Basso Profondo – Review: Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe

“Yummy amber, dirty – Ha!”

Those were the words I noted in my little black book, when I first smelled Ambre Russe. A sample sent by the lovely reader Tara, Ambre Russe did not take long to find its way into my amber-loving heart. And as I like to point out, there is always room for another amber.

Ambre Russe was created by Marc-Antoine Corticchiato and includes notes of tea, incense, vodka, champagne, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ambergris, vanilla, leather.

Ambre Russe starts out boozy, alcoholic and slightly plummy, an almost gourmand opening (hence my initial designation of “yummy”) and slowly turns darker, smokier, rougher, a little leathery and, I can’t avoid that word – dirtier. I usually think of myself as someone who does not like all out dirty notes in perfume. MKK (Muscs Kublai Khan by Serge Lutens) is not for me, neither is Parfumerie Générale’s L’Ombre Fauve and I am currently struggling hard with Absolue pour le soir by Maison Francis Kurkdjian, but there is the kind of well-blended dirtiness, the little tease of dirtiness surrounded by smooth prettiness that is immensely attractive. Shalimar (especially vintage of course) has it, Musc Ravageur has it, and Ambre Russe does too, that sensual component that makes a perfume say “Come here!” not scream at me “Stay away – I stink!”.

After the initial cocktail phase of the top notes passes, a lovely melange of tea, amber, spices and leather emerges, holding out for hours, the drydown is sweet and deep like a basso profondo singing on and on even when the rest of the choir has packed up hours ago and left for home.

I cannot attest to how Russian Ambre Russe is, but I trust Marina’s take on it. To me Ambre Russe is opulent, intricate, complex, yet still not heavy. It retains a certain weightlessness despite its list of notes, despite its warmth and richness. I can easily imagine wearing this also in summer, maybe not in the worst heat, but I am sure I will crave it often at night in the next months.

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42 Responses to Basso Profondo – Review: Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe

  1. deeHowe says:

    There is always room for another amber! Tell it like it is 🙂

    I haven’t smelled this one (yet), but it sounds right up my alley. Actually, I haven’t smelled anything at all from this entire line! I wonder why that is? Maybe they aren’t easy to get in the US… off to investigate…


    • Olfactoria says:

      This one is definitely up your alley. It has Dee written all over it actually. 🙂
      I think they have the line at Luckyscent…

    • Ines says:

      Dee, I can’t believe you haven’t tried anything by Parfum d’Empire yet! Their line is well worth exploring, it’s among my 5 favorite lines.

      • Olfactoria says:

        What others from the line do you love?
        I tried Osmanthus Interdite and Equistrus, but only in passing. What would you recommend?

        • Ines says:

          I also love Cuir Ottoman, Wazamba, Fougere Bengale and Aziyade (although I think that one is not to be recommended to anyone who doesn’t like cumin or slightly sweaty notes).
          I have to try again the others, I see Eau de Gloire gets a lot of love (I don’t remember trying that one) and I have a sample of 3Fleurs but can’t find it. 🙂

          • Olfactoria says:

            Thank you! I have a sample of 3Fleurs too (and found it!), but it is not for me. I’ll try the whole line when I am in Duft&Kultur again.

  2. Ines says:

    I’m with Dee. 🙂 Always room for another amber, although I actually think this one was my first and I still love it.
    Give me a boozy opening and I’m in love. 😀

  3. Tara says:

    Glad you love it B! It was highly likely 🙂 I really admire that boozy opening too and as you mention, it doesn’t have that dense opacity that some ambers have, which makes it more feminine and wearable in my book. It’s nice to have a scent that doesn’t do a rapid vanishing act too! Have you decided whether it full bottle worthy for you yet?

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you for sending it. I guess an amber is pretty much a safe bet with me. 😉
      It is full bottle worthy, definitely. The boozy and slightly dirty aspects make it different enough. It is on my birthday surprise list. I will get one bottle of that list. 🙂

      • Tara says:

        You’re more than welcome!

        Well with Amaranthine and Ambre Russe, it sounds like a classy and diverse list! Too bad you don’t have two birthdays like The Queen 🙂

        • Olfactoria says:

          Haha, yes, that would be great. Although if I was the Queen I wouldn’t need a list, I’d commission that bespoke perfume on my first day on the job. 😉

  4. Marie says:

    I enjoy reading your amber reviews, for their educational as well as their artistic value.

    Personally, I struggle with amber. I like the smell, but I don’t like it. Etc. etc. Knowing that tastes are plastic and that I don’t want to miss out on any fun, I haven’t given up on wearing ambers yet.

    My question is therefore: Can you recommend a good beginner’s amber, a training amber, so to speak? 🙂 I love citrus, not so big on cinnamon.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hmm, since you like and have easier access to mainstream perfumes I’ll suggest Prada L’Eau Ambrée (very light and transparent) and the original Prada, Estee Lauder Amber Ylang (floral amber) and Sensuous (woody amber). In niche, L’Eau d’Ambre by L’Artisan (it is by JCE!) is a good starting point, I recommend that the most. Hermessence Ambre Narguile is a very sweet, gourmand take on amber that is also very “consumer-friendly”. I hope you find an amber to like, once you do, I’m sure there is no stopping you… 😉 I’ll update if I think of something else that would fit your criteria.

