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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Vetiver Sniffathon

I haven’t reviewed a vetiver scent in a long time; the sample box labeled Vetivers is over-flowing. So today I am having a Vetiver Sniffathon.

Annick Goutal Vétiver. The presence of a very distinct aquatic note could have been a huge turn off for me, however this unusual rendition of vetiver combines the marine quality with an unexpectedly smoky accord. Wearing this scent is akin to sitting on a beach of an exotic island, in front of a fire made of spicy, aromatic wood. A dreamy, escapist vetiver. $29.90-$39.90 at

Elizabeth W Vetiver. The attractiveness and the originality of this vetiver scent, for me, lies in its fruity sweetness. It has the same candied citrus peel accord that I find so appealing in L.T. Piver Cuir de Russie. The juxtaposition of the brightly-sweet and the earthy-green is very pleasing, although vetiver purists most probably will be disappointed in this charming little scent. A bargain at $32.00 for 2oz, at

Frederic Malle Vétiver Extraordinaire. Dominique Ropion’s vetiver is full-bodied, woody and nocturnal. It has rugged, husky handsomeness, it is a wild, untamed vetiver, all strong, jagged roots, dark woods and shadows. A vetiver scent for a hunky wizard. $180.00 at Barneys.

Hermes Vetiver Tonka. Created by Jean-Claude Ellena as a part of Hermessence Collection, Vetiver Tonka is a mouthwatering, practically gourmand vetiver. The union of green earthiness, caramelized nuttiness and sweet smokiness is incredibly attractive. It is almost childish and yet very sensual, cuddly and striking. It is to die for. $180-ish in Hermes boutiques.

Jalaine Vetiver is a winter comfort scent, something to wear when a snow storm is raging outside and one is safely tucked in on a sofa, in front of a fireplace, with a glass of sherry. The sweetness of amber, the warm earthiness of patchouli, the softness of sandalwood makes Vetiver cuddly, cozy and enveloping. This and Patchouly are the only two Jalaine scent that I love, however I must say that I am disappointed with the “thinness”, “flatness” of the drydown in both. The fragrances start rich and sumptuous but instead of becoming warmer and richer still, they dry down rather pale and bland on me. $90.00-$150.00 for 6ml at

Jo Malone Vetyver. A fresh, summery vetiver with citrus fruits aplenty, attractively spiced up by sweetly piquant nutmeg. It is an easy-going, linear vetiver. Easy enough to wear even for those who are not overly fond of this note, Vetyver would also make a refreshingly uncomplicated, no-brainer, everyday scent for vetiver connoisseurs. $50.00-$90.00 at

Lorenzo Villoresi Vetiver. Unlike Malone’s version, this is a multifaceted, complex creation, very green, slightly floral, quite spicy, woody and earthy, Villoresi’s version has it all. It starts fresh and cooling, with lavender and mint, goes through a very green stage of herbs, galbanum and celery, acquires a warm, spicy undertone of cumin and nutmeg and finally dries down appropriately earthy and pleasantly woody on base of oakmoss, sandalwood and patchouli. A must-try and a must-have. $65.00-$140.00 at

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Route du Vetiver. Luckyscent describes Route du Vetiver as fierce and it truly is [insert Tyra Banks’ voice here] FIERCE. Route du Vetiver is what they call “an acquired taste”. Those who are not quite comfortable with the vetiver note should proceed with caution when sampling this striking, bracing, spicy, super-rooty, ultra-green, uber-woody beast of a vetiver. Vetiver virgins should probably just stay far, far away from this handsome but ruthless monster. I love Route du Vetiver but it is not something I can wear often or in big doses. $105.00 on

Montale Vetiver des Sables. This rooty devil is a more subtle creature than Route du Vetiver, but in its suave, sweet way, it is just as relentless and dangerous. It is a charmer. I adore its medicinal, in fact, poisonous, cyanidic start, its sweet, exotic spices, its candied citrus, its warm, dark wood…I’d sell my soul for a bottle of Vetiver des Sables. $122.00 at

Parfums de Nicolai Vetyver is yet another sexy beast on our list, this one with an oh so elegant, urbane, peppery-citrusy veneer and a dark, hot and spicy, sweaty, dirty heart of cumin, coriander and clove. After the thrill of the piquant and sensual middle stage, Vetyver settles into a soft, warm drydown heavy on that trademark Nicolai tonka bean. The only disappointing thing about this scent is its poor staying power. $79.00 at

