I’ve been a fan of Guerlain Vetiver for years; recently, I came across (and bought) a stash of unopened Vetiver from the 1980s and I was surprised at the difference between the current Vetiver fragrance and the cologne as it smelled 20 years ago. The earlier version of Vetiver, which I do remember wearing, is darker, plusher, a tad smoky and it’s more interesting (to my nose) than today’s version. However, the older Vetiver in Eau de Toilette strength disappears within an hour on my skin (just as it did “back when”) while today’s lighter-smelling Vetiver lasts all day. When I heard Guerlain was making an “extreme” version of classic Vetiver, I was hoping it would be reminiscent of the 1980s version, but with better lasting power.
Vetiver Extreme contains lemon, bergamot, licorice accord, tarragon, pepper, nutmeg, frankincense, cedar wood, vetiver, and tonka bean. If you read Guerlain’s list of ingredients for both classic Vetiver and Vetiver Extreme, you notice that Vetiver Extreme (supposedly) does not contain orange and tobacco (as classic Vetiver does) and Guerlain has added licorice, tarragon, frankincense and cedar wood to the new “extreme” formula. For all the additions, Vetiver Extreme does not smell more complex than either the 1980s Vetiver I own or present-day Vetiver.
I expect a perfume with the word “extreme” added to its name to be more powerful, longer lasting, weirder or at least more complicated than its “parent.” Judged by those criteria, Vetiver Extreme is a disappointment: its lasting power is average and it’s not edgy or pungent in the least. (There’s certainly not more vetiver in the perfume.)
Vetiver Extreme starts off with sour citrus notes and a pithy green accord that’s heavy on the tarragon. As the citrus and green notes begin to “mature” (this happens quickly) there comes a scent that reminds me of crushed late-summer leaves — leaves that are still green in color, but that are a bit leathery, with intensified scent; this interesting ‘aged’ green aroma is joined by nutmeg, licorice, vetiver and a “raw” cedar note that smells like cedar essential oil on my skin. Unfortunately, to this rather pleasant mix Guerlain added a modern “fresh” accord. The offending (to my nose) “fresh” and slightly ozonic note smells a bit fruity and mentholated. Vetiver Extreme has a little more spice and greens but it still smells a lot like classic Vetiver.
If you love and wear classic Vetiver, I don’t think you’ll need the new Vetiver Extreme, but if something about classic Vetiver annoys you or does not agree with your skin’s chemistry, you may want to investigate the new version.
Vetiver Extreme is available at Sephora and at Guerlain airport/travel counters. I do not know if Vetiver Extreme will be a permanent addition to the Guerlain men’s fragrance offerings — Guerlain has not promoted this fragrance and even finding a publicity photo of the new bottle and box is almost impossible. Vetiver Extreme comes in 125 ml Eau de Toilette spray and is $74.