You asked and I listened. If there was one Top 10 list that my viewers and readers requested more than any other, it was without doubt a rundown of the best vetiver perfumes. So over on YouTube the other day, I gritted my teeth and turned my attention to the pungent root. Here’s a link to the video: Top 10 best vetiver perfumes 2021. For more on the subject, please keep reading.
Here’s a list of the scents covered in the episode, with timestamps:
Guerlain Vetiver 6:50Hermes Terre D’Hermes 12:15Tom Ford Grey Vetiver 13:40The Different Company Sel De Vetiver 17:35Frederic Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire 23:35Marie Jeanne Vetiver Santal 28:55Lalique Encre Noire 33:40Sugandhco Ruh Khus 38:30Chanel Sycomore 42:40Hermes Vetiver Tonka 48:19Francesca Bianchi The Black Knight 51:28
Regular viewers will know that after a broadcast, I usually post what I call a ‘blotter update’: a few words on how the perfumes in question have developed over time. The update for this video went over YouTube’s character limit, so I’ve pasted it below.
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As has been pointed out by several people before, vetiver-based scents tend to start resembling each other as they get closer to their drydowns, because the material dominates most other elements in the base. That said, it’s interesting to pick out the points of difference between the compositions on this list.
Perhaps the ones with the least overtly vetiver-like drydowns are The Black Knight (which is the least vetiver-heavy anyway, focusing just as much on leather as on the subject of this video), Hermes Vetiver Tonka (which, on paper, achieves a commendable balance between the vetiver and the fuzzy, hay-and-tobacco qualities of tonka) and Malle Vetiver Extraordinaire (which remains cool, crisp and weight-free).
The Marie Jeanne and the Chanel make an intriguing pair for comparison: they’re both based on a similar idea, but the former opts for a less fussy, more streamlined execution, whereas the latter presents a more layered, haute-couture approach. Both work extremely well in their own way.
Lalique Encre Noire ends in much the same way that it begins: the earthiness of vetiver linked to the velvety spiciness of Cashmeran.
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The Tom Ford and the Guerlain are more similar to each other than I remembered, although the former can’t quite match the complexity of the latter. Both maintain a commendable level of citrusy brightness. Grey Vetiver tends towards soapiness, whereas the Guerlain is dryer and more herbal.
Sel De Vetiver remains the most intriguing of the bunch, staying true to the metallic, saline aspects of vetiver right through to the drydown.
Finally, the one that is perhaps my favourite from the list: Terre edt. Yes, it isn’t as vetiver-centric as, say, the Guerlain or the Lalique, but there’s no question the material is the star of the drydown. And in combination with the cedar and the mineralic notes, it produces one of the most distinctive and attractive effects in 21st century perfumery.
A quick word about the khus: in its final stages, it is minty, bright and cooling. Wondrous stuff.
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[Samples of Terre D’Hermes, the Tom Ford, Marie Jeanne, Chanel and Francesca Bianchi provided by the brands; the remainder were obtained by me for my personal collection.]
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