Vetiver is herbacious with an earthy/green smell.
Thread: Best vetiver
I know this sounds like a dumb Q,but i cant sample a Vetiver.I see there is a Guerlain vetiver and a Creed Vetiver...is it like an oriental or aquatic or...?
Vetiver is herbacious with an earthy/green smell.
Vetiver on its own is a very complex woody note. It is not technically *a* wood; it is the root of tropical grass that grows in countries like Haiti, Indonesia, etc. The roots grow very deep into the ground and are huge!
The complex aroma of vetiver smells clean, dry, slightly "sour", earthy, woody. The scent varies from different origins - some are sweeter, some even smell a bit like maramite on their own (a particular yeast-spread that I believe most British people will know what it is!).
Vetiver roots are used also to create woven mats and blinds for the windows which are used in tropical countries to cool off the house. Especially when sprinkled with water, those vetiver mats release the vetiver aroma, and that scent has a cooling, refreshing effect.
Vetiver gets different interpretations in different vetiver soliflores. Most commonly, its clean woody aroma is complemented by citrus. If you smell different vetiver colognes to try to discern the aroma of vetiver alone, I suggest you try until the dry down, once all the other citrus and herbal supporting notes fade out, and you will get the idea after a while.
But best is of course to get a sample of the essetial oil - most aromatherapy stores has it as it is not an expensive material.
Agreed.Originally Posted by Ayala
"Wait...is David Bowie really God?" - Penelope Garcia
Ayala is very right!
They differ moslty from its origin. My favorite vetiver is a sunny-creamy-yellow-clean vetiver as opposed to a more earthy-dry-greener vetiver. I also prefer a sweeter vetiver than a non-sweet vetiver.
Of course, sometimes i'm in the mood for a more sharper greener vetiver than an earthy-woody one, but it depends on the weather and if i want that scent to be more about the "vetiver experience" than if it's just a vetiver whiff i want at the end of a drydown in a non-vetiver-heavy fragrance.
My opinion is that if you have the chance of buying different vetiver oils, make a vetiver sniff-a-thon and then decide what's better for you or what are the feelings or images you get when you smell them, it might be fun to have a paper and a pen and then after smelling them, close your eyes and write down the first thing that comes to your mind.
it's all about the pleasure and fun of it. vetiver-style!
Originally Posted by castorpollux
While the provenance of vetiver oil certainly has a significant bearing on how vetiver smells, in practical terms in modern day perfumery, variations in the scent profile of vetiver have a lot more to do with how indivudual vetiver oil is processed--what constituents of the essential oil are left in, which ones are intensified/isolated, and also whether or not other aromachemicals in the fragrance have vetiver-like notes that add to the complexity of the overall vetiver effect. This explains the large variantions one finds among vetivers in fragrances more so than does the reality of provenance. Notice the way the use of vetiver is characterized in Frederic Malle's Editions de Parfums Vétiver Extraordinaire created by Dominque Ropion: "Dominique Ropion introduces a new essence of Vetiver, stripped of its bitter edge, which he matches with five woody notes to play up the scent's various facets."
Since it is costly to produce and isolate vetiver compounds synthetically from non-natural sources because of their complexity, most components of vetiver are isolated from the actual vetiver oil itself, and specifically from the isolation of vetiverol, which itself contains a number of other consituents that can further be refined and isolated to produce further "vetiver effects." Vetiver oil, like most essential oils today, is hardly ever used neat in modern day perfurmery but, rather, becomes the starting point for other processes of refinement, extraction, and separation for production of odorant constituents, which are then used in specific fragrance applications. Since vetiver is relatively cheap to buy, the use of vetiver oil (mainly from Réunion, Java, and Haiti) as a starting point for the production of a host of "vetiver effects" is less a case of economic necessity as it is a case of consistency and readiness of supply and, of course, a case of the ability to achieve specific, managed, and, most importantly, consistent effects that might not otherwise be achievable from the natural oil given the vagaries of supply (fluctuations in weather, market prices, politics etc.).
