Hermessence Vétiver Tonka (2004)

Hermessence Vétiver Tonka by Hermès
Bottle Design: Alnoor Design
8.0 / 10     358 RatingsRatingsRatings
Hermessence Vétiver Tonka is a popular perfume by Hermès for women and men and was released in 2004. The scent is woody-spicy. It is still in production.

Fragrance Notes

Hazelnut, Lily-of-the-valley, Praliné, Sandalwood, Tobacco, Tonka bean, Vetiver



8.0 (358 Ratings)


7.3 (247 Ratings)


6.0 (236 Ratings)


7.8 (233 Ratings)
Submitted by Sani, last update on 04.01.2019
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Helpful Review    3
The Different Vetiver
First things first - Hats off to Jean-Claude Ellena! I believe no one else could've done this. He is undoubtedly one of greatest contemporary perfumers and also one of my personal favourites of all time. If one could perceive perfumery as music - for the nose, then JC Ellena could be likened to a contemporary composer mainly influenced by impressionist masters like Debussy & Ravel but with strong shades of late romanticism from Schubert, Schumann and Brahms. He takes his main motif/idea and juxtaposes it with some dissonant contrasts while keeping it very minimal and transparent all the time. But at the same time he embellishes each stage of the movement in a very romantic manner choosing very traditional, pleasing, consonant harmonic ornamentation. One can see this across his compositions, especially for the house of Hermes. (I think he probably got the most freedom from this house in terms exploring of his own creativity.) And I think Vetiver Tonka is, arguably, his pièce de résistance.

Vetiver is a grass native to India but is also found in abundance across Haiti, Indonesia, China, Java, and Reunion. The oil extracted from its roots has a distinctively complex scent ranging from wood shavings, wet earth, fresh green grass, roots to ink, licorice, nutty-roasted sugar, and cold-humid air - depending on it's origin. So a perfumer is to not only know what material to use but know each strain of that material intimately well to know what works best for the brief at hand. For instance, in my opinion, the vetiver used here is Bourbon vetiver (Reunion, Madagascar etc) which has more of the nutty, chocolate-y facets. Using Haitian vetiver or another kind would've taken this composition to a completely different place. Ellena takes this main motif of Vetiver & Tonka and gives it a form going from nutty (hazelnuts) to caramel-y/cacoa (praline) to an almost burnt sugar accord. And embellishing this main idea is a touch of flowers (Muguet) in the heart and some soft woods (Sandalwood and cedar probably) in the base just to balance the composition from getting overwhelming. And a dash of tobacco for some contrast and probably to accentuate the dry hay-like facets of tonka beans. Utterly fascinating! It's light, airy, sweet and extremely pleasant to wear. Quite a unique take on this multi-faceted root. Highly recommended if you are open to a different vetiver.


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Bottle 5.0/10 Sillage 7.5/10 Longevity 5.0/10 Scent 10.0/10
Helpful Review    3
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.
Bottle 5.0/10 Sillage 5.0/10 Longevity 5.0/10 Scent 4.0/10
Sickiningly Sweet Vetiver...
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.
1 Replies

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