Shroff Vanilla Balsam take 2

The last time I reviewed Shroff Vanilla Balsam, it struck me as dry and didn’t really appeal to me. Now I find it delightfully light and crisp with a subtle sweetness and soft vanilla presence. The wood base is still the most apparent element in the incense but it takes on a pleasingly  austere quality when paired with the mildly sweet vanilla. There is an almost Japanese like tone in the simplicity and spareness of this blend.

The vanilla used in Vanilla Balsam is not a gooey, sugary type. Instead it has a dry timbre and is used with a restrained hand. Pleasingly free of boozy, caramel, or fruity notes, this plain, modest vanilla creates an airy, open feeling with fleeting glimpses of soft sweetness. It reminds me of an impossibly thin wafer cookie that shatters in the mouth: crisp, light, not too sweet, and wonderfully delicate.

Normally I don’t like incenses that are strong on the wood base, but here it’s done with such excellent judgement and refinement that the impression is elegant and mature rather than weak or under scented. Vanilla Balsam is an unexpectedly minimalist take on vanilla and shows the amount of skill and discernment the incense makers at Shroff have.

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8 Responses to Shroff Vanilla Balsam take 2

  1. Frank Winkhorst says:

    I see I ordered some of the Vanilla Balsam with my recent order from EofA. Glad to see it’s a decent incense. I also ordered:
    Shroff – 505 Amber 1882
    Shroff – Natural Loban
    Shroff – Red Sandal
    Shroff – Saffron
    Shroff – Silver Oud
    Shroff – Lilac
    based on reviews at Olfactory Rescue Service. We shall see.
    By the way, the honesty of the reviews here is quite refreshing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice selections! From your list I only have Red Sandal which I love but I’m super curious about the 505 Amber (I have the 707), and the Natural Loban. Hope you post your thoughts on what you got.

      Thank you so much for the compliment, I try to be as candid as I can 🙂

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      • You are quite welcome.

        The 505 Amber is lined up next for testing. I tried the Silver Oud last night, and the first one had hardly any scent at all, or my nose just wasn’t adjusted. The second stick was quite good, almost at a Japanese level and a much stronger scent than the Japanese. I will see if there really is such a level of inconsistency in the future.

        I need to try the “Lilac” again, but the first stick bore no resemblance to any lilac I have ever smelled (I have had both domestic lilac and Korean lilac in my backyard). I suppose I was just being optimistic. There’s no comparison with the real thing.

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      • The 505 Amber isn’t bad, and it’s getting better toward the end. I don’t know much about ambers. I guess I’m just an agarwood guy. That and vanilla, chocolate, and coffee combinations. So far, the only Shroff I’d get again is the Silver Oud, which is a good deal for the money: About 11¢ per 5.5″ (14cm) standard Japanese length. For comparison, the Ganesha Agarwood Gold, which is also quite good, runs 25¢ per 5.5″ (this is the system I settled on for comparisons).

        The Pure Incense agarwoods approach Japanese prices, but they are quite good. So far, the Minorien Kyara is the best Japanese I’ve tried, but that runs 95¢ per stick.

        The Shroff Vanilla Balsam is good, but I find the Baikundo Umeno Kaori Silver (vanilla on a hydrangea tea base) to have a more complex and interesting scent (6¢ per 5.5″). I’ll try the gold, with agarwood, at some point.

        I look forward to your delving into the Japanese market.

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  2. Terra Renee says:

    Nice review. I’ll have to try this one.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Terra Renee says:

        I am ordering some Shroff from EotA soon, and I know this one will be in my order. I’m also wondering if you’ve tried any of Shroff’s Soft Masala, like Pride, Apsara, or Sugahnda Mantri. Or any of their wet masala like Silver Oud or another natural scent (under the same line as Vanilla Balsam) called Sandal King. I’m thinking of ordering these, but I’d definitely like to know if they’re worth it first. I’m pretty sure Sandal King is, because I love almost all Sandalwood scents, but Silver Oud worries me. Anything with Oud in the name is either terrible or amazing. There is no in between when it comes to Oud.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I haven’t tried any of those Shroffs yet but I have had the Little Woods wet masala and it’s wonderful. I’m also planning an EotA order and I can’t wait to get into more of their wet masalas 🙂

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