About Ambergris

Rare white ambergis
Precious and rare, the absolute finest ambergris

In the book “Perfume & Flavor Materials of Natural Origin” by Steffan Arctander, ambergris is introduced given the following description: “Ambra, also called Ambregris or Ambergris, is a substance of animal tissue, formed in the stomach or intestine of Physester Catodon, the cachalot whale. It is conceivable that Ambra is the result of a pathalogical condition caused by irritation of the whales stomach walls due to certain indigestible particles in the whales food. Consequently, Ambra is one of the few natural perfumery raw materials which cannot be “cultivated”,  not even in the same way that pearls for example, are cultivated. Pieces of Ambra are either washed ashore on various temperate ocean coasts and islands are found floating on the sea or caught in nets by fishermen” He goes on to say that, There is no particular area where Ambra can be found or searched for with regular success. The “big” finds in the history of Ambra are those of New Zealand, East India, West Africa (near Dakar), Southwest Africa, Madagascar, Indonesia, Brazil, Norway, etc. Actually, all the seashores of the seven seas can boast Ambra finds.” 

Arctander describes the raw material thus “Ambra is a pale grayish or creamy-yellow to brown or dark brown waxy solid mass which melts in boiling water. Its odor is rather subtle, reminiscent of seaweed, wood, moss, with a peculiar sweet yet very dry undertone of unequaled tenacity. There is rarely any animal note at all in a good grade Ambra. On ageing, the material lightens in colour, particularly when exposed to daylight and salt water. Consequently, it can be expected that floating pieces of Ambra from the sea (surface) are of superior quality in many cases. This is not a rule, but ageing is generally considered a necessity in order to obtain maturity of odor.”He is specific when he speaks of tinctures, stating “It is generally believed that Ambra tinctures must mature 6 months or longer prior to their use in perfumes.”

On the use of ambergris tincture in perfumery Arctander points out “Ambra Tincture is particularly recommended in the more delicate florals, e.g. muguet, sweet pea, lilac, freeshia, cyclamen, white rose, etc. In the modern aldehydic “fantasy” perfume bases, the use of Ambra or a similar “bouquetting” agent is a necessity in order to “round off” the stubborn chemical notes of aliphatic aldehyde’s.”

Of using Ambergris in flavouring Arctander states, “Tincture of Ambra is also used in flavours, mainly as a “bouquetting” additive to round off and mellow the blend of synthetic flavour materials. Fruit flavours, tobacco flavours and liqueur flavours are frequently improved with this exquisite material.”