Ali’s Roadside Lozenges

Gregg’s* sable-colored lozenges are packed in a warm, golden-ochre powder smelling of vanilla, orris, labdanum and benzoin Siam. The scent of the powder reminds me of sweet Indian amber attars- thick and caramelized. However Ali’s Lozenges themselves are far more intriguing and complex than any amber blend I’ve tried. They are a mixture of spices, herbs and resins that unveil themselves slowly and seductively. Every time I think I know what I’m smelling another facet appears and draws me farther into the tapestry. Gregg recommends a setting of 5-8 on an electric burner. I started at 5, thinking the more volatile components would slowly vaporize, after which the slightly higher setting would show off the woods to their best advantage.

Subtle animalic notes of musk and ambergris are the first to greet me. These are two of my favorite notes in incense. Their primal rawness and power is provocative and wild. I’ve always lived in a very urban area; when I smell these lusty notes I access something elemental that isn’t normally a part of my ever day experience- something that makes my heart beat just a little faster. The scent of henna adds overtones of sweet tobacco and moist plums and spikenard rounds out the subtle earthy nuances . I’m sure that every so often I catch a whiff of chili- a spicy twist that’s as surprising as it is exciting! Soon gothic frankincense starts to sing- images of swinging censers and Omani souks come to mind. As my imagination starts to climb to the belfry warm notes of vanilla and bittersweet cocoa pull me back to earth. And what is more comforting than a mug of cinnamon-laced hot cocoa or a too big slice of vanilla poundcake? At this stage the incense is sweet and delectable- creamy, smooth and caramelized. Sandalwood and agarwood complete the picture adding a rich groundedness and wavy hum. Now all the notes seem to have fused together and I’m feeling very relaxed and calm. I’m not sure if the adventure has ended or just begun but it doesn’t really matter. I feel good and the incense continues to unfold. It’s time to stop analyzing it and to just enjoy the sweet languor. Mine’s been burning for 4 hours and shows no sign of quitting!

The finest ingredients have been used in the composition of this incense, including vintage Burmese agarwood from 1998, a Mysore sandalwood oil that is more than 10 years old, antique clove oil, cinnamon from Saigon , top flight Tahitian Vanilla and more.

* (yes! “our” Gregg)

The incense will be available soon exclusively at
Mermade Magikal Arts http://www.mermadearts.com/

45 Comments

  1. Gregg said,

    January 11, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    As Mike will note in the future 🙂 , the vanilla component does not give one a headache like most on the market due to the fact that it is an aged vanilla bean extract rather than a synthetic. I know that many people don’t have a problem per se with synthetics, but years ago I developed quite a sensitivity to them to a point where they give me headaches when exposed to them for very long. Although it might be possible to make this mix more cheaply with such substitutes for the real thing, it wouldn’t be possible for me to test or enjoy my own creation.

  2. February 10, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    […] sends all of these to unique destinations. Readers may remember Gregg King’s fantastic Ali’s Roadside Lozenges. The newest variation of it is Ali’s Rare Incense Powder. I have not had the chance to try […]

  3. Josh said,

    November 21, 2014 at 8:46 am

    For Ali’s powder I mean – for most incenses the 250 degree setting works really well.

  4. Josh said,

    November 21, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Just wanted to add – I’m finding that the 150-180 setting on the Golden Lotus heater from Mermade works much better than the 250 degree/max setting – when I’d add this powder to the max setting it seemed to vaporize to quickly resulting in a sort of irritating effect on the nasal passages, not to mention it was very short lasting that way.. The low settings are really excellent though..

    • Dead Crow said,

      November 21, 2014 at 11:50 am

      You are correct, the lower the setting the better. The ingredients are for the most part fairly delicate and will not smell as good if roasted, plus as you say, the aroma lasts for many hours at low heat. Last batch of this is finished and headed for Mermade Monday.

      • Josh said,

        November 27, 2014 at 11:19 am

        I’ve been spiking ground up palo santo wood with a little of this powder and then heating it on the Golden Lotus – awesome! Palo santo is great on its own, especially the high oil content varieties, but a bit of this powder makes it extra sublime..

  5. Josh said,

    October 1, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Oops – they are available – yay!

    • greggking said,

      October 12, 2014 at 4:01 am

      Well, actually, Katlyn is out of them again. The problem with making the “lozenge” part is the extreme amount of time that it takes to produce a relatively small amount, in the order of 2-3 full days as they are not extruder conducive. Recently I switched to an all powder formula which does 2 things. One, it allows for better control of the ingredients, and two, the consumer does not have to cut up the pill/lozenge. Yes, it still lasts for quite some time when used on a heater, which is what it was designed for. Mermade has now just sold out of the powder as well. I can produce one more fair sized run and then make a call on whether or not to continue. Oddly, it either sells very well, or not at all for months, and finding that level of quality in ingredients is getting relatively hard of late.

