Never heard of ambrette seed? Chances are you've never smelt it either! Well, probably not the real thing, at least.
Ambrette seed is one of the most expensive natural extracts available to the perfumer, currently selling at AU$17,300 per kg! You will find ambrette seed as a note in some commercial perfumes, such as Dior Homme Intense, Beauty by Calvin Klein and Le Labo Ambrette 9, but because of the cost almost all synthetic perfumes will use a synthetic substitute such as ambrettolide, which is substantially cheaper at just AU$600 per kg.
So let's just do a quick price comparison in realistic terms:
Synthetic ambrettolide $0.60 per ml (or around 2 cents per drop).
Big difference in price, right?! So you can see why bigger perfume companies won't touch the real stuff, or you might be paying twenty times more for your favourite fragrance!
Ambrette is a seed derived from a type of hibiscus flower, Abelmoschus moschatus or
Hibiscus abelmoschus (pictured below), a beautiful large yellow flower with a deep purple centre.
image borrowed from tambela.com
The seed is processed by either steam distillation, carbon dioxide or solvent extraction, producing an extract that is distinctive and musky with undertones that are waxy, almost like human skin, sweet, nutty, slightly floral (like a deep ylang ylang absolute) and salty all at once. Ambrette seed is rich and complex and completely irreplaceable in a natural perfume.
The strength of ambrette seed cannot be understated - its flavour can be detected in a blend at just one part per ten million and it's aroma can be detected throughout the entire drydown of a perfume!
Ambrette can be incorporated into many types of perfumes, but is mainly used in perfumes where a 'skin' note is required.
The ONE SEED range uses ambrette seed in the following perfumes:
A youthful scent created for the young and the young at heart. It is for endless adventures, for seeking truth in all things. Featuring fresh greens and delicate mossy notes entwined with milky coconut, vanilla and the scent of salt on damp skin.
Key ingredients: coriander, coconut, vanilla, roasted basmati rice, oakmoss, ambrette seed. You may also detect: sea salt
A wonderful chorus of refreshing pink grapefruit and spiced pink peppercorn opening to a heart of Bulgarian and Moroccan rose, accented by a warming natural musk, ambrette seed. Freedom is inspired by the beauty found in simple things, and the light in your heart when you believe than anything is possible.
Key ingredients: pink grapefruit, palmarosa, rosewood, magnolia, rose, peppercorn, Australian sandalwood, ambrette seed, benzoin. You may also detect: gardenia
Our interpretation of a classic eau de cologne. A blend of creamy Australian sandalwood, cedar and dewy oakmoss, with a subtle undertone of green lavender and sunny citrus accents. Hope is inspired by the belief that all good things are worth waiting for.
Key ingredients: bergamot, lime, cedarwood, lavender, Australian sandalwood, oakmoss, ambrette seed, tonka. You may also detect: grasses, lemon.