Reviews of Hermèssence Vétiver Tonka by Hermès

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    tempest moon's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    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.

    29 June, 2014

    Francolino's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    very dry vetiver and tonka to take the dry edge off, a rifened vetiver....Encre Noir rich uncle!

    21st March, 2014

    Kain's avatar

    Iran Iran

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    A very different type of vetiver based fragrance or actually I prefer calling it a fragrance with vetiver in it!
    If you're looking for a vetiver dominated fragrance go somewhere else because you can't find it here!
    The opening is warm and sweet tonka bean scent with slight dirty and smoky aroma.
    That dirty and smoky smell definitely is not from vetiver. it's from tobacco but it doesn't smell like a strong tobacco note either! it's there to give the scent just a smoky and dirty feeling!
    The sweetness is strong with caramel smell in it.
    In the dry down that dirty smoky smell almost faded away completely and now you can smell vetiver note beside that sweet tonka bean caramely smell.
    The vetiver note does not have that wild and earthy smell.
    It's there and you can smell it but because of the strong tonka and caramel combo it's muted!
    In the base you have the mid smell with slight changes.
    You can smell some soapy aroma too. not too much but it's there and I can feel it.
    Projection is above average but longevity is average to poor on my skin.
    It's very simple and linear and it doesn't worth the price in my opinion.
    I'm happy with my sample because it's something new to my nose but when I'm done with my sample, I will forget it easily.

    16 February, 2014

    Dane77's avatar

    Denmark Denmark

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    Juxtaposing spicy-sweet tonka bean, hazelnut and caramel with salty vetiver and traces of dried tobacco, Vétiver Tonka is above everything else a very successful fragrance experiment. Unlike many other Hermès releases by Jean-Claude Ellena, Vétiver Tonka is full-bodied and substantial, representing the most worthwhile example of the overall compositional theme of the Hermèssence range, namely that of “meetings” between otherwise seldomly mixed principal ingredients. This theme shines brighter and more directly in Vétiver Tonka than in most of its Hermèssence peers.
    Gently rounded with syrup, caramel, and notes of hazelnut and almonds, a veritable blast of the vanilla-like sweetness of tonka beans dominates the opening phase. Then, slowly, the spicy-nutty sweetness recedes to form the background for a long and gorgeous vetiver-centered drydown. The vetiver here is one of the most rewarding interpretations of the note I have come across - rooty, sharp, salty, vivacious - and masterfully set off by the civilizing function of the spicy-sweet elements. This fascinating integration of contrasts and oppositions gives Vétiver Tonka real character and intriguing edge. Vétiver Tonka is a truly unique and very enjoyable fragrance.

    12 January, 2014

    Happyguy's avatar



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    Like a vanilla milkshake

    I sprayed on and was instantly transported to a nostalgic place.

    Not quite a milkshake but something about the vanilla and creamy scents remind me of a milkshake.

    The vanilla (or tonka) is present without being too sweet or overwhelming. All in all a nicely balanced scent. Unfortunately it seems to have very brief longevity on my skin.

    I would wear this as a change of pace from my more citrus-centric scents.

    But in general I probably wouldn't wear it often enough to justify buying a bottle.

    Pros: A friendly, almost familiar smell
    Cons: Not really vetiver; Longevity a bit brief"

    10th August, 2013

    Jack Hunter's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    A Strange Take On Vetiver

    This smells very strange to me in that the vetiver note is coupled with Tonka, tobacco and other sweet notes.

    I get a slightly creamy & sweet nutty aroma that projects off my skin mixed in with the vetiver note whilst wearing this scent. There is a slight sour note that I'm picking up and the fragrance smells like nail polish remover to me that has been sweetened.

    I'm not really liking this scent the vetiver and Tonka sweet notes just do not seem to go together naturally. Projection and longevity are just average on my skin.

