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.