The Krishna Store offers one of the most unusual lines of Indian incenses, along with all sorts of books, videos, CDs, beads and the like. The first time I looked at the store, it seemed that they only offered single aromas at 250g packages, but unless my eyes deceived me then, they do seem to carry smaller packages now. They have also packaged 16 of these aromas as a sampler bundle, which is what I purchased maybe about a year ago. The sampler bundle, does change, however, but in checking I could only find one of the 16 that doesn’t seem to be available anymore. Some of these incenses are not in that bundle anymore, but should still be available.
Let’s face it, Krishna Store is selling mostly incredibly inferior product. The florals in this line (the packages seem to hail from 2-3 different companies including one called Gopala) are what I’d call disasters, not only do some of the scents not even remotely resemble what they’re trying for, but the results remind me of the potent and stomach turning smells that used to leak out of chemistry labs in college. However, there appears to be one decent incense in every four or five, including one in this first batch of reviews.
Krishna’s Agarwood smells nothing like agarwood at all, in fact it’s far closer to lemon furniture polish. It smells remotely what it would be like to combine a cola or other soft drink with a champa. Ramakrishnanda’s Rasa Lila is a roughly similar analog but this isn’t nearly up to that quality level. The perfume oil on top is instantly cloying and a bit sour and gets worse as it goes. It seems artificial in some way, particularly so when it’s impossible to guess what the creators were trying for. And unfortunately the spice note present on the fresh stick is missing during the burn.
If one was to take the bitterness of Tibetan “campfire” incenses and turn it into an Indian champa, you might get this Everest blend. It’s also kind of a rough step off the Mystic Temple Patchouli Champa. Unfortunately this is very astringent and unpleasant stuff with that heavy sense of burnt rubber in the background. It’s very indicative of the way these incenses are made, where there’s a roughly decent base dipped in some horribly synthetic perfume.
Krishna’s Frankincense (this package had the company Vaikuntha on it) is a rather standard frankincense masala, with what smells like a lot of inexpensive benzoin as well, making it smell like a catholic resin mix. You’d be lucky to find a less refined frankincense stick and it doesn’t help there appear to be some oils in the mix as well, destracting from the authenticity and giving the bouquet a much more static and shallow scent than necessary. Similar to Vinason’s Frankincense.
The one winner in this bunch is the Jasmine Natural (I think this is the same incense sold just as Jasmine), a very nice, big, thick, almost flora sized durbar with a spicy floral mix. It’s Jasmine-ish rather than authentic, but the aroma is still quite pleasant, very gentle and slightly honeyed. It’s not in a Shroff or Dhuni league but it’s worth picking out as a minor gem in the catalog. But be warned, it’s still slightly shallow as if the aroma doesn’t carry very far, and I wouldn’t doubt at all that this was created synthetically.
There are three more installments coming up down the line, but my guess is I’m a month or two away from getting to the next one, so stay tuned.