Continuing with Hermessence week, today I am wearing Vetiver Tonka, my vote for the best perfume in the collection. Like the others, it was created by Hermès house nose Jean Claude Ellena and launched in 2004. Hermès Vetiver Tonka is meant to suggest wool, and has notes of vetiver, neroli, bergamot, grilled hazelnut, dry fruit, cereals and tonka bean.
Vetiver Tonka starts off fresh and green, with vetiver and mild citrus. It is deep and rich — the top notes of Guerlain Vetiver smell like water in comparison — but it is not at all heavy, nor is it more than mildy sweet.
The vetiver note stays predominant as it settles, but it also takes on undertones of burnt sugar and hazelnuts. Despite that, it never smells particularly foody on me; the sweet notes are perfectly tempered by the dry, earthy vetiver, and the tonka bean seems to float in and out without ever overwhelming the composition.
I don’t catch any dried fruits or cereal grains, and the longer it stays on the skin, the harder it is to make out individual notes. The vetiver gets deeper and more intense, until it almost smells like it has been roasted along with the sugar and nuts. At the same time, the overall feeling is one of lightness, and it could easily be worn year-round.
Vetiver Tonka is a simply gorgeous perfume, and a perfect balancing act between sweet and dry notes, transparency and depth. Of all the Hermessence fragrances, it is the only one I would consider purchasing in the large bottle.
Hermès Vetiver Tonka is available in 100 ml Eau de Toilette, or in sets of four 15 ml bottles (the “discovery” sets, bottle shown above). For purchasing information, see the listing for Hermès under Perfume Houses.
Note: image of vetiver roots being harvested is via the very informative site vetiver.com. As you can see, it has an elaborate root system, and the plant is used around the world for erosion control efforts. The roots are also the source of the oil used in perfumery.