Ambre  Gris by Balmain / Pierre Balmain
Bottle Design: Christophe Decarnin
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Ambre  Gris (Balmain / Pierre Balmain)
7.5 / 10     345 RatingsRatingsRatings
Ambre Gris is a popular perfume by Balmain / Pierre Balmain for women and was released in 2008. The scent is spicy-powdery. It was last marketed by Inter Parfums.

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Fragrance Notes

Top Notes Top NotesBergamot, Pink pepper, Tagetes, Cinnamon
Heart Notes Heart NotesDavana, Myrrh, Strawflower, Tuberose
Base Notes Base NotesAmbergris, Gaiac wood, Styrax, White musk



7.5 (345 Ratings)


7.9 (242 Ratings)


6.7 (229 Ratings)


8.2 (231 Ratings)
Submitted by Lotus, last update on 16.10.2018
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Bottle 7.0/10 Sillage 4.0/10 Longevity 8.0/10 Scent 7.0/10
Helpful Review    3
A Spiritual Reincarnation of the Fresh/Warm Duality of Ambergris
Balmain Ambre Gris opens with a dash of pink pepper and a massive, sharp, squeaky clean note reminiscent of laundry products, which I don’t particularly care for. But soon enough, the sweet resins and immortelle arrive, and the olfactory landscape of Ambre Gris heads to a more interesting direction.

Benzoin and immortelle impart their languid, caramel-like golden sweetness, with immortelle adding an extra touch of bittersweet licorice alongside with musty myrrh. Despite its enveloping resinous sweetness, the fragrance curiously never feels cloying or overwhelming. Besides a pinch of balmy smoke from guaiac wood, there is also something translating as a cool powderiness akin to iris to my nose that seems to absorb any extra grease.

The most intriguing aspect though, is the initial laundry-like white musk still lurking around, now fully integrated into the resin matrix and behaving like a refreshing breeze over the golden resinous lake. Not only does it lighten the balsamic amber, it also serves as a tantalising radiance to contrast the deeper resins.

The end result is a surprisingly refreshing yet still satisfyingly cozy powdery amber skin scent. Ambre Gris stays comfortably close to skin for a total of 8 hours.

Personally, I don’t think Balmain Ambre Gris aimed at imitating the smell of ambergris, nor does it smell like the samples that I had the chance to test. I’d rather put it in the same category as Hermès Eau des Merveilles, inspired by the intriguing fresh/warm duality of ambergris and reimagining a fragrance around this central concept, even though they don’t smell like each other per se. Although I still struggle with the laundry-like opening on a personal level, overall I think Ambre Gris succeeds in recreating this duality in spirit. If you happen to be looking for a powdery, balmy amber with some freshness and if you don’t mind strong clean musk, Balmain Ambre Gris is well worth a try.
Scent 7.0/10
Greatly helpful Review    6
A Unique Olfactory Experience
This opens up with the infamous sweet pink pepper note, but is unlike most fragrances containing it. I get light sweet spices, strong resins, and something a bit sweaty/animalic (perhaps that's the ambergris?)

If you like spicy animalic sweet and salty scents, then you may appreciate this scent. Personally, I like it but it can get a bit overwhelming sometimes. You probably need 3 sprays at the most, if not two. Not many perfumes have great longevity on me, but this lasts 10+ hours depending on the weather. The projection is strong at first, but fades to half strength within the first 5 hours (but make no mistake, it is still very noticeable despite this change).

On my skin, this is nearly identical from beginning to end. The only difference is that the pink pepper note fades and the spices get softer. I like this scent and will always have it in my collection because it is so unique and somehow pleasant, but I cannot find too many occasions to wear it. It is best suitable for cooler weather. If you wear it in warmer weather, it tends to cling a bit and feels too strong. Worn under proper conditions, however, this is a pleasant slightly sweet spicy oriental. The animalic element may vary depending on skin chemistry, but to me it is definitely a big part of the scent. Once again, this animalic note is not fecal or urinal in any way. If anything, it resembles clean sweat.

My overall rating of this perfume:

Scent: 7/10
Projection: 10/10
Longevity: 10/10
2 Replies
Scent 7.0/10
Very helpful Review    3
Easy chic
Wow, I am very impressed.
This new treasure is perfection in a bottle.
I bought it without testing, trusting the name and the ingredients (not to mention the killer design bottle).

High but soft notes and light warmth. Ambre Gris emanates an elegance that is confident about its own beauty.
A pure pleasure.
Scent 7.0/10
Greatly helpful Review    11
Enigmatic beauty ...
"Ambre Gris celebrates the architectural and graphic codes of Balmain." ... this per the Balmain website. I have loved the design aesthetic at Balmain since the late 70's, when I became interested in Fashion Design, learned to sew and eventually followed it as a career.

It seems that the note pyramid above needs some attention ... the Balmain site lists it as follows:

Head notes: Pink Berries, Sage
Heart notes: Tuberose, Frangipani, Myrrh Essence, Incense
Base notes: Grey Amber Infusion, Benzoin, Tonka Beans, Cedarwood ...

