Happy Hari / King of Frankincense, King of Myrrh (revisits); Queen of Roses, King of Vrindavan (new versions)

Happy Hari, Part 1
Happy Hari, Part 2
Happy Hari, Part 3
Happy Hari, Part 4

For the last of the Happy Hari series, I have provided revisits of four of their scents, moving the discontinued King of Saffron to what will be an appendix post of the historical reviews. This last installment is of two incenses that have stayed virtually the same in style and two that have the same name but are now different incenses from when I last reviewed them. Please note that while this ends the Happy Hari imprint series, Absolutely Bliss also has something like two dozen (?) or so other aromas from the same suppliers that create the incenses behind Happy Hari. We will be continuing to cover all of these moving forward; however, we do encourage you to contact Absolute Bliss (see below) even before we get to them for what is available, as many of these will not be on the website. So there are a lot more reviews coming and a lot of really really good incenses as well. It is a wonderful thing to see so many scents back in wider availability again. So here we go with the last of the actual imprint itself…

[2021 Updated Review] I’ve personally gone on record that if you want a frankincense experience, nothing beats the resin on a heater and there’s no stick that can really capture that brilliance. But then you flip to a different perspective and think hey King of Frankincense is not a bad run on a masala mix with resinous, church-like notes. This one, at least, is likely to be reminiscent of the smoke from a church censer, but it’s that kind of gravelly sub-Hougary resin that people either warm to or don’t depending on their experience in liturgical settings. However I think the essential (or absolute) oil in King of Frankincense manages to give this a bit of polish, so while the overall scent feels a bit rough, it has some great subnotes that balance it out a bit. In fact, if you compare it to the following 2012 take, it seems there has been some improvement (or perhaps this is a fresh batch). Overall, though, this is the traditional Indian frankincense masala and it is what it is. And yes the frankincense in the Temple of Incense line is virtually identical. And now follows my original review, but please keep in mind this does not apply to current stock. [Historical comparison from 2012] So let’s get the bad news out of the way first. King of Frankincense just doesn’t hold up. The first stick of this was almost painfully astringent to my nose and eyes, with the rough, bitter smoke of it building up into a choking cloud. Now generally speaking I don’t think you’re usually going to get a great Indian frankincense, mostly because the style of the stick is almost tailor made to add to whatever resin is being used. But even compared to a standard like Triloka’s Frankincense, this is very poor (the closest equivalent would probably be the Vinason’s masala) with way too many of the additives veiling an unremarkable Frankincense resin.

The following is my original review for King of Myrrh and it actually stands just fine even all these years later with some slight editing:  King of Frankincense’s “twin” King of Myrrh presents a stick format you wonder why the Frankincense wasn’t in, a thick masala-style stick that allows a reasonable aroma of myrrh to waft from it. This is actually fairly similar to the King of Amber in that the overall stick is warm and mellow, but instead of having a strong oil presence, the natural ingredients here allow you to get the sweet and spicy gumminess similar to a champa. The myrrh middle is more gently evergreen, like a good benzoin mix. Cooling overall, this is a nice and somewhat original entry into the series. [2021 addendum] The only difference I would add here is that, similar to frankincense, myrrh in an Indian masalas shifts the aroma well away from what myrrh often smells like heated in resin form. However, also unlike frankincense there is a lot more variation in myrrh resin, often even in one heating session, and so it’s easy to see that an oil distillation might have very different characteristics. I also detect a bit more sandalwood somewhere in the mix, although I may have just not commented on that originally.

The Queen of Roses really surprised me in its 2021 version. I originally felt it was a much better incense than it used to be, until I reread my old review and re-realized that I quite liked that one as well. There’s very little I like less in an Indian masala than some mix of floral oils that end up smelling like bad perfume (Satya and knock offs are full of these mistakes). As I mention in the comparison below, quality rose oil is well known for being pricy stuff and so if you see rose in an inexpensive incense, you’re automatically attuned to wondering how it’s going to be faked. But the Happy Hari stick is really a lesson in moderation. I’m not sure if there is a touch of real rose essential or if it’s just a good absolute in use, but this is a really regal and classy rose masala. The floral notes compliment the stick’s base and there’s some warm amber notes in the middle that tie it together in a wonderful way. A truly great stick, one of Happy Hari’s finest. This is a much different stick from the old Queen of Roses. [Historical comparison from 2021] The Queen of Roses presents a very good alternative to Pure Incense’s Connoisseur Rose, with a similarly colored stick and an aroma that mostly changes due to the quality of the oil. It’s not a perfect “rose” stick so to speak, in that most incenses at this price level couldn’t possibly be pure anyway but with that aspect causing most roses to be quite poor, this is quite the successful floral. There’s a touch of lemon in the middle of the genuine floral perfume and the results are quite pretty. What surprised me over time, was that this was an incense that would get my attention when my mind was something else, which is about one of the highest compliments I could pay an incense.

