The Nazgul: Hermès takes flight

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!

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9 thoughts on “The Nazgul: Hermès takes flight

  1. Frapin with wings, lovely!
    Ambre Narguilé was one of my first loves, it’ll always have a place in my heart.
    I totally agree about the JCE signature, it is there alright, even when he works with such dense and heavy notes he manages to keep it weightless. Gotta love that man! 😉
    Beautiful review, Dee!

    1. I’m glad that you concur about the JCE signature— I feel like I had read that this scent was a departure from signature style…. The notes certainly aren’t his bread and butter, but it’s got his treatment for sure: it really is weightless!

      Thank you for reading 🙂

  2. Ha! I kinew you’d love it – so pleased. It is rich and sweet so I can see why some people might find The Nazgul overpowering but as long as you don’t over-apply I agree it’s really cosy (it is supposed to represent cashmere after all). It’s certainly not what I would call a heavy scent or a sillage monster. Never thought about the Guerlain connection before but you’re right dee, I can see a kinship with Attrape Ceour in particular.

    BTW I am wearing Calamity J today – love it!

    1. Tara, you were right on both counts! I love it, and it needs two be applied with a light hand— especially in warm weather (like we’ve been having here). I’ve asked myself over and over again, How many amber fragrances does one person need? Birgit said it best: “Just one more.”

  3. Funny, that makes me wonder what JCE would do with a list of Andy Tauer’s raw materials. I like several of them, and love one (Marocain) but would be glad of a gentle breeze or an open window in there sometimes!

    1. That is an experiment that I would be happy to participate in! Ellena is not my favorite perfumer by any stretch, but I will acknowledge that he’s a genius! 🙂

  4. I have some of this one, so I’m safe from spending. Oh, except I suspect the opposite is true: if I love AN, I will love Frapin 1697. Damn… 😉

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