Vetiver in modern day fragrances is one of the most chemically manipulated notes in use today and has been so ever since the late 1950s when, shortly thereafter, Guerlain, for example, used a more highly rectified vetiveryl acetate as the main vetiver constituent in Guerlain Vetiver. Vetiveryl acetate is derived from vetiver oil itself. According to chemist Bo Jensen (on his web site) "vetiveryl acetate, is created by acetylating the sesquiterpene alcohols presents in the oil. It has an elegant, soft, fruity-woody character", and not the smokey, burnt, rough and pungent initial quality that tends to generally dominate the unrefined oil before it begins to drydown.
The higher the vetiverol content of vetiver, the less smoky the vetiver will be. It also tends to be more rooty in nature than the vetiveryl acetate, so that more than likely, for example, MPG's Route de Vetiver probably contains significant quantities of vetiverol in proportion to vetiveryl acetate. Vetivone, another consituent of vetiver oil, is what gives some vetiver notes that rich deep woody peppery note.
With regard to provenance, Thai vetiver oil is a very refined naturally occuring oil that has a high vetiverol content, with little to no smokiness, while Chinese and Javanese vetiver oils tends to be of poorer quality and more smokey and musty. Haitian vetiver and Bourbon vetiver (from the island of Réunion) tend to be sweet and earthy and woody but also have a refined woody undertone and are much sought after as are certain Indian vetiver oils which have a woody balsamic note that is also much prized.
Last edited by scentemental; 9th October 2006 at 12:57 AM.
The vetiver note also differs depending on whether the note is extracted from the root or the leaves. Original Vetiver, for example, uses the oil/note extracted from the leaves, which is apparently a bit less earthy. Perhaps sentimental or pluran can elaborate on this.
In my researches on vetiver, I've never come across the practice of distilling vetiver oil from the leaves. From everything I've read, it is the roots that are used in the distillation of the oil. Is this actually claimed by Creed? I have no reason to doubt it if it is, but it's the first I've heard of such a process.Originally Posted by zztopp
Originally Posted by scentemental
I saw it written at the Neiman Marcus Creed site:
Is there a difference in the smell when extracted from the leaves rather than the roots ?
Originally Posted by zztopp
I can't answer that because, so far, it seems only M. Creed knows the secret to this stated difference by the Neiman Marcus blurb.
I am sorry; I don't want to always be so skeptical re: Creed--I am actually sampling Original Vetiver today and enjoying it very much--but much of what one hears about Creed is always second hand and almost always unverifiable. It would have been a very good question to ask M. Creed had he decided to show up for the Basenotes interview. I would very much like to know the answer to this question. Sorry I can't help you out z...z...
Last edited by scentemental; 8th October 2006 at 08:13 PM.
Thats ok - your previous posts have provided much new info already.Originally Posted by scentemental
One of the basenoters, zeram1, will be having a few minutes one on one with Erwin Creed sometime this November - perhaps he can find some time to squeeze this question in.
As others have said, there are many sources of Vetiver and they all smell slightly different depending on where they come from and how they are distilled.Originally Posted by saflyfish
I would be happy to send you a sample of pure Vetiver essential oil on a paper test strip if you would like to learn what it smells like. It comes from northern Indian wild vetiver roots and has been hydrodistilled rather than steam-distilled.
Just send an email to me at "perfumeinfo (at) tigerflag.com" and I can mail it to you.
I had the 'pleasure' of having a sample of essential oil of vetiver thinned a bit with jojoba oil so I could put it on my skin safely. Assuming that the jojoba was odorless, I wasn't impressed. I remember actually recoiling back in shock when I sniffed it from the vial. The association that popped into my mind (and strangely, my stepson as well) was that scent left on your hand after catching fireflies. That weird musk, or whatever it is, they secrete. Either way, I prefer my vetiver well blended with other things thank you. I do love the stuff in the right composition.Originally Posted by Ayala
I am starting this thread with two posts from the recent and current thread "Which Vetiver fragrances smell more vetiver?"
