Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.
Ambrox (or ambroxan), a musky-ambery aroma material with a creamy, woody facet, is suddenly getting an unexpected spotlight on stage. A few years ago, Escentric Molecules launched Escentric 02, which featured ambrox set against a sheer iris and vetiver accord, but today Juliette Has a Gun went further by presenting Not a Perfume, a dilution of ambrox in alcohol. Another ambrox heavy fragrance launched recently is Le Labo Another 13.
Without a doubt, ambrox is a great aroma material: complex, musky, and warm. Considering the disappearance of many classical basenotes from perfumer’s palette either due to price restrictions or IFRA regulations, ambrox fills quite a gap. It is able to endow a fragrance with a richness that suggests ambergris, while its radiant clean finish fits with modern concepts of perfumery. As Not a Perfume shows, it makes for a very pleasant, if obviously somewhat one-dimensional scent when used on its own.
Although Le Labo Another 13, a fragrance by Nathalie Lorson, is more than just ambrox, the chief impression is that of the musky-woody note. Initially, bright and fizzy, the composition takes a dry woody direction, which it maintains throughout its development. As one might expect from an ambrox, it is quite tenacious! The effect is pleasant, but not more than that. I find it one-dimensional and flat, much like I found Escentric 02. It is just as well, since Another 13 is a limited edition fragrance available only from a few select places.
Frankly, if one would like to experience ambrox at its best, I would rather suggest Frederic Malle Géranium pour Monsieur, Lancôme Mille et Une Rose, or Robert Piguet Calypso. Juliette has a Gun Calamity J also features ambrox quite successfully, weaving it into a woody oriental accord laced with patchouli. All of these fragrances show how ambrox as a supporting back note can create a luminous amber effect. To me, it is far more exciting than its simple alcoholic solution.
Le Labo Another 13 includes notes of ambrox, citrus, apple, pear, and ambrette seeds. It is a limited edition, with only 500 bottles produced, and it is available at Le Labo, Barney’s, Colette, and Liberty.