A Tale of Two Ambers


Post by FeralJasmine


Here in New Mexico fall brings us exquisite clear brisk days, cold nights, and a sense of stirring and coming to life after the oppressive late summer. I become obsessed with amber and spice in late October, and stay that way until late February, when I turn wishfully to the earliest florals. I tend to start buying new ambers as soon as the interest develops, as if I must compulsively store up provisions against the winter. This year, though, I’m trying to behave more sensibly, and to hold the thought that a person only needs so many ambers. My heart isn’t in this, but I’m testing the theory.

Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio Ann Porteus  FlickrPhoto Stolen Ann Porteus Flickr

With this in mind, over the last month I’ve tried to make a point of noticing which ambers I reach for most. There are a lot of contenders that I wear regularly, and two clear winners that I reach for whenever the amber craving comes over me.

A Tale of Two Ambers

Ambra Aurea from Profumum Roma

Ambra Aurea Profumum Roma FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Amber, incense, myrrh

The first is Ambra Aurea from Profumum Roma. This is a strong and intense amber for amber lovers, not jazzed up with many other notes. I find it a touch harsh when first applied, and it needs light and judicious application. When I say light, I mean that one small spray may be enough. Soon it is smooth dark deep amber, absolutely lovely. I have the ultimate in scent-eating skin; most perfumes don’t last more than a few hours on me, and many don’t even last 60 minutes. But this one gives me projection and sillage for an incredible four hours, then fades to one of the most beautiful skin scents that I have ever experienced. I still have lovely skin scent in the morning after applying it early in the previous evening. This is unheard of for me. A person with scent-retaining skin, after one application, might be scented for life. I like to put this one on in early evening when I come home from work, and relax with it by the woodstove. I have worn it to work, two small dabs rather than sprayed, and gotten an appreciative response. But bear in mind that Ambra Aurea is an elegant beast, but a beast indeed.

LuckyScent has $240/100ml

Ambre Noir by Sonoma Scent Studio 2008

Ambre Noir Sonoma Scent Studio FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Labdanum absolute, amber, rose, olibanum, myrrh, vetiver codistilled with mitti (clay), oakmoss absolute, aged Indian patchouli, texas cedarwood, sandalwood, castoreum

The second is Ambre Noir from Sonoma Scent Studio. This one is based on labdanum, one of my favorite notes, with plenty of amber along for the ride. Oakmoss and spice notes are present, but subtle. I would swear that there’s a subtle touch of vanilla; perfumer Laurie Erickson refers to a minimal amount of vanilla in the write-up, but doesn’t list it among the notes. This one is rich and elegant to wear, and I have frequently worn one spray to work, but I apply a full hour before arriving at my workplace. It makes me feel sexy, warm, and comfortable, a good feeling all around.

Sonoma Scent Studios have $16/5ml
Surrender To Chance starts at $5/ml

There is no doubt that if I were limited to two ambers (Perfume Goddess, keep this fate far from me,) it would be these two. But for Oz readers, I can’t resist mentioning one more that isn’t limited to winter: Barbara Bui by Barbara Bui. This one is light and powdery vanillic amber, can be picked up for a song on EBay, and is one if those scents that can please the perfumista without overpowering innocent bystanders.

I would love to hear about your favorite ambers, because despite good intentions I’m always looking for new ones to try. When I first wrote the previous sentence, my Autocorrect altered it to read “I live to hear about your favorite ambers,” which I’m afraid is more or less correct. Share your favorites and join in the fun!


35 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Ambers

  1. Ho ho, ‘live to hear about ambers’ indeed!
    I am so glad to read about your, er, enthusiasm for ambers. I was abashed to realise recently how many are in my collection. Am I cliched? Predictable?
    Ok, big favourite is Goutal’s Ambre Fetiche which is also strong on vanilla to me.
    More boozy is Ambre Russe by P d’Empire as is Mona di Orio. Love.
    Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan is so deep and rich.
    Also don’t mind Pacifica Spanish Amber, cheap but nice, a bit more masculine.
    Yours in amberness…


    • You have got some real beauties there. Ambre Sultan is better on my husband than on me, but no denying its beauty. I’m just starting to experiment with Ambre Fetiche. It opens in an odd harsh way on me, but does settle down to being a vanillic amber beauty. I can live without the booze notes in Ambre Russe, but it ‘s a pretty scent anyway. And there are always more to be discovered.


  2. AMBER!!! I love amber FeralJasmine and I have tried neither of your faves. Thisa week as I clean out my perfume room I will be seeing exactly what I have. There may be some lost ambers around here, in fact I’m sure there are.
    This is a fun post and you have created 2 new lemmings.
    Portia xx


    • Thank you, Feral jasmine, for your amber favorites. Now, like Portia, I am inspired to go on a search for my own lost ambers. My perfume storage has started creeping into other areas of the house and I’m finding totally forgotten little stashes here and there. Instead of just storing in part of the “cellar” I would like to be able to dedicate an entire room (like Portia has done?) to perfume.

      I don’t know the ambers you mention but right now I am wearing Olympic Amber. I also like the the amber oil that the Madini makes. Another amber down in storage somewhere is Rasasi’s Amber Oud. I prefer Amber Oud’s cousin Ish’s Marium, more natural and not quite so much in your face as the Rasasi but similar in many ways. Has anyone tried Narcisso Rodriquez Amber Musc?

      Azar xx


    • Currently I’m sorting out my sample drawers, God/dess help me, and noticing that I have relatively few amber samples, because I drain them pretty quickly. I am embarrassed to be such a slut for this note. Still, know yourself and all that


    • I just got a decant of this. For myself I prefer ambers with some vanillic notes, but no question this is a good one, and my husband will finish it up if I don’t.


