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  1. #1

    Default Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    Hi all fellow istas, I need your advice or comments here please.

    I have a lengthy and unwise obsession with this substance, so I finally caved in and ordered some at vast expense from singapore. It came today. I opened the package up thismorning with quivering anticipation.....

    I have the real thing here, it does all the right things with a hot needle, it smells absolutely lovely.... BUT.... what a tiny, gentle smell......

    I was expecting to be blasted out of my kitchen with the ponk. I warmed it a bit and it did smell slightly stronger, I burned a bit, I rubbed it on me, we all had another smell.

    It's what I always wanted, but I have to admit to a little tiny bit of disappointment. I was rather hoping for a smellier smell with the real thing. Is there something i'm missing? Can it only be smelled properly once ground into a tincture or oil? Are my expectations totally unrealistic?

    Any suggestions welcome.
    Currently wearing: Gilda by Pierre Wulff

  2. #2

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    it's probably a genuine ambergris.
    the scent of mature ambergris is faint, but long lasting unless concentrated.
    humidity and heat helps to bring out the aroma.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    Thank you for the reassurance. The smell is absolutely divine but just very small. I know this is the real white/grey mature ambergris and I do realise they will all smell slightly different. I have quite a few types of ambergris oils but have never been absolutely sure which were genuine or not. I have been very busy making a plant based equivalent and needed a piece of the real thing to compare it with. I'm not too far away with my version but need to smell it right through to drydown alongside the real thing to make absolutely sure.

    Do you know how to make the concentrate? Do you tincture it and then let the alcohol evaporate?
    Currently wearing: Gilda by Pierre Wulff

  4. #4

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    Making a tincture takes a long time, I personally wouldn't bother.
    I would advise getting a small sample from a trusted seller like ajmal. I think il profumo has genuine ambergris tinctures as well.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    Thank you. I have bought it now and I am in no hurry. I have perfumers alcohol and many base oils to make tinctures with, but I shall look at these suppliers and see how much theirs cost too. Knowing my obsession I shall eventually have to smell them all, as and when I can afford it. This little sample already broke my piggy bank for a bit so it won't be yet.
    Currently wearing: Gilda by Pierre Wulff

  6. #6

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    You need to tincture it to bring it to strength. Try searching Anya Mcoy's web site or one of the natural perfumery groups for info on how to do it. Alternatively you could ask Dominique Dubrana (profumo is his basenotes i.d.) or check out his website for info http://www.profumo.it/perfume/home_english.htm
    You have a very valuable resource there - I strongly recommend that you get it into alcohol so you can preserve it for use for many years. A small quantity (literally a drop or two) can transform a perfume.
    "Don’t try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. ” - Henri Matisse.

    "Wear R de Capucci" - Hirch Duckfinder

    reviews

  7. #7

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    Thank you. I have looked there and in the other places suggested. I'm not sure I dare ask him directly, but I know Anya has a question time somewhere. I seem to be discovering it needs to be tinctured for 3-6 months, and needs an abrasive ground with it like pumice, glass sand, or in very old fashioned recipes, loaf sugar, so that it is very finely ground before being tinctured. I need to check these don't alter the smell. I also haven't found out how much alcohol to put 3g with. I think I saw I should make it to a 10% dilution, but need to double check.

    I am in no hurry to do this until I know for sure, as I do not have enough of the raw material to get it wrong. One recipe kit I found said I needed 15g, and I only have 3g. I cannot possibly afford to get any more, this busted me as it was.

    Interestingly, the very old fashioned ambergris tincture recipe I found had in it civet and musk too. This may have boosted the strength rather.... I'm not intending to pollute mine with anything. I would rather have separate tinctures.

    I will report back if I find out elsewhere, and am open to suggestions.
    Currently wearing: Gilda by Pierre Wulff

  8. #8

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    I'm sure you can tincture any amount - just change the proportions.
    Profumo is very approachable and interested in perfume education - drop him a basenotes message. If he sees you are genuinely interested I think he may well help.
    "Don’t try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. ” - Henri Matisse.

    "Wear R de Capucci" - Hirch Duckfinder

    reviews

  9. #9

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    Ambergris is almost odorless by itself, so expecting it to be like civet or musk will be a disappointment. Ambergis' use in perfumery is mainly used as a fixative, and will also impart velvety, richness to your perfume without really altering it. That is it's real value; most every other fixative alters the scent. Have fun!