    Pros: A Friendly but strange Introduction To Vetiver
    Cons: Vetiver Purists May Not Like The Nutty Sour/ Sweetness

    03 June, 2013

    Card Board's avatar

    Germany Germany

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    I am surprised that no one has yet described the opening (really, the first few hours) as soapy. The dirty/clean juxtaposition of the opening is intriguing. The fragrance warms up to a more robust slightly smoky and sweet variation on the same, and in warming up, the presence of the whole notably increases (the first 20 minutes or so were on the quiet side). I also begin to sense the fresh cut grass and hay that others have mentioned, as well as hints of an ungraspable floral. Surely the tonka is doing something in this mix--sweetening, lifting certain elements, grounding others, perhaps--but I can’t say I get much of a tonka or hazelnut note, per se.

    I understand this was developed as a tender, warm vetiver. Perhaps it is, compared to something like Encre Noire, Sycomore, or Guerlain Vetiver. Vetiver Tonka is more bright green and round, and less smoky than the aforementioned, but it is a stretch to term it "tender" or "warm" on its own merits. It is, however, a very good vetiver, more cheerful and buoyant than the aforementioned, and more complex than one might think. It is certainly different enough from the aforementioned to make it a worthwhile addition to a vetiver-heavy collection. On another note, as much as I love vetiver, it can sometimes turn my stomach in the first few minutes after application. Thankfully, Vetiver Tonka doesn’t do that to me.

    Longevity is better than average; projection and silage, too.

    19 March, 2013

    's avatar



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    My frag that I wear the most. Very versatile. Love the dirty/grittiness this gives off. Then it's sweetened up just a tad with the tonka which draws you into the smell. There is a hint of hazelnut if you look for it. Just an all around great scent.

    21st January, 2013

    gimmegreen's avatar

    Netherlands Netherlands

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    What's in a name? Misdirection that's what. The combination of these notes sounds like a marriage made in a Fabergé (the jeweller, natch) workshop – exquisite, to be cherished eternally. Both are so infinitely complex with sweet, earthy, damp pleasures in their folds, that one imagines their cilia entwining in everlasting bliss.
    Except I had forgotten that J-C Ellena seems to prefer the dry salt-sweet woodsy aspect of vetiver, rather than the entire spectrum it presents. As for the tonka, I'm sure it's in there somewhere, but its fudgy richness has been slimmed down – what's the point?
    Fortunately this perfume doesn't typify the sado-minimalism of Ellena's late style, there's a good deal going on. Characteristically (for Ellena) piercing citruses, a slept-in tobacco note that will instantly dispel the effects of having showered, toasty nutty and sweet things, a bit of coffee here, a touch of chocolate there. It all hangs together rather beautifully, and that is eventually what counts. This is a creation that breathes with life, it has temperament, moods.
    The deep drydown is sweet, smooth vetiver with an almost aldehydic lift; perfumes rarely give that impression so late into the wearing.
    (Still looking for that marriage of vetiver with tonka that will boom out like a hall full of church organs. One can but dream…)

    28 June, 2012

    rogalal's avatar

    United States United States

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    I have to admit that the first time I smelled Vétiver Tonka, I found it kind of weak and unremarkable. Now, years later with more sniffing under my belt, I'm enjoying it a lot more.

    Of course, it's vetiver, and it smells an awful lot like that vetiveryle acetate chemical that's been made famous by Escentric Molecule 3: bright green, slightly grassy, slightly piquant vetiver with tones of lemongrass and nutmeg. Vétiver Tonka pairs this benchmark vetiver note with a sort of bready note that most reviewers seem to call hazelnut, though I personally think it's that peanutty flour smell Ellena created for L'Artisan's Bois Farine. Though not mentioned in the notes, I swear I smell jasmine in Vétiver Tonka as well.

    Vétiver Tonka reminds me the most of Guerlain's excellent Vetiver Pour Elle, largely because they share a sort of unisex flowery sweetness and subtle depth in their supporting notes. That being said, Pour Elle has a candied flower sweetness and a quiet lettuce feel, while Vétiver Tonka has more of an air-in-a-bakery sweetness without the candied-vegetable references. Well done and worth sampling - if you find it unremarkable, give it some time and come back!

    03 June, 2012

    drseid's avatar

    United States United States

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    It is rare I find a vetiver scent I dislike... Unfortunately I have found one in Vetiver Tonka.

