The top and middle of this scent are probably my favorite summertime beach/boardwalk/seaside cologne. Period. It’s a shame that it’s SO fleeting. It’s 10:30am and I’m about to apply for the third time. Ambergris is often thought to be a fixative but the only thing that affixes to the skin with this one is a light dusting of the titular note and a trace of wood. Very strange considering it has a touch of Oud in it. Still, overall just a wonderful realistic citrus and incredible light tropical floral cologne.
Amber Cologne by Bortnikoff (2019) is not what it seems when you first smell it, which is part of the charm. One would think with a name like "Amber Cologne" that this would be primarily about amber, but one would be wrong, considering Musk Cologne (2019) was clearly not all about the deer musk in the composition. Trying this after Musk Cologne, I admit having an initial expectation of another primarily citric affair, with juicy sweetness reigned in by natural spices, floral absolutes, and the resinous base materials Dmitry Bortnikoff likes to use. However, I'm presented here with something which is not actually that at all, and am pleasantly surprised. Sure, the citrus is still sweet, the base is still resinous and musky, but a much larger focus on floral notes is to be found here, hence the surprise. Amber does play a small role just as musk does in Musk cologne, so this isn't a total misnomer, but the ultimate selling point is frangipani and jasmine here, not amber. I've smelled quite a few wel-done niche frangipani and/or jasmine configurations in the niche perfume world, so Amber Cologne isn't so unique in the grand scheme, but is very unique when compared to the rest of the range.
The opening is pretty much jasmine and frangipani right out the gate, with the citrus assortment (of which there is a lot) plays catch-up. Bergamot, lemon, grapefruit, and orange are all mentioned in the note pyramid from the brand, but they honestly lay in the background while the florals do all the talking. From there, the fragrance becomes mostly about vanilla, which is another startling turn as by now you might expect a small peep of amber, but nope. Jasmine, vanilla, frangipani, and sweet citruses become bolstered by the oriental base of sandalwood, ambergris, the amber, and a small pinch of oud which I don't feel myself, but might just be micro-dosed for body. The amber really is just a tiny bit of fuzzy spiciness like cardamom, nutmeg, and labdanum (the latter being a base ingredient for amber compounds), sitting quietly in its administrative desk job while the frangipani, jasmine, and vanilla work the front lines. Wear time is about 8 hours, and projection is booming for the first hour then moderate thereafter. This feels best for spring/summer casual use to me, and being so floral as it is, leans feminine but still tows the line of unisex overall. One thing is for sure, none of the headier oriental ingredients overtake the lighter floral ones, showing a mastery of blending on Bortnikoff's part.
Amber Cologne doesn't get the talk that Musk Cologne received even though it launched the same year as part of the same collection. Further overshadowed by Vesna Cologne (2020) and Moss Cologne (2020) from the following year, and finally Oud Cologne (2021) after that, Amber Cologne remains the one that only people who buy (or sample) complete sets seem to remark upon. You seldom see Amber Cologne among those who only own one or two Bortnikoff fragrances, for example. Since I get my samples for review second-hand from my readers (bless you), I have the privilege of being detached from any hype or anticipation of what I just paid for, so I can sniff and sit back to judge with little to bias beyond my own sense of value in the hobby. With that being said, I think Amber Cologne is a bit of an underdog, and underrated among the cologne collection released by the house thus far; it's clearly different from the rest and the least "cologne" of the bunch, just feeling like a well-made summery floral. Granted, this is still pretty high in cost per milliliter, but so it goes for all-natural hand-compounded artisanals, so the affluent audience this is meant for shouldn't find much to gripe about there. Sample and see for yourself. Thumbs up
Beautiful composition by Dimitry Bortnikoff. Tropical, the frangipani note is truly exquisite. But unfortunately this magnificent concoction doesn't last at all (on my skin at least), I guess this is because this is PACKED with natural ingredients and no synthetics. So this gets only a neutral due to poor performance, otherwise, excellent scent.