THE PERFUME COLORS - AMBER
Perfume lovers love lists. Lists frame your preferences and position your choices. I like to make my lists named after colors.
Amber is not a simple individual note coming from an ingredient. It is a warm and fuzzy feeling that we confuse as a scent note somewhere in our brain. The so called smell of amber awakens something comforting in all of us.
Contrary to a common belief even among perfume lovers, amber is a ‘make believe’ perfumery note. Any ingredients or olfactory accords that induces you a sweet, warm and cozy feeling... yes, you may fantasize it as the scent of amber.
Whenever we, as perfume enthusiasts or at least as perfume lovers, face olfactory accords coming from labdanum, myrrh, incense, frankincense, opoponax, olibanum, benzoin, vanilla, patchouli, styrax, cistus, esteva, rock rose, elemi resin and a few others, we just wrap it up in a rich, oriental, spicy, powdery and sometimes mystic olfactory package and we call it ... an amber note. Its common use is extended to pharmacy and drugs as well food and drinks. Personally I love the scent and the flavor of honey made with nectar and pollen coming from labdanum flowers.
In perfumery the scent of amber was originally developed either by working upon the scent of ambergris or using the resin of the labdanum plant. Ambergris may be found only inside a sperm whale head or floating in the sea when it is expelled. It's just almost not possible to use it nowadays due to price and regulations. As a consequence the scent of amber is now largely derived from other sources, and the most common may be the labdanum and the benzoin resins extracted from the cistus and the styrax plants.
In our brain we always picture amber in the fossil form. True fossilized amber takes millions of years to be formed by Nature. That’s a long time for any type of organic matter to develop a scent... well at least an agreeable one! The amber we picturer is just some soft and sticky tree resin that got fossilised millions of years ago, and where sometimes you see antediluvian insects kept in. From it Hollywood made some dinosaur movies, jewelers made some artifacts, and perfumists built an imaginary scent. Usually true amber has a golden yellow, a peaceful orange, or even a fiery reddish colour that awakens in us the above mentioned warm and cozy feeling. The soft and sticky non fossilized plant resin itself has almost no aroma at all, unless you burn it to sniff a smoky piny scent.
An amber scent can also derived from synthetic ingredients. Ambroxan is a "synthetic ambergris" that is very common and became extremely popular in perfumery. It is synthetised from "sclareol", a molecule naturally extracted from the essence of clary sage. Helas it's not my type of amber scent and I suspect that no perfume in my list carries that scent note.
After this considerations, it is easy to understand why almost everybody likes amber fragrances. I don't intend to impose you my list as the best amber perfumes available in the market or the more expensive. In no special order It contains only perfumes that I currently own and that represent my concept of what I like in an amber scent. My final impression may be conditioned by other notes that just blend very well with amber. In some fragrances amber may even not be the strongest note but it surely plays an important role in my individual amber scent rating of each perfume. In the list below whenever I speak about a so called "amber note", I really mean a basic industry accord of labdanum, benzoin and vanilla.
Estée Lauder Youth Dew EdP
Old school beast, marketed as feminine but totally unisex. A profusion of warm spices is supported by strong amber and balsamic accords provided by amber, tolu balsam, peru balsam and incense notes. Be careful with the sprayer as this fragrance is quite intense and gives you a top performance.
Estée Lauder Amber Mystique EdP
An elegant unisex fragrance with a lot of florals in the top and heart, mainly rose. The base is very ambery proposing you strong amber, labdanum, frankincense and woody notes, including a fine peaceful oud. Performance is average.
Halston Man Amber EdT
It's a strong amber fragrance very good for any occasion and makes me feel very comfortable, distinct and manly. Don't be fooled because of its current low price. A strong heart of amber, labdanum and myrrh with a bit of oud in the base, makes this fragrance unique. Gorgeous flask and average performance.
Nabeel Al Hajes - perfume oil
Fancy an oil fragrance in a tacky flask? With Al Hajes you may experience a full bodied heart with frankincense, amber and labdanum. In the base it gets eve richer with myrrh and a touch of civilized oud. The longevity is eternal while the sillage is above average. Never mind the tacky flask.
S.T. Dupont Royal Amber EdP
A strong heart amber note is blended with base notes of leather and oud. It is totally unisex despite the enduring leather. It is often compared either with feminine or masculine scents, but it's really one of a kind. Great bottle and above average performance.
Molinard Habanita EdP
Launched in 1921, reformulated in 1988 and 2012. I only own the younger version and at least for me, it's an unisex fragrance. It's not the typical amber fragrance but it opens with a strong mastic note and you get plenty of vanilla and amber in the base. It's complex, it's divine and gives you an above average performance.