    Vetiver Tonka opens with a very clean vetiver note, before quickly adding a very large dose of sweet tonka bean coupling with a hazelnut accord that really is the star here. The combination is wearable I suppose, but it is rather strange. There really is not much development in this minimalist scent, with the exception of a small amount of sandalwood joining the few other notes later on in the base. Longevity and projection are both below average to average.

    I really don't like Vetiver Tonka at all. It is just way too sweet, and I think the hazelnut accord is really out of place. I love hazelnut, but prefer eating it in Ferraro Rocher chocolates, not wearing it with my vetiver. If sweet scents containing vetiver are your thing, I strongly recommend you check out Coeur de Vetiver Sacre from L'Artisan instead. It, like Vetiver Tonka does not really feature vetiver as its primary note, but it definitely is there and for less money it smells excellent; to my nose and preferences Vetiver Tonka doesn't. A very weak neutral here... 2 to 2.5 stars out of 5.

    05 May, 2012

    NOEL MAHC's avatar



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    This is one powerful fragrance!! It was TOOOO smokey for me and I was hoping to smell a little bit more sweetness in the scent. Well, you sure don't need to apply alot of it because the staying power is insane!

    17 April, 2012

    freddiefingers's avatar



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    thank God I didnt have to shell a fortune to check this scent out as it smells the same as Collezione Privata Viaggio d`Africa Pal Zileri for men .If I had bought this full bottle I would be kicking myself as the smell is the same.

    It's long lasting and well not unique.I was expecting a full dose of vetiver but it really is subdued with the presence of the burnt tonka bean.

    I will not be investing in a full bottle as it's too pricey for what you get when you can get cheaper alternatives

    03 April, 2012

    finzi's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    My heart skips a beat every time I catch a whiff of this! It's that sweet, slightly salty tonka that does it. I get exactly the same feeling from Byredo's Bal D'Afrique, but Vetiver Tonka is smokier, heavier, stronger... I feel aroused and seduced! The unisex ambiguity is provoking and challenging, but in a gooooooood way.

    One spritz on my wrist lasted ALL DAY which I think is amazing considering that this is an EDT. Lasts longer and has much better projection than many EDPs I've known. In fact, if I wear more than a couple of spritzes it can bring on a headache, which tends to happen to me with heavy vanilla- or tonka-based fragrances.

    Sublime, I love it. I'd wear it all the time if my man were a little more enthusiastic about it!

    11th March, 2012

    surge's avatar

    United States United States

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    Absolutely incredible juice. Epic stuff...and I *hate* vetiver.
    I've tried tom ford's grey vetiver -- hate it.
    Tried guerlain's vetiver -- hate it.
    This stuff...holy...wow
    The vetiver is not that sharp \ old man stink kind of smell but a sweet summer breeze after cutting the lawn kind of smell, plus it's got that great tonka underneath it. Very awesome stuff.

    30th January, 2012

    odysseusm's avatar

    Canada Canada

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    I approached this with mixed feelings. I like vetiver very much. But the dried fruits suggested the potential for a Serge Luten opulence, and the grilled hazelnuts suggested a foody sort of scent -- neither scenario immediately attracts me.
    My fears were groundless. This is a suave, restrained unisex scent.
    It has slight toasty-nutty aspects. Although it starts a bit sweet it is not heavy, and the sweetness recedes very quickly. It has a dry, rootsy-earthy aspect -- not gourmand at all in my opinion. The dried fruit is so subtle that I don't really notice it. I'd say that the vetiver - toasted nut - tonka (hay) melange is held in perfect balance. This sits close to the skin. In the final dry-down, a satisfying light vetiver remains.
    Now, this is not a jaw-dropping vetiver. If you are well stocked in that style, you may not need to seek it out. But it will appeal to many, I'm sure.

    20th January, 2012

    scentsitivity's avatar

    United States United States

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    I get a brief blast of vetiver, followed by tonka. For a while, I think the vetiver is all gone, but to my surprise it returns, albeit in subtler form, mingled with the tonka. Perhaps a touch of nuttiness and grain. I certainly don’t find it offensive, but not especially interesting either. And a bit pricey too.

