WOODY

Type
Natural raw material
Parts used
Intestinal secretion of sperm whales
Extraction method
Maceration in 96% alcohol

Warm, pervasive, moss, animal note with tobacco, marine and powdery accents.

A surprising aphrodisiac, ambergris has been used as a quasi-love potion in fine perfumery for millennia. Its beguilingly erotic effect is matched by its ability to act as a unique fixative: giving volume and amplification to a fragrance, and softening or binding the delicate balance of aromas after a considered process of maceration in 96% alcohol. Nowadays, ambergris is often replaced by synthetic products (such as Ambroxan, Ambrox or Orcanox) due to its exceptionally high price tag and relative unreliability in terms of production, sourcing and accessibility.

Production

Despite its esteemed role as an upmarket fixative for luxury fragrances, ambergris has a rather crude origin story: commonly thought to be expelled from either the mouth or bottom-end of sperm whales, ambergris is the natural result of a process of accretion. In a bid to protect their intestines from the sharp “beaks” of giant squid and cuttlefish, sperm whales naturally secrete the highly coveted substance. Once expelled, ambergris must stay in sea water for a lengthy period before developing its characteristic scent. And yet, the process has only just begun: once collected, ambergris must dry for 2–3 years before it can begin macerating in 96% alcohol to produce a dye at about 3%, which must then mature for another 12–18 months. Given its excessive price tag and lengthy production period, fragrance houses may find themselves out of pocket while they wait.
Origin
Brazil, people's republic of china, ireland, japan, madagascar, new caledonia, portugal
Iconic perfume
Guerlain
JICKY EAU DE TOILETTE

Considered the first modern perfume, combining wonderfully natural essences and great discoveries in chemistry, Jicky plays on the freshness of lavender and rosemary, and supports the geranium with a warm and sensual base of vanillin, coumarin and tincture of Ambergris.

AROMATIC FOUGERE

History

The unique properties of ambergris have aroused our interest for millennia. In the 10th century BC, the Chinese mythicized ambergris to be the spittle of dragons who slept peacefully on rocks by the sea, making their presence known only by the mysterious substance they left washed up along the shore. Known for its erotic powers as an aphrodisiac and kaleidoscopic influences as a psychoactive, the French used ambergris throughout the Middle Ages as a key ingredient in pomanders (“pomme d’ambre”). A symbol of elegance, the pomander was a ball made for perfumes that could be worn or carried in a vase by the fragrance dilettante. The mystical prowess surrounding ambergris inspired pomander-adorners to believe they were protected from the pervasive likes of miasma and could thus ward off plague or infection.

Did you know

Often described as one of the world’s strangest natural occurrences, ambergris has captured our attention—and pockets—with its unique and mythicized properties. Today, ambergris is more than worth its weight in gold, fetching up to $40,000 a kilogram. In 1913, one of the largest ever recorded pieces of ambergris was discovered and sold in London, weighing a whopping 160 kilos.
Ambergris has a myriad of unique properties, including the ability to act as an aphrodisiac. A study conducted by Kind Saud University found that ambrein, a major constituent of ambergris, modified the sexual behavior of male rats by increasing their libido.

Some fragrances related to the ingredient

Demeter Fragrance Library

AMBERGRIS

AMBERY (ORIENTAL) / FLORAL
Affinessence

MUSC-AMBRE GRIS

FLORAL / MUSK SKIN
LEATHER / GREEN
Balmain

AMBRE GRIS

AMBERY (ORIENTAL)
Zarkoperfume

OUD'ISH

WOODY
Bond No. 9 I Love NY

LAFAYETTE STREET

WOODY
Hind Al Oud

SHEIKH A

WOODY / AMBERY (ORIENTAL)
WOODY / AMBERY (ORIENTAL)
WOODY / AMBERY (ORIENTAL)
WOODY / AMBERY (ORIENTAL)
Jeroboam

LIGNO

WOODY / AMBERY (ORIENTAL)
Ellis Brooklyn

ISO GAMMA SUPER

WOODY
Paco Rabanne

INVICTUS INTENSE

WOODY / AMBERY (ORIENTAL)
Roja | Aoud

AMBER AOUD

WOODY / AMBERY (ORIENTAL)
WOODY / AMBERY (ORIENTAL)
WOODY / AMBERY (ORIENTAL)
WOODY / CITRUS
WOODY / AMBERY (ORIENTAL)
Tom Ford | Private Blend Oud

OUD MINÉRALE

WOODY / WATERY

Musk

Bergamot

Sandalwood

Patchouli

Amber

Vanilla

Jasmine

Cedarwood

Rose

Mandarin

Vetiver

Lemon

Tonka Bean

Iris / Orris

Orange Blossom

Cardamom

Pink Pepper

Lavender

Grapefruit

Woody Notes

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