... and I must say that this is how I perceive this fragrance. Notes being a tool of marketers, however, the listed 'Grey Amber Infusion' is more than likely a chemical facsimile of natural Ambergris, which is a hard to come by and restricted (I think!) substance. There also exists a great deal of confusion between 'Amber' (Vanilla,Labdanum,Benzoin and not an oil derived from the fossilized material) and Ambergris ... which comes from whale spooge :). I actually don't get much of either of those in this fragrance. 'Pink Berries' could very well be the hit of Schinus Molle (Pink Pepper) that initiates this creation.
Balmain's Ambre Gris comes across as chic and sophisticated and straddles the blurry lines of fragrance gender right across the middle. It is elegant, reserved and feels like the soft caress of a chinchilla throw laid before a fireplace in which golden flames dance behind an intricately wrought screen.
Slightly spicy and herb infused florals carry a soapy vibe up top before some beautifully controlled incense takes over, leading the nose eventually to a refined woodsy dry down with a quite a bit of powdery sweetness. The Tuberose here feels restricted ... as if placed in a glass dome with one tiny aperture for the fragrance to escape ... but still gorgeous! The Benzoin and Tonka are probably responsible for the vanillic/nutty effect in the dry down.
Ambre Gris was a well educated blind buy for me ... I read a lot about this fragrance before I pushed the 'add to cart' button. It's one of those awesome fragrances that one will reach for when battling to make a choice from overflowing shelves. The projection here is sneaky ... I keep getting lovely whiffs of it myself but have been told at least three times today that I smell great ... from people at least six feet away. Great longevity too ... at least 8 hours on my skin, which loves to munch perfume!!

I cannot recommend this fragrance enough. Ambre Gris is subtle enough to be worn sparingly in perfume-phobic environments but amps up the volume when the sprayer is sufficiently abused. A truly delightful discovery!
3 Replies
The twinkie is gone but ambre gris remains
In its favor, Ambre Gris tells you all about itself up front. It's plainspoken, there are no surprises and it doesn't take much concentration. Against it, AG has the feel not so much of synthetic perfumery as fake food. It's a twinkie instead of shortcake. It's margarine and cornstarch syrup on your pancakes.

That said, I kind of like it. There's something about it that's just off, not quite right. It's like the background hum of industrial fluorescent lighting that recedes in your mind to a dull hum until you turn it off and realize that what you perceived as a quiet hum or buzz was in fact low-volume disharmony. In filtering it you had just unconsciously redefined it so as to tolerate it. Honestly though, I do like AG a bit. But here's how: one spritz. One spritz is comfortable. Two is queasy. Three is so far over the line that, in the manner of the instant conditioning that you experience vomiting a particular food that you then never want to eat again, you'll never want to smell it again.
Scent 10.0/10
Helpful Review    5
The Fairest of them All
This is the prettiest fragrance I have smelled in a long time...well since two days ago when I re-tested L' Heure Bleu.

I have always loved tuberose in fragrance but this one has a very light, sophisticated presence. Rich and creamy, AG suits me well, it lasts all day and surrounds me with a buttery sweet tuberose that cuts through the amber sparingly enough that they both get to share center stage.

I really want this on my have list, AG is too lovely to be left sitting on a shelf. What a perfect balance of notes that not only work well together, but compliment each other effortlessly.

Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all? For me, it would probably be the Wood.
Bottle 10.0/10 Sillage 7.5/10 Longevity 7.5/10 Scent 9.0/10
Greatly helpful Review    12
AMBRE GRIS by Balmain
Since its launch in 2008, perfume enthusiasts express many conflicting opinions of Ambre Gris by Balmain. Whether you are discussing this fragrances' gender categorization or just simply general likes and dislikes, the pendulum seems to swing both directions. Balmain markets Ambre Gris as a tribute of sorts to grey amber, otherwise known as ambergris. Is this a true evaluation of what this fragrance has in mind? Perhaps not.

Ambre Gris' opening is sweet and herbal, and is fringed with a peppery demeanor. Like a moth to a flame, you're attracted to what lies within Ambre Gris. This fragrance is compelling and sparks your curiosity immediately. The heart is energized by a slightly nutty floral, commonly known as frangipani, with undercurrents of tuberose. The frangipani flower is from the genius Plumeria and acquires its common name from a sixteenth-century Italian family of nobles who invented a plumeria-scented perfume. Frangipani, or Plumeria, is nocturnal and projects its fragrant perfume in hopes of attracting sphinx moths to pollinate the soft white flowers. Interestingly enough, this pretty little beauty also has a dark side. It can be found in Malayan cemeteries to ward off the folklore vampire Pontianak. Plumeria takes center stage in the subject of funerals and death in many other Indonesian cultures. Ambre Gris is somewhat of a moody, brooding, shadowy fragrance. While the heart does have insignificant traces of mystic myrrh and incense, its most powerful speaker is a twin team of night–owls frangipani and tuberose. The base is slightly woody with the luxurious earthy quality of ambergris, or grey amber infusion in this case. A resinous element is flavored with vanilla nuances. Finally, cedar wood adds a bit of etherial airiness, making the dry-down of Ambre Gris comfortable and warm.