    16 January, 2012

    Notreveh's avatar

    Brazil Brazil

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    Vetiver Tonka is an amazing fragrance, that I can say for sure!

    It opens up with a sensational vetiver note. Pure, earthy and resembling Encre Noire from Lalique (in a matter of fact this entirely fragrance seems to be a corpulent version of this designer fragrance).

    After a couple of minutes, the tobacco note kicks in together with vetiver giving to this particular fragrance a slight smoky aspect.

    Unfortunately the chocolate aspect of it it's not so evident on my skin, but this doesn't take away points from this wonderful fragrance.

    03 December, 2011

    Minkymaid's avatar

    England England

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    Bitter and dry and sweet and nutty. How can it be so set with opposites ? It's fascinating. An image immediately springs to mind- chewing on an old tweed suit. The dryness, maleness and smoky-sweetness I guess.
    I see the majority of reviewers are male, and this does seem to slide towards the male camp ( if we do differentiate between male and female fragrances). I'm wearing it, but feeling a little uncomfortable ... like I'm wearing my BF's underpants and hope no one notices! But for women looking to widen their scope towards male-ish scent, this is may be a one to try- probably because it has M.Ellena's airy spaciousness to lighten the experience and therefore soften it.
    I like this - I prefer it on my BF - but yes, I like it.

    20th November, 2011

    Redbeard's avatar

    United States United States

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    I bought a vial, foolishly thinking it would smell like vetiver plus something close to vanilla. It opens much sweeter, more nutty and caramel candy-like than I expected, but right away I can tell that the show's already over for me. It has that rotting fetid ashtray component that overruns Floris Elite...not quite as much as FE but still it's at center stage. From what I can tell, some intrepid florals are struggling to break free of the horrific oppression of the ashtray, but aren't quite able to make it out. There is in fact some vetiver in here, manifesting itself as the greener portion of the mostly light brown sharp sourness. Then, oddly enough, the sour ashiness is almost gone in a very quick transition, leaving a weak, nutty vetiver. This phase in and of itself is OK, reminding me a lot of Black Vetyver Cafe with only a little sourness, but I've already been punished enough by the top and mid notes; I've seriously come across bums that smelled just like that. I can't believe what a racket Hermes has going with this line, though I still like most of their other offerings.

    11th September, 2011

    Oh_Hedgehog's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    Jean-Claude Elléna tips the scales in favour of the tonka rather than the vetiver here, emphasising caramel, hazelnuts, coffee, and praline. The delicious highlight of these efforts – what Hermès refers to as ‘cereal notes’ – smells like roasted brown rice and imparts a reassuringly wholesome, toasty aura to the fragrance.

    Vétiver Tonka lacks liquorice and lavender, just as it is devoid of florals, so comparisons with either Yohji Homme or Sycomore, respectively, are a little shaky; but the composition is located somewhere in this region of perfume space.

    Vétiver Tonka is sheer, fresh, tantalising, but a little too hushed for me.

    24 August, 2011

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    Nice release from Hermes. In the opening I get exactly what the name of this fragrance says: Vetiver and Tonka Beans. In the drydown things get a little more complex with hints of chocolate (praline) and green notes. Even if they're not similar in the structure it reminded me of a mash-up version between a lighter Comme Des Garcons 2 Man without incense and a sweeter French Lover. A well executed light and minimal gourmandic vetiver. Maybe a bit overpriced.

    13 April, 2011

    rickbr's avatar

    Brazil Brazil

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    Vetiver Tonka seems to be like those vetivers which focus on the green and earthy aspects of the vetiver note, and tries to soften the smoky one. But here, we have something smoky, but it`s due to a gourmand nutty aroma. Vetiver Tonka opens with a similar effect of Aomassai, of a caramelic tonka accord. The dried fruit seems to play a background act on this part of the fragrance, that soon develops to the skin scent aroma of green vetiver. It`s not too strong, but seems to last a little bit more than the average hermés. It`s a thumbs up for the pleasant aroma, one of the best of this line, that only looses to ambre narguile, my favorite one.

