Bhagwan – Dragon’s Blood

I received this Dragon’s Blood as a sample in September 2023 from Eugene, the owner of Bhagwan Incense. A 15g box currently costs €4.95 in his shop. In my sample there were 8 sticks that weighed around 10g, so in a full pack there will be around 12 sticks.

The description text in the shop explains that Dragon’s Blood is obtained from various plant genera, including Calamus spp., CrotonDracaena, and Pterocarpus. I would like to go into a little more detail about this. There are many different resins called “Dragon’s Blood”:

  • Calamus is the genus of rattan palms, which also includes the dragon’s blood palm. This refers to Daemonorops draco, native to Southeast Asia.
  • Croton is probably Croton lechterli, a spurge plant whose blood-red juice is also called “dragon’s blood”, or “sangre de grado” or “sangre de drago”. It is used in naturopathy and folk medicine. To my knowledge, it was not and is not used as incense.
  • Dracaena are the dragon’s blood trees that grow in Yemen and parts of Africa. This dragon’s blood usually comes from Dracaena cinnabari, an iconic tree of the small island of Socotra.
  • Pterocarpus is the genus to which true red sandalwood (Pterocarpus santalinus) belongs. Apparently, Pterocarpus officinalis is also called “dragon’s blood tree” and a “dragon’s blood resin” is obtained from it, which, however, only seems to have medical significance.

So, only two items on this list describe dragon’s blood actually used as incense: Daemomorops draco and Dracaena cinnabariD. Cinnabari – the Socotrian dragon’s blood, is traded expensively, it is rarer and is generally considered to be the better, or even the “real” dragon’s blood. The most commonly found dragon’s blood resin is that of D. draco, which is also not cheap. I think the latter is the more likely ingredient here.

Disclosure: Due to my history and friendly relationship with Eugene, the owner of Bhagwan Incense, I would like to point out that I cannot write reviews of this brand with complete impartiality. I write a lot of the Bhagwan reviews based on samples that were given to me – these are labelled accordingly.
All reviews are unpaid and reflect my honest opinion, but you are welcome to consider them as advertising.

In addition to dragon’s blood, the description also mentions ylang-ylang and vanilla as ingredients.

Eugene describes his Dragon’s Blood incense sticks as “the best on the market” – this is of course a matter of taste and depends on what you look for. Let me say this much in advance: They are not the ones with the most authentic dragon’s blood resin smell. As far as I’m concerned, that’s something entirely positive. Pure dragon’s blood resin is not a pleasant smell to my nose.
I’m wondering if perhaps an essential oil or absolute of the resin is used in these incense sticks because although the scent profile has a certain aspect that I recognize from dragon’s blood (Daemonorops draco), it is very reserved and only seems to highlight the positive, interesting characteristics of this resin.
It’s a bit like with Elbenzauber – Lugnasad-Blüten, in which the dragon’s blood is present rather as a hint; something I have to actively focus on to notice it clearly.
If I let the entire bouquet work its magic on me without trying to analyse it, I find the smell of Dragon’s Blood to be very appealing and delicious. It’s a sweet, spicy and tart-fruity smell that vaguely reminds me of orange. Not of orange peel, but the smell of the pulp of a fully ripe orange or its juice.
My friend Max doesn’t think so, but we agree on the spicy-tart character. It could be the ylang-ylang, which, in combination with the fruity aspect of dragon’s blood, creates this association to orange for me.
Max describes the scent as ambery and slightly powdery, which I agree with. I smell a hint of vanilla, which makes the smell appear a little creamier to me and actually comes across as quite ambery.

A strange parallel to the only other “Dragon’s Blood” incense sticks that I have known before (those from Satya BNG) is a very mild cosmetic-fresh note (kind of like body lotion) that occasionally appears.
I took this as an opportunity to compare the two:
Satya‘s smell is woodier in comparison than burnt on its own; in the sense of base material, not like aromatic wood. In addition, the bitter note that is often present in Satya is emphasized. They have the typical, creamy “Satya sweetness” and their scent profile appears blurry. Nevertheless, the scent concepts are fundamentally related. So there appears to be a certain consensus in India about what “Dragon’s Blood” incense sticks should smell like.
When I return from Satya to Bhagwan‘s Dragon’s Blood, I find their profile particularly clear and defined. The smell isn’t overly complex, but it does have a few layers, and it’s nicely balanced.

I’m surprised at how much I like Bhagwan – Dragon’s Blood, simply because it’s not one of the fragrance genres that I’m usually drawn to. For me, the scent is cheerful, lively and very pleasant.
Anyone who likes “Dragon’s Blood” incense sticks from Satya or other popular brands will have a great chance of finding Bhagwan‘s as an upgrade. For those who are looking for authentic smelling dragon’s blood incense sticks, I already have another review up my sleeve.

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