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Perfume review: Balmain Ambre Gris an opulent elixir

Balmain Ambre GrisFor centuries perfumers have been inspired by Ambergris … a rare and precious (non-destructive) by-product of whales that is worth its weight in gold. In history "grey amber" was highly sought after and used as a fixative in perfume; however, in 2008 design house Balmain sought to give its interpretation of ambergris a starring role in Ambre Gris, an exceptional female fragrance.

Lavishly presented in a weighty glass flacon and twinkling gold crown, Ambre Gris is an opulent elixir that displays characteristics of both a gourmand perfume, and one with a slightly animalistic edge.

It opens with a rousing floral accord that shifts swiftly into a candied fruit note. A permeating honeyed warmth seeps through the top notes, and is followed by a husky iris-like dryness. Wonderful curls of cinnamon and resinous benzoin add a deep caramel warmth, and myrrh, a soft soapiness to the scent.

A distinct animalistic edge can be fathomed, furnished by a delicate whisper of tuberose. The edible nature of this perfume is thick and luxurious like ribbons of golden syrup, but the ambergris accord at the heart denotes something more organic.

Ambre Gris is a perfume that has been made for the mainstream market, but has all the olfactory indicators that could liken it to many niche releases today. With above-average sillage and titanic persistence, Balmain is definitely onto a winner with its charming take on this treasure from the sea.

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