A Beautiful Scent: Ambre Narguile

jathanas

Well-known member
Dec 6, 2007
The reviews I've read tend to focus on the first phase of its development where the gourmand aspect dominates. The honeyed cinnamon and vanilla, teaming-up with the roasted sesame seed notes in the opening have resulted in all sorts of olfactory associations with buns, cakes, and pastries.

The magic in this fragrance is how it improves over the course of hours. Much of the sweetness of the opening fades. The heart is about the warm spices playing against a sweet tobacco accord that I can only describe as totally enveloping. When compared with other ambers I've tried, or own, it occurs that there is nothing sharp, resinous, or amber dominant about it.

As Ambre Narguile dries down that velvety spice lingers over a base of sweet-smoky-amber. I would assume that this is the labdanum, which is used in perfumery as a substitute to ambergris. It is said to have a smell that is described as sweet, woody, ambergris, dry musk, or leathery; according to wikipedia.

Normally when a fragrance is this well blended I can't detect individual notes, but I happily identify the transitions. With Ambre Narguile I can enjoy each phase of its journey and also pick a few of the individual accords. I get very good longevity, a liberal application lasts all day on me.

Ambre Narguile is not an edgy composition that I appreciate as an artistic endeavour. If this was priced and distributed as a regular designer fragrance my view is that it would enjoy record sales. I feel lucky and privileged that I can own this gem; I'll never be without it.
 

Stereotomy

Well-known member
Apr 27, 2007
I pitch Ambre Narguilé in the same corner as Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille and L'Artisan's Tea for Two. They all have this sweet honeyed amber base, but differ in accents (cinnamon, tobacco and tea).
 

kopah

Well-known member
Jan 16, 2008
It's something like $180-200 USD for 100ml.

But, I had to get a full-size bottle, because it was the fragrance that made me love fragrances. I couldn't bear the thought of ever being without it. And every perfume novice I've ever shown it to has found it gorgeous as well.
 

gupts

Well-known member
Aug 6, 2006
Oh man.....I've read so many positives about the Hermessence line of fragrances....particularly Ambre Narguile....I've got so much already on my wish list and just didn't want to get into something else that'd make my credit card bleed even more......but it's inevitable I think.....

Thanks for your review J....I am closer to to trying this than I was before this thread came.....
 

Merlino

Well-known member
Dec 25, 2007
Oh man.....I've read so many positives about the Hermessence line of fragrances....particularly Ambre Narguile....I've got so much already on my wish list and just didn't want to get into something else that'd make my credit card bleed even more......but it's inevitable I think.....

Thanks for your review J....I am closer to to trying this than I was before this thread came.....

IMHO, Ambre Narguillé is the best of the Hermèssence line and not even that good. The others are, for the most part, utterly forgettable.
 

tott

Well-known member
May 12, 2009
To me, this is a very cosy comfort scent, but ultimately it bores me. I gave away what was left of my bottle to a colleague who loves it. She also loves Montale's Blue Amber; they share that warm fuzziness, don't they?

Truly a very pleasant fragrance.
 

jathanas

Well-known member
Dec 6, 2007
Oh man.....I've read so many positives about the Hermessence line of fragrances....particularly Ambre Narguile....I've got so much already on my wish list and just didn't want to get into something else that'd make my credit card bleed even more......but it's inevitable I think.....

Thanks for your review J....I am closer to to trying this than I was before this thread came.....

You're most welcome bro. Quoting Chandler Burr: "It is not merely the best; there is simply nothing like it on the market, period. And no one will ever do it as well again. "

IMHO, Ambre Narguillé is the best of the Hermèssence line and not even that good. The others are, for the most part, utterly forgettable.

Have you tried Vetiver Tonka? An amazing implementation of a gourmand vetiver.

To me, this is a very cosy comfort scent, but ultimately it bores me. I gave away what was left of my bottle to a colleague who loves it. She also loves Montale's Blue Amber; they share that warm fuzziness, don't they?

Truly a very pleasant fragrance.

I can see that for some AN will be a comfort scent, all cozy. It's much more than that for me.

I pitch Ambre Narguilé in the same corner as Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille and L'Artisan's Tea for Two. They all have this sweet honeyed amber base, but differ in accents (cinnamon, tobacco and tea).

