Vetiver Tonka by Jean Claude Ellena for Hermès 2004

Hello Fellow Fumies,

I don’t know what’s going on lately but it looks like vetiver has overtaken my big white flowers as favourite note. This was unintentional, surprising and I hope it doesn’t mean my love for the BWF is dying. Also, I’ve been doing some reading, always a dangerous course for the half educated like myself, and it turns out that vetiver is becoming the plant de jour around the world for a number of things other than perfume. There are 2 types of non invasive, clumping vetiver that are being used world wide for their ability to leech the toxins from soil and water, they are also excellent for stabilising erosion, holding banks/mountains in place and creating sea walls. This is only the tip of the iceberg I feel and will be interested to see it used in the future for self-sufficient-household sanitation and water cleansing.

Hermessence Vetiver Tonka by Hermès 2004

Vetiver Tonka Hermes FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords in one line:
Vetiver, tonka bean, lily of the valley, tobacco, caramel, praline, sandalwood, hazelnut

The caramel/resinous/LOTV open is joyous all by itself. So full throated and filled with call, like a siren or water bird floating across the brackish water of river and sea land junction. The foody stuff all combines with the tonka to create a wonderful sweet amber or crispy toffee scent that makes me want some salted caramel ice cream and honeycomb. YUMMY stuff indeed.

Vetiver Tonka Hermes Roots vetiver.orgPhoto Stolen

The fragrance then takes a decidedly vetiver turn on my skin, giving me a gorgeous earthy, salty, green smell like sitting on a dock above or the verandah near mudflats at low tide, it must be cooler months because there is a smoky waft carrying across to you from someones fireplace, or maybe it’s a summer Bar B Q and the sweetness still lurking is caramelising onions and sausages.

The feeling I get from Vetiver Tonka is a sense of space and freedom. It’s like a holiday, there is time to smell the unfolding of the story, the sweet warmth and earthy dankness combine to form a welcoming and pretty adventure that is both warm and very, very cool. Though it is not a sillage monster Vetiver Tonka does waft a trail and if you spray a card and leave the room, when you return it has tinted the air with a very slightly foody sweetness underlaid with a wetland breeze.

Heftier than many of the more recent J C E offerings and lasting power is decidedly longer, around 4-5 hours before I lose it, or the ability to notice it. Lately I have been using the Olympic Orchids Patchouli Lovers Soap and it is adding a very green baseline to Vetiver Tonka that darkens it and adds a couple of hours life to the whole also. The tobacco and LOTV seem to completely bypass my skin, with or without the soap, but I probably just miss them in the seamless mix that is a J C Ellena trademark: a scent story that has the most beautifully gradated transitions.

Vetiver Tonka HermesPhoto Stolen Hermès

Further reading: What Men Should Smell Like and Bois de Jasmin
Hermès does a great set of 4 x 15ml Hermessence of your choice $180
Surrender To Chance has Vetiver Tonka on sale for $4/.5ml

Are you a J C Ellena fan? Have you tried Hermessence Vetiver Tonka or are there favourite Vetiver or Tonka frags that you’s like to share with us? We’d love to read your thoughts.

See you tomorrow
Portia xx

26 thoughts on “Vetiver Tonka by Jean Claude Ellena for Hermès 2004

    • Hey Birgit,
      I can definitely imagine you wearing VT. Next time I’m in Vienna we’ll have to be scent twins,
      Portia xx


  1. Love the bottle, but have not tried the scent.
    I must be channeling you Portia, as I just bought Vetiver de Reunion from L’Erbolario…it has a bergamot opening, but is quite dry. I am following your scent trail here in Venice and Florence btw, thanks for the advice!


    • WOW! JackieB Vetiver de Reunion from L’Erbolario sounds wonderful, I hope the holidays are 100% fabulous. There is SO MUCH to see and do. Can’t wait to read your stories one day.
      Portia x


  2. Hey Portia,
    Love vetiver, most notably in vintage no 19 edt, also AG’s Vetiver, though the latter skews a bit masculine on me. That Olympic Orchids soap sounds worth seeking out too!


    • Hi there Caroline,
      That vintage No 19 will get you every time, what a creation!! I’m still to try the AG Vetiver but yes you definitely need to grab a bar of the Olympic Orchids soap. The August surprise soap is Lavender Dust. Just arrived here.
      Portia xx


  3. WOW! Vetiver for household sanitation and water cleansing! So many interesting possibilities. Could really improve the lives of those among us who live aboard our boats. I’ll have to tell my live-aboard inventor brother about this one.


