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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Teo Cabanel Barkhane: fragrance review & free perfume draw

There are generally speaking three directions on amber, that perfumery trope which although reminiscent of alembicated elixirs derives in reality from the late 19th century and its advances in chemistry. Roughly, much like human body types, there is the thick-set endomorph, vanillic and zaftig amber, often powdery but a little too snuggly the way a favorite aunt suffocated you as a child when she tried to hug you; there's the linear ectomorph, naturally rail-thin and giving only a hint of an oriental, fit for people who consider sipping a latte as having the equivalent of a dessert orgy only the calories fly off their cage-like backs (Marc Jacobs Amber Splash I'm looking at you); and finally the elusively callipygean mesomorph, its discovery as awe inspiring as the realization of the protagonist in They Live, an amber that's got to be extra-terrestrial, since there's no other explanation for its perfect, almost perverse precision and special abilities.

photo by Francesco Middei for National Geographic via Pinterest (Namibia sand dune)

Some of my favorite ambers belong to that last category, managing the trick via either a generous helping of herbal accents (Ambre Sultan by Lutens is the crowning example) or a devious splattering of incense notes, via frankincense or myrrh (Ambra del Nepal or Angelique Encens are decent examples.)        

Barkhane belongs to this special category, a foudroyant amber perfume both thanks to its transparent treatment of the labdanum (cistus)-vanillin pairing and the bittersweet myrrh resin which illuminates it the way vitraux illuminate a cathedral. From a distance Barkhane suggests repetition, since Alahine (Cabanel's 2007 fragrance) was also a terrific amber. But it is not, since it lacks the rosy floralcy and the woody element, as perfumer Jean-Francois Latty here focused instead on the introduction of a tempered oud note which tilts it into the slightly medicinal, more masculine or unisex territory. There is also a notable spicy component (reportedly built on cumin and curry notes) which melds with the myrrh.

Last but not least: the lasting power is phenomenal for something so well balanced and, yes, at its fighting weight.

Barkhane is the latest fragrance by niche French brand Teo Cabanel, re-introduced recently in the States and repackaged to new heights of luxury under the direction of heiress Caroline Ilacqua. The fragrance's name derives from the naturalist Alexander von Middendorf, who used it to describe "the smooth velvety dunes which gently ripple under powerful desert winds".

I have a self-bought* large sample for one lucky reader in Europe/rest of the world. If you're in the USA, thanks to Hypoluxe Inc.'s generosity, there's the option of one BIG 1/2oz spray for ONE lucky winner and 15 sample vials for 15 more winners. 
Please enter a comment saying your opinion on amber fragrances and if you have a favorite/Kryptonite one and please state whether you're in Europe/USA/rest of the world. 
Draw is open till Thursday midnight, winners to be announced sometime on Friday.
(*The company did send me another one for reviewing purposes)

92 comments:

  1. Ooh, it sounds nice. Amber is so lovely this time of year. Ambre Sultan is my favorite thus far, but of course I have hundreds left yet to try. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  2. I am dousing myself in Ambre Russe these days, trying to warm up (it's very cold in the US Midwest). Ambre Sultan, Imperial Opoponax, Obsession, all are getting a workout this winter. Thanks for the generous draw, Elena!

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  3. Your review makes Barkhane sound very intriguing! Amber Kryptonite of mine are Ambre 114, Ambre Russie and Alamut.

    Thanks for the generous giveaway!

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  4. Especially I like Elixir des Merveilles, Ambra Aurea,Prada L'Eau Ambrée, Ambre Gris and of course Ambre Sultan.

    Greetings from Vienna
    Gina

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  5. I love your taxonomy of ambers :-)

    At the moment I'm knee-deep in ambers. My FB favourite remains Ambre Sultan - but Ambre Narguilé, L'Occitane Ambre, Ambre Oud, L'Ambre des Merveilles and Blue Amber (surely the most zaftig of ambers!) are also seeing a lot of use.

    Thank you for the giveaway!

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  6. Zaftig Me can certainly handle a good old suffocating amber, but, oh the ET's.... Two favorites are Ambre Russe and Ambre Sultan (of course). THANKS, Judy

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  7. Newsflash for everyone: please specify if you're in Europe or USA in the body of your comment for ease when doing the draw later on. (I have added generous prizes for the US thanks to the distributor who will do the shipping)
    Thanks!!

