Who knew that the infamous Nazgul (Hermès Ambre Narguilé) would be a cuddly-little-fluffy-kitten of a comfort scent? If you took Annick Goutal’s Ambre Fetiche, subtracted the smoke, then added sugar cookies and marzipan, what would you have? A tremor inspiring amber-haters nightmare.
I believe that it was Patty at Perfume Posse who first assigned the moniker “Nazgul” (please comment if you know otherwise, so I can give appropriate credit) to Ambre Narguilé, and it has always made me smile. At first I laughed because, what is there to fear here, Frodo? AN is a sweet, accessible amber, simple and appealing. However, after wearing AN a few weeks, I realize that there is more to this story.
That mastermind of ethereal, perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena, has taken some of the most dense notes in perfumery (benzoin, labdanum, musk, vanilla, caramel, honey, tonka, grilled sesame seeds, cinnamon, rum, coumarine, white orchids), and given them wings. When this beast takes flight, it is not mistaken for a sparrow.
Dark and mysterious, Ambre Narguilé could be thought of as a winged Frapin 1697; I’m reluctant to use the terms “sheer,” or “transparent,” because AN is painted in deep, darkly opulent tones; and yet it’s got that signature JCE-ness to it (others may disagree, but I’m standing my ground on this!) that in other compositions is both of those things. But for this signature, I’d swear I was smelling a Guerlain.
It wears beautifully, with just the right amount of sillage; after about four hours, it quiets down to the point that I can only smell it when I effect wrist-to-nose posture, and the far dry-down is even more edible than the pastry inspired top notes.
Ambre Narguilé is a must-try for fans of Frapin 1697 (or 1270, or Caravelle Epicée), or Histoires de Parfums 1740. That is, if you like your amber boozy. 😉
My sample of AN came from my fragrant fairy-godmother, Tara. Thank you Tara!