When I muse on making scents with Ambrette seed I have to be honest and say it’s not the first material that comes to mind or that I reach for instinctively when constructing a scent. I have to stretch and force myself to include it as an option, it’s like a blind spot for me, but that’s how I am with most musks. Musks are my blind spot simply because I just don’t have an affinity for them, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to allow that to limit my range of olfactive expression. What I do find interesting is that I pick up on similarities between this and Cognac which suggests that they could go well together.
Common name: Ambrette seed
Botanical name: Abelmoschus moschatus
Supplier: Eden Botanicals
Blends well with: Bergamot, black spruce, carrot seed, cedarwood, champaca, cistus, clary sage, coriander, cypress, frankincense, geranium, labdanum, lavandin, lavender, neroli, oakmoss, orange blossom, patchouli, rose, orris root, rosemary, sandalwood, vanilla, vetiver… (TGSC)
Ambers, citrus, florals, and your imagination.
Agarwood, lapsang souchong, osmanthus, birch tar, clove bud, ylang ylang, angelica root, angelica seed…(White Lotus Aromtics)
Chemical components: (EE)-farnesyl acetate(oily/waxy), nerolidol (floral/green/waxy/citrus/woody), farnesol, ambrettolide, dodecanol, among others.
Interesting bits: In perfumery applications, Ambrette Seed is an excellent fixative with an exalting effect – in other words, it has a unique way of lifting or enhancing the quality of a perfume. It also provides the botanical version of the musk aroma so highly prized in natural/botanical perfumery – a much safer choice compared to synthetic musks for use in perfume formulas. Its sensual aroma is considered by many to be a compelling aphrodisiac. A little Ambrette Seed CO2 goes a long way and very little is needed in base accords to achieve the desired effect. Excellent fixative. (Eden Botanicals)
…it is very rich in ambrettolide, which smells like what we learned to identify as “white musk” – clean, sweet, slightly floral or even soapy, and with berry undertones as well. (Smellyblog)
Their nose: with an initial aroma that is bright, intense, nutty and musky-floral, rounded with nuances of cognac, clary sage, and tobacco notes, underscored by the subtle, sensual character of leather and animalic notes all through the drydown. (Eden Botanicals)
My nose: I am greeted by a very soft, warm note in the beginning. The projection begins low. Coconut aspect, less pronounced than I imagined, dry, somewhat sharp impression, animalic, skin and bones is the visceral impression. At 15min it’s dry, unassuming, quiet, tranquil. This lays low in the background, it’s soft and arid. 30min on and it’s dry like paper, brittle, crisp air, natural, smells like a smell of outside in nature, very restrained. 45min now it has a stronger projection, soft, not as cool as before, dry, dusty, like being in a desert. After 1hr I can only describe it as dry, parched, pale, and musky a bit. After 2hrs it’s still very dry, this a very quiet note, bare, stripped of unnecessary things, it’s a practical scent. 3hrs later we’re into the heart of Ambrette seed CO2 and the impression is somewhat lactonic, still dry, still arid, with a slight fading beginning now. Soft and powdery, too. 7hrs and wow, it’s so alive on the strip with a piercing, green smell, and still dry. Now at 12hrs it’s almost gone, but soft, sharper somehow, green and a bit musky. In the final 24hr profile I get sharp, dry, green, musky with a very good grip on the strip. So yes, I can see how this would have merit as a fixative.
12/24 comparison: When I compare the two strips side by side from the 12hr strip I get dry, paper quality, the green impression comes after this. It’s not that much more alive than the 24hr strip which is odd, logic tells me this should be much more perceptible than the other but it’s not. From the 24hr strip I get one sniff, one last chance to catch and impression and then it’s gone and that is: dry and green.
Up next on Friday is my Ambrette seed tincture. Enjoy your Wednesday!