Triloka Premium Incense / Amber; Frankincense; Frankincense, Myrrh & Sandalwood; Jasmine, Lavender Fields, Lotus Champa, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Sierra Cedar, Vanilla Sandalwood (Ross and Mike)

Triloka has been around as long as I can remember an incense stick and probably a lot longer. Like many companies their scents have changed over the years with a lot of ingredient modifications due to increasing scarcity, and they’ve settled in the modern age on a combination of masalas and charcoals, at least for their Premium Incense stick line. In the past Triloka have been responsible for a number of startlingly good incenses and I still have almost body memories of walking into local stores and experiencing and buying various scents. We’d like to thank the company for sending us samples to review (we’re talking above and beyond the call of duty here) and in fact we’ll be eventually rolling out reviews of cones and ropes in the future. Over to some introductory impressions from Ross…

When I first saw these I had also just gotten in some of the Purelands, Shroffs and Pure-Incenses (plus a bunch of Japanese kyaras) and, at first, was a bit underwhelmed. I should also mention that I find Japanese incense and some of the American blends in general to be in my taste preferences. Not that I cannot appreciate the artistry involved in many the Indians, especially those mentioned above, yet I also enjoy being able to go through many sticks in a setting and the Indians tend to saturate my environment. All that being said it took me many tries to understand where this line appears to be coming from. One thing I noticed right away is that the scent of most of the sticks was very clean, no synthetic overtones that seem to be found in oh so many sticks of late (this is not restricted to any one country or style, it’s pretty much all over now). No, these seem to use very good ingredients, about as natural and high quality as it is possible to get at this price point. I also found them to be somewhat less intense or forceful than many Indian incenses. Which is not to say bland, just a bit mellower.

The Amber is very nice, a middle of the road or baseline as ambers go. This is probably my favorite in the group, but then again I really like amber and this one is well made. This is also interesting as there really do seem to be different notes appearing at different times of the burn, some dryer, some sweeter. This is not a floral amber style, much more toward the resins.

The Frankincense is a very sweet incense, I found the resin to be covered up by the floral/sweet/halmaddi notes. This is still a nice presentation but a little misleading if you are expecting a serious frankincense hit.

The Frankincense, Myrrh & Sandalwood Blend manages to present all three of the main notes as single aromas and in combination, a pretty good trick in my book. Again this is built on a sweet base, but this time you get to meet all the players in a very nice piece of work. Lots of changes also go through this stick, much like the Amber, from resins to woods and even a touch of very light floral from the base.

The Jasmine seems to be a charcoal base, which I have always assumed were used so the oils would not be interfered with by anything else. This has a sort of a jasmine and gardenia mix as a top note with a vanilla-like base chord. The gardenia notes make this a lot more interesting then I was expecting but at the same time I am not too sure about what kinds of oils are generating all this. Gardenia, jasmine and vanilla are all really high dollar oils, with real gardenia coming onto the essential oil market only this year. This is not an overpowering scent, nicely balanced and at a strength to act as a nice background aroma in a room.

The Lavender Fields is a dark purple, almost black stick with a high charcoal content. You can see sparkles on top of the stick and the unlit stick gives off a pleasant lavender and vanilla scent. However, when lit the lavender and vanilla notes are totally overwhelmed by the burning stick
material. I tried a number of sticks with the same results and have to assume this is an older batch in which the oils have lost their potency. Too bad as there was a lot of potential here given the scent of the unlit stick. Over to Mike for the second half…

Like the Jasmine and Lavender Fields scents above, the Lotus Champa blend seems to use a mixed vanilla and charcoal base similar in style to the Pure-Incense line. The vanilla seems to work quite well in keeping down the harsher notes of the charcoal and while it tends to mix with the top scent, it allows the essential oil to come through. In this case I seem to remember an older version of this incense from a decade back or so that was a durbar or masala type, but in charcoal form it’s difficult to get either lotus or champa impressions very strongly. In fact it’s not terribly different from the jasmine, although it’s more like if the jasmine was sitting on something earthier, such as patchouli. It’s an intriguing incense and I wouldn’t want to forget that the vanilla also plays a part in the overall bouquet here.