You could widen the net and put Chergui or Arabie in the group.
 

Merlino

Well-known member
Dec 25, 2007
Have you tried Vetiver Tonka? An amazing implementation of a gourmand vetiver.

IMO, vetiver tonka is not interesting or innovative in any way. Sure, it smells good. But it's boring... I'd buy it if I weren't a basenoter and just wanted to smell good. And only at $50 a bottle, not the insane price they're asking for it.
 

mr. reasonable

Well-known member
Jan 1, 2009
Oh man.....I've read so many positives about the Hermessence line of fragrances....particularly Ambre Narguile....I've got so much already on my wish list and just didn't want to get into something else that'd make my credit card bleed even more......but it's inevitable I think.....

My intro to this line was a box of 4 x 15 ml which included Ambre Narguile, Vetiver Tonka, Osmanthe Yunnan & Poivre Samarcande. I think Hermes still sell them this way, where you can pick 4 of whatever is on hand, not sure?

I agree with the subtext of what's been said - that JCE has not set out be edgy or artsy with the Hermessences line - they are very high quality comfort scents (but with a nod and a wink - they are not simple). I sense Sheldrake is taking a similar approach at Chanel - understated elegance, sort of thing. I bought Vetiver Tonka and rate it along with Vetiver Pour Elle & Sycomore as an excellent Variation on a Theme of Vetiver. I also like Vanille Galante a lot - it avoids the usual sweet Vanilla synthetics, just as Ambre Narguile seems to side-step yer typical heavy, cloying Amber.
 

Trebor

Well-known member
Apr 8, 2006
IMHO, Ambre Narguillé is the best of the Hermèssence line and not even that good. The others are, for the most part, utterly forgettable.
Well, I quite like Vetiver Tonka but feel that Montale's Red Vetyver is a more worthwhile substitute. Aside from that, I pretty much agree - they're simply not worth the money (these EDTs originally cost £90, three or four years ago, but have since increased to £120). Ambre Narguillé is quite nice but it's not as complex as it tries to make out, is quite thin for its price tag and is far too sweet (Arabie's sweet but there's a resinous aspect to it that balances out the composition).

Still, Ambre Narguillé is like children to me - I absolutely love and enjoy spending time with them but I have no intention of having my own.
 
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Sugandaraja

Moderator
Basenotes Plus
Aug 28, 2007
Still, Ambre Narguillé is like children to me - I absolutely love and enjoy spending time with them but I have no intention of having my own.

This sums up my feeling towards AN, too. I found it gorgeous and extremely wearable, but was strangely unmoved to buy a full bottle.
 

jathanas

Well-known member
Dec 6, 2007
My intro to this line was a box of 4 x 15 ml which included Ambre Narguile, Vetiver Tonka, Osmanthe Yunnan & Poivre Samarcande. I think Hermes still sell them this way, where you can pick 4 of whatever is on hand, not sure?

I agree with the subtext of what's been said - that JCE has not set out be edgy or artsy with the Hermessences line - they are very high quality comfort scents (but with a nod and a wink - they are not simple). I sense Sheldrake is taking a similar approach at Chanel - understated elegance, sort of thing. I bought Vetiver Tonka and rate it along with Vetiver Pour Elle & Sycomore as an excellent Variation on a Theme of Vetiver. I also like Vanille Galante a lot - it avoids the usual sweet Vanilla synthetics, just as Ambre Narguile seems to side-step yer typical heavy, cloying Amber.

Correct you can buy 4 * 15ml bottles of one hermessence product or 4 different ones.

You hit the nail on the head with the assertion that these are purposely designed with restraint and not meant to be loud or edgy. Vanille Galante is impressive as it foregoes the cheaper vanillin for a more natural vanilla accord.
 

Redneck Perfumisto

League of Cycloöctadiene Isomer Aestheticists
Basenotes Plus
Feb 27, 2008
You're right - this one does get better as it moves along. I think I'll start paying it more attention. (I got the travel set of four, and I'm spending most of my time with Poivre Samarcande and Vetiver Tonka.) As I recall, AN in the first few minutes didn't compete with similar ambers like Ambre Sultan and Ambre Precieux, which knock one's socks off right off the bat, but with time it did come into its own.
 

mikeperez23

Be Here. Now.
Basenotes Plus
Dec 31, 2006
Nice to see Ambre Narguile getting some love.