  3. Hi FJ! Gonna take Portia sniffing in Vienna and probably OD on Profumum
    Roma perfumes. The amber is a must. And you can get them in smaller amounts now if I remember correctly.
    Happy New Year. Love, Val xxx


    • Ooooh, I so wish that I was going sniffing with you two! Make sure that Portia also sniffs their lighter amber, Fiore d’Ambra. It’s another beauty, in my view, with undertones of ambergris. I assume that all commercial perfumes containing ambergris use synthetics, but this one wafts as though there’s a bit of the real thing in there. Please post about the other Profumum Roma scents that you try. I’m very curious about the rest of the line


  4. I can’t resist throwing in a mention of Arabian Oud’s Kalemat, which Kafkaesque got so many of us to buy. Initially I professed to be disappointed in this one (wasn’t as intense as I expected) until I noticed that I was reaching for it nearly every day. Imagine sheer vanillic amber, and you’ve got the basic idea. It wears gracefully at work, at the gym, and all kinds of places that I wouldn’t dare reek of Ambra Aurea. Probably should have been in the review. But then, you’re only allowed so many words, and there are so many ambers!


      • Kalemat is much lighter and more sheer than either of the two amber warhorses that I discussed. But in my view it is lovely. A little sweet honey, a little spice, slight fruit notes but not offensive. If it were stronger and more persistent, it would be my dream amber. But then my skin is unusual and it’s rare for me to get more than 3-4 hours out of any perfume, Ambra Aurea excepted, so Kalemat may be a monster on some people. What’s your experience with Kalemat?


      • I’m considering blind buying it, despite having sworn off blind buys, when my finances have recovered from Christmas. A nice, reasonably priced vanillic amber sounds like just the thing, especially if it has a blueberry and anise opening. Did you get that? Lanvin Me! had a surprisingly delightful opening of blueberry and licorice, which I’ve found myself thinking about. I wouldn’t buy it, because after 15 minutes it was strictly Eau de Dryer Sheet, but I’d love a something that had similar top notes, if the rest of it was nice.


  5. I also blind bought Kalemat, thanks to Kafka, and am still disappointed as I was expecting a caramel powerhouse that Kafka promised. I don’t now if I’m spraying too much & it’s coming across as too sweet or what. I’m not getting the vanilla either. I’ll keep trying, though Is it the honey that makes it seem really sweet on my skin?
    p.s. what’s the most vanillic amber you’ve encountered?


    • I think there’s no question that, for many of us, Kalemat is anything but a powerhouse. I’ve come to love it, though, although I wish there were an extrait version.
      As to your question, the truth is that I haven’t encountered my dream vanillic amber yet. I think that I will have to resort to layering. There are a hundred variations on the theme of “Ambre Vanille,” and I have found every single one of them disappointing. Ambre Noir is close, but would need a little more vanilla to be my Holy Grail amber. What’s the most (attractively) vanillic one you ‘ve come across?


      • I’ll be glad to sell you my practically full bottle of Kalemat. Just email me your address & I’ll send it to you next week. It shouldn’t take too long to get from deep South Texas to New Mexico. When you receive it, you can send me whatever you think is a fair payment,

        I own most of the ambers discussed here with the exception of Ambre Noir, so I need to try it. Ambra Aurea was almost too much for me, esp. in this hot, humid valley weather, so I guess Ambre Dore, Fetiche, & Russe are my top 3 so far. I wonder if layering the Russe with Vanille Insensee would produce the magical vanillic/amber combo????


    • Always glad to meet another amber fan, although I find the term “amber fan” a little weak, sort of like calling someone a “meth fan.” Either you pursue it obsessively or you don ‘t.


  6. Love Ambre Russe and Ambra Aurea is at the top of my sample list for my next trip to the Scent Bar. Planning to devote a month to ambers in the New Year… probably March. Unless, I can’t wait and start in January! I’m in NM, too. I find the dry air here wonderful for scent.
    Cheers from Santa Fe county, Jackie


  7. Amber is my favourite note. I just received a bottle of Ambre Sultan for my birthday and Ambre Fetiche for Christmas. A perfumista friend turned me on to the Madini oils – nice to see them mentioned above – and their amber oil is fantastic – rich, smooth, intense. I have some amber resin in a little carved soapstone box and often just rub that sparkly gem on my skin. I’ve also been coveting an amber ball by L’Artisan P – am thinking I know where my Christmas money is going this year 🙂


    • Ambre Sultan is a real beauty. I have been coveting those amber balls too, but then I’ve also been coveting a thousand other things. I wasn’t very materialistic until I got into perfume, but since then, oh my God.


  8. Ambre Russe is my all time favorite (so far) and very wearable both in the sweltering RGV and muggy hill country. I almost brought it south with me for this trip and could certainly have worn it, 50 degrees and raining, wtf? It does layer nicely with Vanilla Insensee, I have tried it several times. I also love Ambre Noir but it overstays it’s welcome a bit both on my skin and on clothing. I have some delicate underpinnings that have been AN scented for more than one wash and a jacket that will just have to remain ambery. Has anyone tried Barkhane yet? It appears to be quite a chameleon on skin (I have only tried it twice and it was very different each time,once spicy oriental and once vanilla cinnamon amber) but if you spill it in your kitchen, everyone will ask where the vanilla cookies are. The sample stopper is shorter than it looks. I am on the fence about it yet, reminds me a bit of Ambre Sultan but wrist to wrist they are very different.


    • I haven’t tried any of the Teo Cabanel scents yet. I have a sample of Alahine on the way, but after reading the notes of Barkhane, clearly I need to order that one too. I once, in a comment, called myself the “queen of weird vanillas,” but now I want to try all the strange ambers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s