Shroff Channabasappa / Akash Ganga, Champa Dry, Jasmine, Mogra, Natural, Natural Loban

Shroff Channabasappa Part 1
Shroff Channabasappa Part 2
Shroff Channabasappa Part 3
Shroff Channabasappa Part 4
Shroff Channabasappa Part 5

This installment in the ever-growing Shroff Channabasappa catalog brings us back to the now-called Dry Masala group that all the incenses in the first four write ups are part of. There were about eleven new scents added in the last restocking, so this covers the larger “half” of  them with the remainder to be written up next. There aren’t any particular similarities among the six in question here, rather we have three overt florals and three more traditional Indian blends. Many of these seems to revisit earlier territory with a completely different focus and like in most of my Shroff installments I almost found that my opinion of a scent would rise considerably under review. In this case both the Mogra and Natural Loban really opened up for me.

The first scent in question here, Akash Ganga, acts, perhaps, as a transition from the previous semi-wets to the drys as it’s the only incense in the dry category where I’ve seen a yellow box. It make me wonder if perhaps Akash Ganga fell somewhere between the semi-wets and drys as it certainly is a thick stick with a very similar coloring to the durbars. To my nose it’s almost like a variation on the Desert or Vrindavan Flower scents you tend to find in various other catalogs, except as is often the case with Shroff, this is an incense on an entirely new level. It holds some similarities with the Semi-Wet Pearl incense mentioned in the previous installment, although only fleetingly, as this is a much drier incense. On one hand you get a dry sandalwood floral, but woven through this base is sweet wine or raisin-like notes that really lift the bouquet. It adds up to a surprisingly complex incense with both dry masala and durbar-like characteristics as well as a wood, spice and floral mix that plays along the three. [As of 11/3, this aroma is completely sold out at Essence, speaking quite well of its popularity, I’d assume it should be back in stock in the near future – I sure hope so, as I’m running out quite fast now.]

Also transitional on a theoretical sense, is Shroff’s Champa Dry. This is an incense nothing like any champa incense you’ve tried before, it’s certainly not a durbar or wet masala by any stretch, it doesn’t seem to have much in the way of any overt halmaddi hints like we’re used to in champas and it’s also quite different than, say, the Primo or Triloka versions which seem to be mostly oil on base versions. But, of course, Shroff seem to have a singular vision where floral incenses are concerned and this one seems to follow the pattern of having a heavy perfume on top of a natural masala base that seems strong while keeping an earthy tone to the feel. It’s almost indulgently sweet, but not as rich or vanilla-like as the durbars are, while retaining an unusual musky tone beneath. It seems to actually have more in common with the Jasmine and Mogra incenses in this batch than it does with other incenses of its style. Quite unusual and intriguing.

As mentioned, the Jasmine is quite similar to the previous Champa and almost completely unlike the Jasmine 1940 scent. This one strikes me as a pure and earthy Jasmine scent, perhaps in a way almost too sweet and even sweltery in its mix of what seem like natural jasmine oils and even materials.  For a Shroff scent this is actually a very static incense with little in the way of complex layers but it certainly seems to get jasmine in a way few imported incenses do, without using the charcoal and oil method and giving the impression one is in a field of flowers rather than in an essential oil bar.

Of the three florals in this write up, I’d probably give the gold to the Mogra, which is quite simply an amazing incense, one that gets the wavery almost mirage like exotic and eastern vibe of the plant itself that while many oil and charcoal sticks actually do approximate fairly well, they never do with this sort of earthiness and clarity. For one thing, while it has similarities it’s not quite as sweet as the Champa Dry or Jamine, almost as if the sweetness ends with a very dry finish. It really is just perfectly pitched and distinct in its own way from any number of other florals, Shroff yet again just getting the finer tones of these scents down perfectly.

Natural is something of a bizarre incense, especially transitioning from two florals. This has a very gravelley, rough and ready sort of feel that reminds me of lower quality lobans, but it’s totally different in that it seems to have a very strong sandalwood oil as part of the bouquet that at least partially lifts this out from what could have been something of an unfriendly masala. It reminds me slightly of saffron sandalwood mixes or even Chandan sandalwood incenses due to the quality of the oil and the slight spicy overtones and one does get the impression this contains some benzoin, like lobans.

