Bourbon Vetiver

Bourbon vetiver


What a surprise it was smelling real vetiver for the first time. From my experience of synthetic perfumes I had a (mis)formed notion of what this ingredient would smell like. I had imagined a green scent with dry and bitter nuances. I was not prepared for the earthy depths that met my nose.

Vetiveria zizanoides is a variety of grass native to south India, where it still grows wild and is known as rhu-kus or khus. In the ideal sub-tropical conditions, this particular grass grows up to three metres in height and downward to four metres below ground. It is from the rootlets that vetiver/vetivert/vetyver oil is produced, as they contain a resin extractable by a lengthy distillation process. The twisted roots are first cleaned, chopped up and left to dry before being resubmerged in water prior to distillation.

Vetiver oils from various parts of the world differ widely in their scent profiles. Haitian vetiver is relatively green and Indonesian vetiver is bitter-smoky, while Bourbon vetiver, from La Réunion, is regarded as the finest. When I smelled an aged Bourbon vetiver for the first time my love affair was sealed. I found this particular variety to be smoother, more nuanced and leathery than the others, all the while maintaining the earthy depths that vetiver is known for. The quality of the Bourbon variety made the Île Bourbon a leading producer of this oil in the 20th century. However, in recent decades the low costs of vetiver oil production in Haiti and China have made the process in Réunion unaffordable for farmers and its cultivation has all but stopped, making this a very rare and special ingredient.

I have attempted to interpret this exquisite ingredient from the very first but never quite managed to do it justice until the blending of Bourbon. After  three and a half years of trials I’m really proud of this interpretation, as it is first and foremost an ode to this exquisite ingredient with the other components solely carrying it rather than coming to the fore.

With a 30% concentration, this parfum needs only to be sprayed once at the nape of the neck or behind the ears as its beauty unfolds on your skin throughout the day.

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