Lalique Encre Noire : Perfume Review

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That I’m obsessed with vetiver is obvious. If you select the note ‘vetiver‘ in Bois de Jasmin’s Find a Perfume feature, you’ll find around 20 reviews of perfumes sharing this earthy, woody leitmotif. Vetiver essence is distilled from the roots of a nondescript looking grass, but its scent is spectacular. It smells of milky hazelnuts, bitter grapefruit, licorice and driftwood. Every time I think that I have tried enough vetivers, something else comes along to tempt me. If I want dark and salty, I go for Annick Goutal’s Vétiver. If I’m in the mood for fresh and sparkling, Prada’s Infusion de Vétiver never fails to hit the spot. But if I had to wear a single vetiver perfume for the rest of my life, I would pick Lalique Encre Noire Pour Homme.

lalique_encre_noire

Encre Noire may not seem like an obvious choice, especially when we have vetiver gold standards like Guerlain Vétiver and Frédéric Malle Vétiver Extraordinaire. Without a doubt, those are perfumes that must be sampled at least once, but what makes Encre Noire so compelling is its elegance and versatility. It’s also impeccably crafted and memorable.

Perfumer Nathalie Lorson, who created Encre Noire in 2006, took vetiver and fashioned the rough, scratchy roots into a piece of silk. Everything that makes vetiver interesting–the roasted, nutty, spicy bits–are still there, but there is a soft glaze of musk to tone down the sharp edges. The rich notes of woods give Encre Noire a suave, enveloping feel, and except for the delicate sprinkling of pepper and citrus peel, it’s a dark blend.

Like any well-crafted perfume, Encre Noire is beautiful from all perspectives. The playful shimmer of the top notes is an instant draw, but equally alluring is the drydown of musky wood shavings and smoked twigs. Encre Noire is bracing and uplifting, and its complete lack of sweetness means that it stays this way for hours.

So far, in talking about Encre Noire, I’ve implicitly meant “Pour Homme.” It’s an important distinction, because three years after launching Encre Noire, Lalique released Encre Noire Pour Elle. They must have reasoned that the ladies need fruit and flowers, and Encre Noire was refashioned by perfumer Christine Nagel as a soft musky scent. It’s pretty and coquettish, with  a chic twist of violet kissed flowers in the heart of vetiver and cedarwood, but it’s closer to Narciso Rodriguez for Her (also created by Nagel) than to Encre Noire.

If you’re after musky petals, then Pour Elle is a good choice, but if you want whisky soaked woods and salty licorice, just go over to the men’s section. Like most vetivers, Encre Noire has great longevity and presence, but unlike rich flowers or gourmand ambers, it’s not distracting. It means business and helps me get mine done. Yet, when I’m ready to relax, nothing is more seductive than a few drops of this dark vetiver under a silk camisole.

Lalique Encre Noire Pour Homme includes notes of cypress, vetiver Bourbon, vetiver Haiti, woods, and musk. Pour Elle features bergamot, freesia, amber, osmanthus, rose, cedarwood, Haiti vetiver, and musk. Available at Sephora (Europe), Aedes de Venustas, and Neiman Marcus. Walmart sometimes has it among discounted perfumes.

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140 Comments

  • rivegauche: Hi, i am just a little bit confused. You say, that you like “Encre Noire,” and if i start reading your article i realize that you mean “Encre Noire pour Homme.” But if someone is just focused on the big picture for the first moment, they may be expect a review for the women’s version.

    Anyway, i have to agree, “Encre Noire Pour Homme” is a fantastic fragance, i am on my fourth bottle. When i had tried the women’s version for the first time, i was a little bit disappointed, because i’ve expected something in common with the men’s version.

    Best regards :-) November 18, 2013 at 7:34am Reply

    • Victoria: The review states the version I’m describing in the first paragraph, but thank you, I’ve added an image with both bottles, so hope that it’s all clearer now.
      The most confusing part is that Encre Noire Pour Femme is not much of a vetiver and isn’t all that noir either. :) November 18, 2013 at 7:48am Reply

  • Austenfan: Like you, I love vetiver. It’s soothing, bracing, interesting and just plain wonderful. I can never make up my mind which vetiver is my favourite though. Encre noir is very high on my list as well. And though I always claim I’m not interested in bottles, this one is so gorgeous! November 18, 2013 at 7:56am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m also not interested in bottles all that much, but this one is so nicely done. It’s different from the white glass that Lalique favors for its other perfumes, and it really feels great when you pick up the bottle. The best part is the perfume, though. :) November 18, 2013 at 8:20am Reply

      • Austenfan: Yes! November 18, 2013 at 8:21am Reply

  • Jenna: Encre Noire is on my “to try” list, but I have no luck finding it in London. Anyone knows where Lalique is sold around here? November 18, 2013 at 7:58am Reply

    • Victoria: The Garden Pharmacy and Perfumery in the Covent Garden carries Lalique. I bet there are other retailers, but I remember seeing Encre Noire there. November 18, 2013 at 8:19am Reply

      • Jenna: Thank you! November 18, 2013 at 8:29am Reply

    • george: Liberty, Harrods and Roullier White (East Dulwich). There are also various lalique shops and concessions, which I have never visited but which would I imagine have the perfume range. November 18, 2013 at 8:26am Reply

