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Smoked Amber – Warm-hearted beauty – October 18, 2013 New Fragrance Listing

Photo - Wikimedia Commons - "Flying Carpet" by Viktor Vasnetsov 1926

I love our friend Esther’s “Sniffing out News” which she sends to us every other week. Did you read her October 16th post? Right out of the starting gates, she had my full attention with the piece about D.S. & Durga’s new fragrance, Spirit of the Glen, created in collaboration with The Glenlivet distillery in Scotland, and inspired by the notes in the world famous single malt Scotch whiskey. Fruity-green, oaky, charred-wood smoky, with herbal notes and a rich vanilla finish – it’s on my shortlist of must-smells-ASAP.

This small Brooklyn-based niche brand is actually a young and very talented husband and wife duo making all the right moves, as far as my nose is concerned. They make artisanal scents “by hand in small batches using balsams, resins, plant oils, and premium perfume ingredients (D.S. & Durga packaging notes) and they have a style that feeds directly into my olfactory pleasure zone. Given a choice, my nose will always go to Orientals, and these D.S.& Durga fragrances are rich, opulent, layered beauties.

We have written about 1538 Rheims – earthy musky patchouli - and Mississippi Medicine – sweet smoky leather, both resin-based perfumes which take a bit of time to develop on the skin, but the gorgeous results are worth the wait. Sniffing one of these exotic scents is like catching a ride on a scented flying carpet into ancient cultures and landscapes. I have another sitting on my perfume shelf, a member of the perfume quartet D.S.&Durga created for Anthropologie stores in 2009.

Smoked Amber follows in the same development pattern, surprisingly rough in the first few moments, evolving slowly into an exquisitely intoxicating amber scent, like a genie slowly spinning out of a bottle. The scent even looks smoked in the bottle – it’s the burnt caramel colour of aged cognac – so the first few sinus-clearing sniffs aren’t unexpected, and I happen to like the scents of furniture polish and camphor chest rub, which the first few sniffs bring to mind. These sharp aromas soon disappear, giving way to notes of unmistakable birch smokiness. It is so delicious, wisps of wood-smoke like sitting around a campfire on a chilly night, with notes of tar from the burning wood and hints of leather from the jackets that keep out the cold at our backs, Then bubbling up from underneath come the sweeter resins. Extracted from trees, these ancient resins all have a woody character, and each is different.

First is opoponax or sweet myrhh, warm and balsamic with notes of sweet honey. Next is frankincense, prized by ancient cultures for its spiritual and healing properties, cool, smoky-sweet, ethereal.  Last is cassia, spicy, earthy, intensely aromatic with cinnamon facets. Swirling with the smoky birch, these resins notes weave in and out, combining to create an opulent warm amber accord – a truly smoked amber, sweetish and powdery but grounded by the woods, which settles on the skin, and smolders satisfyingly for hours.

Some Oriental scents with their ambers, resins, and spices, take longer to evolve on cool skin, and seem to have been created specifically for cold weather Fall and Winter wearing. Their wafts smell clearer and brighter in cold air, and their traditional notes have the power to soothe, providing a sensation of warmth for body and soul. Smoked Amber is one of these orientals. It’s a warm-hearted beauty.


Smoked Amber is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml. Note: this is a 15 ml. limited edition which is no longer made, so when it’s gone, it’s gone. 

Update June 15, 2017 - IT'S GONE!