Accessibility Form

June 06, 2023

An even deeper dive on Vetiver

If there’s one apocryphal statement I have heard more than any other while working in the fragrance industry, it’s that vetiver is the namesake of more fine fragrances than any other ingredient in the world. While I can’t be certain it’s true, it makes a lot of sense to me.

Vetiver offers a beautiful blend of warm, earthy, woody, and smoky notes, which have made it a distinctive and highly valued fragrance ingredient for quite some time.

Image of vetiver growing

Vetiver, scientifically known as Vetiveria zizanioides, is an aromatic grass native to India. It grows in thick tufts that can reach eight feet tall. It’s a visually striking plant that has a subtle scent that is earthy, woody, and slightly sweet. But, it’s what you can’t see that makes vetiver such a valuable fragrance ingredient.

The most significant and sought-after part of the vetiver plant is its extensive root system. The roots grow vertically downwards, reaching deep into the soil and creating a dense network that can extend more than ten feet.

To extract vetiver essential oil, the roots of the mature plants are harvested. After washing and cleaning, the roots are typically dried and then steam-distilled to capture the aromatic essence. This process releases the essential oil, which is then separated from the water and collected. The oil is often aged to enhance its fragrance and complexity.

At its core, vetiver exudes a rich earthiness, reminiscent of damp soil and freshly cut roots. This earthy character is complemented by warm and woody facets, evoking the scent of aged wood, sandalwood, and cedar. Vetiver also carries a subtle sweetness, akin to molasses or caramel, adding depth and warmth to its aroma. Additionally, vetiver can display smoky and leathery undertones, contributing to its intriguing complexity.

Speaking of complexity, vetiver's fragrance profile can vary based on its origin too, with notable distinctions found between Indonesian and Haitian varieties.

 Indonesian vetiver, often referred to as Javanese vetiver, is known for its sweeter, smoother, and slightly fresher scent. It showcases a more pronounced green character, akin to the scent of green leaves or freshly mown grass. Indonesian vetiver possesses a subtle citrusy and floral nuance, lending a touch of brightness to its earthy core.

Meanwhile, Haitian Vetiver, also known as Bourbon vetiver, offers a darker, smokier, and more rugged aroma. It carries a robust earthiness with a prominent smoky facet, reminiscent of bonfires or tobacco. Haitian vetiver also exhibits a subtle spiciness, often likened to black pepper, adding a touch of intrigue and sensuality.

If you’re looking for fragrances with notable Vetiver components, we recommend Devil’s Garden and Lost Man.

In our fragrance Devil’s Garden, Haitian Vetiver offers deep smoky notes that combine with leathery notes of Stryrax and the unmistakable incense notes of Olibanum to create an elegant and faceted fragrance perfect for the person looking for a darker, mysterious scent.

Meanwhile, within our fragrance Lost Man, Vetiver provides a counterbalance to the zesty and sparkling notes of Mandarin, and Clary Sage to create an energetic and uplifting scent.

In both fragrances, our Vetiver comes from Firmenich’s Natural’s Together program, which seeks to improve the lives of the farmers and the communities growing the Vetiver, as well as creating a culture of sustainability around its production.

Free US Shipping on orders 50+

Free US Shipping on orders 50+