      • Jenna: Thank you, George! I could’ve sworn I checked at Liberty but I must’ve missed it. November 18, 2013 at 8:33am Reply

    • Sabine: Also, Roullier White in East Dulwich. You can order a sample. And I’m pretty sure Liberty has it. November 18, 2013 at 9:24am Reply

  • george: So I guess we know which side you are on with regard to the Encre Noir Sycomore stand-off ;-)
    I have yet to drain my 200ml bottle of the latter, but I shall be weighing up very carefully the pros and cons of both (esp. price) when it is emptied and I need some more smoky vetiver. November 18, 2013 at 8:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Sycomore is smokier and sweeter to me. I have them on my arms right now, so I’m comparing side by side. Both are excellent, but what makes Encre Noire stand out to me is that it’s completely dry, non-sweet, without being raspy or sharp. Sycomore’s sweet, caramelized edge is very appealing, but if I want to go that route, I would rather reach for something more obvious sweet like Hermes Vetiver Tonka or Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental. Of course, I’m being very picky, and I do have a small bottle of Sycomore too. :) November 18, 2013 at 11:35am Reply

      • Isis: Ah this is a helpful comparison! Thank you, I find these sort of informal remarks in the comments so helpful Victoria, thanks. I love Vetiver Tonka, but the sweetness kind of confuses me every time I wear it. I’d like to find a more austere and dry vetiver to wear when I am working, Guerlainś vetiver is almost-right for me… it sounds like I need to try this! November 18, 2013 at 4:07pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’m happy to answer any questions. There is so much to say on all of these vetivers that trying to get all of the info into a single review would mean writing a novel. But at the same time, I can talk vetiver for as long as others are interested. :)

          Vetiver Tonka is almost perfect for me, but I find more and more wearing it that it’s like eating one of those low-fat desserts. It may just be too ethereal for me, despite its promise of richness. November 18, 2013 at 5:19pm Reply

          • Isis: Yes! I could not get my head around Vetiver Tonka, the low-fat desert comparison is genius!!!!! Is it a brisk walk in the forest, or is it hazelnut caramel tarts? Does it make me feel fit and healthy, like after a good sweaty workout, or indulgent and cozy, like I am near a campfire having tea and cookies? Utterly confusing stuff. November 19, 2013 at 2:56am Reply

            • Victoria: I suppose that if I want fit & healthy, I just go for Guerlain Vetiver, The Different Company Sel de Vetiver or Olfactive Studio Flashback. Something much more sparkling, in other words. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Lutens’s Vetiver Oriental is much more indulgent. November 19, 2013 at 11:32am Reply

              • Isis: Oh that is good to know. I had been ignoring Vetiver Oriental (simply because I can’t get a sample, so essentially it has been ignoring me…). November 19, 2013 at 2:25pm Reply

                • Victoria: I don’t think that it’s my top favorite vetiver, because I usually like my vetiver non-sweet, but it’s very good. November 19, 2013 at 3:50pm Reply

      • george: Our takes on the two are the same but our preferences differ! November 18, 2013 at 4:45pm Reply

      • george: It’s off topic, but I really like this article so though I would share……….. http://www.apetogentleman.com/les-senteurs/knize-ten/

        It gives a nice cultural interpretation of Knize Ten (though I would say the biggest cultural influence on the smell of Knize Ten was the proliferation of the automobile) November 19, 2013 at 6:26am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you. Such a fascinating article. November 19, 2013 at 11:34am Reply

        • nikki: love the article, thank you for the link…I had no idea Berlin was like Venice with swamps and fog over rivers and so on, how interesting!

          will definitely try this Encre Noire, thank you Victoria, for mentioning the vetiver in Encre Noire…I need a new one. I do love using pure vetiver oil after the shower together with sesame oil and it smells divine, however, it is also rather resinous and sticky, a spray would be so much more convenient. I love Guerlain’s vetiver but this is certainly a much better price! November 20, 2013 at 11:12am Reply

          • Victoria: The more I work with vetiver oil, the more I’m convinced that it’s a perfume in itself. Many other materials smell great on their own, but vetiver oil has a distinctive and beautiful development. I also add a drop to my oil rub or to my bath water. November 20, 2013 at 2:52pm Reply

      • Gary near NYC: Interesting… so it really sounds like despite the masculine appeal in Sycomore, Encre Noir is likely to be seen as the “male version”… drier and less floral. And certainly where men are concerned (most don’t spend as much on fragrances as women do), the more accessible price point is highly appealing. November 19, 2013 at 2:31pm Reply

        • Victoria: I think that either can work well for both men and women, because they don’t have the conventional “masculine” or “feminine” accords. It really depends on whether you want something warmer and softer or more bracing. I agree though that Lalique’s price is very appealing, especially in comparison to Chanel or Dior (Dior’s Vetiver is very nice too). November 19, 2013 at 3:52pm Reply

          • Gary near NYC: I see what you mean now. I’m definitely sold on Encre Noir but it looks like I’ll still have to manage a sample of Sycomore. :-) November 20, 2013 at 8:05pm Reply

            • Victoria: Not such a bad alternative! :) November 21, 2013 at 10:00am Reply

  • Ines: I don’t think I ever tried this (pretty sure actually). :)
    I love vetivers though, so I’ll be checking this out soon.
    Plus, I love the black bottle. November 18, 2013 at 9:10am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s worth checking out, especially since in contrast to some niche vetivers, it’s more reasonably priced. November 18, 2013 at 11:35am Reply

      • Ines: And I can always pass it as a gift for my boyfriend I will use. ;) November 18, 2013 at 2:23pm Reply

  • Bastet: I love both Encre Noir and the Guerlain Vetiver, and would have a hard time choosing between the two. The best thing is they are both available for such good prices at the online discounters, so I can own a bottle of each without much guilt! By the way I originally bought these fragrances for my husband but he is not particularly fond of vetiver so I happily wear them myself. November 18, 2013 at 9:10am Reply

    • Victoria: I original bought Encre Noire for my husband, but he doesn’t seem to care that much for vetiver, so now it’s mine, all mine. :) November 18, 2013 at 11:36am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Nèh! Nèh! Nèh!!

