Ambergris is produced by the Sperm whale and is present in of all the ancient pharmacopoeias. Its very typical scent, animally but of great sweetness seduce particularly the feminine noses, in which they instinctively recognize the odor that will attract males.
In fact, Ambergris, like all aromatic substances of animal origin, is a pheromone and acts directly on the hormonal system through the sense of smell, without physical contact.
Luca Turin on our Ambergris
Dominique Dubrana kindly sent me a bottle of his “flottée” Ambergris tincture, collected on beaches rather than from the sperm whale. I have only smelled ambergris a few times as a solid (always from Laboratoires Monique Rémy). Instead of attempting to describe it, let me quote on the subject the great fragrance chemist Gunther Ohloff who probably knew more about ambergris than anyone before or since. He calls it “humid, earthy, fecal, marine, algoid, tobacco-like, sandalwood-like, sweet, animal, musky and radiant”, and I won’t try to improve on his list. I don’t know what dilution the product is sold at. Nevertheless, this sun-aged cetacean furball extract is really quite something, and I plan to add it to various harmless little fragrances like lavender to see if they morph into Mr Hyde.
We do care for the safeguard of the planet and of all the forms of life that it shelters. Ambergris is the only scent of animal origin obtained without killing, imprisoning or torturing the animal that produces it. Ambergris is a substance that the wild sperm whale regurgitates naturally.
When it is fresh it has nearly no value because its smell is extremely faecal and it has no value for perfumery. Ambergris must mature floating sometimes for tens of years on the sea. The sun and the water of the oceans “wash” it until it assumes the sweet and inimitable scent of sea and leather that fascinated man since his origin. We remind that the Ambergris we use is certified “flotte”, that is “from floating”, found on the beaches. This guarantees the safety of the sperm whale.
We remind also that there is no international restrictions on the import and export of Ambergris. The uncertainty about New Zealand’s position ended in 2004 when the country adopted the view of most other countries that ambergris is not a whale derivative.
“We have adopted the view that ambergris is a waste product that’s excreted naturally,” says Jane Denton, the Department of Conservation’s CITES officer.
Ambergris is produced by the Sperm whale as an intestinal secretion that is regurgitated.
This soft black sinky waxy matter floats over the oceanic currents for as long as 20 years. Time, the contact with sea water and the light of the sun transforms the raw fecal lumps into treasures that anyone would dream to find but that very few could ever recognize.