Both posts got me thinking of the need for a separate thread like the one I am about to post, which is why I didn't simply post to the abovementioned thread.
Here is the originating post:
But more importantly, what lies behind the puzzlement of the thread’s title is the belief that many labor under that there is some kind or Ur-Vetiver oil out there against which all vetiver fragrances are to be measured. This is not how perfumers work nor how they operate with vetiver, which in terms of its use is one of the most widely elastic concepts/notes in perfumery. Perfumers use all different kinds of vetiver oils; most of the time, they are always rectified, sometimes they are not, and many times they use particular fractions of a particular vetiver oil, and sometimes those fractions are further modified, as in the case of the production of vetiveryl acetate, where the sesquiterpene alcohols present in vetiver oil are acetylated. Incidentally, the vetiver component of Guerlain’s Vetiver is predominantly vetiveryl acetate, and I believe it was one of the first instances, if not the first instance, in which vetiveryl acetate was introduced in perfumery. In other instances, perfumers use aromachemicals that have vetiver like qualities and this of course produces a broad spectrum of vetiver-like affects. This has to do with the nature of the different vetiver oils themselves, all of which contain a complex mixture of oxygenated sesquiterpenes that enables such elements to be removed and used for their rich, diverse, distinctive, and persistent aromatic qualities. Vetiver oil, therefore, cannot be synthesized because of this complex mixture of oxygenated sesquiterpenes, which is, aromatically and chemically speaking, too complex to be reproduced synthetically; instead, certain aromatic components of the oil are differentiated and separated through the distillation process and are further processed to achieve the required fragrance effects, and this is always done with the oil itself as a starting point since it is relatively cheap to produce. Finally, there are complex bases used regularly in the perfumery over the course of the last 50 years that have vetiver-like woody components to them, such as the cedarwood derived Vertofix® (acetyl cedrene). Vetiver along with cedarwood and sandalwood overlap on the woody part of the spectrum. To illustrate this point, if one smells some vetiveryl acetate neat, when the slightly pungent slightly smoky opening moves into the heart note, the heart note accord takes on a very santalaceous character, and it’s only in the basenotes component of the drydown where vetiveryl acetate begins to smell more vetiver-like, with that characteristic more green-woody exalting quality of the drydown of all vetivers.
And so we can see that the unproductive talk about what is the real vetiver or what is the superior vetiver leads to the perplexity which underpins the question "Which vetiver fragrances smell more like vetiver?" since it rests on a false and misinformed assumption that there is an Ur-Vetiver which is the benchmark for all vetiver fragrance. The circularity inherent in the question itself, as if the word vetiver itself were a sufficient guarantee to confirm and anchor the quiddity of a particular fragrance’s true “vetiveryness,” should make it clear that it’s not a valid question and that the such circularity takes us nowhere, adduced by the fact of the countless “Which vetiver fragrance is the best vetiver fragrance?” type of threads that never really add anything to our understanding of vetiver as a fragrance component.
This earlier post of mine—an explanation and defense as to why Lanvin Vetyver is as valid a “vetiver” fragrance as any other––explains a lot of what I have discussed above by taking a slightly different tack. I trust it is useful and relevant enough to justify its inclusion in this thread.
