Dhuni / Extra Special Amber, Kashi, Nag Champa (thick versions), Bhakti

I’m encouraged by the efforts of the Dhuni company to tinker with their incense formulas, especially when the results are as spectacular as they are here. It seems possible that they’re in the process of creating a true connoisseur line of Indian incense here as this group of scents is easily top tier.

I’m hoping maybe Piers or someone from the company might drop by and explain if these are actually the new versions of these scents or alternates as it’s difficult to tell from the catalog what’s going on here. All I know is I was already quite impressed with Dhuni’s initial grouping of incenses, but what we’re seeing in the new reformulations is a level of quality that closes in on the decadent.

Take the new version of Extra Special Amber. This is possibly the thickest stick of Indian incense I’ve ever come across, so heavy in weight that if you use an ash holder you’ll need to make sure it’s sunk deep. What seems to have happened is that the larger stick gives the opportunity to use more in the way of the resinous materials. The original Extra Special Amber is quite excellent but it’s also highly perfumed, this new version seems like the perfume or oil contents have either been reduced or spread out among the new materials. The result is tangy, brassy and rich, but largely so because the quality natural ingredients are now carrying more of the bouquet. It makes it so the overall aroma is slightly less intense and more diffuse, letting the amber waves ride out in an airier fashion. In the end both versions are still largely in their own category amberwise and it should also be mentioned that despite the size of the stick, the smoke content is still about normal. This is a stick I’m definitely looking forward to stocking deeply, it’s an incredible work of art.

While Extra Special Amber has made the most visible change, the further refinement of Kashi is possibly this batch’s most impressive move. The sticks are slightly thicker in size and are now thick enough that they don’t resemble at all the style of incense Kashi is in the same family of, the one including Incense from India Honey Dust, Mystic Temple Vanilla, Satya Natural etc. From just eyeing it I would say that the new version has a touch more halmaddi resin in it if not more honey, because it’s even sweeter and more deluxe than it ever was. Now sometimes, this isn’t a good thing but it’s been done in a way where the results aren’t cloying and the sweetness is perfectly balanced by the quality ingredients in the mix. I mentioned it in last month’s top 10, but this is a style I’d grown quite tired of until Dhuni managed to rejuvenate it in the most perfect way here, making it by far the best version of this scent to hit the market.

Dhuni’s newly formulated Nag Champa is probably the mildest adjustment, although the changes are enough to make the new version less traditional than the original, but don’t take that to mean it’s less quality. Like the Kashi the new version is a bit gummier, with a massive halmaddi presence. I like the fact that this increase in sweetness tends to balance out the dryness of the scent, which is an issue I have with a lot of modern Nag Champas, they’ve often lost their finish. While with ESA and Kashi the replacements are definitely final, in terms of the Nag Champa I think both versions have a lot to like about them.

Dhuni also has one new scent, Bhakti. It’s described as a floral spice blend and has some slight similarities to Shroff’s Little Woods in the base. However all of the perfume and oil notes in the incense take the base in a completely different direction. This is a perfume mix that is very difficult to describe because it manages to be both light and complex at the same time. I get everything from unidentifiable florals to a spice content and even a touch of orange tea in the mix, not to mention a strain of wood scent that is less identifiable as a note than an ingredient of depth. Unsurprisingly it’s a triumph in the end and if it’s any indication we’re only seeing the beginning of a powerful run by Dhuni.

Keep tinkering, we’re noticing!

17 Comments

  1. Vas said,

    January 3, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    It will be nice to know the details of the Indian maker of this wonderful incense

  2. Julia said,

    March 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    I have tried Kashi…I like it a lot but I don’t love it, yet. It is very sweet and delightful, but something about the “coolness” of the sweet makes it a bit saccharin. Frangipani, on the other hand, is cotton-candy sweet but very warm and appealing. I have a feeling I will like Kashi better during the hot Sacramento summer when the cooler scent will be nice.

    • Mike said,

      March 20, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      Julia, small world, I’m in Sacramento too!

    • Julia said,

      March 28, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      Cool, Mike! :o) Actually, I’ve totally changed my mind. I now looooove Kashi, and, in fact I love all the dhuni sticks! Yum!I burned Kashi while I was doing some collaging and creative journaling, and it created a very positive, meditative, and creative atmosphere. In all, I treated myself to Bakhti, Sandalwood, Frangipani, Moksha, Lakshmi, and Kashi and they’re all total winners. I can’t wait till I can try more Dhuni, it’s worth every penny.

  3. Carrie said,

    July 5, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    I got my 3rd dhuni today, a package of Bhakti.

    What a joyful scent! I can’t believe it’s as light and airy as it is, with that fruit and floral it seems as if it should be heavy but it’s not.

    It also seems very much a ‘morning’ incense to me. I lit a stick this late afternoon and enjoyed it for a few minutes, then put it out to save for morning. Perfect for an early summer morning!

  4. Carrie said,

    June 1, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I received two Dhunis yesterday, Nag Champa and Khus.

