Monday, December 20, 2010

We Three Kings - Myrrh

As announced last week, this week my fellow bloggers and I are going to talk about perfumes that are in some way connected with the gifts the three kings (magi, wise men, however you wish to call them) brought little baby Jesus. Here is where I'll confess - I was raised a Catholic and I knew all about the three kings and how they came and brought gifts but it was actually quite late that I learned what those gifts were. All I cared about is that the little guy got gifts and I thought how nice for him. And now we all get to exchange gifts on his birthday. :) I don't know when that particular tradition started but I really love it. :)

Anyway, on to the topic at hand. My choice for myrrh is Balmain's Ambre Gris. Btw, do you have any idea how hard it is to find a scent that contains myrrh that is actually smellable and not just lost amid all other resins and woods and trying to make an appearance? In this case, I'm not talking about all those that have myrrh in the name (I'm pretty sure there's no problem with smelling it in those).

So, Ambre Gris and I have a past. It's been more than 2 years now we hit it off in Paris'  Sephora and I took it home with me. And that was it. I never wore it. I have no idea why exactly, sometimes I smell it and think yes, I know why I bought you, and then I try it another time, and I wonder. It's funny how it is labeled as feminine while my first thought upon smelling it is how masculine it smells. It opens on a cool (as in very hip and good looking) ambrish note and I'm lost trying to figure out what exactly is that I'm smelling that makes it so masculinely cool.

Here are the notes: myrrh, cinnamon, pink pepper, benzoin, immortal flower, tuberose, ambre gris, white musk, guiac wood.

I know there is musk in there because sometimes it just overpowers everything else in this perfume and gets too shrill and unwearable for me. But most times, I'm wondering what is that coolness I'm smelling? I would love smelling this on a guy. After that initial sharpness, you can tease out some floral hints out of it, but if I didn't see tuberose listed, I would never be able to guess what flower was lending this floral sweetness and approachability. To say I smell myrrh, wouldn't be completely true, but I smell the woodiness and herbal sharpness in this and I can feel myrrh doing its thing from the depths of this. In time, I get more and more myrrh holding this wonder together but never forcefully, very gently.

Honestly, just by reading the notes, I would never have guessed it smelled like this. And I seem to be starting to develop a fondness for pink pepper which along with white musk helps the initial cool feel.

Btw, what in the world happened to cinnamon?! I adore it but couldn't discern it in there no matter how I tried.

So, this being the week before Christmas and the topic this week are the gifts of the wise men, I want to give you something as well. All you have to do is comment on any of the posts regarding the 3 gifts and you will be entered to win one of the 3 prizes (they aren't large but are from the heart):

- large decant of Ambre Gris, Melem (Croatia's remedy for chapped, dry skin) and some Croatian chocolate
- several samples of my choice, a smaller Melem and some Croatian chocolate
- while the third place only gets chocolate.

I want to thank once more Krista from Scent of the Day and Joanne from Redolent of Spices for inviting me and please visit other participating blogs for more interesting takes on the Kings' Three gifts.

Redolent of Spices

Scent of the Day



Bonkers about Perfume

My Perfume Life

The Perfume Chronicles

Chicken Freak's Obsession

Notes from Josephine

Three Kings Icon ©2010 Megan Ruisch


  1. Hi Ines,

    I have been reading through your blog and really enjoying it! You make Ambre Gris sound quite intriguing so please enter me in your draw. Have a wonderful holiday!

  2. Very intriguing! Ambre Gris sounds like a perfume of opposites: feminine and masculine, warm and cool, sweetness and sharpness.

    Having a draw is such a great idea, especially this time of year. Please don't put my name in the draw though, as I have recently won a draw on another blog. I've had my share of good fortune!

  3. I'm fairly certain from your description that I would love Ambre Gris. I'm sensing a "cool" (as in icy cold) woodsy vibe with the gaiac and white musk, even though the ambergris and cinnamon might hint at warmth. Anyway, I could guess about perfumes I've never smelled all night, but probably shouldn't. :) By the way, you've also got me interested in the Melem AND the Croatian chocolates! All of a sudden my skin feels dry and my sweet tooth is acting up.

  4. Hi Ines,
    If this comment comes through twice, it's because Firefox is acting, well, funny. But I love your take on Ambre Gris. A perfume that we struggle with is as intriguing as a perfume that is utter perfection from beginning to end-- it becomes a puzzle to solve. And myrrh does often get lost in the maze of the perfume formula. But somehow it continues to shine-- a cool note, as you said, and unforgettable.

    (PS no need to enter me in your generous draw; like JoanElaine, I've received some lovely scents lately and am rooting for someone else to enjoy such luck. :D )

  5. Now that pink pepper is sort of out of fashion (couple of years before I don't think there was one pink-pepper-less release), I actually find myself enjoying the note. (Not in for the draw, although Croatian chocolate sounds tempting :). Wishing you a lovely pre-Xmas week).