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  8. This sounds fantastic, i need to try this! I am absolutely in love with amber, and some of my favorites include Annick Goutal's Les Orientaliates Ambre Fetiche, Sonoma Scent Studio's Winter Woods, and Serge Luten's Ambre Sultan. I live in the US. Thank you so much!

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  9. The cold weather (Boston, USA) makes it easy to enjoy ambers of any kind, even ones that seem overwhelming in summer. I would love to try Barkhane. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  10. Anonymous17:18

    Opulent Amber pushes all the right buttons when it is cold and grey, and Ambre 114 is Just Right for me.

    (I recently got a bottle of now-you-see-it now-you-don't Amber from L'Occitane, about which I'd read good things, but it is Too Thin on first try.)

    I'm in Europe, which is why warming Amber is such a boon!

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

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  11. I live in the USA. I love amber in just about all its forms (even the smothering Great Auntie type ;-) ). One favorite that has been getting a lot of play during this very cold winter is By Kilian's Amber Oud. Elegant yet cuddly.

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  12. Glannys17:40

    Oh, I like amber perfumes. My favourite is probably Ambre Sultan. I also like Ambre by L`Occitane.
    I am in Europe.

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  13. Merlin18:05

    I don't think Chergui is technically an amber - but given that ambers contain no actual amber (as in tree sap) I'm not sure it isn't one. I think the iris and tobacco keep it from being cloying, but it is warm and wonderful goodness! I like Ambre Russe very much too, but its opulence stops me from wearing it as often. Another I enjoy - though I don't have a bottle is Etro's Ambra. Its not unusual but just beautifully simple.

    I live in South Africa:)

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  14. Hei. I hail from Norway and my favorite amber perfume are Yve Rochers Voile d'Amber.

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  15. I don't have a favorite yet. I'm just starting to explore ambers but love them already.

    I'm in the US.

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  16. Kandice19:05

    I live in the US and would love to sample this. Unfortunately, I haven't tried many ambers so don't have favorite yet. I did enjoy the small sample I tried of Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles.

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  17. My favorite amber so far is Ambre Sultan, but not my "HG of Amber".

    Thank you for the opportunity. I'm in the USA.

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  18. I own and love many amber perfumes for sure. I know Ambre Sultan is well adored and while I like it and enjoy it, I prefer many others by far: MdO Ambre may be my favorite one, followed by Ambra di Luna, an Ambre Fetiche. I also adore Ambre Narguile and my beloved, old friend, Ambre Precieux which was my first amber perfume buy. I have by Kilian Amber Oud and it did not work at all for me. It just didnt satisfy my amber craze. Two of my beloved ones which I wear in the depths of winter are Il Profumo's Ambre d'Or and Ambra Nera. I am sure I am leaving some other favorites out but I can't continue getting exited about amber here any more without putting someone to sleep with my elongated rambling. I am in the US. Thanks Elena.

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  19. I don't know much about amber since I am knew to perfume. I like Dior's Ambre Nuit and Armani Ambre Soie. I would love to try Teo Cabanel's rendition since I enjoy his Alahine so much.
    Thanks!
    I am in the USA.

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  20. i'm in italy my favourites amber frags are ambre precieux by maitre parfumier ,ambre russe ,alahine ,hope to smell this one soon

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  21. I love amber, and my favorite is Ambre Sultan. I'm in the USA. Thank you for the draw

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  22. I love amber, and my favorite is Ambre Sultan. I'm in the USA. Thank you for the draw

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  23. I love a good amber but only in the winter months.

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  24. USA, here.

    I don't have a favorite Amber, but...mmmmmm...amber!

    Thanks for the giveaway!

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  25. (from Canada) Exploring leathery and vanillic ambers, and looking for a favourite...
    also love your taxonomy!

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  26. after trying many different ambers, i think "ambre precieux" is probably my favorite. "ambre fetiche" is a good one too. prada's "l'eau ambree" is very nice also. i like "ambre sultan" on others, but it is less satisfying to me.

    i have "alahine", and think it's lovely, so would be very pleased to try this one.

    i live in the US, in case i'm lucky enough to win this!

