Skip to main content

Encre Noire – Vetiver - perfume magic!


Image -

Vetiver, vetiver, ve-ti- verrrr ….What IS vetiver??? Or vetyver, as it is spelled in the world of perfume.

The technical stuff first - vetiver is a fragrant perennial grass widely cultivated in India, and grown in other tropical regions, especially Haiti, Thailand, China, and Brazil. Unlike most grasses, which form horizontal mat-like root systems, vetiver's roots grow down, 2–4 meters in depth.  Vetiver is mainly cultivated for the fragrant oil distilled from its roots, and the oil is used in 90% of all western perfumes, usually as a base note, due its excellent fixative properties.  Haitian vetiver is considered the best, because of its light floral quality, Asian vetiver has a more smoky scent.

Now the perfumey stuff – vetiver is a cool, slightly lemony herbal scent, which can add a sharp green note, or a dry grass note, depending on the other ingredients in the juice. It’s been used a lot in men’s fragrances through the years because it adds sharp freshness to a scent.

Encre Noire (Black Ink) is a perfume about vetiver.  It was created by Nathalie Lorson and launched by Lalique in 2006 as a men’s fragrance - I stumbled on it one day as I was poking around in the Men’s section at Sephora. The square shiny black bottle with its square wood lid looks like a very modern inkwell – very manly, very cool – I see it sitting on George Clooney’s desk. And what’s in this black inky bottle??

Magic, perfume magic.  Encre Noire has notes of Haitian vetiver, vetiver bourbon, licorice, cypress, Cashmeran wood and musk.   The vetiver scent is dark green right at the top, and has a cool airy feel, like walking into a dark damp forest, pungent with the scent of tall lean cypress trees, very Zen–like. Minutes later the scent falls to the ground becoming darker – earth, roots, nuts – and then a hint of smoke from the vetiver bourbon and cashmeran wood.

Into the drydown, the vetiver warms and sweetens ever so slightly from licorice (must be black) and musk, and there are smoky hints of oudwood (maybe it's just me!) The scent is strong but not loud, making the sillage quietly compelling. Throughout it all, the distinctive haunting smell is..... vetiver.

Vetiver is not an easy note for newcomers to the perfume world – it’s a sophisticated scent which requires some getting used to. But I’ve become a vetiver fan since encountering Encre Noire and I’ve smelled them all – old and new.

Encre Noire is extraordinary  – bold, dark, and earthy , but pure and meditative. It as if the dark elements in the scent have been polished  to a high gloss, like the Lalique bottle it comes in, making it a very modern, sensual fragrance for men AND women.

If you want to experience perfume magic, try Encre Noire – I think it’s one of the best modern vetiver scents you can buy.


Encre Noire is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $4.00. for 1 ml.