Encyclopedia Americana -
Ambergris is used as a spice for food and wines in the Orient and in the manufacture of perfumes and scents in the West. It consists of 80% cholesterol with fatty oils, benzoic acid and the complex alcohol ambrein, the principal odorant.
Encyclopedia Britannica Micropedia -
Ambergris is used as a spice in the East and as a scent fixative in the West. It is found in the intestines of the sperm whale, Physeter catodon L., in association with the beaks of squids, the principal food of the whale, or it may be found floating in sea water or on the beach. When fresh it is soft and black and foul smelling but with air and sun hardens and lightens and develops a pleasant earthy, sweet characteristic scent. The Bahamas were one the chief source. Most free ambergris masses are small but the largest mass ever found was 418 kg (922 lb.).
Colliers Encyclopedia -
Whale and Perfume (no main entry for Ambergris)
Ambergris is a secretion of the gut of the sperm whale as a result of the irritation caused by the beaks of its chief food, the squid. The largest floating mass recovered was 132.5 kg (270 lb.). It is an important fixative for scents in the perfume industry.
Everyman's Encyclopędia -
A waxy substance found floating on the sea or in the gut of sperm whales. It seems to be associated with the beaks of the squid that the whale consumes. It has a fragrant musky odor when warmed, and is used in the form of an alcoholic extract as a highly valued fixative in fine perfumes, to which it imparts a subtle velvetiness and great tenacity. It has been used in past centuries as a stimulant in nervous diseases and is still being used in the Far East for its reputed aphrodisiac properties.
Sperm whale, Physeter catodon L., family Physeteridae, Odontoceti, Cetacea, the only representative of its genus, is the largest toothed whale. Ambergris is found as a stinking gray mass in the gut of sperm whales, from which it may occasionally be expelled and subsequently be washed up on the shore. This unlikely substance is the valuable base of many perfumes.
The best perfumes are produced by steeping the pomades and oils from the enfleurage process for several weeks at a gentle warmth with ambergris, castor, civet or musk, and the oils are formed into a tincture by solution in alcohol.