  10. #10

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    I think the reason I expected it to be powerful was because I had bought a previous oil from Al Haramain and it was humungously strong and dungy, whiffy. I have a previous posting relating to that. I have been a completely hooked Ambergris addict for the last 25 years, so this tiny sample I finally managed to get is the holy grail for me. I feel naughty, like I've bought a bag of hooch.

    I have been developing a perfume for ages that emulates the feeling of Ambergris without using it. I am so very nearly there, so I needed the genuine article for comparison. I had used various bought oils for previous comparison and have never been totally positive which are the real things or not.
    I have oils, ambrette seeds, angelica roots. etc etc..... I probably will never rest until I have smelt every variation possible. Cost makes sure this is a slow process.
    Currently wearing: Gilda by Pierre Wulff

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    i remember reading some experiment from dr turin. he did put some lavender on one wrist, and the same mixed with a bit of ambergris on the other. the outcome: first wrist, lavender. second wrist, lavender in 3D. the value of ambergris, is said, goes far beyond it's actual odor.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    the bad news of this story is, of course, that you can mimic it's odor, but it won't have the same effect.
    the aromachemical industry has failed to come up with a proper replacement so far.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    got my real ambergris yesterday. i put it in glass jars and sealed it up. after a few minutes i could easily smell the difference in the diff colors/samples i have(5 total) when i would just crack the lid and sniff. this should help you get a better idea of the raw ambergris smell. ive been told to NOT store it in the dark or sunlight(it will melt). and that a container that breathes would be best but, regular office/house lights will not degrade your sample. another member in the 'i own real ambergris' club, woohoo.


    the smaller the jar the less sniffs you'll get till you cap it and let it permiate the air again, takes 5 minutes of sitting and you can start sniffing again. i am now adicted,lol.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    Addicted isn't the word. slave to it. I keep my samples on my desk and am forever sniffing them... just to make sure. I have black, brown and white samples.
    I have ambergris envy looking at your pic....
    Currently wearing: Gilda by Pierre Wulff

  15. #15

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    lol, mine are right in front of me as well. i did poke some holes in the jars cause they need to breath(per seller). wich i dont mind at all. if you like ambergris then get some of thier oil!!!!!!!!! she said its not suppossed to go right on the skin but i touched the smallest amount you could imagine on my wrist(kinda sticky) and held my other wrist against the dab till the oil was warm enough to smear. its such a wonderful scent with my skin and i just keep waving my hands to catch that wiff of fragrance. seller says the 1 gram of oil takes 2.5grams of raw. i cant seem to decide wich sample is my fav scent, its been changing. i should get my animal scents today(civet beaver,ect...)cant wait to see how they smell together. ill post the results,j

  16. #16
    gido's Avatar
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    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    Quote Originally Posted by GLTASN View Post
    lol, mine are right in front of me as well. i did poke some holes in the jars cause they need to breath(per seller). wich i dont mind at all. if you like ambergris then get some of thier oil!!!!!!!!! she said its not suppossed to go right on the skin but i touched the smallest amount you could imagine on my wrist(kinda sticky) and held my other wrist against the dab till the oil was warm enough to smear. its such a wonderful scent with my skin and i just keep waving my hands to catch that wiff of fragrance.
    i vaguely remember reading, i think it was somewhere on a pacific island, that the locals used to put ambergris in the building material of their homes. to makes their houses smell good. not sure if this is true and can't remember the exact details.

    however, what i do know, is that perfumers used to test ambergris by rubbing a piece between their hands. and then smell their hands. there's a story in chandler burr's book about guy robert, who did evaluate a large block of ambergris in london for a client, then washed his hands with a miss dior knockoff soap, and thus (smelling his hands in the plane: miss dior + ambergris) got the basic idea for dioressence.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    I find it funny that you were told not to put it in the sun in case it melted? How come it lasted so long on the beach? I would have thought the sun dried it.... Perhaps the seller meant in the jars in the sun in case of condensation.... even so it is still water and that's where it came from? odd

    Mine are still in their baggies with the tops open. I don't know what to put them in. I'm not ready to tincture these yet. I like them as they are.

    Do post about the other animal scents...
    Currently wearing: Gilda by Pierre Wulff

  18. #18

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    Mine has been tincturing since Sept. 2008 and is only just starting to smell good, so patience is needed here. Also, if you are a smoker, try putting a very small amount of it in powdered form in a cigarette (you can purchase roll your own supplies at a tobacconist). I read that this is sold in Egypt traditionally and just had to try it! It is very nice!

