Ambre Noir update

When I ran out of Ambre Noir about a week ago, I took it down temporarily because I’d received a sample of a new cistus that I wanted to try in it. I’ve been working on that today and really like the combination of the labdanum absolute with the new cistus oil fraction. I made some changes to the rose and amber accords to make it work, and also increased the clove a little bit and added a soft saffron note. I’m just trying some adjustments now to see if it is better with or without myrrh and vetiver and some other options. I hope to have it ready to get some opinions next week, along with ET. This AN would be different, but it seems more special to me this way. I’ll need some feedback. I apologize for AN being unavailable while I do this, but it shouldn’t be long like it has been for ET, and I’d like to help people out who recently bought samples of AN if I do change it. The cistus is so nice this is worth doing.

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  1. Hi Laurie! I’ve been sampling the old and new versions of ET… the newer version seems lighter, it is missing some depth and darkness from the older version that I preferred. It is indeed smoother and not as raspy on the frankincense opening. I’m not good at identifying notes, any idea what that depth and darkness feeling might be related to formula-wise?

    I would love to smell the new Ambre Noir, to compare it to the old one. It sounds promising!

  2. Hi Tara,

    I need to get the old ET out again. I just have a sample left but it’s time to do a comparison. I tried that trial mod for ET again a few days ago and wasn’t happy with it because it seems the sandalwood has gotten too strong for me (one component of the sandal accord especially). I’m going back to lighten that in the formula.

    I had taken the oakmoss out altogether in that mod and that moss could be one thing you are missing. I could add it back again in the form of the new moss at a lower percent than in the original. I just wasn’t sure I was liking it in the formula. I also switched to a less sweet labdanum that may feel lighter, but I’m thinking I could try some of the new cistus in it to add some depth back to the labdanum note.

    I was feeling frustrated with ET this weekend, but I tried some changes last night that are interesting. I’ll work some more on it as I can in between orders.

    I tried the new ambre again today and it seems quite yummy but maybe it is something totally different now, more of a golden amber than an ambre noir. It seems more golden and spicy. I’d like to keep it, but it needs to be something new.

    Thanks for feedback! That ET sample wasn’t quite ready to send but I put it in your package anyway, lol, since it was going out. Your comments help though so that was worthwhile. 🙂

    1. Hi Laurie,

      Golden amber sounds perfect and very tempting. Something golden & spicy would be lovely in the cold weather we’re having here in Maine.

      Good luck with the ET reformulation!

      1. Hi Ann C,

        Thanks! Bet it is getting cold there this time of year! This new amber does seem more golden, but it’s still not vanillic so it’s dark in that sense. I’m just getting back to the amber dilemma tonight (didn’t have a chance yesterday).

  3. I agree, I think the sandalwood in the new ET mod might have been a bit too present. Maybe it was the oakmoss that I sensed was missing… hard to say, but I think I’ve heard that oakmoss is commonly used to add “depth” to a fragrance. I love cistus, and elemi too… either of those might be a nice addition.

    The new amber sounds very appealing… I’m actually looking for a yummy amber, something along the lines of Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe… looking forward to smelling your new amber, if that’s how it turns out!

  4. That’s funny, the new ET mod I did last night does have elemi! I’ve been taking it in and out of ET mods all along, lol. It went well with last night’s version and I’m hoping it can help smooth the start. I cut the sandal, added elemi, cut a few other things, and added some of the cistus. I love what I got for a couple hours but then it faded too quickly so I need to improve the lasting power of the base without so much sandal. Maybe the oakmoss is something to try again, but I want to mostly focus on resiny woods, labdanum/cistus, and incense. Will see!

  5. Oh geez, I’m just about at the point of needing more Ambre Noir!! You know it’s one of my top five fragrances right? 🙂 I’m sure whatever changes you make will be lovely as I really like almost all of your scents, but selfishly I’m hoping it’s not too different.

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

  6. Hi Gail,

    I think I need to make this new amber be a new addition and put the original AN back up. This new one seems delicious to me, but it got too far afield to replace the original. Notes in the new one are amber, labdanum, cistus, rose, ylang, clove, saffron, tabac, sandalwood.

    I’m going to try once more to just add the cistus and make one other change to original AN and not go so far with it; I still want to see if I can add that cistus to the original. I just went too far on the first try and wound up somewhere else, but it’s yummy!

    I did have a nice Thanksgiving with family visiting up here. Hope you had a nice holiday weekend too!

    1. Well, Laurie….
      Don’t you just love these little accidental discoveries?
      You know the story about Jacque Guerlain and what happened when he got a bit vanilla-happy while mixing up a batch of Jicky – he ended up making Shalimar!


