- A hard, grey/white solid substance, which can be broken if "snapped" between the fingers with moderate strength
- Not something that can be distilled into an oil
- The tincture is actually a light brown/golden colour
- Ambergris is not something that provides a sweet note, see: benzoin
- Not the same as Indian "amber", a mix of benzoin and other resins
- Not "the thing in Creed that makes it smell good"
- Not a fragrant marvel by itself, that piece seen in the photo has a somewhat salty, mineral, sour and slightly mossy smell - the same as its tincture. Its not something that is immediatley pleasant on its own at all, and definitely not the holy grail scent of its folklore.
So what is this "ambergris oil" stuff that we keep seeing on ebay ? Is it just a scam for us to waste 60 - 300$ on? To tell you the truth, I'm not 100% sure what it is. Is it made with real ambergris ? All I can tell you is my observations and hypothesis:
- Some aspects of the odour profile of the oil are very similar to the ambergris sample, it has a very strong sour, mineral fragrance
- The main difference is that the ambergris oil also has a very sweet smell (about 80% of the odour profile), which is totally absent from the natural ambergris in solid and tincture form. The sweetness is a very difficult to decifer accord, but I would say it has aspects of Tonka/Coumarin and Benzoin resin.
- I also sense in the oil, some spices, such as the suggestion of cinnamon, though not the note of natural cinnamon bark, more like cinnamic alcohol, and also spices and herbs such as oregano and myrtle.
- The oil is of course, a viscous liquid, definitely not the result of the processing of the actual ambergris, which is a hard, dry, solid substance, similar to a weak, crumbly stone.
Thoughts: Though I do have samples of Indian Ambers at home, of many different varieties none of them smell like this oil. This oil is something completely unique and actually most similar to Ambre Sultan of Serge Lutens. The one thing that sticks out, perpetuating the mystery, is the very distinct natural ambergris sourness that is present in the oil.
The Verdict: If I had to guess, these "ambergris oils" are "amber" type attars, in which natural ambergris has either been infused, filtered, or the tincture added. The particular one which I have is a beautiful fragrance, it is intensely sweet and the heavy coumarine note actually seems to amplify the natural ambergris note.
Worth the money?: As a perfume composition I'd say it is, the one I've got is absolutely beautiful. As long as you buy this for the fragrance, you are okay - just don't be fooled into thinking this is the product of ambergris or that it is 100% pure in any way.