      • Tara says:

        Wow you’re good B! Amber sadly doesn’t work for me most of the time but your suggestions are spot on. Ambre Narguile in particular is full bottle worthy for me (but it does have cinnamon, Marie).

        I very much like Prada’s L’Eau Ambree and it does have a lovely citrusy top note so I definitely second trying that one.

        I’m positive you’ll find an amber to love, Marie!

        • Marie says:

          Thanks to both of you! 🙂
          I actually already own Prada L’Eau Ambree, but I haven’t really considered it a “real” amber – you know, like the ones amber lovers love. And I really enjoy it – the citrus makes me happy, well the whole scent makes me happy, really. And I can tell that come fall and winter I will want to go further down that road, so this is me preparing for that.

          B, there you went and mentioned JCE! Obviously, I trust JCE to guide me down the amber lane – and you, of course 😀 The sample hunt is on.

          Tara, Ambre Narguile sounds delightful with its gourmand take – I like gourmand. I can’t really wear (although I appreciate it on principle) Opium because of the spiciness – I find it disturbing, somehow, but I also realize that notes can be so very different depending on the particular context, so I wouldn’t rule it out unsniffed, although I might pursue the lighter ambers first.

          Like I need a new perfume craving! 😉

          • Olfactoria says:

            You are welcome! Please keep us updated how you fare on the road to amber! 🙂

          • Marie says:

            First report from the road to amber: When and tried Prada Amber on both arms today. Easy, wonderful comfort in a bottle! The cartilage in my nose is hurting from arm sniffing -) It is less sweet than I anticipated, and I like that. And there’s no harsh spice to disturb the sensitive synapses in my brain – just smoooothness. Fun fact (to me): I love sweet in florals and such, but apparently way less so in ambers/orientals. The pleasure seeking walk down the amber road continues. Will be back. Over and out.

          • Olfactoria says:

            Thank you for letting me know about your latest explorations. Sounds all very promising! 🙂

          • Marie says:

            “When and tried” means “went and tried” – I’m going to bed. Synapses in need of sleep. Jeeeeez.

  5. Elisa says:

    Vodka *and* champagne! It’s hard to imagine what a vodka note would add — vodka pretty much just smells like alcohol, no? I have a sample of this somewhere I’ve been hoarding, only tried a dab once and really liked it. I need to dig it out again. The bottle is so nice!

  6. Tarleisio says:

    Until I recently received a sample of Iskander, I’d never tried anything from Parfum d’Empire, but how strange than on a day I craved ..amber, you posted your review on Ambre Russe! 😉 I own precisely two ambers – a vanishing decant of Ambre Sultan (Marie – my first amber, and if you like this one, you’re a goner! 😉 ) and Olympic Amber, so I’ll take your word for that..’.never enough amber!’
    It’s all your fault, B, that I’m developing such a taste for boozy notes, so Ambre Russe sounds…intriguing! After all, one amber is far too many and two aren’t nearly enough! 😉

    • Olfactoria says:

      Since you loved SDV I am certain Ambre Russe would entice you as well. They are not alike in smell, but in character. I have Olympic Amber somewhere, thank you for reminding me, I need to get it out for a proper wearing soon.

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  11. andrea says:

    Oh if only I could like this fragrance, or indeed any amber fragrance but it is just not me, I can appreciate that it is a beautifully crafted perfume but at one point I did think I was going to loose my sense of smell which put me in a panic. I will keep searching for my special perfume but alas I have not found anything that beats SL Datura Noir for me, unsophisticated perfumista that I am.:-)

    • Olfactoria says:

      This is a heavyweight as far as ambers go. Maybe you’d like something lighter more. Prada L’Eau Ambrée or L’Artisan L’Eau d’Ambre may suit you better.
      You are certainly not unsophisticated, just on your way to broadening your olfactory horizon. Enjoy the ride! 🙂

  12. andrea says:

    I certainly feel like a total novice but I am getting there, I will give the 2 that you suggested a sniff and see how I get on, thanks so much for your suggestions. I hope I don’t loose my sense of smell on my way to my olfactory horizon.:-)

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  18. Wearing/testing this today, and quite certain there will be a bottle of this in my cupboard next week! The vodka in the beginning literally made me queasy, as the smell of real vodka does too, but it is so worth it! I find this has a lot of similar notes to Wazamba and Aziyade – perhaps I’ll try layer them sometime.

    So excited about this scent, but also sad: so early in my perfume journey and this house has 3 hits in my book! I tested 100 perfumes before these and only liked 2 enough for a bottle (I was being very picky), and now 3 out of 3 were full-bottle worthy?! I can see myself emailing Marc-Antoine Corticchiato frantically to make a new scent before long… 😦

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