    28 January, 2011

    PaladinX's avatar



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    I agree with asha, The opening is sort of a body kourous, Sweet, burnt caramel kind of opening, And than it dries down to more of a grassy "fennel" type of smell. Its very weak on my skin, does not last long. And I really do not believe it is worth the price tag.

    02 September, 2010

    Mimi Gardenia's avatar

    United States United States

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    Like name ,like fragrance- yummy tonka bean with vetiver. Very lovely and unisex.

    27 August, 2010

    obscura's avatar

    United States United States

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    Vetiver Tonka is like an artsy split-screen romantic comedy without the happy ending. For the length of the film you watch as the two would-be lovers' paths constantly cross, but they never meet. In VT, the cool, clean vetiver and the warm, caramel tonka remain parallel from beginning to end, maintaining a feeling of suspense all the way to the drydown. There is no overtly happy ending here, but I still love this fragrance. VT is an example of my favorite kind of art--though ultimately inconclusive, it keeps my attention the whole way through.

    17 May, 2010

    Turko's avatar

    Canada Canada

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    Vetiver Tonka is the better juice if compared to Guerlain's vetiver, Tom Ford's grey vetiver, Dior's eau savage and Creed's original vetiver. However, Vetiver tonka doesn't last long on the skin (at least on my skin). This, being said, is too less of a good thing for a darn very expensive good thing. If the other fragrances could carry you throughout the day with a single application, with Vetiver Tonka you would need 3 or more applications during the day and this could finish your biggest bottle in a month's time. If Jean CLaude Elena could work on this longevity issue...then Vetiver Tonka could be the best of all the Hermessences.

    17 May, 2010

    Somerville Metro Man's avatar

    United States United States

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    Hermes Hermessence Vetiver Tonka

    I have really enjoyed the Hermessence line from Hermes as a concept and in the execution. Jean-Claude Ellena has done a wonderful job at exploring the interplay of some of perfumery's signature ingredients and making something fresh out of them. Case in point is one of the original Hermessence releases from 2004, Vetiver Tonka.

    Vetiver has to be right up there with patchouli and sandalwood as one of the most used and versatile notes in the perfumer's toolbox. Vetiver can be used to add edge or a green feel but rarely does it come off smooth. In Vetiver Tonka, M. Ellena turns this sharp edged note into a thing of cashmere like softness and shows just how versatile a note vetiver can be.

    The top of Vetiver Tonka begins with the vetiver feel most men are familiar with. In fact it opens almost identically to Guelrain Vetiver. Almost immediately that changes as M. Ellena chooses to blend two gourmand notes of roasted hazelnut and dried fruit. This has the effect of accentuating the natural nuttiness that vetiver has but too often gets lost when it is paired with more powerful notes. Here the feel comes off like smelling a nut roaster from a distance. The fruit accord could be jarring but it adds a little necessary sweetnes to keep this on the smooth side. The base is all tonka and its richness really brings the vetiver's suave and debonair side out. The now very intense vetiver is truly matched by the tonka making this comforting at the last.

    Vetiver Tonka has average longevity and sillage on my skin. It is a typical light Ellena compsoition but it has a little more depth than most of his other works.

    Vetiver Tonka is what happens when the most talented perfumers decide to look at the tried and true and make something bright and new, it can be eye-opening and wonderful and Vetiver Tonka is all that.

    11th December, 2009

    oeonologist's avatar

    United States United States

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    This is my second review... With that in mind; I got a lot of pepper and smoke on the top and a sweetness that seemed more pronounced as it wore on or dried down as it were. I felt as though I had a nice little secret that I kind of wanted to let other people in on while wearing this....

    09 June, 2009

    ubuandibeme's avatar

    United States United States

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    I tend to shy away from vetiver, as it usually brings the masculine gender to my mind when I get a whiff. What a nice suprise to find this Vetiver Tonka! It doesn't have the usual "masculine" feel to my nose, which makes wearing it a dream! bbBD's commentary is thorough and accurate. VT's sillage & longevity are superior, especially for such a sheer scent. As it wears on my skin, it becomes a bit 'acidic', but not to the point of disdain. This entire range of Hermessence fragrance is simple, quality & fun, I'm lovin' it!

    01st May, 2009

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