Ganden Monastery / Incense, Backflow Cones

There’s really an incredible amount of movement going on in Ganden Monastery Incense so it’s perhaps fortunate that one’s initial outlay gives you a rather huge box of it because you’re going to need it. It’s so complex that a sample and several sticks into a box I still feel like I’m learning this stick’s varied and unique contours. If it wasn’t so sleek I might make a comparison that it’s like two or three other incenses combined and often feels like it exhibits every note under the sun. There’s woods, berry, spice and camphor. Some level of tanginess in the mix, certainly some level of saffron, a bit of the “corn chip” scent. But no matter what combination of elements is most obvious at any given time, it’s like the smoothness of the overall incense might be the most impressive thing about it. I feel like it’s playing a game of hide and seek with me in that when I’m focusing on it with attention it seems to reduce to the conglomerate of the whole, but when I start getting distracted doing other things than it finds a way to bewitch you with its endless cascade of treasures. I also want to mention that overall this is a fairly mild incense, it doesn’t have the usual punch of a lot of monastery incenses, so it may be a decent gateway to the style. But it’s really the subtle qualities that recommend it.

It’s interesting, then, to look at the Ganden Monastery Backflow Cones in comparison as in this case there is an ingredients list: white sandalwood, saffron, purple sandalwood, cedar, and ganden grass. As the cone isn’t terribly different from the monastery’s main line incense one might imagine all or most of those ingredients are in that one too. It’s interesting to see ganden grass on an ingredients list for the first time in a while as I remember Dhoop Factory having an almost specific Ganden grass incense (I still very much lament not having access to this great company anymore) and it may be the one ingredient not as strong in the regular stick.

I realized too that this may be the first review of backflow cone I’ve done. Backflow cones have a hole down the center as they’re basically designed for holders where the smoke drifts down in artistic sorts of ways (like waterfalls), but it’s not really much use if you use it in a container of ash where the smoke is likely to pass through if you keep it up right. I noticed by this method that the cone starts to pick up the ash about 1/3 of the way down, so I tipped the last one over and noticed the aroma was pretty consistent. So overall it’s a nice cone, although personally I think you sacrifice a bit of quality with this format overall. But in many ways it’s a bit denser of an aroma than the regular stick with the saffron more present than the stick. It’s still quite a premium aroma and very enjoyable and to my nose miles better than the usual sorts of cones offered for backflow.