What is Ambergris?

Ambergris is a waxy substance that forms in the digestive tract of a small percentage of sperm whales. Because so much of the life of the elusive sperm whale is unknown, there continues to by mystery surrounding the production of ambergris; however, the belief is that it is a protective build-up that engulfs sharp squid beaks. Fresh ambergris is tar-like, with an unpleasant odor. The longer it spends outside the body of the whale, floating in the ocean, exposed to salt, sun and air, the lighter the color, the more delicate the scent. After a few years, or even decades, lumps of this precious material wash up onto the shore, where they may be discovered by fortunate individuals. This rare substance has been cherished since ancient times, used both as a fragrance and medicinally. Today it is primarily utilized in upscale perfumery: as a fixative, an aromatic enhancer and to impart to a blend its own unique smell. The scent of ambergris varies greatly, depending on the specimen and its time spent in the sea. Its powerful, yet oft-elusive scent is subjective and has been described with many adjectives: marine, musky, powdery, salty, sweet and animalic, just to name a few.

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