Hermessence Epice Marine : New Perfume

Épice Marine is the 11th fragrance in the Hermessence collection from Hermès. Inspired by a meeting in Cancale, Brittany with chef and spice master Olivier Roellinger, it captures the scents of Brittany’s coast and  spices. Roellinger is renowned for his intricate spice blends, which are as complex as perfumes, and the interaction between the two creators inspired them both. Ellena went on to compose Épice Marine, while Roellinger–La Poudre des Bulgares, a blend of cardamom, vanilla, saffron and sesame to perfume yogurt.



The chef gave Ellena a taste of toasted cumin seeds, which sparked the idea for Épice Marine. Unlike fresh grains, toasted cumin doesn’t have the sweaty, animalic brashness, but it smells woody, caramelized and sweet. Other notes of Épice Marine include bergamot, cardamon, cinnamon, watery and smoky accents. Available starting October 2013 at Hermès boutiques.

Roellinger’s La Poudre des Bulgares is currently available at his store in Paris and at

Adding on: if you read French, I recommend taking a look at the Vanity Fair article Le Mariage d’un Chef et d’un Nez. It describes how Ellena and Roellinger met and how Épice Marine was born.

Via press release



  • Annikky: I have now spent half an hour on Roellinger’s web site and it’s fascinating. And potentially disastrous for my financial situation.

    The perfume sounds good, too – I’d welcome an original and sophisticated take on the marine theme. Also, cardamom! August 5, 2013 at 8:04am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve tried several of his spice mixes, and they were invariably complex and sophisticated. I already picked up La Poudre des Bulgares, and it’s absolutely addictive. The only issue with powdered spice mixtures (and the reason why I’m such a huge advocate of making them at home) is that the scent evaporates very quickly, in some cases within weeks. I haven’t yet tried any of his whole spices, but it’s on my to do list. August 5, 2013 at 10:24am Reply

  • rosarita: Ellena + spices = something I want to smell! August 5, 2013 at 8:26am Reply

    • Victoria: And knowing Ellena’s style, I’m sure that it will be something unusual. August 5, 2013 at 10:25am Reply

      • Edward: Agree! And if I may add: Unusual BUT wearable. 🙂 August 6, 2013 at 1:38pm Reply

  • Austenfan: This sounds very enticing. And Cancale is very beautiful. One of these rugged coastal places that Brittany is famous for. August 5, 2013 at 8:27am Reply

    • Victoria: I would love to visit. It would be one of my many dream trips. August 5, 2013 at 10:28am Reply

      • Mel: Isn’t Cancale close-ish to you? I mean, it’s closer to you in Belgium than me in California. I don’t know anything about it but now I’m going to research! August 5, 2013 at 11:43am Reply

        • Victoria: The French border is only 45 minutes away by car, and Brittany–6 hours. Of course, in comparison to the US distances this is nothing. 🙂 August 5, 2013 at 12:33pm Reply

      • Austenfan: I have ( so far) only visited the North Coast of Brittany as far west as Lannion. The coast is stunning. Inland it is not as interesting. Just slightly hilly farmland. My favourite place in that region so far is L’Ile de Bréhat.

        I have yet to try my first Hermessence. So far I haven’t been brave enough to enter a Hermès shop. I should really, as I generally like Ellena’s style. August 5, 2013 at 12:30pm Reply

        • Victoria: The one in Brussels is not at all intimidating, and everyone is very nice and helpful.

          I wrote down your Brittany suggestions in my little notebook. My husband has this Brittany vacation fantasy of eating oysters and drinking white wine, so I have a feeling that it will happen at some point. August 5, 2013 at 12:46pm Reply

          • Austenfan: The French article is lovely! Thanks for the link. August 5, 2013 at 4:08pm Reply

            • Victoria: I liked it too! Such a nice glimpse into the creation. August 6, 2013 at 8:25am Reply

        • Annikky: I’ve made up my mind to visit Brittany in September. I have a thing for cultures (and states, languages, ethnic groups, etc) that don’t belong among the big winners of the history lottery, so I’m very excited to go. I’m currently reading Norman Davies’s Vanished Kingdoms, about Europe’s (mostly) forgotten kingdoms, empires, duchies and republics – very much my kind of a history book.  August 6, 2013 at 5:55pm Reply

  • Lucas: Not really keen on trying this one. All the Hermessences seem to be more of HerMEHssences to me… August 5, 2013 at 9:42am Reply