  6. FragrantWitch9, you're in and thank you for the nice words. :)
    Have a great holiday too!

  7. JoanElaine, now that you said it, yes, it does seem to be a scent of oppposites. Sometimes (actually often) I miss the most obvious things. :)

  8. Carrie, I hope you get lucky and try all of it. :) Melem really works wonders for dried lipe, cheeks, elbows and whatever you can think of. And of course, I think we have really good chocolate. I do wonder what you would think of this.

  9. Olenska, I feel lucky that your comment got through even once (oh, how many times blogger ate mine...).
    I feel I chose well for this project, each of the scents I want to talk about makes me struggle for words. In a good way. :)

  10. Marina, yes, pink pepper fell out of fashion and now I seem to be re-acquainting myself with it and remembering I actually liked it. :)
    Btw, I can always put only chocolate next to your name.
    I feel it's my duty to promote my country any way I can as we are so small, we sort of get lost amid all other countries. :)

  11. Hi Ines, I just want to start off by saying that "and I thought how nice for him" made me laugh this morning, thanks!

    I've never smelled Ambre Gris, but I will definitely look for it. I have trouble detecting myrrh in perfumes too! It's like a chameleon lurking in the background and blending with everything else.

  12. He, he Krista, glad I brought a smile to your day.
    So, it isn't just me and myrrh? saying it's like a chameleon is really a good way of putting it, you know it's there but it's hard getting it to show itself.

  13. Another pink pepper fan here... : - ) I am also partial to black and blue(!) (as featured in Kate Moss Velvet Hour - I kid you not).

    I can totally relate to your comment: "I can feel myrrh doing its thing from the depths of this", because I think you are spot on in noting that myrrh is more of a background hum than a very distinctive note in a lot of scents.

    Must re-test this particular Balmain - I did do so in Basel once but it got lost in the noise (as in the scented cacophony and the chat with my fellow sniffers...).

  14. I love Balmain Ambre Gris. But, like you sometimes I'm madly in love with it and other times, I'm like "why do I have this again?"
    I also agree that it is masculine but that all depends on the wearer. In fact, a dear fragrance friend of mine wants a bottle (sometimes I can find it on mega discount on-line). I think I may get it for him. It wears very "manly" on him. I think the pink pepper, white musk, and the "girly" notes are played up on me.
    On a side note, my neighbor, the one that shares his Angel's Trumpet with me, is Croatian. (We have many Croatian immigrants in the Seattle area). I can't remember exactly where he is from, but I know his father is from Sansego. And my neighbor inherited a family home on the island. I know his mother is from a coastal village, but I blanked on the name. He goes back yearly. What a beautiful country! Trying to talk him into letting me travel along next time :)

  15. Ines, no need to include me in the drawing, but it's good to hear your thoughts on Ambre Gris. I remember when one of the perfume discounters here in the U.S. began selling this (maybe a year or two ago?) at a great price, and a lot of people were buying and talking about it. Not being a huge amber lover, I managed to resist the temptation...I'm not sure how, though, as it sure was getting a lot of love!

    I'll look forward to reading the rest of your (and the other ladies') writings on the We Three Kings project! Merry Christmas to you, dearest!

  16. I love the bitter smell of Myrrh so after Christmas Ambre Gris will be my first buy. I agree though it is hard to find fragrances with it in .Maybe people are afraid of the smell but I adore it . Thank-you for your review.

  17. Vanessa, I cannot predict with any accuracy the fragrances you might like - it seems we like different things so I'm wondering whether you might like Ambre Gris.
    I tested this among many, many others in Sephora and it was the only one that day that made an impression.

  18. EauMG, I plan on making my boyfriend try this, it should smell great. :)
    Regarding Croatia, I definitely recommend you get your neighbor to take you. ESPECIALLY, since you said that there is a house on an island in question. :) I wish you knew which, although you really can't go wrong visiting any. And enjoying the sun and the sea (and the food and the wine). ;)

  19. Suzanne, honestly, if there wasn't ambre in its name, I wouldn't really think of it as such. I keep thinking amber should smell oriental and warm and this is quite, well, different from my idea.
    Thanks for stopping by and merry Christmas!

  20. Angela, I am lucky to have a small vial of myrrhe I used as a checkpoint for the possible myrrhe containing perfumes and I love its smell. :) I wouldn't mind having it more prominent is more perfume either.

  21. I struggle to find myrrh, too--I'm still not sure if I've ever nailed it down in a perfume or not. And with tuberose? Interesting, very interesting.

  22. I imagine this was the hardest one yes and you've done well! I love the story of the three Kings actually- and the Kings were the best part of the nativity we had when I was young (we still have it actually but it hasn't been out for some time because we moved from where we lived with the beautiful stone fire place where we used to lay out the scene

  23. I smell myrrh in the most unexpected of places and not where it's supposed to be (like in my choice for frankincense, it's noted but I never thought it would get through the incense). :)

  24. Thank you Rose.
    Now you mention 3 Kings being the best part of your nativity, I realize they are always the ones I pay most attention in any nativity - I love seeing how they are portrayed.