  19. #19

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    I shall smoke one especially just as an experiment. Smoker or not! I found some ambergris incense sticks the other day and they are wonderful although I actually like the smell before they are burnt. I may lay them in my linen drawers to fragrance them.
    I am such an ambergris addict....
    Currently wearing: Gilda by Pierre Wulff

  20. #20

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    Well, let me know what you think. I don't anyone else who has done it except me and hubby.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    There is a report of some mighty perfumista who ate some on his scrambled eggs..... I'm just not that rich to try that .... yet
    Currently wearing: Gilda by Pierre Wulff

  22. #22
    gido's Avatar
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    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    Quote Originally Posted by mumsy View Post
    There is a report of some mighty perfumista who ate some on his scrambled eggs..... I'm just not that rich to try that .... yet
    mumsy, check this link out: http://1000fragrances.blogspot.com/2...for-marie.html
    btw. octavian's site is really an excellent read.

  23. #23

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    OMG.... Look at the size of that lump of ambergris..... and the casual way in which it is used. I love the French for their cuisine..... such perfection sought.
    Currently wearing: Gilda by Pierre Wulff

  24. #24

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    Hi All,

    I've posted on here before from time to time. I'm nearing completion of a book about ambergris for HarperCollins, which will be published sometime either late in 2011 or in 2012. I'm really enjoying reading about the interest in the subject. And I hope perhaps you'll all be readers!!!

    I've handled a lot of ambergris over the past few years and so I wanted to answer a few of the comments. First, sunshine will not melt your ambergris, but depending on its quality and age, high heat will melt it and so that's probably where that misinformation came from. If it's fairly fresh and black it will melt on a hot summer day and make a pretty gross mess.

    Secondly, ambergris most definitely DOES smell. It's a most unusual thing in that it stabilizes fragrance but adds something subtle and indefinable to it too. Anyone who says it doesn't alter fragrance hasn't smelled it.

    Thirdly, the higher the quality, the more refined and the less immediately present the smell ... so don't worry. Maybe you have some really good stuff! As the ambergris ages, it loses its water content, shrinks, and develops a waxy outer rind and so the odor is more difficult to get to and much less of an assault on the nostrils. If you smell fresher, darker ambergris it's like burying your face in a cowpat. I have some white ambergris and I remember having almost the same response to it as you did, mumsy. I'd read that some people are anosmic to ambergris (can't smell it) and I instantly panicked and thought that perhaps I was one of those people. I had a book contract to write about it and thought I couldn't smell the stuff! But give it a chance and the subtleties of that high-quality ambergris will start to appear.

    Oh, and I also have to eat it for my book. Um.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    I put some in cheesecloth hung it in an English teapot and drank the tea that went through it, also I was curious what it would do to the steam smell. Its smell can't compete with tea, not in the short term anyway. The flavor also was very subtle, but discernible.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    cjkemp... Please invite us to dinner that evening..... we can watch, and if you don't like it, we will eat it for you....

    As far as I know, it is traditionally stuck inside the lid of an earthenware teapot. It is meant to be intermingled with the steam. The aroma enhances the tea drinking. It stays with the teapot for the next brew.
    Currently wearing: Gilda by Pierre Wulff

  27. #27

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    Yes, I tried that first but the results were unimpressive.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    I don't think mine would be sticky enough. One of them is just dust. The black might be, but that's the pooier of all of them. I think it would be the grey I would prefer with tea. Maybe it would have to be a more delicate tea like a green gunpowder leaf tea, Pingshui Zhucha or Honey bush tea from South Africa. OOOh yummy, I shall go and try some, but I haven't done the smoking yet.
    Currently wearing: Gilda by Pierre Wulff

  29. #29

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    I just received a sample of Ambergris tincture by il profumo (AbdesSalaam Attar), and it smells like bad breath, and lasts a short amount of time before disappearing into an extremely subtle (nonexistant?) skin scent. I'm baffled by all these people waxing poetic about the "sweet" smell of ambergris, when the tincture smells literally like rot. Can someone please explain the discrepancy? I'd appreciate it.

  30. #30

    Default Re: Real Ambergris - how powerful is the smell meant to be?

    try spraying some on a card or sample smelling strip. allow for the alcohol to dry and then try it again. its not a strong smell but you would be the first to say it smells like rot. i dont think it smells sweet at all but more like earth,tabaco,leather scent. when combined with other ingridients it tends to lose its smell and amplifies the host scent.
    "Strive for perfection in everything, take the best that exists and make it better, if it doesn't exist create it, accept nothing nearly right or good enough." Sir Henry Royce

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