Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Quite the surprise

Some while back, Haus of Gloi introduced a scent, "Haus Amber" as part of their Reverie line. The scent was so popular it was eventually moved to their regular catalogue. It is still available as a perfume oil, bubbling scrub, sugar emulsion and pumpkin butter.

As you probably know by now, amber is one of my favourite notes. Gloi describes this scent as "Rich and sultry amber, our own hand blended accord." I nearly died of joy when I read the description, and, much to my delight, an order I had already placed came with a sample of Haus Amber.

I can't tell you how excited I was. Amber, amber and more amber. Mind you, I'm not crazy about the gemstone amber, just the fragrance note. Some of my favourite scents, including most of my favourite Gloi scents have amber notes in them, so this had to be the ultimate 'smell of awesomeness', right?

Maybe it was too much of a good thing, but I hated it.  Imagine that. I absolutely hated it - which I totally did not see coming. Before I go any further, let me assure you it is not a badly made perfume. Haus Amber is every bit as expertly crafted and blended as all of Britton's fragrances. Clearly I'm in a tiny minority here, since Haus Amber was so popular, it made it into the general catalogue. But, I confess, it was nothing like I thought it would be. To me, amber is a creamy, spicy, warm scent, golden-brown and velvety. This scent was sharp, thick and brackish to my nose. Usually amber smells like it should pour like liquid caramel, whereas this blend should ooze like pitch. Have you ever seen pitch? It's weird stuff, not quite solid, it has give and it's viscous. It's a deep dark black-brown colour and sticky as hell. It smells terrible - nothing like Haus Amber, but the smell of Haus Amber reminds me of the colour and consistency of pitch. If you could fossilize molasses, that would be pretty close to pitch.*
from wikipedia

 Turns out 'amber' as a fragrance accord, usually means a blend including, but not limited to vanilla, Dammara resin, labdanum, benzoin resin, and/or copal, most of which are tree resin products. Naturally derived scents will obviously vary in much the same way honeys and maple syrups vary by year and location of origin. So, obviously, though I never really thought about it, amber, as a fragrance note is as variable as, say, honey as a flavour. I'm guessing this blend is heavy on labdanum, since that note is described by wikipedia and other sites as thick and sticky, 'plastic but not pourable', with a strong, musky scent. Which is what I was trying to describe with the whole 'pitch' analogy.

Haus Amber is also a very masculine scent to me. Again, I'm in the minority here, since it is a fragrance well loved by many women, but I think 'manly' when I smell it. Manly like, 18th c. manly. Tweed, old leather and cracked wood manly. Antlers in all of your decorating manly. This a Teddy Roosevelt climbing Mt. Everest barefoot and fighting off yeti with a salad fork kind of manly. This could be an Annie Oakley scent, or Calamity Jane, but not for me. Regardless of gender, it has a strong air of daguerrotype and antiquity and wild frontier to it. I can imagine Teddy wearing it while posing in one of those impossibly testosterone laden old photos full of large wild animals he's taken down with his bare hands. 
case in point

This scent is not delicate, not floral and not sweet. It's strong, thick and enveloping. If you're looking for a creamy, exotic amber that whispers of sin and silken pillows, try the amber notes in Depravity. For amber dripping with ripe berries, wild brambles and summer sunshine, try The Brier Path. Prefer something lush and sweet with a hint of autumn air? - wait for Hex to come back for Samhain. But, If you like your coffee black and double strong, your chocolate dark and your stilettos steel-tipped, you might want to give Haus Amber a try.

*Take a minute to read about the 'pitch experiment' in Queensland. It's pretty interesting.

As always, all products were purchased by me for my own use. My opinions are my own and always will be. Your mileage may vary.


  1. I find Haus Amber to be very sweet and vanilla-y... and I adore it. Heheh it's actually my favorite amber ever, it smells exactly like a crystalline amber resin I once bought and haven't been able to find again since. I DO agree with your comparison of amber to honey, though- there's so many different types of each, and I guess this one just wasn't your cup of, well, amber ;)

    I do wonder though- do you have the reverie line amber or did you get it after it went GC? I wonder if something changed in between batches? Hrmmm. Mine are all from when it was in the Reverie section, I have one pumpkin butter left, and the perfume oil. It's definitely not what I would consider a "masculine" scent, not at all, so now I'm wondering....

  2. I have the reverie line from last year (?)- I might try a new sample now that it's gone GC and see if it varies at all. It's also possible that sample hadn't aged long enough for the scent to fully mature. I just pulled out a TMTM scent the other day that I hadn't liked much when I got it back in October, and now it smells entirely different and I love it.

  3. Generally, I love Amber. I have not tried Haus Amber but been meaning to. Now I really want to try after reading the pitch analogy. I will hate it, but still :D

    You are right about Amber accord having labdanum. Labdanum as a note itself, smells warm and sweet not at all like pitch or tar. Best way to experience labdanum is through Le Labo Labdanum 18, Donna Karen Essence Labdanum or L'Occitane Labdanum de Seville. All of them are gorgeous! Benzoin also is beautiful resiny/boozy that adds which I feel, a sexiness to amber accord. I can't imagine any of these smelling like pitch! Maybe they have agarwood in the blend, which is most definitely plasticy and dark?!!

  4. I have absolutely nothing of substance to contribute to the convo about Haus Amber, as I haven't tried it yet (I MUST now, if only to experience for myself!) But I will say I love your analogies and how you describe scents in such a visual way to where newbies can get a feel for it. That said, poor elephant :(

  5. Hi, I was just wondering, how do you guys get the Haus Amber to "uncrystallize"? I tried putting mine in hot water like the website suggested but it didn't work.