        (Little Britain) January 1, 2014 at 1:03pm Reply

  • Figuier: Coincidentally today I am wearing my own favourite vetiver, Sycomore – and might need to spray anew to celebrate your celebration of the root :) I’ve never tried Encre Noir I don’t think – like Jenna I haven’t come across it in local department stores, though I admit I’ve never looked very hard. Your review suggests I should though!

    I can’t really think of any vetivers that I don’t like… November 18, 2013 at 9:22am Reply

    • Victoria: A vetiver celebration sounds like such a nice idea! I might have to take a bath with my homemade vetiver salts today to top it all off.

      The only vetiver I didn’t like that much was L’Artisan’s Coeur de Vetiver Sacre, mostly because it was not enough vetiver and too bland. I need to think if there are others. November 18, 2013 at 11:40am Reply

  • Sabine: I love EN and bought a bottle for my husband( no, I never use his perfumes, at all, never…)
    The feminine version does nothing for me though, it’s not at all a Noir, Encre Blanc would have been a better name, I think. November 18, 2013 at 9:29am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree, Sabine. Not at all noir or dark, although for a musky floral, it’s a very good option. November 18, 2013 at 11:41am Reply

  • Lynley: Encre Noir is one of my favourite vetivers, I think because of that woodiness. I see all my vetivers as colours- shades of olive or murky brown-green. EN is an inkier one, as the name rightly suggests :-)
    (incidentally, have you tried Persona by abdes salaam attar? Where all the others are a darker green, this one is peridot yellow-green, and such a lovely, bright interpretation. It’s wonderful :-) ) November 18, 2013 at 9:35am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried Persona, but it sounds great. A bright, fluorescent vetiver should be very interesting. Thank you for mentioning it, Lynley. November 18, 2013 at 11:42am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: I can think of vetiver I don’t like: Etro! On me it smells like groentensoep (vegetables soup).
    Generally speaking I like vetiver, most of all Racine MPG, but also the light, elegant Grey Vetiver Tom Ford. La Route du Vetiver when I am in the mood for it.
    Encre Noire is (surprisingly) fleeting on my skin.
    Eau Sauvage le Parfum was a nice surprise- brightened by some citrus, sweetened by mirre, pleasant, easy to wear. November 18, 2013 at 9:37am Reply

    • Victoria: I also like Eau Sauvage Le Parfum, even though I was skeptical about yet another riff on Eau Sauvage, but it’s very well-done. While it doesn’t improve on the original, it’s a good alternative (and I agree, the vetiver note is a delicious part). November 18, 2013 at 11:43am Reply

  • ferris Égoïste: How does Encre Noire compare to Sycomore. like you, I have become fascinated by the note of vetiver, and I cannot get enough of it. If I can find another vetiver fragrance that is as half as good as Chanel’s masterpiece at a cheaper piece, that’s even better. November 18, 2013 at 10:09am Reply

    • Victoria: I just responded to George a bit up the thread! I prefer EN, because it’s drier, but I confess that I have both. :) November 18, 2013 at 11:45am Reply

  • Jillie: My most favourite vetiver was Crabtree & Evelyn’s – it was so refreshing in hot, humid summers, smelling clean but woody at the same time. Of course, now departed …. November 18, 2013 at 10:09am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Idem dito for Vetiver by Carven, the best ever! November 18, 2013 at 11:00am Reply

      • Robert: +1 Carven Vetiver, aftershave and edt. November 24, 2013 at 4:20am Reply

    • Victoria: Jillie, did you get to smell the new “luxurious” collection from Crabtree & Evelyn? I haven’t seen it around it yet. November 18, 2013 at 11:45am Reply

      • Jillie: Not yet – I asked my husband if he can get samples or blotters next time he passes their shop. He accidentally got me another ribbon from Penhaligon’s instead! But he will now try Crabtree …. November 19, 2013 at 8:03am Reply

        • Victoria: Please keep me posted, Jillie! I’m curious whether the perfumes live up to their luxurious price tags. November 19, 2013 at 11:08am Reply

  • Gigi: I’m very excited to read about this today,Victoria! I’ve only recently realized how much I like Vetiver (today is Vetiver Tonka day for me). Lalique has never been on my radar so without reading your lovely review, I may never have stumbled across this one. Must start the hunt immediately, this sounds divine! November 18, 2013 at 10:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Lalique’s collection overall is very good, and I highly recommend checking it out. Besides Encre Noire, I really like Perles de Lalique and Lalique Eau de Parfum (in a big square bottle, with a red tassel). For the price, you also get excellent quality fragrances, and today, when the niche and non-niche prices are skyrocketing, it’s refreshing. November 18, 2013 at 11:48am Reply

  • Annunziata: What an interesting review, thank you! I’ve been curious about Encre Noire for a long time but have been busy with the ten thousand other scents I want to try. But you have just triggered a desire to do some serious vetiver sampling. I love notes that are green and grassy and earthy. Even in winter, when they can seem kind of chilly. And just thank you in general for all the beautifully written reviews and the information given here. November 18, 2013 at 10:54am Reply

    • Victoria: I know what you mean! With all of the new launches and classics, it’s hard to keep up and try everything.