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  27. Anonymous21:40

    Hello,

    Prada Cuir Ambre has been my favorite this winter. One drop is enough-it is full of oak moss.

    I am in Canada, an thank you for your draw,

    Sincerely,
    Carole

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  28. Anonymous21:41

    From Canada. One of my favorite notes! Wearing Amber Narguile today. Love Silver Factory, Amber di Luna, and Amber Oud. Thx. Dagney Betty.

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  29. I haven't tried an amber ,this will be my first one.Greece here.

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  30. I'm a big fan of amber and recently bought Ambre Sultan. I'm in the U.S. Thanks for the draw!

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  31. Rednails01:12

    Of the ambers I own, I'd have to say that Alahine is my fav. Can't say I have a "kryptonite" amber -- just lots of other favorites: Geisha Noire, Shalimar, Absolute pour le Soir. Thanks for the draw. I am in the US, natch.

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  32. Anonymous01:29

    Amber was my first beloved scent category / type of perfume, from way back in the days of bohemian shop oils, and solid perfumes from Indiasong. Decades later, I adore Ambres Sultan, Russe, Narguilé and Extrême, with a side of Blue Amber and Ambre Vanille if I need something especially snuggly. I am posting anonymously for the draw but it's Eprise de flacons from 'the board' here. Thank you for not barring Canadians from the draw! I tip my hat to you.

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  33. USA; I love L'Artisan Ambre Extreme. I'm not sure which category it falls into. But I'm looking for an amber that's bigger and "badder"!

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  34. I am just starting to explore ambers, but I love SL Chergui and SSS Winter Woods. I would be very excited to try Barkhane to compare to Alahine, which I thought was lovely but a bit powdery on me. I am in the US, Thank you!

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  35. I really want to try this Teo Cabanel gem! I am not too familiar with Amber with the exception of Ambre Sultan and Ambre Russe. Thanks for this generous give away. I am in the USA.

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  36. Anonymous02:51

    Great draw! My favorite ambers are Ambre Precieux, Eau des Merveilles and Winter Woods. From the Philippines here . Thank you!

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  37. I would love to give this a try! I've never ventured far into the ambers, so I don't really have a favorite. Nonetheless, I love the ambery facets of Andy Tauer's line--Eau d'Épices in particular.

    I live in the US. Please enter me in the draw!

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  38. Hi, I am chamekke - she of the zaftig Blue Amber (5th comment from the top) - and just wanted to add that I am in Canada, eh :-)

    Thank you!

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  39. I am enjoying Ambre Fetiche and Kalemat, these days. I am in the US and thanks for the generous draw!

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  40. Sarah K03:46

    Hi Elena, I'm in South Korea.

    I love the idea of amber, but a lot of them just don't quite hit the spot for me. Two that I do really like are Chantecaille's Kalimantan (for the herby take) and L'Ambre des Merveilles. I am not usually that much of a fan of JCE's work (perfumistas, please don't hate me) but I love the balance he found in L'Ambre des Merveilles. It's sweet but not too sweet, has depth but still somehow retains his signature airiness. Thanks for your generosity :)

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  41. i'm fairly new to perfumes (& exploring ambers). tonight i'm enjoying burnt amber by neil morris: a nice smoky, oaky plum amber. thank you for the barkhane review & the drawing! i'm located in the US.

    p.s. love getting the ideas from the other posters for future testers! thank you!

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  42. I am an Amber junkie! Ambre Sultan is one of my favorites! I live in the USA!

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  43. I can't truthfully say that I have a favorite amber; I really seem to love them all.The warmth that amber brings to a scent works very well to meld with my body chemistry and I am often complimented by friends and strangers alike when wearing anything that contains it! Thank you for the wonderful giveaway and I am located in the United States.

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  44. Australia here. I've been splashing Eau de Coty's Ambree (sp?) as an antidote to a week of 40+ degrees Celsius. Elements of classic cologne, but softer.

