Looking at my Note Cloud at the bottom of this page I realized that my posts about vetiver fragrances are disproportionate to my love of this ingredient. I love vetiver because it represents the power of earth and the fragility of vegetation depending on how you play it. Many perfumistas find it boring and one-dimensional and I must admit that there are many vetiver prominent fragrances out there that feel repetitive and redundant. I have done a lot of sampling and I think it is time to speak about the Colours of Vetiver, as I have done with the Colours of Iris.
Etro Vetiver is a fragrance that is rarely talked about. And this is really a pity because not only it is unique inside the vetiver family but also because many fragrances that were released in the recent years have worked on its theme: a gourmand vetiver. Etro Vetiver opens with a strong medicinal vetiver note (forgive me for the constant repetition of the word but the unimaginative name-giving does not help) and a dried raisin note hand in hand. At this stage the yin and yang of bitter and sweet is like a swirl spinning in my nose. Quickly both extremes stop fighting and balance in a beautiful sticky, rubbery, smoky green herbal vetiver accord. Think of it as a boiled down version of Vetiver Tonka. I use the culinary term “boil down” because the composition is full of gourmand notes. The dry raisin note stays throughout the development. A slight caramelized coffee note gives warmth and depth. A hint of immortelle balances the smokiness in a way that never lets it become prominent like it is in Vetiver Extraordinaire. Cypress adds its high-pitched green dimension. In the middle of its development Etro Vetiver smells like an almost empty glass of Noilly Prat Vermouth forgotten on the table from last night’s party. The alcohol has evaporated and the herbal qualities of the drink are amplified, the fruity notes are heightened and the hidden caramel and coffee notes become evident. It feels like standing inside an oak vat where the drink has been maturing. This is the most flamboyant stage of Etro Vetiver and the most satisfying. Beautifully composed and well balanced. The drydown is drier, woodier and smoky. Although it lacks in lasting power and thickness, it reminds me a lot of the fragrant herbal tobacco of Fougère Bengale.
Kevin of NowSmellThis places Etro Vetiver together with Route du Vetiver at the top of his vetiver rating scale and I feel that this fragrance deserves all the rare accolades it gets. My impression is based on a vintage bottle of this and I do not know how the repackaging and reformulation have affected it. Some old bottles can be found online at ridiculously low prices so next time you stumble upon one of them do consider it for a blind buy. Totally worth it!
Notes from NST: artemisia, clary sage, cypress, cedar, tobacco and Bourbon vetiver.
Notes from my nose: smoke, raisins, coffee, immortelle, tobacco, vetiver, Noilly Prat