The Natural Loban, however, is as different from regular lobans as the Natural is, but in a completely different direction. Where many lobans are rough, inexpensive and earthy, this version is almost ethereal and airy, as different from the Singapore Loban as the Jasmine is from the Jasmine 1940. The Natural Loban is almost like a stylized, perfumed loban with the top note refined to a lemony finish. That would be enough to make an excellent incense but with clarity this stick pops with white wine notes, green and leafy subtleties and a menthol or evergreen-like freshness that is terribly impressive as if the stick was using the finest benzoin one could imagine, as different from regular frankincense as the Hougary chunks are from what you might find at an herbal store. I’ve actually been disinclined to many lobans from previous experience but this is one that should win anyone over, yet another gold star on what’s becoming a rather full Shroff recommended list.

Next up, and at the very least, some write ups on the rest of the latest Dry Masala imports: Paneer, Poona Amber, Rose Masala, Rosy Sandal and Sandal; the Masala Base florals and hopefully a lot more to come from this premier Indian incense company.

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29 Comments

  1. June 14, 2013 at 11:05 am

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  3. October 4, 2011 at 6:57 am

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  8. Mike said,

    July 28, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    So I’ve been rotating through the Shroff catalog again over the last couple weeks, a joyful task as always. I’ve mentioned with the “soft masalas” that almost the whole group has undergone and improved due to significant aging. Anyway last night I pulled out a Mogra stick and lit it …. wow. It’s even better than I had remembered. I’m going to Hall of Fame it. I kind of wonder if in a year or two I’ll have the whole catalog on there, it seems like I discover one or two new favorites with every rotation.

  9. January 7, 2010 at 10:58 am

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  12. January 4, 2010 at 10:13 am

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  13. Maharani said,

    November 22, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    Mogra is a beautiful scent! As described, I find it to be complex with a dry finish but many other notes-almost a banana at the top, the characteristic oily jasmine note, and other notes that play in and out. it is sweet but not cloying and I can recommend it highly. It is completely different from the Shroff Jasmine.

  14. Masha said,

    November 15, 2009 at 5:43 am

    I am glad to read of others who love mitti attar, it is my favorite!

  15. Maharani said,

    November 13, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    here is a URL for the mitti attar, if anyone is interested.

    http://www.floracopeia.com/zen-cart/attars-c-1/mittiattar-p-65

    • Steve said,

      November 14, 2009 at 7:56 am

      Maharani – I enjoyed your post about the cafe au lait. Sounds like something to try! Thanks for the link for mitti attar. I noticed it’s out of stock at floracopeia, but seems to be in stock at tigerflag.com (I have only ordered there one time – no problems. Just a site I randomly chose…) I am a big fan of ruh khus – it smells so autumnal to me. Mitti sounds like another attar I might like – will have to order some. Thanks for the tip.

      – Steve

      • Maharani said,

        November 14, 2009 at 8:39 am

        My pleasure. The cafe au lait is something one used to find at railway stations, on a busy street, and so on. The advantage of the unglazed earthenware cups was they were “one use”-so you didnt worry about catching something or getting a dirty cup-and the coffee was scaldingly hot. But unlike styrofoam they were recyclable AND they flavoured the coffee beautifully! For us children, smashing the cup was part of the fun. The coffee-wallah always had a pile red earthenware fragments next to his cart.

        I love attars. I have ruh gulab, musk and kachi kali-jasmine-simply beautiful. Mitti is unusual but a great favorite in india.

        • Carrie said,

          September 16, 2011 at 12:15 pm

          Hi Maharani,

          After seeing your post on mitti attar I just had to experience it. I got small samples today of mitti and also a vetiver & mitti attar. The mitti smelled very dry and dusty when I dabbed a little on my wrist, but after a short time the sandalwood came through. It really is an unusual scent, and the longer I have it on the better I like it.

          Now the vetiver and mitti attar is, well, just plain intense. At first it reminded me of digging a hole in wet ground in the woods where there are a lot of roots and maybe decomposing forest material. That was about an hour ago, and now the vetiver perfume is started to come through. It’s a lot less wild than it was an hour ago.

          I think the mitti smells pretty ‘dry’, and the vetiver and mitti smells very ‘wet’.

