I don’t hate ambergris despite how often I make fun of it. I just find a lot of ingredients (or former ingredients seeing as many of them are now synthetics for very good reasons) to be amusing. Who thought up extracting musk to make fragrances? And how did they come to that conclusion anyway? Similarly, the story of the first chunks of ambergris discovery must have been simultaneously awesome and hilarious at the same time.
Er, anyway, Balmain’s Ambre Gris captures the essence of the note and it did it a little too well.
In Bottle: Sweet with a musky, spicy, woodsy base that goes into the back of my throat and gets caught there. I get golden, warm and cinnamon in this but it’s definitely not gourmand. I don’t want to eat this at all. The musk is distinctly telling me not to and I’m going to oblige. It just smells fascinating.
Applied: Sweet, spicy and powerful. Ambre Gris packs a big punch as it throws itself in all directs around application spot. This stuff is potent and you do not need a whole lot of it to project yourself. The musks in this fragrance and the sweetness are trying really hard to convince me that this is what real-life ambergris sitting on a beach smells like. There is a very, very minor saltiness to this but I had to work for that one. Ambre Gris is golden, warm, and a bit racy. It’ll also last, and last, and last, and just when you’ve outlasted it, you’ll get a whiff or two and think again.
Extra: Ambergris comes from whales. More specifically, it’s a regurgitated waxy, greyish lump of substance mostly used in perfumery after appropriate aging. Most ambergris in fragrances these days are synthetic, in that they’ve had various compounds mixed together to simulate real ambergris due to a wide barrage of ethical, legal, rarity and expense issues.
Design: Presented in a grey tinted glass bottle, Ambre Gris is topped with a golden, ball-like cap. The cap reminds me of a golden inverse golf ball. I’m fairly indifferent from the look of the fragrance itself. It’s easy, functional, the golf ball cap is a pleasant element.
Fragrance Family: Oriental
Notes: Pink pepper, cinnamon, tuberose,i mmortelle, myrrh, smokey woods , benzoin, white musk, ambergris.
Interesting how I couldn’t pick up on the tuberose but now that I know it’s in there, I did get that slick, slightly floral up-your-nose-and-around-the-corner tuberose kick. Or I could just be making it all up.
Reviewed in This Post: Ambre Gris, 2009, Sample vial.