Friday, March 16, 2007

Vetiver Noir

Cuppa Coffee and Jack, originally uploaded by CaymanGirl.

One of the most original vetiver accords I’ve smelled is Black Vetyver Café by Jo Malone. I was so impressed with this imaginative combination, yet hoped the coffee note will linger longer. Given that coffee note is a heart note and not a base note dictates that it cannot last for too long on the skin. But in Black Vetyver Café it is more of a top note than a heart note and disappears really fast, leaving behind mostly woody vetyver. Therefore, I simply could not resist the temptation to try my hand at combining these two essences in their natural form – black coloured just like the dark-roasted coffee beans and vetiver oils from around the world in different proportions.

I decided to go wild with earthy vetiver varieties from India, including the co-distillation with Mitti Attar. The pungency and the earthiness and a hint of brash greenness seems to provide an interesting counter point to the coffee. And also by staying away from the “woody” I was hoping to create something different, albeit not original (Jo Malone deserves all the credit for thinking of this combination!). Indonesian vetiver adds a rough smoky touch, and the wild Indian vetiver oil (Ruh Khus) adds a sweetness that is well rounded and complex. To this I added nutmeg absolute. There is something about nutmeg absolute that just works so well with vetiver. It’s so sweet and rich (not like the oil, which is quite sharp and peppery!). It adds warmth to the sweet yet cool earthiness of vetiver. I could barely resist the temptation to sneak in a few drops of cardamom CO2, which goes so fantastically with coffee. But I don’t like to repeat myself.

I am really enjoying this vetiver mod. Perhaps it is not my favourite so far of all the three, but I feel I am getting somewhere in exploring the possibilities that vetiver has to offer. Hopefully by the end of this journey I will come up with something that I can truly call my own vetiver.

I like the complexity in this scent, even though it only has three elements: vetiver, coffee and nutmeg. It is earthy-sweet and warm, and feels rooty and almost edible without being obviously spicy or sweet. I am wondering what would happen if I chose a more mellow vetiver as a pivotal point, maybe the Sri-Lankan oil. Or add another woody element such as patchouli, or sandalwood or agarwood. Yet I think I should be trying a new mod before drawing any conclusions. In fact, I much rather keep blending vetiver-dominated scents and discovering the interaction between vetiver and other notes. It’s a fascinating study and it really should never end.

Samples of Vetiver Noir, Vetiver Blanc and Wilde Vetyver (Khus Khus) are available for you to try, you can get all three samples for $15 including shipping world wide. Just email me and let me know, or simply PayPal me and I will ship it to you immediately.

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