      Somehow, when it cools down, I start craving woods, woods and more woods. The green, rooty, woody vetiver hits the spot anytime, but of course, it’s a year around favorite. But I especially love getting whiffs of smoked wood shavings as I walk down the cold streets. November 18, 2013 at 11:57am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: The bottle matches the name perfectly! Do you detect anything ‘inky’ in it?

    I can’t say yet that vetiver is my favourite note but I’m fascinated by its multiple facets and I’m slowly working through perfumes which highlight the different facets. I should definitely try this one too since you rate it so highly. The salty aspect featured in Sel de Vetiver and Flashback was very interesting but what impressed me the most so far was the genius pairing with tonka bean in Vetiver Tonka. I love its nutty, smoky yet transparent character and that burnt sugar note (at least to my nose) is so special.

    I’d very much appreciate if you could write about vetiver in your ‘Notes’ series. BTW, I think there’s a typo in the text: “those are perfumes that must be samples (sampled) at least once”. November 18, 2013 at 11:08am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, thank very much for that!
      I suppose that because it’s quite dry and non-sweet, there is something of an India ink in it. But I might just be imaging it, because the name is so evocative.

      I will definitely add vetiver to the series. With some of my favorite notes, I feel a bit intimidated to approach them, because there is so much to say and write. November 18, 2013 at 11:59am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: You’re welcome. I should smell it for myself to look for the inky note (or rather a feel). I find the smell of ink strangely comforting and I enjoy grinding an inkstick against an inkstone time to time – it’s almost meditative.

        Thanks for accepting the request. :-) I’m looking forward to the post! I can understand how daunting it must be to write about such a complex note but its complexity is exactly the reason why having a good overview would be very useful. November 18, 2013 at 3:56pm Reply

        • Victoria: I used to love to practice calligraphy as a kind of meditative activity, but since I no longer do that, I’ve found other ways to wind down. It’s a shame though, since not only am I forgetting the Japanese characters, I’m missing the aroma of ink. There is really nothing like it. November 18, 2013 at 5:15pm Reply

  • Katy McReynolds: I love Encre Noire as well. You describe it beautifully. I find it deliciously boozy smelling. There is a note in there that is reminiscent of my favorite single malts and bourbons. I have never had the slightest curiosity about other vetivers because this one satisfies so completely. It is very pleasing to discreetly mix it with Habanita. November 18, 2013 at 11:14am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, I see it too! It’s as if a piece of driftwood was soaked in fine scotch. Although I still continue to try new vetivers (I might be a bit too obsessed with them!), I really feel that Encre Noire is my perfect vetiver. Blending it with Habanita should be very interesting, and I’ll definitely give it a try. November 18, 2013 at 12:01pm Reply

  • Elisa: You’ve tipped something off for me — I often think oud accords smell distinctly nutty, and since most perfumes don’t include actual oud these days, I wonder if perfumers are leaning on vetiver to create the oud note? I love this nutty aspect to oud when it shows up. November 18, 2013 at 11:16am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s interesting that you mention the nutty portion. Vetiver and patchouli feature heavily in various oud accords, even if the perfume already contains some real oud. Patchouli can also smell nutty, especially in specific combinations. Anything milky or creamy brings out the roasted hazelnut facet of patchouli to me, and it works similarly in vetiver. By the way, these two make for a terrific duo. November 18, 2013 at 12:03pm Reply

      • Elisa: Ah, good to know! Thanks V! November 18, 2013 at 2:32pm Reply

        • Victoria: For instance, Marni by Marni has both vetiver and patchouli. November 18, 2013 at 5:07pm Reply

  • Alicia: Thank you for your beautiful review, Victoria. I have rwo vetivers, Sycomore, which I find the driest of my Chanels, and my beloved Guerlain, to my nose (or perhaps to my soul) the most entrancing of all vetivers, with its airy note of jasmine.
    Once Guerlain Vetiver was my husband’s, who wore it I suspect as a memory, being completely anosmic. First I loved it in him, soon it became mine since I even preferred it to Sycomore. Thus my question, how does Guerlain Vetiver compare to Encre Noir?
    Yesterday I was given a bottle of Piguet’s Rose Perfection, which I will not open for a while. Have you tried it? November 18, 2013 at 1:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried Rose Perfection yet. I lost track of all of these new Piguet launches a while ago, but I should try this one.

