Perfume Reviews

Neutral Reviews of Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens

Total Reviews: 21
The first spray of this was a fantastic array of spices and resins and just a hint of something so familiar and personal, something almost sub-conscious, from my childhood. I couldn't really concentrate on breaking the fragrance down because of it, I just had to keep sniffing. It was great!

This is one of those fragrances that plays all kinds of tricks. I've learned to spray just my wrists when I'm first testing a fragrance so that I can get an idea of what it smells like to someone at arms-length from me. This fragrance smells like one thing up close when your nose is buried in your wrist and a completely different thing when a bit of the scent wafts up from my wrists, and I realized that the great spicy accord is the one I smell right up close but the one wafting up from my wrists at arms-length was the very familiar accord from my childhood, and as it got stronger, it hit me what that smell was: play-doh. Unmistakable, as true as if I had just opened one of those little yellow plastic tubs with the red lids. This only gets stronger as the heart notes continue. I've only seen a couple of reviewers here mention the play-doh note and only a couple over on the "other" fragrance review site so it seems to be a skin chemistry thing which is too bad because my bright-eyed excitement over how the scent opened turned into disappointment at smelling like I rolled around in a child's art classroom.

That being said, the scent does seem well-blended and well-put-together and is very intriguing to me from an artistic point of view. The fragrance is like vivid imagery in a way that most are not. This seems to be a regular thing for the SL line since most of them bring images and feelings directly into my mind and have some artistic merit. As for actually wearin this though, I am unlikely to wear it again unless I find myself in the highly improbable scenario that I'm meeting someone whom I need to impress by impersonating a children's teacher.
02nd March, 2015
Strong Amber, smokey and super super dry and very sweet. This one is pretty much linear but is very challenging expectially at the beginning. It's name applies to what it is, Amber (or the king of ambers if you will) and this is about as amber as you can get. Can come off as too mature (I see my grandmother wearing this). For me it's neutral but I still rate this a 4 out of star only because it's done so well as expected from this house and its what I expected. Amber fans may find this the holy grail for pure amber based frags.
27th June, 2014
For me this opened with a strong pleasant burnt caramel blast, followed closely by the central amber. Cedar entered after ten minutes and a slightly acrid vetiver note joined it. A dry herbal note then appeared (thyme?). After half an hour the overall effect was that of being in a small chapel where the smoke of a fine incense floated in the space.

The incense note is dry and dusky, not sweet.

My partner's reaction to it was that of a dusty, dry amber with a bouquet garni herbal note. He detected a wood note, but did not believe it was cedar. He would have liked it better if there was a more pronounced sandalwood/frankincense presence. Overall he found it to be dry, powdery, linear and herbal/amber.

After an hour both our skins smelled of "a cedar box in which amber and frankincense had been stored."

My summation is that of a very nice amber incense, but nothing outstanding or revolutionary. Recommended as a good purchase if you are fond of the amber/incense notes.
24th December, 2013
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Quartz Show all reviews
United States
Strong Vanilla Note

I sampled this one and have to say that while it smells nice, it's pretty strong on the vanilla drydown. Although I've seen it listed as a unisex fragrance, I think it leans more to the feminine side. Very good projection and longevity (still strong after 9 hours) but, for me, it's a little too strong on the vanilla and overall a bit too sweet for my taste.

Pros: Longevity is excellent
Cons: A bit too sweet"

12th August, 2013
Ambre Sultan starts off with a very weird smelling oregano note which is kind of off-pudding to say the least. Reminds me of Italian food and seems likes it's out of place especially with an amber fragrance. Dry herbs mixed with amber /vanilla/ bezoin usually don't mix. Do you sprinkle oregano and other dry herbs on vanilla ice cream? Don't think so. Anyway, after the stench of greeness finally dies down, a semisweet amber comes up through the ashes. The scent has a very pleasant and tolerable sweetness without becoming cloying or headache inducing. Downsides: very poor longevity, sillage, and projection. Lasts about 3 hours on my skin, with projection being a mere 30 minutes or less. Verdict:BUY/TRY/PASS . I say TRY.I think there are better smelling ambers on the market that smell better and last a lot longer. Not bad, but it's far from great.
08th December, 2012
This stuff is strong. At the beginning it smells like something strongly medicinal but about 3 hours later it transforms into a beautiful incense fragrance.
31st October, 2012 (last edited: 15th September, 2014)
Amber, dry, less incense than spice. Nice but not for me.
09th September, 2012