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  45. Tatiana06:12

    I love so many ambers it's hard to narrow it down to one that I love. The easiest one for me to wear at any time would be Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles. Living in the U.S. Thanks

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  46. This sounds like a perfect scent for the winter.

    My weak-in-the-knees amber is Profumum Roma's Ambra Aurea. When I want something sweeter, I reach for Ambre 114 by Histoires de Parfums.

    Great giveaway...thank you!

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  47. angelayio06:28

    The closest I got in amber was my first fragrance, gifted to me from my friends when I turned 18, in the mid 90's. It was tuscany per donna by aramis.I haven't found yet a warm scent that I love so much. Or maybe is just a memory trick. Thank you for the giveaway, I live in Greece.

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  48. Great giveaway, thank you!
    I love Ambre Loup Rania J. and Les Nombres d’Or Ambre Mona di Orio.
    Julia, Russia.

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  49. First let's deal with the formal part: I'm in the U.S.

    Now to ambers... Last year I loved them and couldn't get enough. But this year the winter here, in the Northern California, is extremely warm and I cannot wear any of my favorites: they just do not feel right. But I'm still hopeful that I'll get over it and will wear all of them again.

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  50. Apart from Ambre Sultan and Ormonde Jayne's Tolu (although here I might be getting confused with other notes?), I haven't had much contact with ambers, so I'm really excited with the opportunity of winning this! Thanks from the UK.

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  51. Brigyt08:12

    At this moment I am into Lancaster's Eau De Concentree. It starts herbal and fresh but the amber becomes prominent after some time. Quit nice. Greetings from Amsterdam.

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  52. I have a 'cuddly' amber I picked up in India, floral, powdery but not cloying. It seems to work in all seasons. I love it but the dark oil is quickly depleting, so thanks for the giveaway. I'm in Oz, otherwise known as 'Straya.

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  53. Hallo, Elena! What a sophisticated posting on amber! Well, I got your idea, but I consider ambers for consolation, quiet rainy afternoons or for a balanced working day. No aliens here with me! One such meditative scent for me is L'Eau Ambree by Prada - so snuggly-huggly that I can almost fall asleep...L'Ambre des Merveilles - Hermes and Ambre Oud - By Kilian are on m wish list. Certainly, there are ambers that can disturb my nervus vagus in some way - like Scent Intense by Costume National. Its amber is rough, soapy and chilly. Somehow it doesn't work on me. I love the stacking role of amber in Alien - Thierry Mugler, Dior Homme (and Homme Intense, of course), Midnight Poison by Dior, and especially in Coco - Chanel!
    I'm in Europe - Bulgaria. Thank you for the generous draw!

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  54. Stephan08:59

    Earlier on I wasn't so fond of amber heavy fragrances, till I met Ambre Precieux. Now I appreciate their warmth and their lasting power.

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  55. Stephan09:03

    I'm from the "rest of the world".

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  56. Great ambers are the foundations for so many wonderful fragrances as well gorgeous on their own. If a perfumer or a house can create a great amber they can do just about anything. I like all kinds of ambers, from Rasasi's Amber Ood, Killian's Ambre Oud, Ambre Sultan, Olympic Amber, Ish's Amber Ladies, Madini's Ambre, Ambre Fetiche...I am in he US. Thank you for this draw!

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  57. I love amber fragrances but I'm still looking for THE ONE. I live in Europe.

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  58. For me amber scents are perfect for the winter, they're perfect because you have a warm and cosy feeling wearing them.
    I have some amber scents in my collection buy my favourite one is Tom Ford's Amber Absolute.
    Other interesting amber are: Ambre 114 (HdP), Ambre Fetiche and , of course, the lovely Ambre Sultan.
    I'm in Europe.

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  59. i'm not a big fan of amber as i find amber based perfume being quite one dimensional, i usually like my amber animalic or leathery, my faves are ambre fetiche, farmacia annunziata ambra nera & parfum d'empire ambre russe. however, your description of barkhane sounds wonderful. i'm in Europe (UK). thank you.

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  60. Holly F.10:09

    I adore amber fragrances. Ambra del Nepal is one of my favorites. Thanks so much for the draw. I'm in the U.S.