      Guerlain Vetiver is much fresher and brighter at first, and it has a big dose of bergamot, while Encre Noire is more herbal and dry. I love Guerlain’s vetiver too, and to me, it’s a perfect pick-me-up perfume. It feels so exhilarating. November 18, 2013 at 5:00pm Reply

  • Merlin: I was just reading your beautiful review of Terre yesterday – what a shimmering accolade! I bought it only recently and was comparing it to Encre Noire, so I was excited to see this review today:)

    Though I have EN, I find it a little too bracing in both top and heart notes. Or, to put it differently, though I appreciate this bracing quality, it actually stops me from using EN very often; just like I would pause before getting into a cold swimming pool! The bitterness is offset by the nutty woodiness, but I still hesitate before applying it –

    Terre is a more gentle experience – so I’m hoping to use it more frequently.

    And I agree with everyone about the bottle: it is a beautiful block of black glass! November 18, 2013 at 1:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: Terre d’Hermes really delivers on the mineral, flinty notes, and I also love this perfume. It’s certainly a more complex fragrance. Not sure if you’ve tried the parfum version, but it’s excellent. November 18, 2013 at 5:03pm Reply

      • Merlin: Terre on my skin is like a soft, salty shimmer, but on cloth deeper and more satisfying nuances come out – that scent of sun-baked boulders at noon!

        I strongly suspect that I am anosmic to some note(s) in it because I have heard others describe it as a powerful scent, and for me it is somehow very natural and minimalist.

        The parfum version, unfortunately, smelled sour on me. The citrus in the EDT is an effervescent one, but in the parfum it is more like the smell of the rind, and the woods are heavier.

        That being said, I may try it in a couple of months and be bowled over by love… November 18, 2013 at 7:59pm Reply

        • Victoria: The parfum is definitely more grapefruity and sharper. I liked it, but I admit that for day to day wear, I much prefer the regular Terre. November 19, 2013 at 11:29am Reply

  • Cynthia: I fell head over heals for Encre Noire without realizing it was the pour Homme version. On me I get a mint note. It is odd but good!
    Changed my view on fragrance having a gender! I am curious now about Guerlain’s Vetiver. Is in better in Vintage or current formulation available on discount sites (fragrancenet or amazon)? November 18, 2013 at 2:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: I like Guerlain’s Vetiver in all formulations. Some people say that the current version is completely different, but while yes, it’s not the same as vintage, it’s excellent. I would recommend starting with the new version, and if you like it, then you can try to find the vintage version. November 18, 2013 at 5:13pm Reply

  • Leah: Oh my goodness this sounds mouth-watering! I love Sycomore and Guerlain so I am dying to know how this compares. Just when I thought I would close out the year without any new loves!! I may have to add this (and Marni!) to my list November 18, 2013 at 4:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: Let’s see if I can compare all three for you. Guerlain’s is the most citrusy and cologne-like vetiver. Sycomore is more elegant and polished, with a mild earthy note and a hint of sweetness. Encre Noire is like a sip of scotch–dry, smoky, dusky. While Encre Noire is the darkest of the three, it’s still radiant, rather than heavy or earthy. November 18, 2013 at 5:24pm Reply

  • Daisy: I absolutely need to try this! I have a sample of Pour Elle, but not Pour Homme. Looking online now. Thank you for the lovely review! November 18, 2013 at 4:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: You’re welcome! If you love vetiver, I bet you will enjoy Encre Noire (Pour Homme!) What do you think of Pour Femme? November 18, 2013 at 5:20pm Reply

  • Caroline: Five stars–I need to try this one! I recently bought some vetiver incense, which I look forward to using this season. November 18, 2013 at 5:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, vetiver incense sounds amazing. What brand did you buy? November 18, 2013 at 5:25pm Reply

      • Caroline: Found it at Whole Foods–Maroma from India. November 18, 2013 at 6:25pm Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you, Caroline! I need look for some alternative around here. November 19, 2013 at 11:27am Reply

  • Jordan River: This handsome inkwell flacon sits on my writing desk and before I started exploring niche I wore this everyday.

    This Perfumer, Nathalie Lorson has also surprised me twice this year with ‘fumes I liked before I realized that she had created them. One was Autoportrait, also a vetiver but with the roots washed clean leaving a clear hint of something that is usually more vegetal; like Encre Noire released from the woods and flying above the clouds. The other was Cuir 28; a sticky leather vetiver. This woman has a Vetiver Expertise and next I am hoping for vetiver in outer space.

    I have long wanted to write a review of Encre Noire but every time I do it turns into a hagiography! I enjoyed reading your review immensely.

    This is also a very affordable ‘fume considering the brand and in comparison to Sycomore. November 18, 2013 at 7:26pm Reply

    • Victoria: Your comment about a vetiver hagiography made me smile. Yes, I can see that. I wrote a review that was twice as long as the one I published, and then I just edited it to something more reasonable. :)

      A good point about it being more affordable than some other niche vetivers. November 19, 2013 at 11:29am Reply

  • ericgmd: Hello Victoria,
    Loyal reader here but this is my first comment on your blog.
    I own Encre Noire Pour Homme EDT and wanted to know if you or anyone else had experienced the EDP that comes in the crystal limited edition and numbered Lalique Encrier Bottle. I am fascinated by the look of it and hope that the juice inside lives up to the bottle luxurious design…
    Thanks,
    Eric November 18, 2013 at 8:45pm Reply

    • Victoria: Welcome, Eric!
      I’ve tried the EDP on the blotter at the Lalique boutique and I thought that it was richer, warmer and more incense-smoky. But I admit that I preferred the EDT in the end. It has something so luminous inside, and that’s what gives Encre Noire its distinctive touch. November 19, 2013 at 11:31am Reply

