I bought Abre Sultan figuring Danny would end up with it, like all the other amber fragrances I buy. I like the idea of amber notes more than the execution, but that hasn't stopped me forking over money in hopes the next one will be love at first sniff. When I read the notes and saw that vanilla was included I was convinced it would be too sweet for me. It was a pleasure to find that the vanilla, while not subtle, does work nicely with the other notes creating a perfume that changes noticeably through the hours I wore it. Danny isn't getting this one!
My first impression was camphor, but then I realised it was laurel. My brain did that thing where it links all sorts of things together and then spits it out as some sort of observation that would elicit a puzzled expression and a muttering of, "So?" from anyone I'd share it with. That's been happening to me my entire life, so it isn't unfamiliar but sometimes I forget and blurt those observations out and then people look at me in that tense way like you've just told some sort of anti-joke, and they can tell it is a joke, but don't get it, and do that odd little awkward laugh people do when they aren't certain if they're being made fun of. But we're all friends here, so it went something like: "Oh, bugs get trapped in amber so that's why the perfumer wants it to smell like bay laurel because that was what Victorian naturalists used ground up in their kill jars when collecting insect specimens, but you can also use lanolin but that would smell like nail polish remover or perfume that's gone off." Yeah, be glad you don't have to live with my brain-it is chock-full of shit like that. I dated someone years ago that called it, "Joseph Campbell Disease" where everything has something to do with everything else, and you can prove it by pointing out the minutiae that don't prove anything except the fact that your brain remembers every damned detail of everything you ever learned at school. Except of course, punctuation. Fuck you, Strunk and White.
Bay laurel leaves are great-I have a bay laurel living in a pot in my sunny window (I named it Apollo II, not after the space mission, but after the god. The first bay laurel died, and he was just named Apollo, so obviously the next one had to be Apollo II). In the summertime, when the plant is outdoors in the sun, it does give off a slightly camphorous smell. This is the first thing that really strikes me as special about the Lutens Ambre Sultan. Instead of the typical soda fountain vanilla assault, there's the almost medicinal fragrance of my bay laurel warming in the sun. My brain just did that bit again: Soda fountains+vanilla+camphor+medicinal=Lindeman's Pharmacy in Deerfield, Illinios (long gone now) where they had a soda fountain, but also sold the vanilla extract in the same brown bottles they used for cough syrup.
God, I miss Lindeman's.
My point (yes, there is one) is that Ambre Sultan isn't a sweet amber fragrance. It is herbal, medicinal, and warm without making you think of candy. A vanilla phosphate, maybe-but definitely not candy. There's angelica in there, which I also grew once (it died) and coriander. Myrtle, oregano, myrrh-not the typical stuff of amber fragrances. With each hour, as the strong notes faded, the resins and patchouli warm up making for one hell of a glorious perfume. The sandalwood is a good quality one, and if you've ever smelled the bad stuff, your nose will be able to detect the difference. This is a perfume I want to douse myself in over and over, and then spray all the closets in the house. For something that I was certain wouldn't be my style, I must say I'm really quite impressed.
I recently splashed out on a few Lutens fragrances. I'd resisted all these years thinking they were just overpriced niche nonsense, and you don't even get a pretty bottle out of the deal. Well. I was wrong. I wasn't wrong about the bottles, but I was dead wrong about the juice inside. I've been reading people complaining about the longevity of this one, but I have to say, even on my seriously dry skin that soaks up perfume, this has gone a good eight hours on me, with a bit left after that. There seems to be an issue with reformulation, so perhaps my decant is from an older bottle.
Resins, amber, bay leaf, myrrh, benzoin, sandalwood, coriander, myrtle, angelica, patchouli, oregano, and vanilla.
I'm not sure how Ambre Sultan will work in warmer weather, but right now with the lingering cold of winter and spring trying like hell to break through, this is the perfect perfume. This stuff isn't cheap, so as I typically suggest-get a decant and live with it for a while before plunging in and going for a full bottle. Of course, if you buy a full bottle and hate it, well...you can always send it here.