Ambre Gris has captured the interest of both men and women alike. It is not pompous, but well behaved with a bit of attitude. Just as the tuberose and frangipani flowers save their most promising show for the nighttime, Ambre Gris is a gem for cool fall evenings.
1 Replies
Sillage 5.0/10 Longevity 7.5/10 Scent 8.0/10
Very helpful Review    6
Delicious smokiness
A lovely friend of mine has this fragrance as her signature, so almost two weeks ago when I went to visit her, she sprayed me with this divine fragrance and a little of the scent got on my jacket. I picked up that same jacket today and noticed how well this fragrance had lasted and how elegant Ambre Gris smells.

I remember thinking when my friend first sprayed Ambre Gris how spicy and sweet it was. It had an almost gourmand feel to it with the cinnamon and vanilla creating a warm and delicious olfactory experience.

While I delighted in the spiciness of Ambre Gris, I didn't quite agree with the sweetness. I concluded that it was my own personal tastes coming into play rather than the composition of the scent itself.

I must admit however, that once Ambre Gris fully develops on the skin, there is a certain sense of magic in the air. I cannot detect any hint of pink pepper in this fragrance, yet there is beautiful, resinous myrrh, soft white flowers and edible cinnamon sitting on a musky and almost smokey, incense base.

I can certainly see why previous reviewers refer to Ambre Gris as being a 'snuggly, sensual, cozy and extravagant' fragrance. Ambre Gris is all that has been already mentioned.

Burying my nose into my jacket at this present time almost sends me into a state of euphoria. I love rich, spicy and smokey fragrances, so the moment this fragrance reached the drydown I was completely and utterly hooked. I don't believe that I will be able to wash my jacket ever again.
1 Replies
Bottle 7.5/10 Sillage 5.0/10 Longevity 5.0/10 Scent 6.0/10
Greatly helpful Review    6
No Sperm Whales Were Eviscerated In The Creation Of This Perfume
I am baffled by the number of negative reviews of Pierre Balmain Ambre Gris which fault the perfume for not featuring genuine ambergris. First off, nearly no perfumes today use natural ambergris, which is a concretized substance produced in the intestines of sperm whales. When "ambergris" is used these days, it is usually synthetic, which means, of necessity, that it involves a complex of disparate substances which together are thought to reproduce or mimic the same perceptual effect as that of natural ambergris.

Every natural substance, including ambergris, is extraordinarily complex, so synthetic versions will be more or less faithful to nature and are in fact open to radical differences in opinion as to what final effect is actually achieved. For people who have never even smelled natural ambergris, it does not make a lot of sense to complain that ambergris is somehow "missing" from a perfume. Moreover, perfumers are not required to include any specific substances in their perfumes. They choose to include some things and to exclude others. It's all a part of the creative process, not the completion of a homework assignment in which ambergris must be included, else the student will fail.

I wonder, more generally, why so much ado is made about which precise notes are present in any perfume to begin with. Bear in mind that many "notes" are convenient fictions, in effect, suggestive metaphors--and marketers take full advantage of this fact, waxing rhapsodically about the manna from heaven included in their company's latest launch.

In reality, a variety of different substances are combined to produce certain sensory effects. The question, then, becomes not which precise substances were used in any given perfume but, whatever the perfumer may have decided to use--as s/he is obviously free to choose--how does the final product fare? Is it a good perfume? The question of what makes a good perfume is completely independent and distinct from the question of what any given perfume happens to contain.

In the case of Ambre Gris, the perfume is a light oriental with a mingling of well-measured doses of a variety of often heavily applied "notes". Here, in contrast to more viscous oriental perfumes, the final effect is that of a seamless layer of a slightly woody, mildly myrrh-y, very lightly spicy and more or less linear perfume. There is something calming about this composition, yet at the same time it has just enough tension in it not to be boring. Far from constituting a case of false advertising, as some persons evidently ignorant of the French language have alleged, the name on the label, Ambre Gris [Gray Amber], quite accurately conveys the nature of the perfume inside the bottle.

Ambre Gris is not as thick and insistent as, say, the oriental perfumes of Serge Lutens. For some wearers that is a very good thing.
1 Replies
Scent 9.0/10
Very helpful Review    3
Everything your heart desires
This is a love because it has a bit of everything ...sweetness,woods,spices and a bit of the only floral note which i definitely like and that's tuberose.
Oh..what a great silage ,i agree with the saying it changes all the time;you don't find this scent boring .Smoky grey amber ...sweet almost gourmandy ,benzoin and spices (pepper,cinnamon)...delicious,mysterious,sensual ...It is rather more feminine than unisex.Good longevity.

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