  7. I absolutely adored the sample of ET I got from TPC a few months ago. Ever since I’ve been trying to get a hold of it. I’m crazy for frankincense and ET at that point was the pinnacle of my search. Please don’t sweeten or lighten it and please, above all, don’t tone down the frankincense! I have since found CdG Avignon, C&S Frankincense and Myrrh and Amouage Tribute which have given me my frankincense fix but ET just “did it” for me.

  8. Hi Pinchy,

    Glad you like ET! I think TPC still has original ET decants left, though I realize those are probably smaller than you had in mind. Maybe after the holidays I could do a special ET bottle for you that’s closer to the original if you don’t like the reformulation as well as the original. Let me see how it goes and get you a sample of the reformulation when I have it.

    I don’t want to make it sweet, so I’m with you on that. And as I work on this I’m realizing I want to keep the frankincense strong but there’s one component of the sandalwood accord I’d like to soften, and that causes problems with lasting power. I’m working on it to see what else I can do for lasting power if I soften the sandalwood a bit.

    Keeping the frankincense strong means the opening stays a bit rough, but that may be an ok tradeoff for staying power of the incense note. And a touch of elemi seems to help that too. It goes very well with frankincense.

    I like Avignon too. I’ll have to try that Amouage sometime — I bet it’s beautiful. For a very dry, woodsy, resinous incense I like Armani Bois d’Encens. You might like that one too.

    Thanks for stopping by and giving input! I’m sorry for the wait while I work on these last reformulations. I’ve been keeping up with holiday orders and working on the ambers and encens in between. Making good progress though. Will post an update later today.

    1. Yes, I’ve tried Bois d’Encens. It was good but for me it wasn’t bottle worthy.
      I’m waiting in suspense for what you can pull off for a final product!

      Here’s a question: Would you be able to make a bit of old-style ET without the oakmoss (or as much as you’re allowed) and I could acquire some oakmoss absolute to add back in? I’m no perfumer but I understand it takes but a pinprick or less of absolute for a bottle of fragrance.

      I’ve had an idea for a fragrance that I don’t think anyone would put out for lack of market appeal. I would call it “Resinous Heaven” and it would consist of the following notes:
      Frankincense, myrrh, Indian sweet grass, hay, balsam needle, incense, oud, and tobacco with touches of leather, patchouli and smoke in a sandalwood (or maybe cedar) base. Is this too far-fetched to be conceivable? I’m sure commissioning someone for a one-off is out of my budget, but I can dream can’t I?

  9. I think a lot of perfume lovers would be very interested in a “Resinous Heaven” scent, though each person would define it a little differently. Someone who might do a great bespoke job on that for you is Dominique Dubrana from He does all-natural blends (you’ve probably tried a few). I liked his Bois de Rose very much when I sampled it. I think your notes list is interesting and could work, though I’ve not worked with sweet grass yet. You might pick some of the main notes to be the focus and use the others as backdrop notes, depending on what you want to emphasize.

    I still have several oakmoss absolutes and can do a formula exactly like the original (though it has higher moss than the new IFRA standards), but I’d need to use a brown moss instead of the old green one I had used in ET because I am totally out of the green. Oddly, the old green moss I had (from a very reputable source) smelled like it had some guaiacwood added. I don’t know if it was the natural way the moss smelled or if the producer had added a smidge of guaiac to it. I’ve found that to recreate ET it seems to help to take the old formula, use my new moss, and then add some guaiacwood for that extra smokiness. I don’t think just adding a smidge of moss would work for you as well as if I mix one as close as I can get since the moss you’d buy would not match the original I had used. Oakmoss does vary a little from one supplier to the next and one batch to the next. I have now switched to the low-atranol variety made by a large French company (I import it now) so that it will be consistent and IFRA compliant. It still smells very good too even though the allergen is removed! I just wish I could dose it a little higher and still be within IFRA standards. The new oakwood absolute I just got has a lovely mossy aspect to it and I think it might help when used with the oakmoss.

    If you do buy some oakmoss for your own use, you could control the dose better if you prediluted some in perfumer’s alcohol before adding it to anything. You could even layer it that way so you wouldn’t have to mix it into your perfume en mass and risk getting more than you’d like. You could put on your perfume and then dab a bit of the alcohol/moss dilution on finger and apply a controlled little dose on top. You can even buy the low atranol version now yourself if you want to be more careful about allergies.

    I should get back to work now, but I’ll be updating here on the blog as I work on these!

    PS Before anyone does a bespoke with any perfumer I’d suggest first getting samples from the perfumer to see if you like his/her style. Most people fantasize about bespoke but don’t do it because of the expense. Dubrana would be one to consider when you want a natural style. You can sample his scents at TPC, but be aware that some of those are just single note naturals while others are his blended creations. When I eventually catch up with my long “to do” list I’d love to do custom work again, but for now I limit custom jobs to a few small tweaks of existing formulas.

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