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  61. Anonymous10:38

    I'm in very very sunny Australia and I'm curious as to what ambers you place in the smothering category?
    I love most ambers, but have no idea where to source this brand at all! I love Ambre Fetiche, ambre des Merveilles, APrive ambre orient etc and recently tried a sample of Lubin Akkad which was lovely!
    Lynley

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  62. I love amber and would love to try this one. I have sampled some of the other Cabanel scents and they are beautiful. Thanks for the sample!

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  63. My first real amber obsession was Ambre Précieux by MPG, but eventually I got tired of it (that took years and years and years, mind you). Nowadays I usually wear CSP's almost-edible Vanille Ambre or Yves Rocher's sunshiny Voile d'Ambre.

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  64. Mary-Karen12:48

    My first amber, and first Serge Lutens, was Arabie, which I still love. I wear Amber Sultan, which was my second SL, and someone also mentioned Alien ( I'm a science fiction fan, so I jumped on that one with glee!)
    I live in Canada, but could have a mailing address in Amsterdam, and will be there in May.

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  65. I am a HUGE fan of amber and I have a hard time saying what my favorite would be. I want to try this new one quite desperately! My top favorites are MPG's Ambre Precieux, Fiore d'Ambre (sp?) by Profumum (if only they could work on the longevity, I'd buy a full bottle), Ambre Sultan of course and my holy grail, vintage Shalimar parfum...or any concentration. I am in Europe (Denmark) and would be grateful to be included in the draw.

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  66. I haven't tried many amber fragrances, but I want to! I'm in Canada, and thanks for the draw!

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  67. marius1924@hotmail.it13:26

    I have three Kryptonite/fragrancies (like the three Gracees), above all Ambre Sultane de Lutens (gorgeous), Ambre Russie de Parfum d'Empire, and Ambre Fètiche de Annick Goutal (a little bit more patchouly than amber).
    Thanks for your giveaway, i'm in Italy

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  68. Lovely review, thanks. Amber tends to skew pretty sweet on my skin ... I guess I have more of the zaftig aunt experience! I'm always open to expanding my horizons, so this sounds like a good one for me. I live in the US.

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  69. Anonymous13:35

    I am Gentiana
    My love for amber perfumes great as the Himalaya!!!
    I am looking forward to purchase this winter a F.B. of Ambre Sultan or Ambre Fetiche from Annick Goutal.
    Of course, it's a hard decision to make... lova as well Ambre Precieux (MPG), Ambre Russe (Pd'E), Ambre Mirabilis...
    Well, no budget for all of them and I'm not connected to ny swapping/ splitting community.
    That's why I would be so very happy to win one of the decants in theis draw.
    I live in Europe, ROmania

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  70. I would love to try this. My favorite amber is Amber Russe.

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  71. I love ambers. They are my favorite type of fragrance to wear when the weather turns chilly . My favorites being Ambre Fetiche and Elixir des Merveilles. I also have a liking for Ambre Fetiche in dribs and drabs. I'm in the US and thanks for the draw!

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  72. Ellen14:51

    I have several ambers, but I seem to gravitate to the ones with spice(no surprise). Lately, however, I've been drawn to Fiore d"Ambra. I'm in the U.S. and thank you so much for the draw.

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  73. I've never met an amber I didn't like but I have to say none of them have held a candle to the first amber I ever tried, the gold standard, Ambre Sultan.

    I have a tiny sample of Barkhane and it's older sister, Alahine. They are both divine. Thanks for the draw! I am in the U.S.

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  74. USA
    I love ambers! Please count me in.
    My favorite is Ambre Sultan, but I also love the 'auntie' ambers all soft and poofy like L'Ombre Fauve.

    I have Persian Amber from Attar Bazaar, my first amber fragrance, which is vanillic and spicy and I think myrrh-y or resiny...not sure what's in it but it's bright and strong. I should really go back to my amber sample box and explore...

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  75. Barbara B15:31

    I don't have any amber fragrances, but love it as a note. Chanel Coco, Organza Indecence, and Boyfriend come to mind. I am in the Us and would like to try this. Thank you!

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  76. Beatrice8816:20

    Ambre Precieux is my favorite amber and I'm in Europe. Thanks for the excellent opportunity!

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  77. Colin17:02

    Here I am in the USA.

