was like their opium-like Transcendence except with hints of licorice or anise, both of which are very lightly present in this stick. It also has the normal center of vanilla, honey and sandalwood at heart but compared to the rest of the line it’s also perhaps the sweetest in the center and would appeal to those who like their incenses friendly, if it was only for the fleetingly wicked and wild herbal note that flecks through the bouquet. This could be a part of just how potent the lavender oil is here, although it evokes almost sage-like characteristics at times, and it certainly appeals to the side of me that likes a friendly incense with a thread of adventure in it. I honestly can’t get enough of this one, and while your own favorite could differ wildly in this line, this remains my current pick, it’s truly one of the best Indian incenses I have in stock.

The final incense of the six, Vanilla, is perhaps the easiest to talk about as it does what it says on the stick. Champas of this sort already have vanilla as part of the note and of course there is the friendly and common durbar mix of vanilla and amber, but this goes even beyond that to a point where the vanilla oil or extract being used is almost like it is in a bottle, it’s so potent that it has herbal notes that you wouldn’t ever witness in the vanilla we tend to be familiar with from ice cream and other confectionaries. But like the aforementioned vanilla amber durbars, this stick is at least as powerful and long burning, marking an aroma you’re not likely to be able to get away from for a while. And unlike most of the other incenses here, the only truly obvious subnote in this incense is the everpresent sandalwood and as such it’s n0t ultimately complex as a whole.

It took me perhaps 7 or 8 sticks of each of these, at the very least, to even start to get comfortable to really discuss these incenses in depth as, except for the vanilla, they’re all astonishingly complex, aromatic creations among the finest in Indian incense and perhaps at the apex of incense art as a whole. When I heard these were to be released by Shroff and based on my other experiences I made the decision, rather than just trying a smaller sample or package, to go for a largest batch I could buy, and haven’t regretted the decision since the second stick of each one. It’s almost if at first they’re too powerful to get your nose around, but once you sit down and let them speak to you, it’s a divine language indeed. And as is always with Shroff the prices are ridiculously inexpensive for the quality you get, so if you’re inclined to Indian incense, you won’t want to miss any of these.

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60 Comments

  1. June 14, 2013 at 11:05 am

    […] Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff Channabasappa Part 8 Shroff […]

  2. Richie said,

    December 21, 2012 at 1:28 am

    Jungle Prince has been reformulated, before it was a greyish stick with lime powder on it, and it had Oud. The newer stick while good , is a wet dark brown stick and smells mostly of bergamot, lavender and musk. I miss the old Jungle Prince though.

    • Alan said,

      December 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm

      I Really liked the Jungle Prince with the white powder coating. There has been much speculation as to what the unusual white coating was.
      Are you sure it’s lime? (my wild guess was scented talc which might have accounted for the muted quality of the smoke). This is not the first time the formula has changed.

      • Richie said,

        December 25, 2012 at 4:22 am

        Yeah its a slaked lime powder. The new JP is ok, but not as good as the one with the white powder on it, I told Beth about it. I am sure its not a materials issue because, Champa uses the same kind of base and musk, and Pride uses the same Oud note.

  3. October 5, 2011 at 7:22 am

    […] Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff Channabasappa Part 8 Shroff […]

  4. October 4, 2011 at 6:57 am

    […] Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff Channabasappa Part 8 Shroff […]

  5. October 3, 2011 at 7:31 am

    […] Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff Channabasappa Part 8 Shroff […]

  6. July 19, 2011 at 6:58 am

    […] Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff Channabasappa Part 8 Shroff […]

  7. July 18, 2011 at 7:01 am

    […] Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff Channabasappa Part 8 Shroff […]

  8. November 19, 2010 at 11:35 am

    […] Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff Channabasappa Part 8 Shroff […]

  9. September 18, 2010 at 10:24 am

    […] Jungle Prince – It’s hard to go wrong with anything from Shroff.  I’ve burned this one a few times […]

  10. Mike said,

    July 13, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Has anyone else noticed that the fragrances of these change subtly as they age? When I first tried the Vanilla, I thought it was a bit too much maybe, but after a few months I think the elements really started to balance beautifully. Last week I left one of those burning, stepped out for half an hour and when I came back the place smelled absolutely amazing. There’s something almost crystalline or resinous about it. The Pearl now isn’t quite so piquant at the top but has more of a mellower top note, definitely maturing the incense. Moonlight as well, the orangier aspects aren’t quite as in front all of the time making the whole bouquet quite a bit more complex. One really hopes Shroff has some more recipes in this line, this is just a stupendous and impressive batch.

