A note to Ross: Floral Hearted Night

Hi, Ross,
A friend was kind enough to send me a sample of Floral Hearted Night. It seems like a different direction for you to have gone and, to me, it’s a very successful one 🙂 Although this incense smells unmistakably floral, it doesn’t accost me with out-of-control indoles, as some “big white flower” essential oils do, or suffer from boring flatness, a problem with some mass-produced sticks. I do love the scents of plumeria and tuberose, which share a similar thick and sweet headiness and can sometimes be overwhelming. You manage to imbue them with a delicacy and demureness that I never would have associated with either flower. Honey Abs. adds a subtle, very slightly booze-y twist, and agarwood and sandalwood add creaminess and weight to this true-to-life blend. Civet rounds out and augments the floral notes, and ambergris, though not obvious as stand alone “star”, contributes to the delicacy and intricacy of the scent, while adding its unique, mineral sparkle to the composition. Every once in a while I catch an animalic, musky drift that adds a provocative and slightly carnal twist to the incense. The overall effect is of young, white flowers just beginning to open their translucent petals, set against a backdrop of somewhat woozy woods that are doing their best to hide their more wild, Faun-like natures.

So, now there is a floral incense I can say I unequivocally like and, at last, I can smell summer blooms in winter without lifting a shovel! Your incense may be called Floral Hearted Night, but I know it’s going to brighten many of the cold and gray winter days that lie ahead. Thank you, Ross!


Dhuni / Frangipani, Lakshmi, Sandalwood, Temple (Discontinued Line)

[Unfortunately Dhuni was discontinued years ago. – Mike 6/15/2021]

It’s going to be tough for me to complain or criticize anything about this latest batch of new Dhuni incenses, so for the critical record I’ll just come out and say that, um, Dhuni doesn’t expand fast enough for me? I’m only kidding of course, but this latest batch of goodies is as close to an incense TKO as I’ve ever seen. Users of Dhuni incense already realize that they’re becoming very close to the premiere connoisseur Indian incense imprint and if these new incenses are any indication they’re getting better with every new scent.

If you want the short review, it’s that I’ve added the first three to our hall of fame and the fourth isn’t entirely out of the running either. It actually struck me burning some of these that the ingredients are so good that at times it’s almost as if you’re experiencing the Indian version of Baieido incense because it’s clear a lot of the aromatic value in these incenses come from very high quality ground wood powder and herbs, the subnotes on all of these pop and catch your attention constantly.

Frangipani is a fairly common Indian incense but I guarantee you’ve never tried one nearly this good. This is an incredibly beautiful and floral aroma, soft, sweet and decadently rich, in fact only Pure Incense’s Pink Sayli even remotely comes close to this incense’s almost archetypal femininity. Other frangipani incenses often seem generically floral, but Dhuni have managed to really extract the essence of the aroma and surround it with the appropropriate base and high level of ingredients. When I first got into Indian incense, it was the sweet and rich luxurious champas that drew me in and this is a great example of one. It’s simple, direct and undeniably pleasant.

Lakshmi is another superb champa style, full of halmaddi and honey, backing an almost even mix of woods and florals, not to mention a thin thread of spice that runs through the middle as well as a touch of vanilla. In fact this contrasts quite nicely against the Frangipani as where that stick succeeds in simplicity, the Lakshmi succeeds in complexity. The main difference is the quality makes it all breathtaking and reminiscent of the golden era with a real nostalgic flair. The last stick I burned before I did this review was mesmerizing, this almost seemed to have Baieido quality level ingredients and the way the burn spun off subnotes was extremely impressive. In fact this is really one of the finest champa styled incenses I can think of.

Dhuni’s Sandalwood sticks to the champa style and is of the same ilk as Happy Hari’s recent King of Sandal, the two Sandalwoods in the now defunct Rare Incense line, and almost any incense you’ve come across called sandalwood champa. However now take that idea and think of it Dhuni style. There are no slight imbalances here at all, the sandalwood sticks to a nice and light woodiness without the intensity of the oils you usually find in other sticks. Rather than a really strong oil-based sandalwood aroma, the Dhuni stick goes for a bit more of a high-altitude evergreen feel, likely due to the huge balsamic hit the halmaddi gives it. Like all Dhunis it’s luxurious and rich, and it’s hard to imagine a sandalwood champa lover who wouldn’t take immediately to this.

Reviewing Temple after three hall of fame level incenses might make it seem this is the stinker in the bunch, but that’s anything but true, if anything it’s just one I’d like to evaluate a little longer. The difference to my nose is that Temple’s aroma is carried more by the oils than the other three incenses and like any incense of this quality level you wonder if the oils might overwhelm some of the powders and herbs. Temple has some citrus touches in the mix, I’m detecting something like lemon or bergamot on the top, but mostly it seems to be largely a mixture of woody oils, maybe a touch of sandalwood at least. Make no mistake this is a beautiful incense, but really what else would you expect from Dhuni at this point?

What else can I say but more, please? Dhuni have really outdone themselves with their latest and can hardly wait for the next expansion.