When we discover Guerlain's Vetiver, or L’Artisan's Vetiver, or Mazzolari Vetiver, etc., to take but a few examples, our first thought is “Ah ha! The potentially perfect vetiver fragrance”, and then, of course, most of the time we’re disappointed because another vetiver fragrance doesn’t smell exactly like the pure vetiver we imagine it should smell like or even like the vetiver note we like in one particular vetiver fragrance over another. If all of these houses wanted their vetiver fragrances to smell like pure vetiver oil, they could easily achieve this effect. They would simply find a supplier, standardize the vetiver oil product, very easy to do in the case of vetiver, and then rename their product Guerlain’s Pure and True Vetiver Oil, or L’Artisan’s Pure and True Vetiver Oil, or Mazzolari’s Pure and True Vetiver Oil, but even then, not all these vetivers would all smell the same, because it would depend on how the vetiver was standardized and what elements of its scent profile a company chose to emphasize over the other, telluric over fresh, grassy over rooty, etc. But they don’t all smell the same because fragrance houses are not in the business of producing and bottling essential oils. They’re fragrance houses, and as such vetiver, frequently functions as a idea, a concept, a possibility, a starting point for the art of creating perfumes/colognes, which are after all blends and, because, again, as we know, perfumery is not simply the distillation, mixing, and bottling of essential oils. If one doesn’t grasp this concept, one will be perennially disappointed at the next release of yet another vetiver fragrance because none of them will smell like its imagined ideal essential oil namesake or even like your favorite vetiver fragrance. Some vetiver namesake releases will have a more tangential relationship to the essential oil, which is the inspiration or the base behind the fragrance, and some will have a more direct relationship, but, all in all, they will not be carbon copies of natural essential oils or of the one particular vetiver blend you’re used to in some other fragrance house's vetiver invention.
And so we arrive at the defensible concept behind Lanvin Vetyver. Certainly it is a fragrance one has to apply liberally. I know there are many people who feel they shouldn't have to do such a thing, but that's just the nature of the juice. It’s a simple formula made up of only 14 different ingredients, 10 of which are raw; even the alcohol is natural. In some ways, I would imagine its constitution is very close to niche fragrances, and I dare say that if it were released by say L’Artisan Parfumeur more people would be willing to give it a fairer hearing/wearing than it gets. In the case of Lanvin Vetyver, I think the perfumer has chosen, in this instance, I think purposefully, to make it an understated scent with ingredients that don't project much. Yes, that’s a legitimate concept behind fragrance creation. If one doesn't have a preference for such fragrances, that doesn’t automatically disqualify them for others. Heavy spraying will bring out the reticent vetiver note significantly but only in the basenote accord, but I don't consider this a negative because I have always accepted that with this one the vetiver will always be in the background and integrated with the other elements of the fragrance. It’s absurd to claim there’s no vetiver in this one; it’s there all right, but it is very purposefully blended with the other elements so as not to be prominent. It's not supposed to be prominent, despite it’s name. It is important to remember that vetiver is considered an almost universal blender when it comes to fragrances. Even in Vétiver Extraordinaire, which has one of the highest proportions of vetiver found in any fragrance, I believe, vetiver still only forms 25% of the perfume formula. If one stays attuned to the reticent quality of the vetiver in Lanvin Vetyver and one carries the fragrance around with one all day, a benefit of liberal application, at certain times one will catch intimations of the vetiver note that are very satisfying and really quite beautiful, but, of course, in a very understated and blended way. This is the notion, as I see it, of the vetiver in Lanvin Vetyver. For me, it's a valid notion, and it's worth the liberal spraying and the price of a bottle, which is very reasonable. Whether the fragrance is justified in being called Lanvin Vetyver is another question. It does set up false expectations and potential disappointment for those who like their vetiver strong and edgy.
Finally--and using an extended metaphor for illustration--there are some of us who prefer the substantial flavors of say Indian cuisine, the flavors of a rich vindaloo curry say, for example, and there are some of us who prefer the subtlety of Japanese food, which hardly ever strays away from the ethos that understatement is the basis of much intensity, if one, of course, is predisposed to finer and finer discriminations as the Japanese certainly are. Then there are some of us who prefer the middle way of Asian flavors, say as developed in Vietnamese cuisine or certain dishes in Thai cuisine or even in authentic Chinese cuisine. Then there are some of us that like all variations, subtle and not so subtle. I don't see that it's any different with vetiver fragrances. I would urge a little caution when someone is denigrating other vetivers because of one’s preference for one modulation of a vetiver fragrance over another. One might just be showing their particular preference, which is all well and fine but that does mean the world of enjoyment for others stops there. Oh, BTW, Lanvin Vetyver makes for a great office scent or for when you're sitting in close proximity to other people and don't what to overwhelm them with your fragrance. It's one of my "committee meeting" fragrances. This is a practical justification of why fragrances like Lanvin Vetyver exist, but, I like to think, not the only one.