    The Nag Champa doesn’t seem gummy or even particularly damp, but it smells wonderful and the sticks are bordering on baseball bat size. lol

    The Khus is a very interesting scent. I get the ‘cooling’ vibe. I think I would like it better on a hot summer day, rather than during this unusually cool, wet spring weather we’re having. I think this one will take a few sticks for me to understand it.

    • Carrie said,

      June 28, 2011 at 3:39 pm

      We’re having a hot day, so I lit a stick of Khus.

      Got a good smoke going and bent down for a sniff and my first immediate impression was ‘lake water’. You know the smell you get at a lake sometimes? Coolness, wetness, mineral, a bit of vegetation? But this was lake water at a certain altitude. Mid-range. Not lake water near sea level and not high mountain lake water.

      Strange impressions, huh? lol

      It is a wonderful incense for a hot day. 🙂

  5. MattnDC said,

    May 5, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Thanks for the great review.
    Got in a new order of Dhunis and Shroffs, and just now am burning Bhakti. I love it! The scent is so fresh and clean – I found myself waving my arms around in the smoke to kind of bathe in it. The woods are there and the floral top notes are almost fruit-like to me – raspberry/strawberry kinds of smells, but not either really.. There are no off-notes of any kind. Intoxicating stuff.

    The new Nag Champa sticks are a bit different from my first batch – they are much thicker and the first stick at least did not seem as effervescent somehow. Burn temperature related, I wonder, due to the thickness? Nevertheless, I willl certainly be returning to it.

    I am looking forward to trying the Khus and Kashi too. Congratulations to Dhuni on a highly compelling bunch of products.

    • Mike said,

      May 6, 2011 at 8:19 am

      Thanks Matt. It seems to my nose that in all the cases where the sticks are a bit larger now there appear to be maybe more resin content, but to my nose it’s more difficult to tell where the differences are in the Nag Champa. To me it smells a bit les “nag champa” than the first version but as an incense itself I think it’s at least as good.

      • MattnDC said,

        May 6, 2011 at 11:50 am

        Hi Mike:
        That must be it, the resin content. I almost wrote ‘earthier’ last night – more resin makes sense.

        I am looking forward to trying more of it!

  6. vinny said,

    May 2, 2011 at 3:38 am

    Mike , what would you say of the Shroffs is closest too the nag champas in the 70s and 80s , the “nag champa” or the “champa” ? They both seemed quite similar , but I was curious about that. Also what Shroff rose scents do you suggest?
    Thanks

    • Mike said,

      May 2, 2011 at 7:55 am

      The Nag Champa is fairly close to the scents I remember from the 90s. Not exact mind you, there’s still *something* missing. Not sure on Shroff’s roses. I love Amber Rose but it’s at least as much of an amber as a rose. It’s not a pure rose either, but Shroff’s Ruby is nice.

      • vinny said,

        May 4, 2011 at 4:25 pm

        Yeah I have amber rose , it smells vaguely like a sexy woman’s lipstick , but its a bewitching smell.

  7. piers said,

    April 28, 2011 at 1:10 am

    HI all and thanks SO much for this fantastic review, Mike. We’re thrilled you like it – especially as we’ve been working hard to take on board all the comments you made last time.

    Re, the extra special stick of amber, that’s not commercially available yet but was a tester really and a gift for Mike. However, encouraged by this review, we’re going to move forward with bringing this one to the market sooner rather than later. I was cracking up at your comments about it possibly doubling as a deadly weapon – it is indeed a whopper of a stick!

    Otherwise, these incenses are all the same, except that with a new batch – especially of something completely handmade like this – there are bound to be changes, different oil levels in certain botanicals, and so on. We see it as making wine – even when the process remains the same, there are subtle variations which make some products a memorable vintage for no discernible reason! That said we have been testing hard with our incense maker to really make sure there can be no doubt that Dhuni is the world’s most decadent, luxurious and generally outstanding incense sticks that we can possibly make. While there remains any possibly debate on the subject, we’ll keep at it!

    One tiny thing Mike, I think in the second to last paragraph you wrote ‘Shroff’ rather than Dhuni, in regards to the new nag champa blend…?

    Anyway, kind regards to you all and thanks for supporting us as we get off the ground.

    • Mike said,

      April 28, 2011 at 8:53 am

      Piers, Thanks for the correction, I’ve made the edit. I’m super pleased to hear you’ll be offering the thick Special Amber, definitely an amazing work. I definitely want to point out that in a day where we often hear about incenses that aren’t the same anymore, it’s great to have a company who is actually making them better.

  8. KeesKoh said,

    April 27, 2011 at 12:21 am

    Hi Mike, thanks for the review!

    “I mentioned it in last month’s top 10, but this is a style I’d grown quite tired of until Dhuni managed to rejuvenate it ”

    (can you explain some more where you tired of?)

    TX

    • Mike said,

      April 27, 2011 at 8:24 am

      Hi KeesKoh, I had grown tired of this style of incense, the scent of Satya Natural, Incense from India Honey Dust etc. What I meant is that Dhuni’s version is so deluxe that I’m enjoying it again.


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