Some more previously reviewed vetiver scents:

Comme des Garcons Vettiveru
Guerlain Djedi
Guerlain Vetiver
GuerlainVetiver Frozen
Guerlain Vetiver Pour Elle
Hermes Terre d’Hermes
I Profumi di Firenze Fresco di Vetiver
Jo Malone Black Vetiver Cafe
Le Labo Vetiver 46
Le Labo Vetiver 46, Tom’s Review
Miller Harris Vetiver Broubon
The Different Company Sel de Vetiver
Wickle Chestnut & Vetiver


Blogger tmp00 said...

Vetiver isn't my favorite accord for me (it is the signature of a friend of mine, and I find it difficult not to think of her when smelling it, to me she owns vetiver), excepting Guerlain, Route du Vetiver is a clear winner. If I was going to invest in one of these, I'd go for this one. It is FIERCE. Two snaps up!

11:43 PM EDT  
Blogger Erin said...

Have you tried Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental? I gave it a whirl the other day - interesting, very different, but the sillage/lasting power was not great enough that I could really decide whether I loved it.

11:48 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Must say Guerlain Vetiver is what got me into Vetiver (also one of my favorites for layering) and remains my favorite vetiver fragrance. I also enjoy the feminine vetiver of Le Baiser du Dragon

12:23 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Oh, yay, vetiver! This is a relatively new love for me, and some of them work, some of them don't. Of those here, I really like Vetiver Tonka, the AG, the Montale (very unususal scent, I think), the Jalaine (but I know what you mean about the disappointing drydown in this and the Patch), and the LV (actually, I love this, but it is one of the few scents Mr. L. has commented negatively on: "You stink!" There's something about the opening that really bugs him (on both him and me); he likes it better as it develops). I keep wanting the Malle to be better on me; it's fine, just not great (one the few scents that registers as "too masculine" on me). I really want to try the MPG from everything I've heard, and I guess I need to try the Jo Malone, though none of these scents last on me (I do like Black Vetiver Cafe, but it is gone in a flash)!

7:17 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

And adding the others for purposes of completeness:): the Elizabeth W doesn't sound like my type, and the Nicolai was interesting but too cuminy on me.

7:28 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

A smell I find difficult, although I'm sure it's only a matter of time. Guerlain Vetiver would be more or less it, for me. Oh, and the Wickle -- wow, that was genius! You've given me a great list to contemplate...

7:40 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

Vetiver! I'd been thinking it must feel neglected recently due to your lack of posts about it. Am glad you included PdN's Vetyver - love it to distraction. I want to love LV's Vetiver, but the celery note kills it for me. As far as I'm concerned, celery notes should come w/ skull and crossbones imagery for poisonous substance in fragrances. Evil. Dangerous. Right now, my DH would be saying, "So how do you *really* feel about celery notes?" :-)
*Love* Jalaine's Vetiver. It's one of the most grounding, comforting scents I own. Reminds me some of oil paints.

7:52 AM EDT  
Blogger Martin said...

I still haven't tried MPG's vetiver and still haven't seen anyoen comparing it to Santa Maria Novella's rendition of the grass roots. SMN's Vetiver is the closest I've come to a punch in the stomach when discovering fragrances. So utterly shocking experience. Quite suprising, but I'm too much of a coward to wear something that loud.

Got to try Jalaine's vetiver hanks to Ina over at Aromascope, but it was somewhat of a letdown for me. First the sharp smell of fresh paint which hours later became a somewhat sultry vetiver note, but wasn't much more than that. Will of course give it a few wearings before the final verdict.

Nice set of reviews, but please get a hold of that Santa Maria Novella and make the comparision!

8:10 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are the vetiver goddess! Thanks for giving me some more lemmings to lust after!

8:23 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Question for shifts (or anyone): How does the SMN compare to the LV? I haven't been able to try the SMN yet, but I have seen them compared. . .

8:35 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You have some fine smelling friends (well, no wonder really)
If you look at Shift's comment, he thinks SMN's Vetiver is maybe even more FIERCE. I've got to find that one.

