Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Hermèssence Vétiver Tonka by Hermès

Total Reviews: 62
Le matin en Provence by Paul Cézanne 1900-06
15th December, 2017
For me, VT stands out slightly in a crowded field of creamy, modern vetivers that includes Malle's Vetiver Extraordinaire, and Diptyque's Vetiveryo to name a few. In this vetiver genre the feature note's sharp or pungent edges are smoothed over by supporting notes. The perfumer's hand is what creates the fragrance's essence and Elena does a great work here. VT opens with a warm vetiver that is smoothed of it's bite by a pecan cream-tonka bean accord. From the start each note is present, but seem to be searching for their rightful balance with the sweetness at it's greatest height from the beginning. After about 30 minutes, the tone soon finds itself settling into a fantastically, smooth, creamy vetiver that has a touch of dry sweetness lingering beneath the heart. It's admittedly intoxicating, with light to average sillage, yet excellent longevity. Could easily be worn by either sex and would beautifully counter the more decisively masculine Bel Ami Vetiver in a Hermes wardrobe. A sure Thumbs Up for me, but I'm not certain if I prefer VT to one of the other similar fragrances in the field. Price is a bit beyond my typical budget, however it is one that I would wear often. I'll slowly work through my samples before buying.
25th November, 2017
Having smelled Viaggio d'Africa by Pal Zileri before smelling Vétiver Tonka, this is what it reminded me of with its sweet, nutty, coffee-like aroma and sharp, dry vetiver proving some freshness. The two do have some similarities in notes. However, looks like Vetiver Tonka came out 6 years before the Zileri, so Hermèssence gets the credit here.

Performance is good. Projects just enough for others to notice and lasts all work day.
03rd August, 2017
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harper Show all reviews
United States
i love this. as i also do ellena's terre d'hermes. together with his much more generic voyage d'hermes these are all variations on a theme, from sweetish and dense (vetiver tonka) to very dry, almost metallic and herbal (terre d'hermes in my favorite concentration, the bone-dry apres rasage, which is not so harsh nor such a sillage monster as the regular edt or parfum of this scent), to (almost) generic and a bit cheap, particularly in the drydown: voyage d'hermes. if i had to choose only one, it would be vetiver tonka. but since i don't have to, i move between it and terre.
06th October, 2016
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.
03rd August, 2016
Oviatt Show all reviews
United States
"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.
26th May, 2015
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.
17th December, 2014
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.
28th November, 2014
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.
29th June, 2014
very dry vetiver and tonka to take the dry edge off, a rifened vetiver....Encre Noir rich uncle!
21st March, 2014
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.
16th February, 2014
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.
12th January, 2014
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
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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

03rd June, 2013
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.
19th March, 2013
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
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…)
28th June, 2012
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!
03rd June, 2012
drseid Show all reviews
United States
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.
05th May, 2012
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!
17th April, 2012
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
03rd April, 2012
finzi Show all reviews
United Kingdom
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 Show all reviews
United States
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.
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
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
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.
16th January, 2012
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.
03rd December, 2011
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
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
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.
24th August, 2011
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. A well executed light and minimal gourmandic vetiver. If you think it's overpriced, you might want to consider Etat Libre D'Orange Fat Electrician as an alternative.
13th April, 2011 (last edited: 26th October, 2014)