    And of course, I still think their Amber Rose is just a stone classic at this point. I’m now into my 100g package and I still marvel at how each stick seems to be just slightly different. Ditto with Red Sandal which I often burn a few sticks of when the package is out.

    Anyway I sure hope this company isn’t done releasing more recipes, I can’t get enough.

    • Hamid said,

      July 13, 2010 at 8:55 am

      Yes Mike. They certainly have this wine-like quality of growing more complex over time. They represent an extraordinary refinement of the incense makers art.

  11. Hamid said,

    February 11, 2010 at 8:20 am

    After a gap of a few weeks, I have just had a couple of days of reaching for the Shroffs, Pearl. Moonlight and Sandal K specifically. What wonderful sticks they are. They seem to improve with age, and with each burning.

    • Mike said,

      February 11, 2010 at 8:34 am

      This line seems like it was designed to age. I think across the line all of the aromas are quite a bit different and more mature than they were when the oil was fresh. It’s really a delight to see, I mean smell.

  12. January 30, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    […] ♦ Pearl from Shroff has been arresting my attention of late. The champa brings something familiar and comfortable, yet with a perfume intertwined and pulsing that is new and always captivating to me. A prime example of why Shroff gets the hype they do around here.  Extra cool point – the packaging seems to have a typo, with the incense being called “Peral” – an ominous sounding and entirely offbase A.K.A. if ever there was one. […]

  13. January 7, 2010 at 10:58 am

    […] Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff Channabasappa Part 8 Shroff […]

  14. January 6, 2010 at 10:22 am

    […] Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part 6 Shroff Channabasappa Part 7 Shroff Channabasappa Part […]

  15. January 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm

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  16. January 4, 2010 at 10:13 am

    […] Part 1 Shroff Channabasappa Part 2 Shroff Channabasappa Part 3 Shroff Channabasappa Part 4 Shroff Channabasappa Part 5 Shroff Channabasappa Part […]

  17. Susan said,

    August 21, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    I am a newbie, this is my first post and i will attempt to make it succinct. I discovered this site last Autumn when i was doing searches for Nag Champa (SS) aka “blue box”. When I read the article about the lesser quality of SS nag champa as compared to a decade or so ago I realized that this had been my experience also. Last spring (2008 that is) i discovered a small unopened 15g “blue box” from approx 1994 while unpacking items long stored away: I lit one and the scent was marvelous and soft. I then purchased some new/circa 2008 : I lit one and immediately noticed a burning sensation in back of my throat/soft palate. The discomfort lasted, and seemed to bother my pet also.The scent was also different , harsher, “hotter” : when i read the article and similar comments, at least i knew i was not alone and that this was not just a subjective experience. So i was very excited when i read this review of the Shroff scents; I immediately contacted Essence of the Ages and placed an order for Pearl, Moonlight, and Champa: I must say that the reviewer hit it dead on with his descriptions. He perfectly described every nuance .. the subtle layers in these scents are amazing. I was impressed that as i experienced each one, i could reflect on his review and i must say that he did capture every intricate detail… he must have the nose of a master perfumer. I was so impressed i placed another order with Beth straightaway. After several sessions, i have to say that my favorite is Moonlight, followed by Champa and Pearl (a tie). I am very grateful for this site and for all of the people who contribute their energies here. Burning a stick and reading this site has become my evening reyreat … thanks to all … Susan

    • Mike said,

      August 25, 2009 at 8:36 am

      Thanks a lot for the kind words Susan and am glad you’re enjoying the Shroffs as well as the site. Shroff incense really is just an amazing brand, with scents that really grow with you. I had something of a breakthrough myself over the weekend with the White Sandal, and it seems to me every week or two one of the many scents opens up in a way it hadn’t before. It’s still amazing how affordable they are as well.

      • Susan said,

        August 27, 2009 at 7:34 pm

        Hi Mike 🙂 I believe that it was your review of Satya Sai Baba Nag Champa on Amazon.com that i read and folllowed to this blog.

