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Vetiver: The Virtuoso in the World of Perfumery
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May 17, 2020

Vetiver Virtuoso: Miracle Grass

If you hear the word Vetiver and struggle to imagine its smell lingering at your nose, well don't worry! Although it is a very prominent ingredient in the fragrance world, its scent isn’t as recognised than its colleagues such as Vanilla, Rose or Tobacco. At Maison 21G, we specifically use Haitian Vetiver, which we simply can’t resist!

As an ingredient, Vetiver is a labyrinth of nuances, sensations; dry, earthy, woody, leathery and smoky, while also having a relatively fresh and sparkling twist. With a strong woody body, with even back accords reminiscent to hazelnut; Vetiver indeed transport you into different wooded environments, whilst the freshness of mint and eucalyptus give a rather intoxicating cooling touch. If you’re still struggling to imagine the scent of Vetiver, then simply think of uncut grass on a warm day; that will give you a rough idea!

A Little History

Vetiver Grass.

Vetiver is a tropical, perennial grass, part of the Poaceae family, or grass family as we know it. Growing to around 1.5 meters in height, the upper part of the grass: the thin stems and rigid leaves are useful as animal feed, whilst the roots, where the fragrant essential oil is extracted from, are the treasury for perfumers.

Characteristically, the oil does vary significantly, depending on where the grass is grown, the climate and the soil conditions. Although Vetiver is native to India, also referred to as Khus; nowadays, 80% of the Vetiver oil that we use commercially, comes from Haiti.

Amber brown in colour, the oil is relatively thick; whilst the fragrance, which improves with age, is deep, sweet, with amber and balsam-like accords. The oil from the roots growing in Java is known to hold a smokier note; whereas, the oil distilled in Haiti, unravels a more floral scent and is considered higher quality.

Properties of Vetiver Essential Oil and The Plant

Vetiver.

With twelve known varieties of the ingredient in the world of perfumery, the wonders and benefits of Vetiver don't stop there. Stepping out of the perfume bubble, unlike many other perfume ingredients, it is a grass which has endless uses to boast about! Firstly, it is especially beneficial to nature. A few of its many properties include stabilising soil, protecting against erosion, while its astonishing strength allows the plant to resist cyclones, heavy rainfall, and even fire.

Moreover, Vetiver plays a vital role in our planet's well-being. Its remarkable ability to sequester CO2 from the subsoil's air helps to purify it and limits global warming.

Secondly, Vetiver is even used for thatching roofs and producing consumer products, including rugs, mats, bags, curtains, hats, and even sandals! Commonly, water is also sprayed on Vetiver furniture to moisten the material, releasing a delicious scent, and refreshing the atmosphere. Thus, working as a 2 in 1, appealing for the eye, and even for your nose!

Thirdly, Vetiver is also occasionally referred to as the “Oil of Tranquillity” or “The Fragrance of the Soil”. This is due to the oils calming properties and wide use in aromatherapy, which includes boosting immunity, reducing anxiety, promoting mental clarity, and relieving insomnia. Not only is the essential oil highly effective in moisturising and nourishing skin, but it also helps to reduce wrinkles and stretch marks.

Process of Extraction

Vetiver Oil.

Overall, Vetiver as a plant is relatively easy to maintain, and little labour is required for its cultivation. Nevertheless, comparatively, to obtain and manufacture Vetiver essential oil, it is vastly painstaking and labour-intensive, with a specific time frame for production, which drives the price up.

The process starts by cutting the grass, followed by excavation, in which the roots are shaken with a curved fork until there is no more soil. The roots are then prepared for steam distillation, which is typically done from August to December. It obtains on average 10 to 15 kg of essential oil from an astounding amount of 1000 kg of dried roots!

Just as you thought the process ends there, the distillation of the baked product, approximately 800 kg, needs to be further distilled for another 8 hours. And there you go; strong in its initial aroma, yet unravelling to create a smooth, warm, woody, herbaceous and earthy scent, with nuances of soft resin, and even a touch of salt, along with a spicy twist.

Our Recommended Mixes

An ingredient that is adored by many major fragrance houses, including Guerlain, who fondly use Vetiver in their compositions; this ingredient will add elegance and complexity to your perfume.

Without a doubt, our first recommendation has to be our VETIVER VIRTUOSO perfume coupled with the scent of TERRIFIC TONKA. Captivating and yet subtle; this warm, woody and nutty mix is perfect for you. Elegant, charming, and sexy; you know you want to try it on your skin!

Although Vetiver is considered an ingredient more suiting for male fragrances, colognes; we have found a revolutionising combo to fit both men and women. VETIVER VIRTUOSO and our TUBEROSE TRIBUTE fragrance; a sensual and powerful elixir. The enticing white floralcy softens the intense woody aspect of Vetiver, and yet preserves the bold character and undesirable elegance.

Finally, our third recommendation is VETIVER VIRTUOSO and AMBER AFFAIR perfume. The hint is already in the name. The affair of this duo, creates a vibrant, sensual fragrance, with hidden aphrodisiac mastery. With the droplets of this potion on your skin, you will be addictive to those around you.

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