9:01 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I have tried it and liked it, but I don't own a bottle and didn't find a sample, and I didn't want to write anything relying just on my memory :-) What with that and SMN Vetiver, I see another vetiver sniffe in the future.

9:03 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

A little voice tells me I should re-try Le Baiser. A couple of years ago it nearly knocked me off my feet, that's how strong I thought it was...but my nose have changed a great deal since then, I might actually enjoy Dragon's Kiss now :-)

9:04 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

It is totally delumptious :-)

9:05 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I also thought the Montale was very unusual, such a lemming!
I don't think you have to make an effort to sniff the Malone. It is kind of meh. It is one of a few Malones that don't last on me either. Strangely enough many of her scents last very well on me.

9:07 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

So, PdN's vetiver was cuminy...but TDC's rose was not? Or doesn't it bother you there? :-)

9:07 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Whatever you do, don't try MPG's Route du Vetiver :-) Although...not that they are similar, but still... you DID like Vetiver 46! That one is not a shy little vetiver either.

I actually think you might enjoy Goutal Vetiver.

9:09 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Yeah, for some reason vetiver often goes hand in hand with celery. On a bad day even some of my beloved vetiver are capable of throwing a celery tantrum.

9:10 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

SMN's Vetiver is now on my wishlist, thank you for the recommendation! SMN as a line was a huge disappointment for me, expect for maybe one scent, but perhaps Vetiver will change that.

9:12 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

So are you! :-) I thought, well, everyone will be bored, thinking, there she goes again with her vetiver...but at least Sybil might be there to support me.

9:13 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Wasn't there a rumour that vetiver Elle will soon join the regular line, or did I dream it up?

Have you tried Jalaine Vetiver? I think you might like it too. It is an unusual rendition in that it makes a cuddly, festive, comfort scent out of vetiver.

9:14 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Hmmm. . .TDC Rose Poivree smells animalic to/on me (which is good), whereas PdN Vetiver smells more like curry (which is not bad, but. . .not what I was looking for:)

9:20 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Oh the wonders of skin chemistry. Rose Poivree smells of currry made of roses and old socks on me, whilst PdN has no curry-ness at all :-D

9:26 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came across a perfume once that was very distinctive, a spicy oriental inspired scent in a blue bottle with either a spray of plum or peach blossoms and an exotic bird perched on the branch. I can't seem to find out any more information and I can't for the life of me recall the name. I did not buy it when it was demonstrated to me at the perfume shop as it was too mature for me at the time. Do you happen to know what the perfume may have been? or

Thanks :o)

9:43 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Duh -- I completely forgot about that! It's just so stanky... I love it, I don't know why.

PS Ina sent me a tiny taste of MH Rien; have you smelled it? Sticking it in the candy tomorrow -- some serious stank, I found it... beyond my boundaries. Wondering if you'll love it ;-)?

9:48 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Off the top of my head...perhaps Matthew Williamson Fragrance or Matthew Williamson Incense? Although I have a feeling that's not it.
Perhaps someone else would have some ideas.

9:52 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I am dying to try it. MH people promised me a sample, we'll see...

9:52 AM EDT  
Blogger priscilla said...

Oh, I have a whole mess of vetiver samples left to try! Now there's even more to add to the list! I went through a week of them back in July, and the two I loved were Laura Tonatto Iss and Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental. I have the FM, the PdN, and L'Artisan in my sample stash...I may have the SMN to try as well.

I know it may sound silly to say my nose has "matured" in these last few months, but I think it has, and that makes me want to go back to the Guerlain Vetiver, which I didn't love the first time. I need to know if it's my nose, or if this is another one of those Guerlain fragrances that hates me (along with Mitsuoko and Shalimar...they formed a club).

10:04 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I have to try Iss!

And I completely understand when you say your nose has matured. It gains experience every day, becomes more or less un-shockable. For example, after I sniffed SIP Narctic and CB Musk, I feel like my nose got at least half a century older and became completely immune to anything weird/scary/obscene-smelling. Nothing can shock me anymore. :-)

10:09 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks, but it isn't either of those. I think it may have been a two word name China something or something China lol... I will keep trying to figure it out and if I ever do I will let you know. It would be interesting to see what you think of it if you could find some to sniff.

10:11 AM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

I am down in the dumps because I was bidding on a bottle of Route du Vetiver (actually, I was making an offer) and the seller never responded. I tried again and still...nothing. Then I wrote him. I have been thinking of calling 911 and sending out a search party!