  • Elia: I like vetiver too although none listed are amongst my choices. I’ve only tried Encre Noir once, it’s not stocked around here. It came off very heavy and indeed inky. I can’t say I liked it. Hopefully a sample of it will arrive soon and I can spend more time with it.
    Vétiver Extraordinaire is one of the most overrated scents I’ve ever come across. Ultra polished and still doesn’t manage mass appeal. This was one of the very first niche scents I bought a sample of, I found it monotonous and plain.
    Guerlain’s Vetiver I’ve tried several renditions of. I find the best one to be the old EDC. I also think the current formulation in the habit rouge bottle (which supposedly wasn’t reformulated) is better than what was in the frosted ribbed bottle.
    I’ve not yet tried either the Goutal Vetiver or the Prada. I wasn’t even aware the Prada existed actually. I wonder if anyone stocks it around here… November 19, 2013 at 4:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Which are your favorite vetivers then? November 19, 2013 at 11:33am Reply

      • Elia: I like Lorenzo Villoresi’s Vetiver because it’s so uncompromisingly raw, the opening hours are almost brutishly overwhelming. I like the Le Labo because it almost entirely lists base notes, yet it’s lighter than expected, managing to be wonderfully smooth. It’s creamy and smokey and earthy all at the same time.
        I love Roja Dove’s Vetiver Extrait because it seems to take the best of the Guerlain EDC and crystalise it, with the further bonus of fantastic sillage and longevity. If money was no object this one might be my signature.
        I also like Red Vetyver, but it’s been such a while since I’ve smelt it… November 19, 2013 at 1:04pm Reply

        • Elia: Just got the Encre Noir sample in the post. Nice coincidence. I’ll get to try it later this week when I get home. November 19, 2013 at 1:42pm Reply

        • Victoria: There was another very interesting raw vetiver, Les Nez Turtle Vetiver. I’m not sure if it’s still around, but if you like vetiver as natural as possible, that’s the one. November 19, 2013 at 3:48pm Reply

          • Austenfan: I think LesNez has the second version out now. It’s called Back I believe. I have a sample and it’s a great monster of a vetiver. Bolder than the Goutal Vetiver. November 19, 2013 at 4:28pm Reply

            • Victoria: I’m still working through my sample of Turtle Vetiver. If the new one is even bolder, I can’t even imagine what it’s like. November 19, 2013 at 5:20pm Reply

              • Austenfan: I never tried Front, it was sold out before I got a chance to sample it. Back is something else. The opening, although they don’t smell alike, reminded me of Eau du Fier. It mellows a bit afterwards but it’s quite raw. November 19, 2013 at 5:44pm Reply

                • Victoria: That’s even more interesting, especially since I love Eau du Fier. I still miss it more than any other discontinued perfume from Goutal. November 20, 2013 at 6:38am Reply

          • Elia: I’d love to try that. I actually found someone with some Turtle Vetiver Front for me to sample, but he’s been on hiatus for ages, so I never got to try it. November 19, 2013 at 5:19pm Reply

          • nozknoz: I missed the first, but I love both Front and Back. (What a sentence!) Front has a touch of fig/coconut. Vetiver is a worthy focus of a perfume art project, isn’t it? November 21, 2013 at 9:50am Reply

            • Victoria: :) It really would be a worthy focus!
              I definitely need to catch up on the Turtle Vetiver latest versions. They all sound wonderful. November 21, 2013 at 10:34am Reply

  • Amer: I love Encre Noire. it is the fragrance I always return to after my splish-splashes in the fragrant pool. My favorite part of the fragrance however is the mineral-inky carbon like note that doesn’t continue into the drydown for me but one can’t have all.

    Sometimes I like to layer it with white florals. It is a great base for anything with Gardenia, Orange Blossom or Linden. Try it with a light spritz of Marc Jacobs and let me know November 19, 2013 at 5:23am Reply

    • Victoria: The layering idea sounds wonderful, Amer. It makes me think of Vetiver Pour Elle, which had a healthy dose of jasmine, but tuberose or orange blossom would be even more exciting. November 19, 2013 at 11:34am Reply

    • Merlin: I’m definitely going to try layer it with white florals now. I tried layering it with some vanilla/ambers to give them some added depth but didn’t find these to be winning combinations. I think the florals will be much more successful.

      I know you didn’t suggest lily, but I did just try it with Baiser Vole EDP and while it started out really nice, the wistful stolen kiss soon totally devoured the brutal black ink, lol! November 19, 2013 at 12:26pm Reply

      • Victoria: “wistful stolen kiss soon totally devoured the brutal black ink”–what an image! :) November 19, 2013 at 3:41pm Reply

        • Cynthia: Love this thread! I must go layer it with Marc Jacobs! I recently purchased Penhaligon’s Gardenia and it is almost too clean. I wonder how these would dance together! November 19, 2013 at 4:48pm Reply

          • Victoria: White florals, especially single note ones, are fun to play around with. Curious to hear how it might work with Gardenia. November 19, 2013 at 5:19pm Reply

        • Merlin: Yeah, its like a perverse allegory about the power of innocence and purity aka white musk over evil vetiver! November 19, 2013 at 8:20pm Reply

          • Victoria: You’re on a roll! This has the making of a vetiver detective story. :) November 20, 2013 at 6:42am Reply

            • Amer: just came back and found this thread. What a surprise to have such a discussion over such an old and established release. Guess that only strengthens its golden classic standard.