This was a scent, that I fell in love with prior to finding about Basenotes. I had purchased and fell in love with Un Jardin Sur Le Nil (after reading about it in Chandler Burr's New Yorker article) and I went into the Hermes boutique with the sole intention of smelling the Hermessence line. The extremely friendly SA gifted me and my husband four large glass vials of each of the 4 original scents (Ambre Narguile, Vetiver Tonka, Poivre Samarcande and Rose Ikebana). I remember wearing AN, a week later, to my Christmas party in my home. The smell of that scent, mixed with the smell of the holidays (the tree, desserts, hot cider, etc) was magical and it will always remain fixed in my subconscious whenever I smell AN.

The magic, in AN, is the way the scent smells on other people. Whiffs of the scent, in the air, and the way it diffuses around the wearer is almost perfect. The sillage tends to make my stomach rumble. It walks that fine line between a flavor and a fragrance - and yet, it smells rich, opulent and skillfully artisanal.

Having said that, I cannot wear AN in the Spring, Summer or Fall here in Miami...it gets WAY too cloying and I can only wear it in cool Winter weather. Therefore when I went thru my travel sized bottle I didn't replace it. But I have a sample in my sample pile and this year around the holiday season I will be wearing it for sure.
 
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jathanas

Well-known member
Dec 6, 2007
Well, I quite like Vetiver Tonka but feel that Montale's Red Vetyver is a more worthwhile substitute. Aside from that, I pretty much agree - they're simply not worth the money (these EDTs originally cost £90, three or four years ago, but have since increased to £120). Ambre Narguillé is quite nice but it's not as complex as it tries to make out, is quite thin for its price tag and is far too sweet (Arabie's sweet but there's a resinous aspect to it that balances out the composition).

Still, Ambre Narguillé is like children to me - I absolutely love and enjoy spending time with them but I have no intention of having my own.

Ambre Narguillé is like children to me as well; except I have a 2 kids and 4 * 15ml bottles of AN ;)

You're right - this one does get better as it moves along. I think I'll start paying it more attention. (I got the travel set of four, and I'm spending most of my time with Poivre Samarcande and Vetiver Tonka.) As I recall, AN in the first few minutes didn't compete with similar ambers like Ambre Sultan and Ambre Precieux, which knock one's socks off right off the bat, but with time it did come into its own.

R_P: VT is awesome and poivre is growing on me.

Nice to see Ambre Narguile getting some love.

This was a scent, that I fell in love with prior to finding about Basenotes. I had purchased and fell in love with Un Jardin Sur Le Nil (after reading about it in Chandler Burr's New Yorker article) and I went into the Hermes boutique with the sole intention of smelling the Hermessence line. The extremely friendly SA gifted me and my husband four large glass vials of each of the 4 original scents (Ambre Narguile, Vetiver Tonka, Poivre Samarcande and Rose Ikebana). I remember wearing AN, a week later, to my Christmas party in my home. The smell of that scent, mixed with the smell of the holidays (the tree, desserts, hot cider, etc) was magical and it will always remain fixed in my subconscious whenever I smell AN.

The magic, in AN, is the way the scent smells on other people. Whiffs of the scent, in the air, and the way it diffuses around the wearer is almost perfect. The sillage tends to make my stomach rumble. It walks that fine line between a flavor and a fragrance - and yet, it smells rich, opulent and skillfully artisanal.

Having said that, I cannot wear AN in the Spring, Summer or Fall here in Miami...it gets WAY too cloying and I can only wear it in cool Winter weather. Therefore when I went thru my travel sized bottle I didn't replace it. But I have a sample in my sample pile and this year around the holiday season I will be wearing it for sure.

Mike I plan to test your assertion by smelling ambre narguile on my wife tonight ;)
 

Amit

Well-known member
Dec 7, 2005
Nice to see Ambre Narguile getting some love.