      • Josh said,

        October 12, 2014 at 12:01 pm

        I was able to get some from her before she ran out – amazing stuff, what a treat!

  6. Josh said,

    October 1, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Please make more! 🙂

    I’ve recently become enamored with Mermade’s products and hope you can offer your Lozenges through them again!

  7. Thomas S said,

    January 27, 2013 at 12:46 am

    Recently, my order from Mermade Magickal Arts arrived. I had ordered thze Roadside Lozenges, and they are truly a very very special incense / bakhoor. I can only attest to the high quality and excellent scent profile. Everything that I found described in the review is on the point. Especially the longevity of a lozenge is astonishing. Three to four hours and still going strong- incredibly good stuff!! Also, the service from Mermade Arts was very good!

    • Marian said,

      January 27, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      Glad you agree that they’re very, very enjoyable. Your experience echoes my own 🙂

  8. January 7, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    Ali has been shipped all over the world! only few left…
    Gregg, we need more. Thanks for letting Mermade in on this.

    • greggking said,

      January 7, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Well, blame Marian’s bad review for the flood of orders 🙂  Seriously, the amount of orders was more than I had expected in such a short amount of time, so I will get back to work on my second fulltime job of making these (it was third behind selling agarwood, but that has slowed for the moment).  I really hadn’t considered going anywhere but Mermades as an outlet, and you handled the rush job exceptionally!!

      >________________________________ >From: Olfactory Rescue Service >To: gregg.king@rocketmail.com >Sent: Monday, January 7, 2013 8:19 PM >Subject: [New comment] Ali’s Roadside Lozenges > >Katlyn Breene commented: “Ali has been shipped all over the world! only few left… Gregg, we need more. Thanks for letting Mermade in on this.”

  9. December 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Ali now online!

    • greggking said,

      December 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm

      Great job Katlyn!

      • Lars said,

        December 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm

        Ordered 10 lozenges.
        Can’t wait until I get it!
        The price was very fair, considering the rarity/price of the ingredients used.

        • greggking said,

          December 30, 2012 at 4:17 pm

          Ummm.. errr.. price increase just announced 🙂 but seriously, hope you enjoy the first edition limited run, of which you have purchased 10% of the total.

          • Lars said,

            December 31, 2012 at 1:25 pm

            From the ingredient list alone, it’s seems unlikely that this incense will be any less than spectacular.
            It usually takes a while for my packs from Katlyn to arrive to Norway though.
            Would be nice to see more of your incenses on Mermade in the future.

            • Marian said,

              January 1, 2013 at 9:13 pm

              Some of these ingredients are truly irreplaceable. Agarwood from 1998? It’s extraordinary to have the opportunity to smell it. And sandalwood oil from 2002? What a treat! I hope you’ll share your thoughts, Lars, after your order arrives, and I hope it won’t be too long in getting to you.
              I purchased some, too. They’re the kind of thing that if I didn’t stock up, and they became unavailable. I’d regret not having purchased some more while I had the chance. I hope you think it’s as spectacular as I do 🙂

              • Lars said,

                January 29, 2013 at 12:12 pm

                They were absolutely stunning!
                They lasted about 5 hours on the heater.
                They kind of remind of me of dark, creamy chocolate truffles.
                Decadent, creamy and all sorts of amazing.
                Extremely complex.
                I think your review was spot on.

                • Marian said,

                  January 29, 2013 at 1:00 pm

                  I’m glad you think they were worth waiting for, Lars.
                  I know Gregg was contemplating to another version of these. I wonder if he decided to do that or if his next creation will be something entirely new. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see 😉

        • C.S. said,

          December 31, 2012 at 10:33 am

          Gosh, Lars-leave any for anyone else to buy?!

          • Lars said,

            January 1, 2013 at 2:45 am

            I bought two portions (five lozenges in each portion).
            So yes, I left something for other people.

  10. greggking said,

    December 20, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    The goods are at Katlyn now, the artwork and required wordings are all in order, and this will be on sale as soon as possible, perhaps next week even. As you can understand, Ms. Mermade is rather busy around the Winter Solstice, especially this year, considering that the end of the world draws nigh 🙂

    • Marian said,

      December 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      That’s exciting news, Gregg! The name you chose for the incense conjures up lots of fanciful images. ! I can’t wait to see the artwork 🙂

      • glennjf said,

        December 20, 2012 at 10:26 pm

        I keep getting little flashes… Arlo Guthrie… Alice’s Restaurant… LP cover artwork… says something about the incense or does it! 🙂

        • Marian said,

          December 20, 2012 at 10:58 pm

          Sweet memories……….

  11. drummagick said,

    December 14, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    It might be time to pick up one of those heaters I’ve been wanting for the last couple years. 😉

    • Marian said,

      December 14, 2012 at 7:18 pm

      The electric heaters are good for lots of things- slow burning wood chips, resins, kneaded incense and chip mixtures. It’s very adaptable and easy to use. If you purchase one I think you’ll enjoy it.