        I just received a big bunch of Mother’s Ganesh, Shanti, and BAM Champa: if i had known how much i would love the Shroff line at the time i placed the order, i would have put all of the money toward more Shroff instead of Mothers and BAM. In my (neophyte) opinion, the Shroff is way better quality in all spheres. I am amazed that the cost of Shroff is so much less than the Mothers, considering the (my opinion again) much higher quality of the Shroff as compared to the Mothers.

        I also received some Nippon Kodo and Baieido and I am experiencing Japanese incense for the first time in my life. This is great !

        Thanks again
        S

        • Mike said,

          August 28, 2009 at 8:37 am

          Hi Susan, glad you found your way over here, as I wrote the Amazon review when ORS used to be part of my personal blog. Glad you’re enjoying all the incenses.

          In many ways I think the mark of a great incense is distinction, a quality that no other incense matches, and really Shroff gets full marks across their lines for that (honestly you can almost declare them the winner in the Indian incense race at this point). But I also think Mother’s Fragrances gets good marks, given they use an ingredient (mattipal) that many other companies don’t use, but perhaps in only having five incenses in that line, a couple of which are almost identical in scent, means the distinction is less obvious, while in Shroff it’s very apparent. I do recommend, also, checking out the Purelands and Pure Incense lines as well as I believe they’re also in the same rarified heights.

          • Janet said,

            August 28, 2009 at 8:58 am

            For me, the Shroff’s soft line (which I think is roughly in line, price-wise, with the Mother’s) and the Mother’s Nag Champas are both really marvelous in their own ways, and are different enough that I prefer them in different moods. I always felt the quality of both lines was exceptionally high – I like the Shroff’s softs, though, when I want something a little more intense and unusual – they are definitely one of a kind. The Mother’s, though, have a depth and an earthy richness that I love.

            • Susan said,

              August 29, 2009 at 8:16 pm

              Thanks to Janet and Mike for great reviews and kind advice. I think that Janet puts it well, in that my experience with the Shroff (all soft line) is perfectly described in the statement “more intense and unusual.” I think that is it: i have been so smitten by the intensity and unique character of these scents that at present I cannot objectively experience anything else. I am so in love with the Shroff’s…..in describing these scents to a friend i found myself using the word “paradise” many times: the experience is so different from any scent experience i have ever had. And Mike addresses that quality in his comment about the mark of a great incense being that of distinction. Therefore my comment about Mothers while, true for me at the time, is biased by my Shroff addiction 🙂 I am so grateful for this blog……. i am now set to try the Purelands and Pure incense lines 🙂 This is gonna be a very fragrant Autumn!

              • Maharani said,

                August 29, 2009 at 9:17 pm

                I would agree: I love the Shroff incenses: Paneer is my current favorite, followed closely by Amber Rose and Amber Boquet, which I plan to keep in stock, while the soft masalas are “more intense and unusual”.

                I have begun trying out the Pure Incense line. I like their Pure Agarwood-its quite dry compared to the only other oodh I am familiar with-a charcoal, very sweet with a lot of other stuff in there. Rather austere I thought, but I am sure I will add to this description as I try other versions. I have also tried the Pure Incense Saffron. This is very nice-a very sweet rather than a woody saffron, with what is almost a banana tone to it.

                That said, I think I prefer the Shroffs overall as I enjoy floral scents and I like their intensity, but I also plan to keep exploring. This has been great fun!.

                • Janet said,

                  August 29, 2009 at 9:35 pm

                  Maharani,
                  I’ve tried quite a few of the pure-incense line, and have found several of them to have that very sweet basenote….it’s an unusual take on some of them, like the Patchouli, and I’ve really enjoyed trying them.
                  Thank you, by the way, fir providing the cultural notes-I really appreciate them!

                  • Maharani said,

                    August 29, 2009 at 9:48 pm

                    It is my pleasure: I don’t often get an opportunity so it has been fun for me.

                    One thing-to return to Jungle Prince, I do detect a citrus component but have not figured out which citrus-I agree with the review there’s some citrus there-maybe bergamot-but have not yet figured out what else is in there. These incenses are more like French perfume than anything else I have encountered-very complex.

