The start was promising. A nutty vetiver, as you'd expect from the description.
Gradually, this morphed into a screechy, synthetic woody vetiver a la Encre Noire, hints of turpentine kind of thing. I had to wash it off after a mere hour and a half. Shame, it was a good start.
"Lift not the painted veil which those who live call life"
These words of Shelley's perfectly describe the Hermessence line and Vetiver Tonka in particular. It is a potentially great scent seen--or sniffed--through a veil. Unreal shapes are pictured there, mimicking life with colours idly spread. This is less about vetiver and more about a light, ephemeral nutty tonka with a little tobacco thrown in. I am not a big fan of Ellena's Hermes offerings although this one is not bad. That said, is it an improvement on any of the other vetiver or tonka focused scents out there? Not really. When you consider these two notes as used in the hands of a master (Guerlain), this does seem like a filtered, obscured offering. While there may be splendor among the shadows, is it worth the effort to look? And if so, will you find anything? I strove for truth, and like the Preacher found it not.
Another winner from the masterful mind of Jean-Claude Ellena. I'm not a fan of most other fragrances in the Hermessence range (I find Santal Massoia to be one of Ellena's worst pieces of work) but Vetiver Tonka is stunning. It's like a great big hug!
Strangely, I don't get a lot of vetiver from this one, despite the name. Instead, it's rich, sweet and nutty, a little bit like a hazelnut caramel latte. It can definitely be worn by both sexes but I'd say it's more of an autumnal/wintry scent, and not something I'd wear in the summer. A (female) colleague is a fragrance hound like myself so I took my bottle of Vetiver Tonka in to work and when she tried it she broke out in a big grin and said "OMG THAT'S MY NEW SIGNATURE SCENT!"
It's by no means a cheap fragrance - I got mine from the Hermes boutique in LAX International (Tom Bradley terminal) with some decent samples thrown in - but it's a very nice luxury item. The packaging is wonderful and the leather-capped bottle comes in its own special fabric bag. I also got a lovely brochure with mine, full of scent notes and arty photographs of the Hermessence range.
Worth a try if you can afford it.
Vetiver Tonka is an interesting, quasi-gourmand take on vetiver. The opening is impressive – a very dry, nutty vetiver paired with tannic tobacco leaves that create a very rich, almost mouth-watering effect. The tonka, caramel, and hazelnut notes swirl in from underneath to soften and sweeten the earthy vetiver. The juxtaposition of earthy/dry/bitter elements with sweet/creamy gourmand notes is a familiar one, and used to great effect and in slightly similar proportions in Parfumerie Generale’s wonderful Aomassai and Serge Lutens’ Bois de Vanille. However, I am not as fond of Vetiver Tonka as I feel I should be. Something about the deliberate dissonance of notes turns my stomach if I put it on in the morning before my breakfast. There is something too intense in here, something too roasted in feel or smell, like coffee spilled and sizzling on a hot stove. I do appreciate it, but I have to be in the right mood to wear this comfortably.
The "Sweet" Vetiver
This is a good one. It's also a good contender for the best performing out of the Hermessence line. A sweet Vetiver fragrance that combines a nutty, almost edible like smoothness with the dry, earthy Vetiver root in the background. I really like it.
I feel that what is different here is Ellena's use of Tonka, Caramel and especially Praline to give the standard vetiver a nice "twist", and make it likeable to many people. It almost reminds me of a marriage between Lolita Lempicka au Masculin and Tom Ford's Grey Vetiver. The Vetiver itself here is dry and earthy, but is balanced perfectly well with the almost gourmand like sweetness of the Hazelnut, Tonka and Praline notes.
That being said, Vetiver Tonka is definitely not a gourmand type of scent. It has the balance just right between sweet and sour. I also notice the Lilly of the Valley note which gives a soft floral touch in the dry down, which slightly reminds me of Andy Tauer's Vetiver Dance.
Highly recommended, especially as a very unique and different take on a vetiver perfume.