Nikhil / Apple Champa, Banana Champa, Cherry Champa (Discontinued Line)

[This line appears to be discontinued – Mike, 6/18/21]

This nine incense line (which I’ll be splitting into three parts over time) is a bit confusing as it’s made by a company in India (Nikhil) and distributed through both Essence of the Ages and Matchless Gifts. The pictures of these incenses imply they’re made by Shrinivas Sugandhalaya, but they’re not and there’s something of a story behind this I don’t really want to get into, but I was informed of the true company by Essence (the photographs appear to be artifacts so to speak). I will say, however, that if you were to smell these incenses, you could be easily led to believe they are made by Shrinivas as the base incenses smell very much like Shrinivas Nag Champa.

I originally tried these incenses a few years back and really fell in love with the Apple, Banana and Pineapple scents and they made a strong impression on me at the time. Like so many Indian incenses, however, the formulas have changed to some point and while I still like them, they seem a bit more synthetic and a little shallower than I remember. However in the case of the Apple and Banana I did like them enough to go for 100g packages even now. Anyway, for most of the incenses in this line, there’s not much to describe. A base Nag Champa is basically dipped in the corresponding perfume oil and I’d also guess there’s some coloring added in these cases. However I’d guess the difference between the old and new is less the perfumes and more the base, which, of course, used to be a lot richer.

Apple Champa has an oil that reflects more of the sour green apple tendencies than the red ones. It actually matches the sweeter champa base fairly well, the central incense keeping the apple perfume pretty mellow. In fact this mellowness reminds me at times more of the Goloka champa rather than the Shrinivas. Overall there’s something slightly too synthetic about the perfume, it just doesn’t quite go deep enough, but it’s not something you’ll notice for the most part and since there’s few other combos quite like this and overall it’s quite inexpensive in bulk, it’s one I want around for a diversion.

The original Banana Champa was quite brilliant. When it had more halmaddi, the vanilla sweetness made this incense smell like baking banana bread, a scent I found quite nostalgic and pleasant. Unfortunately the newer formula doesn’t hit those notes and now it’s more like nag champa with banana oil added, still quite nice but not special. Part of it is that the banana oil is a bit too faint to cut through the base, the other part, like with the apple, is the synthetic nature of the oil, it’s just not deep enough to work with an inferior base. But again, there’s something about the way banana matches with champa I like and it’s another one I had no trouble wanting to stock.

The Cherry Champa, however, isn’t really one I liked a lot in either version, in fact I don’t notice much of a change in the base. I do notice a change in the perfume oil, though, but unfortunately in neither case does it really smell like what I think of as cherries. In the newer formula, the oil is very floral, with hints of roses and other blossoms. It’s akin to a lot of other red color champas in both Mystic Temple and Incense from India lines, mellow, bright and powdery. But overall it’s kind of a vapid, dull scent, I’d as soon stick with Japanese cherry blossom incenses than deal with this one.

Also in this line are Coconut, Musk, Patchouli, Pineapple, Strawberry, and Vanilla Champas, all of which I’ll overview in the next few months, although to be fair there are few surprises to be had across the line. Take Nag Champa, dip in the corresponding oil and you pretty much know what you’re getting.