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An old De Laire base (much probably reformulated today).

This base was created in the 20’s (1915-1926?) by the French company De Laire. In the 1939 de Laire’s ‘Notice des produits pour la parfumerie’ (a perfumery products catalog for their customers) the Amber 83 is described as follows:

“Produit de choix pour les notes orientales et parfums ambrés très aimés aujourd’hui.

Sa finesse, alliée à beaucoup de puissance et de ténacité, explique aisément le succès qu’il a rencontré dans des genres très différents d’emplois, en France comme à l’Etranger.
[…]
Son point de ramollissement assez bas nous permet cependant de le mouler en petits morceaux d’égales dimensions, et de couleur relativement claire […]”

Translation: “The best product for oriental notes and ambery perfumes, very much enjoyed today.

Its subtlety, combined with much power and tenacity, easily explains the success it has achieved in many and very different uses, in France and abroad.
[…]
Nevertheless, its quite low softening point allows us moulding in small pieces of the same size, quite light in colour […]

It is interesting to notice how the original amber was sold in a solid form, pale in colour.
This may suggest that much of the formula were nitromusks, vanillin and maybe resinoids (like benzoin).

The sample I have is physically different.

Appearance: pale yellow, pourable liquid (DPG’s like viscosity). May form a crystallin precipitate in the cold. This is sort of a diluted version of the original base that I suppose was a yellowish solid.

This is the archetypal “amber” of perfumery. Nothing in common with the ambergris, the sperm whale secretion.
This one is based on vanillin or similar products (a heavy dose), powdery musks, some patchouli (but not earthy and terpy), sandalwoodbalms (Tolu) and resins (labdanum, benzoin and styrax), plus a rosey, geranic note in the heart. Nutmeg and maybe cardamom lend some spiciness.
Everything is wrapped and smoothed out by the vanillin overdose. I also detect a civetty facet.
Long lasting and musky, powdery, vanilla absolute-like in the drydown, The sharp, incensey labdanum signature is still alive till the very end, discreetly.

A masterwork of balance, good structure, fine details, simplicity. Easy to recognize.

As almost any bases do, it needs incorporating into a fragrance, to give some boost and projection, especially in the very beginning. The high vanilla-musk dose is something that won’t come out easily, laying down close to the skin.

Here is a (solid) amber type formula from a 1931 book (Le livre du parfumeur – Félix Cola, chimiste-parfumeur), to give us an idea of the composition of such bases:

AMBRE SYNTHETIQUE N°3      
 
Musk Kétone     425 grammes
Muscambrette     100
Héliotropine     75
Vanilline       225
Résinoïde de Benjoin   100
Baume de Tolu     75
Ambréine absolue     50
Résinoïde d’encens     50
Vétyvert Bourbon     10
Patchouly     10
Acétylisoeugénol     110
Stéarine       170
        1400 grammes

Musk ambrette is now forbidden, but could be replaced by the flowery-type musk: ambrettolide, galaxolide or Romandolide (not powdery, but more ‘vegetal’ and clean in comparison to ancient musks, Romandolide in particular).
The ‘ambréine absolue’ is sort of a purified labdanum.
I don’t really know why stearin appears in the formula.

The composition in this photo was inspired by the Ambre 83 base. You can notice Tonka seeds, vanilla pods and geranium leafs. Photo: perfumechemicals.com

The still life in this photo was inspired by the Ambre 83 base. You can notice Tonka seeds, vanilla pods and geranium leafs. Photo: perfumechemicals.com

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Mild smelling butyric, iso-valerate-like odour. It should be classified as fruity and classical plum-like. It exhibits a certain fresh sweeteness similar to some linalyl esters, but here a distinctive woody, dry, tobacco-y facet dominates the overall aspect. 

There might also be a rosey, green-metallic nuance. It is quite persistant, an heart note I would say.

Very nice in fruity accords: together with iso-amyl iso-valerate, bergamot eo or bergamot smelling chemicals (ethyl linalyl acetate), cassis absolute (or labienoxime 10%, cassyrane or other foxy, cat urine-smelling chemicals) and aldehyde c18/c14, it forms a sweet peachy bouquet.

In a fancy tobacco accord (preferably with tobacco absolute) it may constitute the plum-like note distinctive of some aromatised blends (plum juice concentrate).

Here’s a simple ambroxy/woody/burnt tobacco accord you can try with/without Datilat:

TOBACCO ABS
MOUSSE DE CHENE IFRA (with patchouli and ambroxid to form an easy and pleasant accord)
BENZYL SALICYLATE
ETHYL VANILLIN
COUMARIN/BICYCLONONALACTONE
BIRCH TAR (trace)
HEDIONE (for diluting and mellowing effects)
CIVET ABS (recalling some strong tobaccos)
AMBROXID (to make the all thing wearable)
PATCHOULI COEUR (I usually don’t like messy top-notes, this one I prefer)
COSMONE (nice velvety effect)
GUAIACWOOD EO
CLOVE (as a modifier)
+DATILAT and/or ISOAMYL ISOVALERATE (if using iso-amyl iso-valerate be sure to add some top-notes like mandarin or bergamot in order to round its effect. It is quite volatile and it could unbalance the accord)