                    • Ted said,

                      August 9, 2011 at 7:00 am

                      I’m a long-time Japanese incense fan, but a newcomer to Indian incense. Seasonal allergies and summer-time open windows led me to place an order of about a dozen Mother’s and Shroff varieties. I’m really enjoying all of them.
                      Of my exposure so far, the Jungle Prince is my hands down favorite. It’s a very unique scent to me. I was burning a stick the other day, trying to figure out what I love about it so much, and I said to myself, “Lemon! There is a bit of lemon on top”. Part of what make it so unique and successful to me is the top citrus note that contrasts and highlights the more masculine main scent. Maybe I have the citrus note figured out, but the masculine note is still a mystery to me. Is it oud? Whatever it is, I find it completely intoxicating.

              • Janet said,

                August 29, 2009 at 9:28 pm

                Susan,
                It’s always really interesting to see the differences that tastes and perception bring to our perspectives on these fragrances, and how much our own perspectives can change over time.
                For me, the experience was almist the opposite-I have a strong affinity for woody, camphorous, resinous, or earthy aromas, and I have to “work” a lot more with fruity, tangy, or floral scents. For example, I didn’t care for the Tennendo frankincense at first, because it has an almost melony topnote-I couldn’t even appreciate what an incredible resinous scent lay beneath, because I couldn’t get past the fruity thing. Now I can’t do without!
                So, I fell instantly in love with the Mother’s….and instantly *appreciated* the Shroff’s. Love is taking a little longer, but I sense is on the way!

              • Mike said,

                August 31, 2009 at 8:30 am

                I think we’re particularly lucky to be living in an age where the really quality Indian, Japanese and Tibetan incenses seem to be making a comeback to our shores, even three years ago you couldn’t find many of the companies we can now (in fact the timing of all this with the start of ORS was an interesting synchronicity). It seems to me Shroff had a very low profile until the combination of Essence and Shroff started bringing out all the old recipes, and until Kotaro and Jay started importing Tennendo, Shunkohdo, Kunmeido and the like, our sense of Japan was mostly limited to a few companies. But also I think comments from our readers (such as Hamid introducting us to the lines the British were importing) have also helped to really broaden our horizons. The companies do read this blog so new incenses of note will often start action not often seen on the surface, but rest assured there’s more of interest to come in all sorts of directions.

  18. Maharani said,

    July 30, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Mike,

    I am horrified that that the “good stuff” is all exported-not for us but for India! It brings in foreign currency but the local people forget/lose their heritage……. Shroff is an old established family firm that deserves to prosper. One purpose of this site might be to get Indians to take another look at their cultural resources once again.

    Re scent-the steriilty of the US urban environment is starting to get to me-we all have to kowtow to those few who claim allergy to perfume…actually technically its a sensitivity-you can only be allergic to protein and they are not volatile. Gosh its annoying. Indians use scent in many ways and I love that aspect of the culture-I wear good Western-style perfume and attars, which my Mum buys in Bengaluru-my assistant always complains when I wear then to work (not a lot either)….. She would die if she was approached by an agarbathie… My Mother on the other hand, goes into ecstasies at the attarwallah…and its fun to share that with her. She definitely appreciates quality and I plan to order some Shroff for her as a gift. I wish they did a good Vetiver. THis is a classically S Indian scent (Im S Indian).

    Another thought-Im interested in trying out the Japanese and Tibetan incenses-Ive a notion that the more allergic types might be able to enjoy them as overall the consensus seems to be that they are less smoky.

    • Mike said,

      July 30, 2009 at 9:47 am

      I know the feeling, at my workplace we’re occasionally sent messages warning to keep a lid on intense scents due to people’s allergies. However most of these tend to be food related and aromatic perfumes and colognes get bundled with them. Of course on the other hand, tending towards natural aromas, I also find that there are a lot of synthetic perfumes and colognes I find unpleasant and have walked into elevators where someone who has overapplied these, so to some extent I can be sympathetic. But I do think for Americans a lot of it is just the exotic qualities and the sense of strangeness and this often goes well past aroma.