It opens up with a kitchen spice accord which slowly leads into a lovely sweet amber. I like the amber part but just not too keen on smelling kitchen spices on my skin.
04th February, 2012
This is a very oily, resinous amber with a sour aspect and heaviness that I don't really care for. Clearly really good quality, though. It has an element to it which reminds me, in a negative way, of a locally produced kid's cinnamon candy, here in Chicago. Nice, overall, but I prefer other ambers.
20th February, 2011
On me this opens with a strong, medicinal blast of fresh-cut wood, followed by dry aromatic herbs & pine needles. l find this stage pretty unbearable, & even on subsequent wearings l just can't get past it. lt takes an hour for the whole thing to sweeten, with the amber more benzoin than vanilla in its' viscosity, but that herbal note is still there all the way to the end, making it far too masculine for me. The sillage isn't great on me, & the longevity not as good as others have described. l really wanted to like this, & l will try my sample again in warmer weather to see if l change my mind, but for now it's a no from me.

Edit; l wore this again recently on a hot & humid day, & it did behave differently. The herbal & pine notes seemed to burn off much more quickly, revealing a dark & thick amber which l actually quite liked. l always thought of ambers as only being suitable for colder weather, but this experiment may have changed my mind. There are still other amber fragrances that l prefer to this, but l'm changing my rating from negative to neutral.
10th February, 2011 (last edited: 05th July, 2011)
On the past, i wrote a very unfair review for ambre sultan, saying this:
The worst amber that i`ve ever tried. It smell like old rotten wood with rotten honey and sweat.
It seems that ambre sultan tricked my olfact, cause at first i got a very raw vision of it, and it seems that my nose got focused on the complicated notes and ignored the ones that rounded it. Ambre Sutan is still an amber which starts dry, with a difficult herbal smell and a honey that goes almost to the animalic aspect. After that, ambre sultan relaxes and let you experience the cozier and sweeter aspects of the amber accord, amped by a sweeter vanilla, the resinous myrrh and the creamy sandalwood.