    I like quite a few amber oriented fragrances, but not all. The two that come to mind first are both simply called Ambra and are from Italian companies: Etro and Santa Maria Novella.

    Colin

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  78. Anonymous17:40

    I kind of have an appreciation foe all the different types of amber that you describe. The ones I am wearing now are Reminiscence Ambre and
    Histoires de Parfums Ambre 114. I am is the US. Thank you for this generous drawing.

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  79. Sandy Vasalos18:11

    Nice description of the types of amber fragrances. I have some L'Ambre des Merveilles but I really need some amber education. Thanks for the info and the draw. In the US.

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  80. I haven't actually sampled that many amber fragrances, being a novice to the world of perfume, but I have used and very much loved labdanum and benzoin essential oils. Unfortunately, perfumes with amber in the title usually just end up suffocatingly sugary on me (my skin brings out the sweet elements), and probably vanilla doesn't help either. Don't know if I'm going in the wrong direction here, but my favourite amber would be either subtle in the vein of Eau des Merveilles or something bittersweet, as in Shalimar, a deceptive amber. Above, myrrh sounds an interesting addition, itself kind of contradictory,and oud is always welcome, so yes, I'd be very much interested in sampling this particular amber.

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  81. Agnes21:56

    For me amber means comfort, cosyness, intimate moments with loved ones or relaxation near a fireplace with a good book - I search these kind of athmospheres when wearing amber scents. For this purpose I've tried rather lighthearted types of ambers (Prada L'eau Ambree, Hermes L’Ambre des Merveilles) or from the more daring ones Coco. But of course I'm always up for an olfactory challenge :)
    I'm from Europe, thanks for the opportunity!

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  82. Laurels22:30

    Hope I'm in time. I'm fairly new to perfume, so I haven't tried very many ambers, and even with the help of your posts, still a little unclear on the difference between ambers and orientals. Of the perfumes I've tried that I'm sure are ambers, the one I like best is Kalemat; although some note in the early going smells like rubbing alcohol to me, after an hour or so, it's wonderful and rich. L'Ambre des Merveilles was a bit sweet for me. I'm in the US. Fingers crossed I can actually leave a comment this time.

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  83. amber is a time-machine sending me back to warmth and tennis
    Hair-grooming products from both Le Labo and Aveda take me back summer

    Evelyn,

    Canada

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  84. My favorite amber is Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles.
    I'm in the US

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  85. My fav scent containing amber is Midnight Poison by Dior. Thanks for great dreaw! Fingers crossed. I am in Europe. Lubka

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  86. Jackie b00:38

    My collection is a bit amber heavy, but favourites are Ambre Fetiche, Ambre Russe, Amber Sultan.
    I am in Australia

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  87. Zuzu00:54

    I'm actually just getting to realize I love amber scents, after realizing (learning more!) that a lot of the perfumes I enjoy have amber as a big player.

    I don't have a favorite presently, but my first perfume (a gift at 15!) was Obsession. Thanks for the review and the draw! (and I'm located in the US).

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  88. Anonymous01:55

    It's freezing here in New England now. It's the perfect time for a dab of SSS Winter Woods before I take a brisk walk with the dog!

    Caragh from Chelmsford (USA)

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  89. meganinstmaxime06:30

    I adore Ambre Sultan and wore it yesterday and the longevity is phenomenal - I sprayed it at 730am and could still smell it at 9pm! It's also a great scent everyone knows. Thanks for the draw. I'm in the EU.

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  90. Zazie08:39

    THANKS FOR THE DRAW!
    I'm in Europe and my favorite amber is Ambre oud By Kilian and l'air du desert marocain by Andy Tauer....

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  91. Anonymous00:58

    thanks for doing the draw! sounds delish.

    i love ambre sultan the most - because it smells like incense on me, and not just amber. today i am wearin ambre russe though, and having a good time with it. i also love keihl's amber oil, and still intend to snag a bottle of ambre fetich, which i love because it growls and is so dark and brown somehow.

    cheers,
    minette

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  92. Great giveaway!
    I'm in Europe/
    I don't have any amber fragrances (

    Anna

    anna_k67@yahoo.com

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