      As to vetivert aromas, yes they do appear to be pretty rare (although I wouldn’t necessarily count Shroff out yet as they seem to be avidly creating new or recreating old scents and I doubt we’ve seen the last of their incenses). I do like vetivert a lot myself given its earthy tendencies, but beyond Primo’s Khus incense and Vinason’s Vertivert I haven’t seen that many out there and none I would say are exceptional. I know I’d love to see Pure Incense tackle this type.

      Indian incenses are often more intense and I would say are almost always more intense than Japanese incenses, but there are definitely Tibetan scents with woods that can be somewhat aggravating to the sinuses, however most of these I’d be unlikely to recommend.

      • Maharani said,

        July 30, 2009 at 1:21 pm

        Re Vetiver, the Shroff website says they will create custom incenses on request-everything in India is custom anyway-clothing for example-so this is not surprising. I bought Vinasons vetiver to try and believe it or not, HEM does one that really does smell like Vetiver roots, as well as a Khus. But they are VERY hard to find unless you mail-order.

        Another thing, in India, things that are considered exclusively as perfumes here are routinely used as food flavorings. I have syrups flavored with sandalwood, vetiver, rose, saffron, etc and the woodier ones are SUPERB in coffee-sandalwood in particular (khus is also good), and the rest make incredible cocktails cut with gin and some lime or lemon juice, club soda for a long drink. This is another way in which India and the WEst differ. Certain categories are a bit more fluid.

        • Hamid said,

          July 31, 2009 at 6:33 am

          You might want to contact Adi Guru Das on the Pure-Incense site re, Vetivert Mike. He came across the family that make his line, and they have extended their repetoire because he has comissioned new varieties. He is very approachable .

          • Maharani said,

            July 31, 2009 at 8:15 am

            I have been Emailing S. R. Channabasappa: here’s his latest on the subject of vetiver:

            “Vetiver ( Lavancha ) and Patchouli incense will be sent in our next shipment to Essence of the ages.”

            I will definitely keep my eyes open! It looks like they are indeed developing a lot of new items.

            • Janet said,

              July 31, 2009 at 3:49 pm

              Thats great news! Shroff, vetiver, AND patchouli!!!
              I can hardly wait!
              I wanted to add that Mystic Temple does a vetiver. It’s really different from the Vinason’s-it’s very wet-earth-and-root smelling, but with a strong sweet undertone. I find the Vinason’s a lot more accessible.

              • Maharani said,

                July 31, 2009 at 4:56 pm

                A bonanza!

                Thanks for the Mystic Temple recommendation as well-sounds like its definitely worth looking into.

                • Janet said,

                  September 6, 2009 at 8:18 am

                  Maharani,
                  Just an aside, if you have a chance to check out Jivadas Green Khus, it’s terrific – my favorite of those I’ve tried. Oddly, it’s sweeter than the Mystic Temple, and it was that aspect if the MT I didn’t care for at first…but that one – while it’s grown on me alot – seemed rougher, with more of a disparity between the elements than the Jivada. That one is much smoother and more complex, and while I’ve found it also ‘reminds’ rather than duplicates the vetiver scent, like some of the pures, it definitely has that terrific earthy-green-rooty scent in spades! Now, to wait for the Shroff version…..

                  • Maharani said,

                    September 6, 2009 at 8:34 am

                    THanks for the recommendation: Ive seen a lot on Jivada, including Hamid’s recent review so I must try them out. I know this site doesn’t review charcoals, and they are generally of lower quality, but for those desperate to try a vetiver, HEM has both vetiver and khus and they are both good and the vetiver at least smells like the real thing.

          • Rob M. said,

            August 6, 2009 at 5:54 pm

            If you check the British Pure-Incense site, the owner says that his next offerings will be: Yellow Rose, Rus Khus (vetiver) and Night Queen. A vetiver by this company should be something special!

            • Maharani said,

              August 6, 2009 at 7:00 pm

              Indeed! Thank you for the information! I rather fancy their saffron incense and will try out their products. Night Queen is also called Raat ki Rani, a literal translation, and is night blooming jasmine. It is thus different from jasmine (mogra).

              • Janet said,

                August 6, 2009 at 7:24 pm

                And thank you for that info….I had the saffron next on my wish list but had been hesitating. The only problem with this line is it’s a pretty big committment for the 50 gram packages.
                Now I’m feeling a little more courageous. I DO wish there were samplers available for these guys.

