Vétiver, with its fragrant oils extracted from the roots, is a key ingredient in the world’s leading scents. Discovered in the Tamil region of India, where it is also used to make blinds, today, 80 percent of the commercially distributed vétiver oil used in fragrances comes from Haiti. Cooperatives of vétiver farmers, largely based in Les Cayes, on the southwestern coast produce the world’s most superior and coveted vétiver oil.
Vétiver, alone, is one of the finest perfumes known, with a woody earthiness that has made it a favorite since ancient times. Today, it is found in one-fifth of all male fragrances. Its masculine smokiness is likened to incense and cigars while its complex chemical make-up means that currently there is no synthetic substitute available.
From Jo Malone to Hermès, here is a selection of the very best vétiver fragrances for men available right now.
Vétiver Insolent Eau de Parfum
Fresh yet smoky, this rebellious take on a vétiver classic has a very sensual, energetic and modern spirit. An intriguing combo of earthy vétiver roots, aromatic herbs, cool spice and resins, it is vegan-friendly and free from artificial colorants, parabens and formaldehydes. Created in 2016 by renowned perfumer Mathieu Nardin, whose brief was to formulate a fragrance that took its direction from the forest floor; vétiver from Haiti, Italian bergamot, black pepper, elemi and cardamom from India take the leading role with iris, lavandin abs, amber and moss added to the mix to create ambiance.
Vétiver & Grapefruit
Eau de Parfum
This higher-concentration EDP reboot of Molton Brown’s clean-cut, classic Vétiver & Grapefruit Eau de Toilette is an elegant new addition to the brand’s recent diversification into bolder scents with greater staying power. Born out of the success of the Vétiver & Grapefruit body care line, it retains the signature warm and tonic tones of the original EDT but with a touch more depth and maturity about it. New-gen perfumer Julie Pluchet was enlisted to give the fragrance its air of sophistication, which she achieved by piercing the signature top note of grapefruit with a shot of cooling mandarin. Lavender and geranium uplift its warm heart while resinous amber and moss are aligned with Haitian vétiver and cedarwood for its sensual base. The awakening zest of citrus off the block, progressively darkening down into earthy vétiver and smoky woods, is a tried-and-tested formula that works well for masculine scents but is far from ordinary or run of the mill thanks to the finest-grade ingredients being used and the pure, honest approach taken to its construction.
Jo Malone London
Vétiver & Golden Vanilla Cologne Intense
The latest addition to JML’s Cologne Intense collection (a range of surprising, opulent and highly concentrated fragrances) is a mysterious and noble powerhouse that sits under the oriental/woody olfactive umbrella. As with the rest of the collection, which travels the world in pursuit of rare and precious ingredients (previous colognes have taken inspiration from Indian flower markets, Japanese rituals and Middle Eastern traditions), Vétiver & Golden Vanilla heads to the Madagascan coastline for its influence and inspiration. Cardamom and the freshness of grapefruit tea form its top layer, followed by the earthy vétiver, which forms a backbone to the scent, and precious vanilla bourbon (handpicked from the orchid-sown jungle). As with all of Jo Malone London’s creations, it is non-gender-specific, but, unlike some of the other highly concentrated Cologne Intense formulations, and partially due to its heart of elegant vétiver, is as appropriate to be worn during the day as it is for evening.
Vétiver Fatal Cologne Absolue
Founded by Sylvie Ganter and Christophe Cervasel, partners in life as well as business, Atelier Cologne is the first fragrance house dedicated entirely to cologne and responsible for creating an entirely new concentration (Cologne Absolue) that takes its lead from the fresh and elegant characteristics of a legendary Eau de Cologne, but offers the long-lasting staying power usually only found with a pure perfume. This woody/aromatic elixir, made with 93 percent ingredients of natural origin, is a class act with daring undertones. Sparkling and fresh, woody and cool, its main aim is to seduce (thus the “Fatal” tag) and it is a very uplifting interpretation of a vétiver scent due to its abundance of summery citrus fruits. Created in 2012 by master perfumer Jerome Epinette, it opens with a trio of Calabrian bergamot, Sicilian lemon and bitter orange, drying down to a more mysterious center of Tunisian orange blossom and violet leaf. The vétiver hit (which is of the finest quality from Haiti) then adventurously kicks in, closely followed by a quintessentially masculine and smoky trail of cedar and agarwood (oud). Marketed as for both him and her, it leans closer toward the profile of a more manly fragrance.