I’m quite fond of the now generic sweet patchouli style as typified by the Triloka Patchouli. It’s classy, intense, sweet and dry at the same time and could be the best version of this common green masala. Like many of the Triloka line, there’s a strong similarity with those in the Absolute Pure-Incense range, not only due to the vanilla and charcoal base, but the oil also captures the similar resonant, sweet, and clay-like patchouli leaf scent at the top end. Other incenses of this type often have some bitter top ends, almost snappy or legume-like, but the Triloka is quite well balanced.

The Triloka Sandalwood could be the very picture of the standard Indian sandalwood in that there are better and worse masalas. It has a moderate oil strength and the typical buttery wood scent common to Indian masalas with a slight tinge of vanilla mixed in from the base. There’s not much more to say, it’s not high enough quality to get the crystalline resin notes out like the best sandalwood incense, but nor is it adulterated or plain like cheaper versions.

The Sierra Cedar seems to be unusually named as I’d consider this style more of a Himalayan Cedar as it has a much sweeter and less drier type of aroma to it. Like the Frankincense, Patchouli and others in the Triloka line it’s something of a generic scent with analogs found in Mystic Temple, Incense from India, Primo and Pure-Incense lines. In this cedar I get a pleasant side note of cocoa powder in the mix which often seems to be a part of this style; it won’t knock you out but it’s quite pleasant. Perhaps in this case I might go with the Primo version by a hair.

The Vanilla Sandalwood might just increase the base vanilla and given there always seems to be vanilla in a lot of Indian sandalwood masalas, the increase in side scent seems fairly natural. There used to be an older bulk version of this scent in the Triloka line, which I reviewed a while back, but this is quite a bit better, a lot more distinct in scent. But again, this is also a fairly typical style and thus won’t generally impress with complexity, quite frankly the sandalwood on its own does a better job.

In many ways the Triloka Premium Incense line is a good way of getting a sort of base idea of some of the most common of Indian masala and charcoal scents. Most of these are very common and time worn scents and in many cases these are among the best of the standard masalas, comparable to Pure-Incense Absolutes. However, this line, based on the most recent catalog, has 15 more scents to it, many of which cover a variety of more complex and less common aromas, and based on having tried some of these in the fairly distant past, it’s possible that the ten scents here are actually among the least impressive in the line, and some of those are very good indeed. Triloka incense is also very inexpensive and sampler packs are available so there’s really no reason not to check out one of the more available Indian lines, indeed in many cases you’ll be getting close to Pure Incense quality without the added costs.

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6 Comments

  1. Kat in DC said,

    January 17, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    To me, Triloka’s top three are Cedar Sandalwood, Cedar Lavender, and Sandalwood Lavender. The rest fall far behind.

  2. Julie Galipeau said,

    December 15, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Good morning,

    I would like to buy the amber incense in bigger quantity (100 sticks). Is it possible? It is for my own use.

    Thank you.

    Julie Galipeau. Québec

    • Mike said,

      December 15, 2009 at 10:04 am

      Julie, I’m not sure who you’re trying to reach, but we’re not a retail outlet. – Mike

  3. Jim Sanders said,

    October 1, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Ross & Mike,

    Many thanks for your detailed review and good interpretation of some our Triloka incense line fragrances. We do our best to provide our loyal friends and customers with high quality, fair trade, natural, clean burning, aromatherapy quality incense at a reasonable price! We do indeed strive for incense blends that are more “mello”, light and natural. We have been supporting the same Fair Trade Cottage Industry suppliers (friends) in India and Nepal since 1977! Thanks again for your fantastic website, excellent product knowledge and real experiences! I learn something new every time I visit your site.
    Jim Sanders
    Triloka Natural Products/Windrose Trading Co.
    Madison, Virginia

  4. Janet said,

    September 29, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    Oh, and Ross….
    I know what an Amber lover you are, so since you are behind this one, I’ve already added it to tomorrow’s payday order!

  5. Janet said,

    September 29, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    I agree the Triloka Premium patchouli is the best of its type…sweet and wonderful, with no weird notes at all…I plan to stock both it AND the pure incense variety, because even though they have such similar fragrances, the Triloka is a bit earthier to me. Of course, I’m a bit of a patchouli nut…
    Hands down, it’s better than the Primo, I of I, Vinason’s, and the regular Triloka.


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