    • Do you really live on a boat? WOW!! right back at you. Is it a house boat or the QEII?
      You should tell your brother, the floating rafts of vetiver are cleaning up toxic rivers around the world. I am seriously impressed, did you look at
      Portia xx


      • No NO, Portia, I don’t live on a boat! My brother does. Not a house boat, though. He lives on his sailboat. I will tell him about! I’m sure he will be impressed. I could never live on a boat. I need dry land for my potatoes and peonies.

        Azar xx


  4. I like Vetiver Tonka, a great deal. It does not suit me in this 100 plus degree weather, but as a fall and winter scent, it is wonderful in the daytime. If you have a moment, read Neil’s story on his blog Black Narcissus about VT. That story made me order a decant right away! I love your images of the wetlands, and I had no idea that vetiver pulled toxins from the soil. Lovely review, Portia!


    • I will go check the Black Narcissus later today. He writes so well that I often find myself ordering decants after a read.
      Isn’t it exciting to find natural ways to cleanse our footprint?
      Portia xx


    • Hi there Victoria,
      Thanks for dropping by.
      Yes, all that and more, so good. I’m glad to find other lovers today.
      Portia xx


  5. I’m wondering why I don’t remember ever trying this one, as I have plenty of Hermes samples laying about and I like JCE and I love vetiver. About the only vetiver I didn’t like was AT Vetiver Dance, but I think it’s more the base Andy uses than the vetiver itself.


    • Hey Tatiana,
      The Andy Tauer Vetiver Dance has not yet gone under my nose, last time I ordered a Tauer sampler it was all the flowers. Maybe I shoulod suss out a split ot sample? I love the Tauer-ade.
      I had previously ignored Vetiver Tonka too until I wanted to see how JCE had played with them both.
      Portia xx


  6. I love Vetiver Tonka—and what a great image, sitting on a verandah near mudflats at low tide. I want to be on that verandah. Vetiver can seem a little “weedy” on me sometimes, but combined with that tonka/hazelnut sort of smoky sweetness, I really like it here.


    • Hi Janice,
      Yes, that verandah sounds good doesn’t it. Rocking chair, dogs, coffee, book and the soft gurgle of water rushing by through reeds.
      Wearing yummy, Vetiver Tonka, I think I know what you mean about weedy, I love that earthy greenness that vetiver supplies so well, but I could imagine it going a bit blah on some skins. Are there any other vetivers that work on you?
      Portia xxx


  7. I’m a moderate J C Ellena fan but I like (own and wear) Vetiver Tonka a lot.
    You scared me for a while with your $180/4 bottles set. Probably it’s “your” dollard because in US it’s “only” $152 (though just a year ago I paid $145!).


    • Yes Undina,
      It’s definitely our dollar. Currently it’s doing a nose dive. That’s good for our industry and colleges, just crap for perfume and travel.
      Portia xx


  8. Oh, yes, utterly love the vetivers. I guess I head towards the unisex rather than the feminine ones, I’m not a heels, fitted skirt and silk shirt kinda girl, and if it’s sweet, weeeeell… everybody else can love it. So that’s my positioning…

    I don’t remember loving VT (though several of the other Hermessences are on my high rotation list), but Chanel Sycamore, FM Vetiver Extraordinaire, Lalique Encre Noir (love the smokiness) are definitely there for me.

    Vero Onda didn’t do it (it requires a skirt), nor SMN Eva. Sel de Vetiver I think may have been too masculine.

    I recently received a decant of Andy Tauer’s Vetiver Dance, wearing it right now, second day running. Really gorgeous.

    I went looking to see if Chanel Bel Respiro had vetiver, but the notes list was very vague, but found that the utterly gorgeous Bois des Iles lists it as a note.

    Perfume Posse’s Best of series includes a vetiver blog… just sayin’

    Good luck with your vetiver hunting!


    • Hiya greennote2
      I have always seen Sycamore as VERY dressed up, funny how we have such different takes on the same thing.
      Sel de Vetiver too masculine? MMM I can kind of see it, but the lovely salty fresh dry down is so unisex.
      I am enjoying the journey immensely,. thanks for giving me a couple of newbies to chase.
      Portia xx


    • Ha Ha Ha! Clayton you have hit on some other things written and being thought and worried about lately. They are closing down quite a few faves.
      Portia xx


  9. I love this one as well. A vetiver for the rest of us! 🙂 (I don’t dislike vetiver, but in most cases it is not girly enough for me. This one is soft enough to feel feminine.)


  10. Hmmm, I don’t remember this in the pile of samples I got for The Engineer, and I ADORE him in vetiver. That caramel aspect really made me perk up my ears, sounds yummy. Personally my fave vetiver is the dc’ed Vetiver pour Elle, and thanks to the Master Enabler Queen Ruth, I scored the last bottle from a Guerlain boutique in Florida – it’s mah b’day present 🙂


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