Ambre Sultan seems better for colder days, were only a small amount of it will embrace you in a warm and sweet aroma for the rest of the day. It`s not my favorite lutens, tough, and it seems quite of neutral cause it`s one of the lutens that doesn`t add nothing to the amber genre, and it`s kind of flat and hard to distinguish the nuances at first. A great amber, but for me it`s more of an olfactory experience than a frargrance that i would have on my wardrobe
29th September, 2010 (last edited: 23rd May, 2011)
There are some very interesting herbs here, and for a while I enjoyed this scent. Ultimately the scent performed in the usual Lutenesque manner – that is, sweet and persistent. And man, is it persistent! I am still haunted by a ghostly trace a full day (and many scrubbings) later.
The scent opens with a very sweet and powdery blast. Then, a very good sandalwood note appears, along with herbal and spicy notes. The bay leaf (laurel) is quite pronounced, and the sandalwood has a pleasant, bark-like character. The coriander spice is nutty and attractive: often in some scents it turns into a clone of cumin with sweat-like connotations (but not here). The scent is distinctive for having a bright, lively character. The patchouli is more minty than earthy. The resins give a hint of balsam and vanilla, but for a while they are restrained. If the scent had stopped there, I would be satisfied.
But no, the scent persists, grows, and gets tiresome. The balsam and vanilla notes increase, the patchouli gets heavier, the herbs go away and the brightness dims.
I’ll give it a neutral for a promising middle phase.
15th April, 2010
Oh, my. Where to begin? For starters, I definitely don’t think of sultans, or kings, or nomads traveling across the desert. If I tried to paint the image that Ambre Sultan conjures in my mind, it would go something like this: I step out of the taxi, on my way to meet with a new client. This is the industrial part of town and I am completely unfamiliar with the neighborhood. I pass a ramshackle old candy factory that is making a batch of cheap, gooey caramel. Someone spilled a little caramel onto the hot burner and as it smolders, it projects a sickeningly sweet smoke that seems to follow me down the street. My nose also detects a faint, acrid smoke from burning rubber – probably from another factory in the nearby area. I quicken my pace to escape the mishmash of those two odors, but it’s too late. It already clings to my hair and clothes, so I will smell like burnt, rubbery caramel for the remainder of the work day. Hours later, I’m on my way home, but this time I avoid walking past that candy factory. At home, I rush to remove my clothing, but I realize that my shirt no longer reeks of burnt caramel, and the burnt rubber odor has nearly disappeared, as well. The smell has mellowed and is now rather kinder, friendlier, not so sweet, not so burned. I decide not to shower, after all. The fragrance is no longer completely unbearable. This, my friends, is Ambre Sultan. Sillage is strong and AS is a longevity monster. I actually own a bottle of this stuff and am giving it a neutral rating (instead of the big thumbs down) because my wife says it smells good. What can I say? She must like burnt caramel.
13th March, 2010
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Maybe my nose is out of whack. I don't get a big oriental experience here. The thing that this fragrance has going for it is the way it puts on the brakes. It starts out a pretty citrus vanilla and ends up a soft amber. Very understated, very unisex. Not too elegant, not too beautiful. This is a transparent fragrance for people who don't like orientals but want to wear one anyway. PS I am trying to like this one, but I cannot get through the camphor. This reminds me of being sick!
10th October, 2009 (last edited: 17th October, 2009)
Bigsly Show all reviews
United States
I've tried a bunch of "amber" fragrances, including this one and Blue Amber, but the only one I find enjoyable is Etro's version. This one was too sweet for me. For those of you seeking an "amber" fragrance, I suggest you get samples of most of them, and take your time, because you don't want to discover that you spent a lot of money on one but at some point realize you like another one more. I think my appreciation of these "amber" fragrances vary considerably. Sometimes I know I will find them nauseating whereas at other times I'm really in the mood for it, so keep that in mind too.
13th September, 2009
Now this is a true amber!
I am not sure that is a good thing, but it is definitelly natural and very reminicent of Southamerican copal. It is dry, sticky and sirupy. It smells like a forest during a dry winter: dead leaves and resin.
01st November, 2008
Ambre Sultan is a decent fragrance. Amber features dominantly from beginning to end, as one would expect, but it sweetness is cut by the use of dry herbs and a touch of cedar that provide a nice balance. This is a very powerful scent; one spray is often enough (and a reason I'm thinking of decanting some into a small roll-on vial).
14th July, 2008 (last edited: 17th February, 2010)
Upon inital application this smells like straight labdanum to my nose. Then it is remarkably like Eden Botanicals amber. However the drydown is much more complex and deep. A bit woody, musky and sweet.
14th December, 2007
Upon inital application this smells like straight labdanum to my nose. Then it is remarkably like Eden Botanicals amber. However the drydown is much more complex and deep. A bit woody, musky and sweet.
14th December, 2007
Not for me. Amber with herbs? Orientals are my favorite category, but I have to pass on this one. Mix Prada with Aramis, add a dash of Avignon and sprinkle heavily with Piper Nigrum. Forget it, we're getting silly here.
What! A Serge Lutens fragance silly??
I should be arrested by the niche police as a thought criminal . . .
09th February, 2007 (last edited: 29th April, 2008)
I just read this was made to smell like a woman, which is really ironic, because as I was smelling the dried down scent on my skin, I was strongly reminded of tanning bed smell. Not suntan lotion, but rather the sultry, salty, hot, sweaty, burnt smell of having been laying on a tanning bed getting fried. I'd imagine this would be pretty similar to a woman coming from the beach, so I can agree with the assessment. Overall, a dark, warm, burnt-creamy sort of scent. I like it, but won't be buying a bottle or wearing it myself.
18th March, 2006