      • Lars said,

        December 15, 2012 at 3:43 am

        I think you will get lots of joy out of an electric heater!
        The one at Mermade is pretty cheap.
        I bought the UK one at Incense Man and bought a Norwegian power adapter.

        Things like frankincense really shine on an electric heater
        And all the loose blends from Mermade, Nu Essence, Ross etc.
        When you find the correct temperature, all the aromatics evaporate without causing scorching

  12. December 13, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    I have gotten to sample Greggs incenses for awhile now and they are always a treat. What is incredible to me are the quality of ingredients that go into the blends. Quite a lot of them have reached the “un-obtainium” stage, you can no longer find, let alone buy them. ARL is a real tour de force that floats in a sort of East meets Middle East meets West scent profile.It is so well balanced that, while you could pick out some individual notes, you can also just let the whole thing wash over you. Like listening to a symphony instead of a small band. Great fun and a perfect “present to self”!

    • Marian said,

      December 14, 2012 at 7:15 pm

      I didn’t really think of it as “Middle East meets West” but that’s a good description and explains why it smells both cozily familiar and enchantingly mysterious at the same time.

  13. Sachin said,

    December 12, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Lovely review, Marian!! Now, see what you have made me do – I have been forced to emerge from my incense-buying sabbatical 🙂 I am sure though, Gregg’s fabulous creation will be worth it.
    Thanks,
    Sachin

    • Marian said,

      December 12, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      I’m giggling 🙂 Thank you, Sachin! I wish I had more incense-burning friends because it is a great holiday gift 🙂 I guess I’m going to just have to keep gifting myself …..

  14. glennjf said,

    December 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Thanks for creating this one Gregg.

    Extract taken from a thank you email to Gregg I sent recently…

    “Your box arrived today and with it an amazing experience for me to be able to peel off the clear packaging tape and lift the lid and inhale.

    I had to stop off at the local supermarket after that. While there I had the pleasure to bump into a incense loving friend of mine who I let sniff the contents, especially I opened the container of Ali’s Roadside Lozenges.
    So joyous was my friend’s responses that some nearby shoppers were hastily swayed from busily checking out the frozen offerings, we met in the frozen produce aisle, to step up and ask if they could be included in the proceedings. They all could hardly believe what they were smelling, none had ever seen nor smelled a hand made incense till then let alone creations that gave off such amazing odours 🙂 ”

    I think now I should have invited the lot of them home with me to let experience the Lozenges warmed, heater at 5, it would have worked perfectly, I had the amazing incense they had frozen pizza 🙂

    What I so appreciate, other than being able to experience such amazing incenses, is the eloquent reviews you all post here. Your descriptions, especially good for me, a late starter with little experience of the individual ingredients, so many “aha” moments for me after reading then revisiting the incenses described, Thanks everyone.

    • Marian said,

      December 12, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      What a wonderful letter, Glenn. Your excitement is absolutely palpable! Thank you for sharing it 🙂

      • Mike said,

        December 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm

        Indeed, great story Glenn! One of the real joys of incense is changing people’s minds on it, almost everyone goes into it with some memory of a bad incense and it only takes good incense to change that.

  15. JohnPawn said,

    December 12, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Wonderful post. You sure know how to make a guy feel like he’s missing out on something!

    • Marian said,

      December 12, 2012 at 12:52 pm

      Now you’ve made me feel bad, John. I’d turn up my burner’s heat and hope some would waft your way but I don’t want to risk burning it 🙂

  16. Lars said,

    December 12, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Great review, Marian!
    And as always, a very poetic description.
    I really think I should get me some of this!

    • Marian said,

      December 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks, Lars. And I gotta say- I think you should I have some burning right next to me at the moment and now I don’t want to leave my desk- not even for a cup of tea, and I’m thirsty!!!

  17. Mike said,

    December 12, 2012 at 8:32 am

    It’s a matter of how distracted I am that I completely forgot that this incense lozenge is packaged with a powder incense, as I tried the powder part of it (which I really love even on its own) first. Then Marian’s review came up and I ran back to my heater as soon as possible. I can’t really add much more to the description except this is extraordinary incense in every way, and all readers should jump on this offer as soon as possible. I also started my heater at 5 and experienced the whole thing a lot like Marian did, in particular that first ambergris notes that come off as well as the spice mix that comes in a bit later were amazing.

    • Marian said,

      December 12, 2012 at 12:59 pm

      I had the same experience, Mike. The powder smelled delicious and I was perfectly content burning the powder. Then I “discovered” the lozenges and was amazed that they were even richer and more complex!
      I look forward to seeing what else Gregg has up his sleeve (or should I say his magician’s robe)? 🙂

      • Mike said,

        December 12, 2012 at 4:28 pm

        Yeah me too. Lots of talented incense lovers out there, I’m starting to think they should all open shops. 🙂


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