This was a scent, that I fell in love with prior to finding about Basenotes. I had purchased and fell in love with Un Jardin Sur Le Nil (after reading about it in Chandler Burr's New Yorker article) and I went into the Hermes boutique with the sole intention of smelling the Hermessence line. The extremely friendly SA gifted me and my husband four large glass vials of each of the 4 original scents (Ambre Narguile, Vetiver Tonka, Poivre Samarcande and Rose Ikebana). I remember wearing AN, a week later, to my Christmas party in my home. The smell of that scent, mixed with the smell of the holidays (the tree, desserts, hot cider, etc) was magical and it will always remain fixed in my subconscious whenever I smell AN.

The magic, in AN, is the way the scent smells on other people. Whiffs of the scent, in the air, and the way it diffuses around the wearer is almost perfect. The sillage tends to make my stomach rumble. It walks that fine line between a flavor and a fragrance - and yet, it smells rich, opulent and skillfully artisanal.

Having said that, I cannot wear AN in the Spring, Summer or Fall here in Miami...it gets WAY too cloying and I can only wear it in cool Winter weather. Therefore when I went thru my travel sized bottle I didn't replace it. But I have a sample in my sample pile and this year around the holiday season I will be wearing it for sure.

Great post Mike :thumbup:

I had tested Ambre Narguile in the early stages of my scent hobby, although later it kinda slipped through the cracks for me as I later gunned for the more aggressive Ambers. Your post has put it back on track for me.
 

mikeperez23

Be Here. Now.
Basenotes Plus
Dec 31, 2006
Mike I plan to test your assertion by smelling ambre narguile on my wife tonight ;)

I remember being asleep one morning, and Ray put some AN on to get ready for work, and the smell woke me up from sleep. It was like the smell of a brewing coffee pot - it instantly triggered a mental / olfactory memory for me, and after that the entire room smelled of AN for about an hour. Luxurious stuff.

Great post Mike :thumbup:

I had tested Ambre Narguile in the early stages of my scent hobby, although later it kinda slipped through the cracks for me as I later gunned for the more aggressive Ambers. Your post has put it back on track for me.

Funny, even though AN is an amber scent, I think of it more of a gourmand. My amber love is of course Ambre Sultan, so yes I see what you mean about our thresholds being raised for more 'aggressive' ambers. :)
 

Astaroth

Well-known member
May 24, 2008
jathanas, thanks for the Chandler Burr reference, which can be found in full here on his website.

I discovered this for the first time during the Southern California BN Meetup at the Hermès store at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. It's really amazing. I'm a big fan of gourmand scents anyway. (I love Serge Lutens Arabie, for example.) But this is in a different class altogether. I took away a 15ml vial of Ambre Narguilé, and I'm guessing I'll buy a full bottle as soon as the vial is depleted.
 
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jathanas

Well-known member
Dec 6, 2007
jathanas, thanks for the Chandler Burr reference, which can be found in full here on his website.

I discovered this for the first time during the Southern California BN Meetup at the Hermès store at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa. It's really amazing. I'm a big fan of gourmand scents anyway. (I love Serge Lutens Arabie, for example.) But this is in a different class altogether. I took away a 15ml vial of Ambre Narguilé, and I'm guessing I'll buy a full bottle as soon as the vial is depleted.

Cheers for the link to the full review Astaroth.

AN would be irresistable to a gourmand lover:); that cinnamon-roasted sesame-honey opening is magic.
 
E

eric

Guest
I have a sample of it. It´s J.C. Ellena´s minimalist take on Amber . I like most of Ellena´s creations and this is a great Amber interpretation.
 
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mikeperez23

Be Here. Now.
Basenotes Plus
Dec 31, 2006
I wore this again tonight from a new decant (I haven't worn some in almost a year) - wow, this stuff is just incredible.

It is, one JCE's finest moments in perfumery - probably his finest achievement at Hermes, behind Terre de Hermes.
 
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TigerJuice

Well-known member
Dec 9, 2007
I wore this again tonight from a new decant (I haven't worn some in almost a year) - wow, this stuff is just incredible.

It is, one JCE's finest moments in perfumery - probably his finest achievement at Hermes, behind Terre de Hermes.

My two favorites of JCE's as well.

I am in love with Ambre Narguilé.

