I purchased the ink reviewed below from Pear Tree Pens as part of an official sample set from J. Herbin. The sample set contains 10ml glass bottles of each of the five inks in the range: Rouge, Bleue, Ambre, Vert, Violette.
The Ambre ink of the “Les Subtiles” range is the ‘orange’ scent of the range.
As the name implies, the colour is not a true orange but an amber colour which is more of a brownish-yellow, almost exactly the same as their “Ambre De Birmanie”. The third and fourth lines of the sample page, below, are Ambre de Birmanie written with a very fine, very dry Pilot Cavalier, it was taken only five minutes after I wrote it and shows a little more orange than the de Birmanie but it has since dried to show no difference. I really suspect they are the same ink with the scent added. I do wonder why they went for this more subtle colour over a true orange as vibrant as the violette is purple and the vert is green, I suspect it is because the scent they came up with would have been even more obviously wrong if the colour had been closer to a juicy, citrus fruit.
There are two ways you can go with ‘orange’ as a scent or flavour: the fruit or the flower. If you go for the fruit, you need to get that fresh tang of citrus orange, if you go with orange blossom it also needs to be fresh but sweet and almost creamy. Just as they chose the non-vibrant route with the colour, J. Herbin chose to go with Orange Blossom scent instead of the fruit – but I’m afraid they haven’t got it right.
To be fair, orange blossom is hard to do, even the company that makes my favourite rosewater, for cooking, fails miserably in their orange blossom water, like many attempts at the scent, it’s soapy rather than creamy. The Ambre “Les Subtiles” fails in a similar way, it’s extraordinarily soapy, but it also has an extra element which makes it unbearable – a soil-y note, very much like turmeric, which cuts through the soapiness and clashes in a quite nauseating way.
Conclusion: I found the scent of “Les Subtiles” Ambre repelled me but the colour is a nice subtle alternative to the usual yellows. Luckily, if you like the colour you can buy the Ambre de Birmanie (as I had already done) and save your nose.
Note: This is the second in a series of reviews on the five inks in J.Herbin’s“Les Subtiles” scented ink range. For an overview of the range and the review of the “Rouge” ink, see the first post in the series. For a review of the Bleue ink, see the third post in the series. For a review of the Vert in, see the fourth post in the series. For a review of the “Violette” ink, see the fifth post in the series.