Yes, you read correctly. A young boy in England could be up to $63,000 richer, thanks to a piece of solidified whale vomit he picked up on the beach. The chunk may look like a yellow-brownish rock, but it's actually a primo piece of ambergris, an expensive perfume ingredient that is, er-um, spewed out by whales. Yes, high priced whale chunks.
First of all if I find out that my wife is using any perfumes that have blown whale chunks as an ingredient, they are out the door post haste! Secondly who figured out that whale vomit had any reedeeming qualities? How do you test for that? And secondly what is "ambergris"? That sounds pretty gross too!
Well, ambergris is a waxy, bile-like substance that builds up in the intestines of sperm whales, apparently to ease the passage of hard material such as squid beaks through a whale's digestive tract. It's often characterized as whale vomit, and although that's fine as a family-friendly description, the stuff is more widely thought to come out of the whale's back end rather than its front end.
Fresh ambergris smells like fresh whale poop, but after a long period of seasoning and hardening in the ocean, it takes on a more delicate odor. It's been variously compared to the aroma of tobacco, the scent of an old wooden church, the fragrance of seaweed, or the smell of rubbing alcohol without the pungency. And here I thought that an old wooden church smelled like...well, an old wooden church!