              • Janet said,

                September 26, 2009 at 8:44 pm

                Maharani,
                I had been meaning to mention that if you like Nag Champa at all, as a saffron fan you might want to try the Mother’s India Vishnu, which is a different take and has a nice saffron note. I’m a huge fan of the line, as well as really liking saffron incenses, and I like this one enough-along with the Ganesh-to have bought it in bulk. And a vetiver addition-Primo’s Rhu Khus-really good in the Mystic Temple vein.

                • Maharani said,

                  September 26, 2009 at 9:24 pm

                  Oh-I love the MI Nag Champa! Thanks for the recommendation. Am currently enjoying Pure Incense Absolute Agarwood. There is such a plethora of incenses to try!

      • Hamid said,

        September 22, 2009 at 3:14 am

        Just caught up with this post . Jivada do a wonderful Khus.

        • Hamid said,

          September 23, 2009 at 9:02 am

          Whoops! Ive just seen Janets post re Jivada Khus and realised that mine was redundant..

          • Mike said,

            September 23, 2009 at 9:49 am

            I don’t think so Hamid, the more positive opinions on one scent the more people are likely to move in that direction. I know I can’t wait to try it myself although at this rate it’ll probably be next year some time…

            • Maharani said,

              September 24, 2009 at 7:36 am

              Same here: khus is fairly rare in incense as far as my experience goes, so a recommendation has value. On the other hand, Ive spent a small fortune on incense lately, so I will have to wait, but its on my list.

          • Janet said,

            September 26, 2009 at 8:33 pm

            Hamid,
            I’m just your backup on the Jivada line, anyway-it was because of your many positive comments that I found them!
            Besides, redundancy isn’t a bad thing when it comes to recommending such a terrific incense…..

  19. Mike said,

    July 30, 2009 at 8:27 am

    Thanks Hamid and it helped to have your feedback on these incenses after they were made available. I too have brought out all the rest of the Shroffs, right after I finished up this review. I think I’ll be writing up the Purelands six next, although I think I’ll need a little bit of time with them. To be honest, trying out the Krishna line is really making me appreciate the rest of these even more.

  20. Maharani said,

    July 30, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Hi,

    I just wanted to say how delighted I am at finding these superb reviews! I am Indian, and while I live in the US and was brought up in the UK-Ive burned incense all my life. Lately, it has been difficult to find much with any subtlety. I usually get my incense in Indian grocery stores and have been favoring HEM, a reasonably OK line with some nice fragrances (probably charcoals?). This site opened my eyes. I immediately mail ordered 7-8 Shroff fragrances and since yesterday have been enjoying them enormously. What a revelation-I will certainly never go back to grocery store incense. My Mum who lives in London has the same complaint. She uses incense daily for puja but is always complaining you cannot buy anything decent anymore-not even in India. I went so far as to Email Mr Channabasappa and ask him (my mum goes to Bangaluru regularly to visit family) and he confirmed, most of their incense IS exported as Indians only want the cheapest incense in the largest quantities, not quality. Indian grocery stores are only interested in the highest possible markup-so an Indian, who probably wouldnt shop at Essence of the Ages etc. ironically, would never see this superb Indian product. The sad part for me is that indians themselves are in danger of losing touch with this aspect of their culture-scent-while Americans really are not that scent focused, despite the resources. Too many people I know freak out and scream allergy when you so much as light an agarbathi….

    As for me, I will just stick to Shroff for the future-the Green Durbar brought back memories-I havent actually SEEN a Green Durbar incense since the 60s. It used to be commoner-now we are swamped with single note agarbathies….

    By the way-referencing a number of comments about Nargis-there was indeed a famous Indian actress of that name in the 50s-60s, but my guess is the Shroff Nargis actually references the Mughal/Persian love for the narcissus (and rose) in their poetry and art. Even though Shroff C. is South Indian-the term Shroff is a Muslim term for a banker (an ancestor was obviously one)-so again-it references that curious hybridity of Hindu/Muslim culture that is unique to India. For me, the Shroff fragrances bring to life the Indian past in a way that is complex and difficult to express all at once.

