Ambergris is a natural ingredient used in fragrance production, that is often reproduced synthetically due to its high price. In its natural form, ambergris is a solid, waxy substance produced in the digestive system of sperm whales, having a sweet, musky odor.
Where It's Found
Ambergris is passed in the fecal matter or regurgitated by sperm whales, and sometimes resides in their abdomens. It can be found floating upon the sea and along the shorelines of the Atlantic Ocean, on the coasts of Brazil and Madagascar, on the coast of Africa, of the East Indies, mainland China, Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand and the Molucca islands. However, most commercially-collected ambergris today is sourced from the Bahamas and Providence Island.
A Mini History Lesson
Amergris has been a popular perfume ingredient since ancient times, possibly due to its excellent fixative qualities (it can be used to stabilize more volatile or delicate components). The Ancient Egyptians, Romans, Greeks and Arabians all used it in perfumery. In Asian cuisine, ambergris was used as a spice. Turks brought it as an offering to Allah on their pilgrimages to Mecca.
What It Smells Like
Ambergris possesses an aromatic and complex scent, described as sweet, earthy, animalistic and powdery, with nuances of musk and marine notes.
Ambergris Perfumes to Try
Fragrances that feature ambergris in their composition include Thierry Mugler Alien, Jessica Simpson Fancy, Lancome Tresor, Britney Spears Hidden Fantasy, Davidoff Cool Water Woman, Jennifer Lopez Glow, Moschino Glamour, Carolina Herrera CH, Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, Estee Lauder Sensuous, Calvin Klein Secret Obsession, Vera Wang Princess, Dior Pure Poison, and Gucci Guilty.