Goutal's is a straightforward vetiver composition, sparsely decorated with citrus and lavender top notes, plus perhaps a very light touch of anise and caraway to accentuate the spicy and licorice facets of the featured note. Don't expect the raw, earthy quality of Route du Vétiver and Etro's Vetiver, nor the smoke and incense of Encre Noire and Sycomore. Instead, Goutal's Vétiver approximates the smooth, suave style of Givenchy Vetyver, though with less of the Givenchy's characteristic nutty richness and anisic overtones. I'd describe it as a dry vetiver, buttoned up and relatively formal, with an emphasis upon vetiver's grassy, rather than its rooty, aspect. It's a serviceable vetiver, but with less personality than many of the alternatives.
Raw, earthy, harsh, green, pungent opening, really powerful and savage, with salty notes (not caloney: I mean really salty) and almost rusty, a bundle of vetiver roots under the rain. Humid and woody. Aromatic base of cedar or other similar woods, and a really subtle hint of a dusty, cozy aromatic tobacco/incense note which will eventually "come in shape" better later on. The prominent, breathtaking note is however vetiver – in a way you just don't find anymore these days. A herbaceous, majestic, rooty, earthy vetiver, with a pungent and strong heart, a lot of natural facets, almost a "veg" counterpart to animalic notes. Moreover the "wet bundle" of vetiver dries and you eventually feel a spicy-cloves-linalool accord emerging, which changes a bit the scenario introducing a camphor-medicinal feel – still much woody and earthy. The drydown shows a deep basenote which is almost like leather although I believe it's only a really dry tobacco note. A great peculiar vetiver, erratic, unpredictable and moody like an unstable cloudy day at the seaside – sometimes gloomy, somethimes soothing.
Salty dry vetiver
An excellent dry vetiver. At the top, there is almost a pleasant rubbery note; as it goes, a salty, seaside note becomes prominent, giving the vetiver an even fresher, drier aspect. Of note, the formula is different from that of the current Eau de Vetiver (which may have substituted the older vetiver); the eau de vetiver is lighter and citric, and lacks the depth of the original.
This is a green, harsh, raw vetiver, smelling very much of the earth. Etro's Vetiver comes closest to it in my experience.
I seem to detect some basil, tarragon and maybe a touch of cumin in its complexity.
It's not for me as I prefer the more rounded, waker vetivers on the market, but for those looking for pure, raw vetiver, this is a good choice.
I was at NM looking to score a free spritz of Encre Noire which I did and when the very charming SA asked me how I liked it I told her, "Oh I didn't know it was so leathery. I really don't wear leather much." After a liitle discussion she said she had the perfect vetiver for me and sent me home with a sample of Annick Goutal. When I tried it guess what I smelled? You guessed it. Leather. A not too bad leather though. Overall the fragrance is quite remarkable. Really pretty. Smells very refined and the leather seems kept in check by other notes. I can't wear it because I'm a certified leatherphobe of course but ironically perhaps I think it might be really sexy on a female and wouldn't object to smelling it on the right one.