Hand made in Nepal - Golden Nagchampa

Hand-Made in Nepal (Himalayan Flower): Golden Nagchampa, Frankincense

[Updated: 2023-06-07]

Some time ago I wrote about a very similarly designed incense. Like this brand, sometimes referred to as “Eyes of Buddha”, “Himalayan Flower” are packaged in Lokta paper envelopes and labelled “Hand-Made in Nepal.”

A while ago, ORS published a review of this Golden Nagchampa.

Hand made in Nepal - Golden Nagchampa

I bought mine from a UK eBay shop, who I have also ordered other incense sticks from. It cost £2.49 / €2.85, which is 19ct per stick and gram.
Thanks to the ORS article and some very positive mentions on Reddit r/Incense, my expectations were quite high…

Golden Nagchampa opens with a fairly classic Nag Champa scent profile. It’s very floral, but not overly creamy. Then it gets strange: They have a tart note that I would normally assign to champaka, but here I find it almost pungently bitter, and it mixes with a strange sour note, which in combination reminds me of rowan berries. There is also a smell like diesel or diesel exhaust. With a lot of good will, I rated it with 2.3, deciding to try it outside again in the summer and otherwise give it away.

Then I remembered how different some incense scents smell at my friend Max’s place and took them to him on one occasion.
They don’t show a smell of exhaust in his flat. The intrusive, somewhat fruity acidity is only very faint in the background so that it actually adds something fresh to the composition. The bitter note is no longer bitter and is “where it belongs”, namely a slightly tart aspect of the floral component. There, they also have a little more creaminess.
In the after-smell (which at my house is mainly “diesel”) I smell mostly floral notes and I even think I recognized a bit of frangipani, which I don’t smell while they are still burning. So in his flat, Golden Nagchampa are easily in the 3 range.

This shows once again how much incense and perfume have in common. Not every scent suits everyone, and not every incense stick fits into every home.

2023-06-07 Addendum:
Golden Nagchampa are really strange. At first, they smelled really good at Max’s place, he used them a few times and liked them. Then last time we lit one, the diesel note was there again, and so strong that we immediately put the stick out again.

Hand-Made in Nepal - Himalaya Flower - Frankincense

I found Frankincense by chance on eBay-Kleinanzeigen; they were being given away.
The smell is very dry, resinous and has a natural smokiness.
In terms of smell, they are not far away from Spirit of Vinaiki – Indian Frankincense, although I don’t smell the typical spiciness of this frankincense from these sticks.
They have a unique base smell, which is probably where the special type of smoke smell comes from.
They remind me of Drizang Kuenchap – Tibetan, or more precisely Bhutanese, incense sticks. (I have to say that my experience with this type of incense is super limited. So far, I know exactly these and another variety that is mass-produced, unlike Drizang.) What Frankincense and Drizang Kuenchap have in common is a very specific sour smell, which to me comes off like fermentation smell.
There is clearly a lot of herbal or generally aromatic plant material in it, which creates this naturally aromatic smoke and has a fairly unique character. I don’t know if I’ll ever warm up to it. In any case, it is interesting.
Rating: 2.5

Now, in hindsight, I think that the Golden Nagchampa might have the same base blend, except they have more of an essential oil (or perfume oil) in the mix, whereas Frankincense may have resin, which creates a very different result. I should also take Frankincense with me and test it with my friend, and the Drizang also.

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