This article covers a small selection of Nandi incenses I sampled in the last year via Incense Guru, who covers about least twice that number. Made by BV Aswathiah & Brothers Co., Nandi incense is a line the company can be proud of, affordable and generally of high quality, with a lot of diversity to their line as well. In this article are two durbar style incenses, three charcoal dipped incenses, and one masala, with one of the charcoals perhaps somewhere between that style and a masala, in a similar manner to a great deal of Shroff styles. Nandi are also responsible for Divine Flora which is quite simply one of the best Indian durbars you can find anywhere, a true delight for the Indian incense appreciator.
Before I talk about Divine Flora, I’ll start with one of the line’s more mediocre offerings, a floral/citrus combination called Diamond. This is the type of incense I associate with purifying, cleansing, or freshening aromas and as such it reminds me quite a bit of dishwasher detergents, particularly of the lemon variety. It’s difficult to describe beyond this because it has a fairly unidentifiable floral perfume to it that tends to the lighter side. It’s perhaps between Kala’s Golden and Shroff’s Sugandhi Bathi styles, better than the former, but nowhere near the quality of the latter. Overall from a Western point of view this might be considered something of an average or generic Indian floral.
Divine Flora is not only brilliant but quite popular too, with a number of size boxes to nearly compare to the famous Shrinivas blue box Nag Champa. This is a superb and attractive Indian durbar, like a great spice cookie, with a great deal of sweetness in the mix and some oils that kind of reach over into sasparilla, root beer and cola aromas. As is common with this type of sweet floral, Divine Flora also has a large helping of vanilla and honey in it, as well as an intriguing cocoa-like side note and a bit of cinnamon and clove to spice it up. Overall this could be among the top Indian durbars I’d recommend, I wouldn’t find it any trouble at all to burn quickly through a 25g box of it. So it’s also fortunately it comes in much larger sizes. And like many Indian incenses this is a very affordable stick for its type.
Nandi’s Golden Incense is also a durbar style and quite nice, although it’s going to be a bit more obscure and a little less friendly than the Divine Flora. A lot of the spice is still here, but it moves in something of an orange or spiced tea sort of aroma, not nearly as overtly sweet as Divine Flora. Like many of the durbars today, it’s got maybe a touch of a harsh middle to it (again, unlike the DF) while still remaining reminiscent of older school champa incenses. There’s also quite a bit of sandalwood oil as well as a some unknown, dry floral oil in the mix. Overall, I’ve varied in my opinion on this from good to having it really hit the spot, but overall I’d say it’s both mysterious and excellent.
Joy is the incense I mentioned earlier that is mostly a charcoal and oil stick but has some of the flecks in the stick that make it partially masala-like. This has a very distinctive floral oil on top that I at least used to consider the scent of a lotus, although I’ve smelled so many lotus incenses to think that it varies about as much as aloeswood does. It’s quite sweet and friendly overall and as the stick seems part masala, it’s definitely a bit less harsh than most purer charcoals. Ultimate it’s perhaps a bit heavy and perfume-like in the end which makes it sort of run out its welcome by the end of a full stick, but used judiciously I can imagine there’d be some who’d find this very pleasant.
Mogra is more like Diamond in style, but more like Joy in the type of floral perfume it uses. Unfortunately for Nandi, this Mogra had the distinction of being reviewed after I got Shroff’s own Mogra in the mail and thus suffered in comparison with this oil seeming to be a bit more synthetic, perfumed or heavy in comparison. Part of this is that the charcoal base truly overwhelms the oil, which I think is fairly common for most oils in the roughly jasmine-like region, and leaves the overall aroma very soapy. It’s possible as always that this box was perhaps a bit too old, but overall it was a fairly unpleasant experience.
Finally, there’s the masala Roshni which is a very familiar and slightly spicy sandalwood-based masala that bears similarities with other masalas using Chandan or even saffron in the description. It’s not a particularly arresting incense but it is quite nice due it being so mellow and unassuming. There’s perhaps a bit of floral oil in the mix, but overall it’s more in the earthy sort of vein.
In summary, the Divine Flora is certainly a must try incense, with the Golden not terribly far behind. I’d probably avoid the Mogra and Diamond given other companies’ superior offerings in similar styles, but I can’t say I was at all unhappy with the Joy or Roshni offerings which while not perfect certainly have a lot to offer at very affordable prices. Overall I was generally impressed enough with Nandi product to eventually explore again at some point.