    • Mike said,

      July 30, 2009 at 8:49 am

      Maharani, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your experiences and impressions, I actually had no idea on the state of Indian incense domestic use and exportation and appreciate being enlightened. You’re absolutely right on the state of incense in the US as well, in my experience most people are turned off by the idea of burning incense, but I often find that when they’re introduced to quality scents, at the very least, the rejection turns to apathy or sometimes actual interest. The predominant storebought incense here tends to be the most inexpensive and poorly made incenses and I think that’s particularly sad when a fine product like Shroff is really so inexpensive and accessible now. But I think that’s our mission here really, to at the very least to let people know what’s out there and to introduce new options (not to mention we’re indebted to those suppliers here like Essence of the Ages and Japan Incense who are actively bringing over new scents). And based on our statistics here there definitely seems to be growing interest. I also definitely appreciate your information on Nargis and Shroff. I think there’s an awful lot of cultural information that’s lost in translation that we’re enriched by being introduced to. – Mike

      • Maharani said,

        July 31, 2009 at 8:30 am

        FYI, the actress Nargis (nee Fatima Rashid) was born in 1929. She has a wikipedia page.

        I dont know for sure, but my guess is that “Nargis 1931” by Shroff was actually created in 1931, so it cannot be named after her. Thus, I feel the name is a reference to traditional Mughal ideas about the Narcissus, whose imagery is found throughout India. To expand on this idea, much of the culture in both North AND South India fused both Hindu and Muslim elements-and still does, although the aristocratic Delhi culture moved to Pakistan after Partition. Nargis’s father was Hindu, her mother Muslim. Channabasappa is a purely South Indian Hindu name, but Shroff is a Muslim title, and so on. Thats another thing about these incenses, they are a way of staying in touch with these old things, which i believe deserve to be remembered. This is a bit off topic, but I wanted to contribute my thoughts as the incense reminded me so vividly of all these things.

        • Mike said,

          August 3, 2009 at 9:06 am

          Thanks Maharani, appreciate all of the interesting information you’re sharing. Great stuff on all the aromatics used as flavoring as well; and of course I know the spice mixtures used in curries are also called masalas, which does indeed show how similar the use of spices in food and incense are.

      • Ross Urrere said,

        August 2, 2009 at 3:35 pm

        Got a chance to try out the Moonlight and Pearl, they are easily the best Indian style sticks i have ever gotten to use. I find the scents to be multi layered with a lot going on in each layer. So it makes me glad that the bundles are large 😮 ) ! The other aspect I like about these two is that they are not, like so many of the Indian sticks, overwhelming. Plus I notice that they do not have the black smoke pouring out at light up. All the above comments seem, so far, to hold true for the Pure-Incense CONNOISSEUR Agarwood and Parijta also. I just placed an additional order for more of these brands. Truly an eye opener for me.
        -Ross

        • Mike said,

          August 3, 2009 at 9:17 am

          I remember a day when I was all about Japanese incense, but with the Mothers India Fragrances, the continual impressive Shroff release rate and the Pure Incense and Purelands lines, I know a great deal of my attention has been split of late, particularly when you consider how relatively inexpensive and highly aromatic all these incenses are. Now I’ve gone through most of my recent arrivals, I’ve started to filter back in the Tibetan and Japanese incenses and marvelling again at how wonderful they are, especially when you mix them up. An embarassment of riches in incense these days. I just tried the Sandalwood and Lavender from Pure Incense, just another amazing scent. Anyway, I’m taking time to filter many of these over to our Indian Hall of Fame list, including Pearl, Moonlight and Champa from the Soft Masala list and quite a few from the Pure Incense line. And I just reburned a stick of Golden Champa from the Purelands line and realize that needs to go on the list as well, fantastic stuff. Both it and the Pure Incense version are so similar yet quite different at the same time.

          • Hamid said,

            August 3, 2009 at 10:52 am

            I fear I am going to become a total obssesive so I wont mention it again, but do try the Jivada range folks..you wont regret it……..

  21. Hamid said,

    July 30, 2009 at 4:41 am

    Thanks Mike, a real tour-de-force if I might say so..
    As always you have articulated elusive scents that I have been groping towards an expression of. I must have another Shroff binge and sniff anew.
    In the rush of excitement I have neglected my store of old Shroffs , so i have dug them out, and I am enjoying the Ambers etc.


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