          What an experience!

          Carrie

  16. Maharani said,

    November 13, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    I am giving the Natural Loban another go. Compared to the only other Loban I have tried (ugh-dirty socks), this one is indeed earthy yet refined, with definite green and smoky, notes. It is gentle, delicate and it could be quite insidious, given time. I really prefer rich heavy florals, so I would probably use this if I was entertaining a mixed group (with guys) who were not used to strong incense, or outside, or if I wanted a break from the florals. It is rather too neutral or masculine to be a go-to incense for me, but it is a very nice, not too assertive, yet not meek, benzoin incense. What was the general consensus re the Singapore Loban? So far, Shroff incenses have all been winners, this one included.

    There is something odd about benzoin-it is a very earthy scent, and the description of the Shroff Natural seems to echo this. However, Indians love the scent of earth, especially wet earth after a monsoon-there is an attar called “mitti” which smells exactly like that-and I can affirm from my own personal experience in India that there is nothing so delicious as freshly made cafe au lait drunk from a new unglazed earthenware cup-after you drink you smash the cup-which perfumes the coffee with a delicate earthen note-so my guess is the Loban-type scents fit into this class of perfumes.

    • Maharani said,

      November 15, 2009 at 8:40 am

      The review of Shroff Green Durbar does not mention it, but having tried the Natural Loban again, I now think there is Loban in the base, with sweeter notes coming on top of it- it has that slightly “gravelly” scent, but completely without off notes. It is wonderful!

    • Mike said,

      November 17, 2009 at 9:00 am

      Hi Maharani. The Singapore Loban to my nose was close to what I typically think of as a Loban incense, although definitely one of the better versions. Thanks for the posts on mitti, found them very educational!

      • Maharani said,

        November 17, 2009 at 7:42 pm

        My pleasure. I will try out the Singapore Loban. Did you find it differed from Natural Loban? If so, how would you describe it?

        • Mike said,

          November 18, 2009 at 9:04 am

          Maharani, I reviewed the Singapore Loban in one of my previous Shroff articles, you should be able to find it by clicking on the Shroff link on the left. I can only add that it’s more of a generic or typical loban incense while the Natural Loban incense was completely different, much more refined and tending to perfume or oils for most of its bouquet.

  17. Masha said,

    November 6, 2009 at 12:18 am

    I can’t decide if I love or hate the Natural. “Gravelly” is a perfect word to describe it. I think it works well outdoors, it’s very pungent, but sometimes, I find myself really enjoying it. It’s definitely unusual. My favorites are still Paneer and Sugandhi Bathi.

  18. Hal said,

    November 4, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    Great website. It’s been decades since I’ve enjoyed incense. Its nice to find sources and recommendations here. I recently ordered several Shroffs: Jasmine 1940, Amber Rose, Green Durbar, Red and White Sandals all wonderful. Poona Amber I find more challenging but I’m starting to appreciate it slowly. I’ll be interested to read comments that one. The Dry Champa I’m not enjoying so much. I’m not sure what it is but it seems to have an astringent quality for my nose – oddly it brings back childhood memories of my mom and sister spraying Aqua Net hair spray on Sunday morning before going to church. Not a bad memory but I’m not keen on breathing aerosol hairspray.
    Thanks again for the great site.

    • Mike said,

      November 5, 2009 at 8:46 am

      Hal, thanks for the kind comments. I think your point about the Champa is probably well taken, I think in lots of cases it’s easy or even unavoidable to pair a floral incense with a memory of an air freshener, deodorant, hair spray or whatever and often in those cases the pairing won’t be flattering. I know if an incense smells to me like Glade air freshener, it’s not going to be something I’ll like.

  19. Mike said,

    November 4, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    I didn’t like the Singapore Loban much, in fact it was the least of the Shroff line for me, but this Natural version I like a lot more, much more polished. But I’ve found, as we’ve talked about before, that Shroff incense has a way of surprising you at the weirdest moments, and I went into the review prepared to not like the Natural version and ended up being surprised.

  20. Hamid said,

    November 4, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I am very fond of the Akash Ganga and Champa Dry. They are all you say Mike. I have not yet developed a taste for the Loban, even in the Shroff version…who knows, that might change.


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