Pink Vétiver Fragrance Parfum
The celebrated perfumer and founder of Jo Loves, Jo Malone CBE, set herself the task of reinventing vétiver as a clean and contemporary classic with the creation of this fragrance – not the easiest task given vétiver’s intrinsically earthy signature. Not only did she pull it off, but she also inadvertently formulated one of the most unique and desirable interpretations of the vétiver ingredient. Created in 2012, Malone tapped into a diverse range of cherished memories for inspiration: a spice market she would regularly visit in Grasse (the capital of French perfumery), a favorite hotel tucked away in Florence and her father’s crisp white shirts. Opening with a rush of effervescent crushed pink peppercorn, cardamom and juniper berries (better known for giving gin its refreshing and aromatic taste), the vétiver, combined with amber, is used in its solid and woody base. Sandwiched between the two, and adding heat, depth and intensity to the scent, is a spicy cocktail of nutmeg, angelica, cumin and ginger. Great for day, but even better after dark.
Vétiver Eau de Parfum
A woody, breezy classic, this fragrance, from a perfume house founded more than 260 years ago, gives its loyal, die-hard fan base the same elegant reassurance earned when wearing a well-cut grey flannel suit. And unlike many vétiver-based perfumes (which only use the root of the ingredient in their formulations), Original Vétiver stands alone by making good use of all three parts of the plant: its bawdy root, its grassy, verdant leaves and its heady heart.
Vétiver 46 Eau de Parfum
This should be top of your vétiver list if you like your fragrance to have some punch. Not to say you can’t wear it for day, but, in our opinion, it works better as an evening fragrance. It is without question the most alpha male of the Le Labo creations, combining 46 traditionally “manly” essences such as pepper, gaiac labdanum and cedar. An unidentifiable aroma of incense loiters in the dry-down giving it a spiritual dimension in its wake.
Vétiver Extraordinaire parfum
Created by renowned nose Dominique Ropion, Vétiver Extraordinaire is one of the most complex and sophisticated perfumes to embrace this earthy ingredient, boasting an unprecedented indulgence of Haitian vétiver essence (Haiti is to vétiver what Ibiza is to partying, just for the record). But rather than being overpowering (as you might envision), it is soft and elegant, being tamed by complementary and creamy notes of sandalwood, cashmeran and cedar.
Hermès Terre d’Hermès Eau Intense Vétiver Eau de Parfum
Christine Nagel has given the pioneering Terre d’Hermès – originally created in 2006 by master perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena – a contemporary overhaul. As the name would suggest, the volume has been turned up on its charge of vétiver, which is immediately obvious from first spritz. But don’t be fooled into thinking this already earthy fragrance has been made even drier: by swapping out black pepper in favour of citrusy Sichuan pepper this new avatar is unexpectedly brighter.
Comme Des Garçons Parfums Series #10 Clash Radish Vétiver Eau de Parfum
Time has taught us to expect the unexpected and embrace the atypical from Comme Des Garçons Parfums. Its latest collection, Series #10 Clash Eau de Parfums (of which there are three), continues this rep for being an industry disruptor. Described as “surprising encounters that shatter olfactory customs,” Christian Astuguevieille, CDG parfum’s artistic director, researched what happens when two raw materials that were never organically intended to meet are combined to create a new form altogether. The most successful in the collection is Radish Vétiver, mixed by perfumer Nathalie Cetto: an awkward fusion of two roots that are grown for very different purposes and with very different profiles. The enhanced vétiver note is sweet, earthy and spicy, while the radish, supported by cypriot and guaiac wood, serves a green but somehow synthetic awkwardness. A Marmite fragrance that won’t be to everybody’s taste but could never be accused of being generic or boring. Available in a travel-friendly 30ml size only.
Hermès Hermèssence Vétiver Tonka Eau De Toilette
The Hermèssence line of premium fragrances from this hallowed French brand uses only the finest of raw ingredients and allows the luxury label the opportunity to unleash unbridled creative freedom. Vétiver Tonka, one of the standout formulations in the line and one that is very much geared towards the masculine, is a unique and charming interpretation of the vétiver ingredient. Described by its maker, Jean-Claude Elena, as a “rough, earthy and unrefined” raw material, he felt the need to reappropriate and reinvent it, giving its woody signature a more mellow roundness. The result: Elena paired vétiver with the caramel, praline and blonde tobacco notes of tonka bean, giving it a softer and warmer personality.