I believe the new King of Vrindavan stick is almost completely different from the original one based on the historical record below. So I’ll leave that one on its own and just start from scratch as its virtually impossible to compare them. However based on this stick, and Vrindavan-themed incenses in other lines, I’m not sure this is really of the same ilk at all. It actually strikes me more as a flora style incense now, not at all unlike the types of incenses reviewed recently under the El line. I sense both sandalwood and patchouli in this and while there are certainly some hard to define floral oils in the mix, they’re not dominant. It doesn’t have the sort of amber like warmth of the El scents so much (in fact it might be better described as cooling), but it is virtually the same genre of incense. In the end I think this is one whose name might subert expectations if you’re familiar with previous incenses with the label. Compare it to this older review: King of Vrindavan might be the best incense I’ve ever sampled with the V word in it and it’s even better than those with it in the Pure Incense line. This is a thick, heavily perfumed champa with that floral mix that really can only be experienced rather than described. This type of scent really should have earned this Queen status, as this is lovely and feminine, like a mixture of flowers and that sweet scent you get from valentine’s day heart candies. While this doesn’t quite have the subtlety of Dhuni’s Frangipani, it’s roughly in the same category and lovers of this kind of scent will definitely want both.

Please note you can find all of these incenses at Absolute Bliss. While this line finds new homes in US retail stores, I would use the contact page to contact Corey Topel for prices, shipping time and availability, but I want to stress that he has a new batch in that is current very fresh and it’s when Indian incense is at its strongest. Please note that while Wonder Incense in the UK has claimed they are releasing Happy Hari incenses, I have been unable to confirm this is a legitimate use of a Western trademark. If and until/unless I get to the bottom of this, I am providing this caveat. Following shortly will be a restoration of the historical reviews of all Happy Hari incenses known to be discontinued.

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4 Comments

  1. scandojazz said,

    January 12, 2022 at 9:59 pm

    The King Of Myrrh is an extruded masala on a handmade bamboo stick. Very thick stick. This is an incredible scent that immediately sweeps me off my feet. There is a sweetness mixed with the myrrh scent joined by the rich vanilla halmaddi base that is heavenly. The spiciness of the top note is very special. This gets my highest rating.

  2. scandojazz said,

    September 6, 2021 at 8:50 pm

    Mike, I think you have to bear in mind that the Frankincense resin that comes from Oman is far superior than its Indian cousin. I have both in resin form and the Indian ones are just aging in their packet, collecting dust. The same can be said about myrrh. Both are a lot less expensive in the Indian version. Aside from sticks, nothing will come close to the resin on a heater. OTOH, guggul resin from India is very good. Dark and rich and can be joined by other scents. I’m not sure if I’ve run across any Indian sticks with guggul. It is used in Ayurvedic treatments so is well known in India.

  3. August 9, 2021 at 2:05 pm

    Funny thing – Queen of Roses is probably my favorite rose realized in Indian style agarbatti. I would describe it as someone took a wonderful home made buttercream frosting and added the most expensive and exquisite rose absolute to it. This has a sweet edge to it and a wonderful rose that makes it one of my top floral incenses of all styles.

    The funny thing is that I can only light it when my husband isn’t home. If he is anywhere in the house he has an allergic reaction, his sinuses close up and he gets an itchy throat. I don’t think this is synthetic, and I would say this is a close relative to “Devansh” which is a sweet rose and my husband has no problem when I burn Devansh. But Queen of Roses gets him every time, as does the Pure Incense Rose(both Connoisseur and Masterclass Reserve)

    The reason this is “funny” is that I am usually the one having reactions to synthetic incense, throwing it out histrionically when it gives me a headache/sore throat/dry sinus. So I’m at a loss why my husband reacts to this and not many of the others, including Satyas that would chase me out of the room with their synthetics.

    • Mike said,

      August 9, 2021 at 4:04 pm

      Makes me wonder if he’d have the same allergy reaction to actual roses? But yeah the Queen is a beauty for sure. I’m never quite sure how many rose incenses I need, but I do love to mix it up with a stick here and there for sure.


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