Sometimes the addiction grabs a hold of me and doesn't let go until I buy another bottle. I love vetiver. :(

10:16 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

If a seller doesn't reply to emails, then it is probably wise not to buy from him or her, since who knows how long they'd take to deliver...if they'd deliver at all. Is it by any chance french gift something or other? I beleive it is a re-incarnation of a seller with a very bad history delivery-wise. I might be completely mistaken of course.

10:20 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

I think you will get a Rien sample; I did upon request--and I don't even have a blog. I do like it--curious to see what you think! (Funny how the other scents come out so different on us; I have often though that we have quite similar tastes, but very different chemisty:)

10:22 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Hmmm...well, it's not Chinatown, right, since that oen is pink and white...very inetersting...

10:23 AM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I think you are right about out tastes and skin chemistry :-D I can't wait to try Rien...

10:23 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


No, I went to look at the bottle for Chinatown, very pretty, but not the right one. The one I am looking for is an opaque almost wedgewood blue bottle with the aforementioned flowers and bird or birds. I called the store that I found it at, and of course, it was so long ago that no one knew of it and they obviously don't carry it anymore. I don't even know who created it. A perfume mystery...

Thanks again and as I said if I find out any more I will let you know.

10:31 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Of course your "nose" can mature over the course of months, just as your palate can. I remember the first time I smelled a truffle and wondered who on God's green earth would want to eat something that looked and smelled like an old balled-up gym sock. But after a couple of tries, nirvana.

I think a lot of Niche houses are like that, especially if you're coming off department store brands. Store ones are all about hooking you at first spritz ('cause that's when the SA can grab you) while the niche ones have to be lived with.

Go back and give Guerlain a second try. I did, and I was very glad. It's superb.

11:10 AM EDT  
Blogger Caitlin Shortell said...

I think it'd be cool if you wrote a book on vetiver and vetiver perfumes.
I enjoyed your associations. Hunky wizard was one of my favorite bits of this one. Heheh.

11:17 AM EDT  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

M, great post! Have you tried the Carlo Corinto Vetiver? Someone on basenotes did a great run down on vetiver once, and it was the "winner".

1:01 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you, Cait. I can't imagine there being much interest in such a book :-D Now, leather might be a different story. Judith would have be a co-author, of course :-)

1:37 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guerlains Vetiver is one of the my favorites - an excellent balance of vetiver and citrus notes, and great value for money. Racine is another offering (by MPG), which is similar to Guerlains in that it is quite fresh.

I am surprised that you havent reviewed or commented on any of the Creed vetivers (Original Vetiver, or Vetiver '48), both of which are excellent creations and very different.

2:19 PM EDT  
Blogger priscilla said...

M and Tom, thank you both for your encouragement! We are heading on vacation to drier, warmer climes, so I think I might take along Guerlain Vetiver and a few others on the trip (although not in my carry-on luggage, of course. Don't want to threaten anyone with PERFUME. Although I personally do find CSP Vetiver Haiti sort of threatening. It smells like Aqua Net in dirty hair).

2:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you! I haven't tried Corinto. I wonder how hard it is to get.

2:22 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I haven't tried Creed's Vetiver. Original Vetiver left me cold, but probabaly should give it another try. I see another post shaping up already :-)

2:24 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

I hope you have a fabulous trip!! I'd be tempted to put my Flowerbomb Extreme bottle into my carry on luggage, out of pure perversity, silliness and spite :-D

2:25 PM EDT  
Blogger Martin said...

lilyofbp: I'm sorry to let you know that I have yet to smell the one from Lorenzo Villoresi, so I can't compare the two.

5:46 PM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Marina, I checked and you are right about the Ebay seller's name. Spooky! I will consider myself lucky!

8:43 PM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

My thoughts are superfluous at this moment [I was trapped at work yesterday when you posted], but I feel about vetiver much the way I feel about lemon...

One could put it on sh-t, and I would still love it...sigh....

8:05 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I immensely enjoyed your Vetiver sniffathon.
I write to bring to your attention a superb though little known Vetiver scent: Vetiver de Puig.
I fancy you'll enjoy it immensely.

9:52 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

Another one to try! Thank you very much.

10:16 PM EDT  

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