Last edited by scentemental; 17th May 2010 at 10:36 PM.
As always, an interesting and informative post. I find myself reading multiple times to make sure I understand the points you make. My serious lack of knowledge on extraction techniques leaves some of what you've said beyond my understanding, but exposure to the variations in producing the components of the fragrances we admire is valuable nonetheless. You have made an incredible investment in understanding the composition and production of perfume. I hope you find the time to memorialize what you've learned not only for our current crop of Basenoters, but for those who will follow.
Nice piece, Scentemental. I know exactly what you mean about vetiveryl acetate-- every time I tried to familiarize myself with it, I was thinking that there must have been a labelling mistake. It smelled much more like wood than vetiver.
On the subject of Lanvin Vetiver, I own a bottle of it and wear it sometimes when I just want to shift gears and wear something "average". What bothers me about Lanvin Vetiver is that the topnotes smell, to me, like a certain kind of Lysol air freshener that sits in my bathroom. However I do like the drydown much more, and it's nice when it settles.
Last edited by zztopp; 7th March 2009 at 05:38 PM.
As usual, really helpful and interesting. Thanks, scentemental.
Very well said scentemental. Vetiver fans (like me) thank you.
Thanks scentemental, the way I now understand it (in my simple terms) vetiver for a perfumer is more a pallate as opposed to a narrow target.
Bravo, Scentemental. A very informative and scholarly addition to the forum archives. If it weren't for the conversational tone that you used (for obvious reasons), I would suggest that you ask Grant to post it in article format on the BN homepage. It's too good to watch it sink into the forum depths.
I agree that the search for an "Ur-Vetiver" is pointless for the reasons you described, but I think it's still useful to try to define a common element that threads through all vetiver fragrances, i.e a touchstone vetiver, if you will. Or perhaps, as you imply, the chemotype variations in vetivers may make this impossible, just as the citrus bouquet of salvia elegans could never be confused with salvia officinalis nor a common note be found to bridge the two.
I do know that I appreciate vetiver in all its guises, although I prefer the clean, grassy variieties to the smoky ones.
Last edited by Snafoo; 7th March 2009 at 11:23 PM.
Everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts. Daniel Moynihan
Thank you for a very interesting post, Scentemental!
I love cologne.
Great read, really. With so much variation among vetiver fragrances, there simply cannot be an 'ideal' vetiver, and you eloquently describe why.
Thanks scentemental. That's a great write up. I will have to admit it is a little too profound for a simple dude like me.
From reading other people's comments, I got an impression that different vetiver fragrances use different kind of 'source material', such as vetivers grown from different region or juice extracted from different part of vetiver ( root, leaf, etc.). Hence the major difference in smelling. You opened a new dimension that each perfumery uses different kind of techniques to blend in the vetiver oil. All in all, I kinda understand they SHOULD smell differently by design.
A guy approached to Prof. Albert Einstein after his seminar about Relativity and said, ' Sir, Before I came here I was confused about this subject. Having listened to your lecture I am still confused. But on a higher level.'.
Last edited by abc1234; 8th March 2009 at 10:20 AM.
Interesting your observations on Lanvin's Vetyver - which I've always thought an odd scent because of the numerous timers I've sprayed on heaps of it, and wondered where the vetiver is. Yes, I do notice it some time later, but it certainly isn't what one would expect of a scent labelled with vetiver/vetyver on it.
Any thoughts on the much maligned Azzaro Pure Vetiver, whiich only a handful seem to like around here? I've always thought of it as a vetiver version of Chrome.
After reading this thread yesterday, I wore Lanvin Vetyver to reassess my opinion of it. After a half hour, I started to get a lot of vetiver out of it. And it was different from most vetivers. Really good, actually. Once the air freshener topnotes start to break up, it starts to feel very natural and works very well in melding with the wearer's skin.
Thanks for sharing.. I enjoyed it!