              PS: The idea of combining it with florals came when I smelled a linden tree in bloom while wearing EN. I later found some linden CO2 extract and tried the combination on skin. It was so good it made me want to open the bottle and pour it in there. Just try it if you can get some but make sure it is the CO2 not the absolute. Instant gratification! November 24, 2013 at 5:00am Reply

              • Victoria: I wasn’t expecting it either, but I’m very happy to see that Encre Noire has so many fans.

                The idea of linden and vetiver makes me inspired more and more. I can just imagine how the two would complement each other perfectly. I haven’t smelled any linden CO2 extracts I really liked, though, so the search still continues. November 24, 2013 at 5:43am Reply

                • Amer: linden co2 has a honeyed and odly urinous facet that seems to complement perfectly the musky aspect of EN… to me at least. If you are serious about tinkering with it, you can make a floral accord around it with some jasmine and rose just to emphasize its floralness and add some green elements for freshness. Just an idea, not tested :) November 24, 2013 at 7:33am Reply

                  • Victoria: Thank you, it sounds like it could be very interesting. November 25, 2013 at 10:29am Reply

      • nozknoz: I love that sentence, even though I always think of the white musks as evil, because they obliterate all the interesting notes (or are relied on by the Philistines of the modern perfume industry to disguise the lack thereof). November 21, 2013 at 9:58am Reply

  • Ashley Anstaett: I would love to smell Encre Noir. I love Chanel’s Sycomore. It has a certain warmth to it that a lot of vetivers don’t have and it makes it feel perfect for winter. I’d be curious to try a Vetiver that’s a bit sharper and dryer though, and Encre Noir sounds like it might be the one. November 19, 2013 at 12:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: If you want sharper and drier, then Encre Noire would work well. L’Artisan used to have a fantastic single note vetiver, but unfortunately it has been discontinued a white ago. November 19, 2013 at 3:43pm Reply

      • Amer: Coeur de Vetiver Sacre wasn’t as well received as EN though. Both by the critics and the public. My current vetiver obsession is Sel de Vetiver. I am saving my cents in hopes that I might one day get a full bottle. ahhh November 24, 2013 at 5:10am Reply

        • Amer: PS: “a white ago”??? Did some white musk eat it I wonder? November 24, 2013 at 5:10am Reply

  • Ariadne: Five stars!!! You KNOW I am ordering samples. This sounds like it would be a perfect hostess scent to go with the dried floral creations I am constructing for my (cheap) holiday home decorations. I like my champagne sharp too. ;+) November 19, 2013 at 6:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love handmade decorations! They have so much more character to me than anything store bought.

      Please let me know how you like Encre Noire! And yes, me too, I like my champagne dry. :) November 20, 2013 at 6:40am Reply

      • Ariadne: My samples of EN just came. Nothing I would have EVER investigated w/o your review and am so happily surprised and pleased with it! Hubby scratched his head after a whiff of it on me since it is soooo not like anything I have worn before. It is a very sophisticated scent with evolving nuances. I am going to experiment with layering it over some soliflors like rose and see what unfolds. THX!! November 23, 2013 at 10:04am Reply

        • Victoria: Thank you very much for letting me know how it turned out! I’m very happy that you also liked it. The interesting part of EN is how it wears, and just as you mentioned, it really evolves on skin. If you find any good layering combos, I would love to hear! November 24, 2013 at 5:50am Reply

  • JCParodi: Lorson’s Cuir 28 for Le labo (Dubai), is my favorite Vetiver, in the same realm as Sycomore, except darker and more tar-ry. November 20, 2013 at 10:51am Reply

    • Victoria: I admire Lorson’s work, especially for the smaller brands when she can play with her favorite accords. Cuir 28 is one of my top favorites from Le Labo. November 20, 2013 at 2:51pm Reply

  • nozknoz: Victoria, I’m glad you also mentioned AG Vetiver. It’s my personal favorite: I find it very soulful. In our hot, humid summers, of course, I need the blast of AC that Guerlain supplies, and it’s also great for any day when I need to be particularly alert.

    I also enjoy the Turtle Vetiver Front and Back – vetiver is definitely a material that deserves its own art project!

    I’m glad you reviewed Encre Noir. I’m going to revisit it. November 21, 2013 at 10:09am Reply

    • Victoria: A blast of AC is a great way to put it. Guerlain even had a Vetiver version that cooled the skin once you applied it. In some ways, it was gimmicky, but it was a fun idea. I just keep a small decant of either Atelier Cologne Vetiver Fatal or Guerlain Vetiver (regular one) in the fridge. When it gets really hot, they’re perfect. November 21, 2013 at 10:37am Reply

  • Lauren: Good Lord, this is my favorite review so far. It made me want to eat the stuff. Especially since I appreciate writing, actual pen & paper, glass pens & ink wells…and vetyver…can’t wait to smell this. November 21, 2013 at 11:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much! :) If you love vetiver, I won’t hesitate to say that Encre Noire is a must sample perfume. Of course, there is no guarantee that it will please you as much as it does me, but it’s a really well-crafted, beautiful fragrance. November 21, 2013 at 11:11am Reply

  • Aisha: I love that bottle! It’s so dramatic, yet understated.