The one I would add to this list is Declaration Essence. I swear to God, when I wear Declaration Essence, I feel like I am the King of some country!
 

jenson

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2007
only recently i got a chance to sample Poivre Samarcande and it just blew me away. really class act. can't wait to sample AN. shouldnt be hard for me to fall in love with this one too considering my love for his works (TdH, Un Jardin sur le nil, Kelly Caleche edt & Hiris and ofcourse TDC)
 

nsamadi

Well-known member
Jun 20, 2004
It's a fine scent for sure. I love it and wearing it a ton during the winter but for that price tag. I'd rather sub it with Chergui.
 

Scentologist

Well-known member
Apr 17, 2007
Funny, even though AN is an amber scent, I think of it more of a gourmand. My amber love is of course Ambre Sultan, so yes I see what you mean about our thresholds being raised for more 'aggressive' ambers. :)

I finally got a sample of AN some while back. Its just not for me. Too gourmand with a tinge of dirt. I much prefer Ambre Sultan!!
 

Scentologist

Well-known member
Apr 17, 2007
only recently i got a chance to sample Poivre Samarcande and it just blew me away. really class act. can't wait to sample AN. shouldnt be hard for me to fall in love with this one too considering my love for his works (TdH, Un Jardin sur le nil, Kelly Caleche edt & Hiris and ofcourse TDC)

Poivre Samarcande is awesome and I'm not sure if I don't love it more than Spice and Wood. I will have to do a side by side. SW has a fresh element that I like that tames the peppers a bit but, PS is peppers all the way!
 

Ekove

Well-known member
Mar 26, 2010
Ambre Narguile is one of the better hermessence fragrances. They're pretty good simple fragrances, but not fantastic. That'd be fine, if they weren't so light, I'd buy about half of that line if it was just slightly cheaper, but for $200 a pop, I have countless better options: Frederic Malle, Guerlains Exclusives, or even Amouage.

Sorry but for $200 dollars, if the fragrance is not utterly amazing, it has to be at least strong and complex to make up for that. Ambre Narguile to me is just a slightly spicier version of Ambre Extreme by L'Artisan. It's pleasant alright...but not worth the price, just get some amber+cinammon essential oils, some alcohol and you're good to go.

I don't mean to be a downer, I like a couple of Jean-Claude Ellena creations, but he's over-rated. He's so known because he makes simple pleasant fragrances, with little risk for the most part. He does what he does very well, but as I said, the price is ridiculous for what you get, and this is coming from a guy who has no problem dropping $500 on a single perfume.

Having said that, I might get the 15ml Hermessence box, just for the sake of reference. Considering how light they are, 15ml is probably enough for like 2 wearings. But even then, I'd probably skip on Ambre Narguile despite being a huge fan of Amber, there are at least more unique and complex offerings out there.

But hey, if you enjoy it, that's great! I regret buying L'Artisan Ambre Extreme but it's my girlfriends favorite fragrance.
 

Trebor

Well-known member
Apr 8, 2006
Ambre Narguile is one of the better hermessence fragrances. They're pretty good simple fragrances, but not fantastic. That'd be fine, if they weren't so light, I'd buy about half of that line if it was just slightly cheaper, but for $200 a pop, I have countless better options: Frederic Malle, Guerlains Exclusives, or even Amouage.

Sorry but for $200 dollars, if the fragrance is not utterly amazing, it has to be at least strong and complex to make up for that. Ambre Narguile to me is just a slightly spicier version of Ambre Extreme by L'Artisan. It's pleasant alright...but not worth the price, just get some amber+cinammon essential oils, some alcohol and you're good to go.

I don't mean to be a downer, I like a couple of Jean-Claude Ellena creations, but he's over-rated. He's so known because he makes simple pleasant fragrances, with little risk for the most part. He does what he does very well, but as I said, the price is ridiculous for what you get, and this is coming from a guy who has no problem dropping $500 on a single perfume.
Well said!
 

CX827

Well-known member
Dec 15, 2007
Is it a syrupy amber, or not?
Not syrupy. Let say if SL Ambre Sultan is an oil painting, AN would be like something in watercolor
Are you familiar with the smell of waterpipe smoking? A puff of cloud that fill with fruit flavored tobacco scent. that pretty much what Ambre Narguilé is like
 

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