Lattafa Perfumes Just Oud Boulevard Edition EdP
I could fill up half of this list with Lattafa perfumes if oud was not almost always the brand proeminent note. This true oriental gem has a fantastic amber base with notes of amber and vanilla. But the global scent is seasoned with saffron, oud and leather. It gives you an well above average performance.
Bentley for Men Intense EdP
Boozy, woody, leathery but with a creamy labdanum heart and a benzoin and frankincense base for a global smoky ambery perception. A fantastic value for money consensual fragrance packed in a beautiful flask and that offers you a slightly above average performance.
Bentley for Men Absolute EdP
Remarquable smoky woody amber fragrance that splashes you with strong olibanum in the top and heart, to dismay with a more peaceful amber with a hint of oud in the base. My substitute for the magic but vanished ambery Gucci Homme 1 that also should be in this list. It offers you a beautiful flask but has just average performance.
Guerlain Shalimar EdP
A magical garden name but a fragrant oriental palace, first dated from 1925. I just skip the great fresh top and floral heart to fully enjoy the ambery sweet base with Incense, vanilla, other balsamic notes and a touch of civet to make it still unique after almost a century. It's quite unisex and the current formulation presents an average performance. Great bottle design.
Chanel Coco EdP
Another amber temple, more feminine than unisex, and tremendously sexy. The above average performance allows you to enjoy the base notes for a long time. Amber, opoponax, vanilla and labdanum reign and a touch of civet makes the difference. It is just an wonderful perfume.
Amouage Interlude Man EdP
A huge performance makes this ambery king alive for almost an entire day. A very strong heart with incense, opoponax, amber and cistus notes make this fragrance a joy to wear. The woody base fits naturally in the perfume development.
YSL Opium EdP feminine version from 1977
I do believe that this perfume is my personal milestone that initiated my love for perfumery. It's jus very intense with warm spices, and most of all, a potent ambery base that includes Incense, myrrh, tolu balsam, amber, opoponax, benzoin, labdanum and vanilla notes. The feminine version is a lot more ambery but I consider it unisex. The performance is just huge.
Tauer Perfumes L'Air du Désert Marocain EdT Intense
A huge cistus heart accord dominates the fragrance. You name the note as labdanum, rockrose or esteva but it's just wonderful. The amber note in this perfume is sweet, woody, smoky, tobacco-like, incense-like, balsamic and resinous. It is just very rich. Performance is above average.
Swiss Arabian Nawaf EdP
The opening proposes you a lot of oud and the base consists mainly of amber leather and tobacco. In the heart and providing the spine for the entire evolution you scent a powerful frankincense. A must have for any oriental amber fragrance lover. Performance is above average. The flask is just "different" but nice.
Boucheron Jaïpur Homme EdP
There is not much amber in this perfume but I just fantasize it. Citrus, florals and spices (mainly cinnamon) are tied up with a heart amber and vanilla note, while the base proposes you a bit of benzoin. It's just very pleasant! Performance is moderate.
Dolce&Gabbana The One for Men EdP
An industry landmark, a near perfect amber base seazoned with warm spices and tobacco. It's very very sexy masculine perfume (so say all the ladies) but performance is just average. Use it when you feel like romancing....
Molinard Ambre EdP
A strong heart of frankincense, Benzoin, labdanum and opoponax makes one of the "purest" amber scents in this list. If you like amber you will love this Molinard perfume. Performance is just average.
Azzaro pour Homme Amber Fever EdT
I love the family scent associated for azzaro perfumes and this is no exception. It is probably the Azzaro I like the most. Enjoy a very strong base with a remarquable amber note with hints of benzoin, preceded by some frankincense in the heart. A great value for money if you love amber.
Miller Harris Étui Noir EdP
Perfect amber scent with leather and a bit of smoke. A joy to wear and my current signature scent. Elemi, frankincense, stirax, amber and labdanum absolute provide the ambery scent sensation across the entire development. I would not dream not to have it in my collection. Performance? Just average!
Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan EdP
An oriental resin bomb for a true semi-spicy and semi-sweet amber experience. The perfume is quite linear as it is dominated by the balsamic complex accord that includes notes of amber, benzoin, labdanum, styrax, tolu balm and vanilla. The performance is average.
Calvin Klein Obsession EdP
Another amber spicebomb. A bitter deep balsamic incense envelopes a leathery civet, as well the warm and powdery powerful amber with a dark vanilla accord. It markets as feminine but it is really unisex. The performance is above average.
I hope you liked my amber color. I intend to write about some more perfume colors. Feel free to suggest one!