    I’ve never had the pleasure of sniffing this one. And really, the only men’s fragrance I’ve ever worn was Fahrenheit — and that was because at first I thought it was being marketed for women. I laughed at myself for liking the scent so much that I dared to wear it that day. It’s on my husband’s side of the dresser now, but I still sometimes sample it. :-) November 21, 2013 at 12:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: We have so many favorites in common, I’ve noticed. Fahrenheit was the first men’s perfume I wanted to wear, and I agree, there is something so addictive about it. I need to get a bottle for my husband so that I can smell it around more often. November 21, 2013 at 2:24pm Reply

      • Aisha: I’m trying to convince my husband to wear a fragrance (other than deodorant) everyday. He’s got a variety of bottles, minis and samples from which to choose (thanks to me), but he only likes to wear a fragrance on special occasions. Isn’t every day special? ;-) November 21, 2013 at 4:02pm Reply

        • Victoria: I find that positive reinforcement helps more than anything. I noticed that if I complimented my husband on how good he smelled, he was encouraged to wear fragrance more often. November 22, 2013 at 7:51am Reply

          • Amer: About that bottle, don’t you find that the new bottles for the YSL classics are EN’s poor relatives? November 24, 2013 at 5:15am Reply

            • Victoria: Exactly, except that the YSL ones aren’t as well-made. I only handled them at the store, but I noticed that the sprayers were leaking. November 24, 2013 at 5:35am Reply

              • Amer: so they are also unpractical other than plain cheap and ugly… hmmm November 24, 2013 at 7:35am Reply

  • JulienFromDijon: I’m not into vetiver. (Sacrilegious!)
    I too thought “encre noire” was a kind of remedy for my condition.
    Then I realized that, more than the vetiver, I liked the “sugar cane sweetness” hidden in the composition more than the vetiver. That and the twig greenness of it.
    I also like “sycomore”, the other vetiver for vetiver refractants.
    I also have an antique “vetiver” of Guerlain (translate into : it must have turn off in a wonderfull maner). That, it’s a treat! It’s edc, but feels/smells so oily you rather feel like rubbing it, than spraying it, so your skin get deep soaked of it.
    ((it feels like they mostly use aromachemical substitute in nociphoriaunaud rather than the oil))

    But I never wear vetiver on a daily basis. I crave flowers, incense, so it’s crazy-talk from me to say that vetiver always wear voudou like on me. I don’t know if “Manoumalia” holds that much of it, but that’s how I picture it. I like when my vetiver border on smoke, dry things burnt as incense, kind of demanding.
    ((no prejudice toward the wishy-washy vetiver substitute, just they don’t trigger much in me))
    If frankincense is a “let yourself loose control” that open on blue sky, vetiver lead into a more unknown ground and somewhat insecure things.

    I’m talking and talking, but you’re just making remind myself that I found a kind of holy grail scent in Onda (extrait), that, I’d love to buy. And it sure has a huge dollop of vetiver in it.
    I love the mud in it, the beast, the chypre… For something so overloaded it breathes so easily! I don’t recoil even at the idea of exposing the balsy beast that lies in that smell. I’d like to play the urban tiger. November 30, 2013 at 6:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Why sacrilegious? It’s not like we all are supposed to like the same thing. Plus, different scents evoke different sensations in us, and I liked how you’ve described your impressions of these notes.
      And a round of applause for playing the urban tiger as you wear Onda. What a fantastic image! November 30, 2013 at 2:14pm Reply

  • Lora: Victoria,
    What do you think of Guerlains’ Vetiver Pour Elle? Does it possess the type of vetiver that you crave?
    Thanks! January 7, 2014 at 12:38pm Reply

    • Victoria: I like it very much. It’s my vetiver of choice when I want something effervescent, lighthearted but still sophisticated. January 7, 2014 at 2:36pm Reply

  • rose: I’ve just tested this for the first time today, and it’s absolutely perfect! I also adore vetiver in many of its manifestations, least of all when it’s more sour and astringent. But this is exactly how you describe, and a very pleasant surprise after Vetiver pour Elle which I found quite horrible (very bright and headachey)

    I’ve also had a small bottle of vetiver essential oil so this is very authentic (though the oil is extremely pungent) but actually Encre Noire most reminds me of the dust left behind after burning high quality vetiver incense, beautiful! February 7, 2014 at 3:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: Vetiver incense ashes is such a great way to describe Encre Noire, Rose! Yes, I can see exactly what you mean. February 9, 2014 at 9:57am Reply

  • Barry: Good fragrance.

    Sycomore is a lot better. February 14, 2014 at 10:02pm Reply

  • Michaela: Such an addictive fragrance! Thank you so much for this review, I would probably have never tried this perfume! I am also happy you mentioned women could easily wear it. I can’t wear many men fragrances that usually work well on women, so I’m still reluctant. I have sampled Encre Noire and I ordered a full bottle after a month or so, as I don’t imagine myself living without this beautiful vetiver from now on. I’m so happy I gave it a try. Interesting, I found some comments on Fragrantica stating this is a very common fragrance in the Middle East, a lot of men and women wear it in the cold season. March 20, 2014 at 8:06am Reply

    • Victoria: Very happy to hear this, Michaela! Yes, I can imagine why this perfume would be perfect for anyone, man or woman. For myself, I can’t think of a better vetiver. March 20, 2014 at 9:04am Reply

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