    • Victoria: You can’t win them all (and that’s probably a good thing). August 5, 2013 at 10:29am Reply

      • Lucas: That’s a very good think Victoria! I might not like the Hermessence which are pricey (plus I don’t have an access to them) but I will definitely like some other fragrance – at the moment, namely, Atelier Cologne Silver Iris August 5, 2013 at 12:17pm Reply

  • nikki: I love Roellinger and Bretagne, his website is really beautiful and the menus and hotel magnificent! This is definitely a perfume for me to try. I love Ellena’s fragrances, the last one I got is Jour d”Hermes, a fragrant garden perfume…
    Thank you for your review, Victoria! August 5, 2013 at 9:48am Reply

    • Victoria: I have Roellinger’s book about spices, and it’s very interesting. He doesn’t share his spice blends, but there are many other great ideas that you can pick up from his recipes. The index of spices, along with their intended purpose, is also very handy. August 5, 2013 at 10:31am Reply

  • Caroline: “Marine” gives me pause, but do love cardamom. Look forward to your review. August 5, 2013 at 10:33am Reply

    • Victoria: I look forward to smelling it! August 5, 2013 at 12:31pm Reply

  • solanace: I’ll be checking Roellinger’s book, website… Thinking about spices sounds like a good thing to do in this cold, rainy monday. (Wearing Nez à Nez Marron Chic, which I got as a discount at a decant site. Very nice indeed, I only wish it were less expensive!) August 5, 2013 at 12:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: I can browse his website and that of Goumanyat by Thiercelin for hours. Imagining what all of these exotic peppers, barks and seeds smell like…

      Our Monday is hot and humid, but I’m having a cardamom cherry drink right and it feels very refreshing. August 5, 2013 at 12:43pm Reply

      • solanace: Thank’s for another great suggestion! I’m very fond of spices, too. August 6, 2013 at 6:04am Reply

  • Daisy: I’m looking forward to this. The first time that I studied abroad, I was 14 and it was in Brittany. I stayed with two host families and went back to them every summer until I was 22. Curious to see how this compares to the Brittany in my heart! August 5, 2013 at 12:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: There is no better way to experience a place than to live with a host family. It must have been a great adventure. Delicious food too, I imagine? August 5, 2013 at 12:44pm Reply

      • Daisy: Very delicious! The food is amazing. Breton galettes and kouign-amann! If you love buttery pastries and crêpes (both Breton inventions), than Brittany is for you 🙂 August 5, 2013 at 1:54pm Reply

        • Victoria: I love both! I mean, how could a Russian-Ukrainian not love crepes, although our buckwheat crepes are yeast leavened and fluffy, rather than thin and crisp. 🙂 I’ve tried kouign-amann once, and it reminded me of Indian sweets, possibly because like some of the Indian halvas and burfis, it’s made almost entirely out of butter and sugar. Very rich, but then again, you don’t eat it in huge quantities. August 5, 2013 at 3:12pm Reply

          • Daisy: You’re not supposed to eat them in large quantities?! Oops 😉

            I got very round in Brittany. I needed a packed lunch for a school trip once and my host family sent me with an entire buttered baguette filled with camembert. That was it: butter and camembert. Swoon 🙂 August 5, 2013 at 5:55pm Reply

            • Victoria: Ever since I read your reply this morning the idea of baguette slathered with butter and camembert has been haunting me. So, I finally went to a nearby bakery, stopped by a cheese shop (conveniently located next to the bakery), and now I’m making this fantasy materialize. I probably won’t eat the whole baguette though. 🙂 Pairing butter and camembert has never occurred to me, but it’s genius. There is a Russian saying, “butter wont’ ruin the porridge,” meaning one can’t have too much of a good thing. August 6, 2013 at 8:30am Reply

              • Daisy: That is a wonderful saying! It makes me think of how many French restaurants add a pat of butter to food right before the runners take it out of the kitchen.

                I think I might have to go make me one of those sandwiches today too 🙂 August 6, 2013 at 12:12pm Reply

                • Victoria: Same thing in India! There is also an offer to put more ghee on your food. 🙂 August 6, 2013 at 12:20pm Reply

                  • Daisy: Yes, I would be in the “more ghee, please” camp 🙂

                    A friend of mine has told me that I can improve the flavor my ghee by steeping fenugreek or curry leaves in it. Have you done that? Sounds like a delicious extra layer of flavor! August 6, 2013 at 12:56pm Reply

                    • Victoria: Many Indian dishes include a spicy tempering, which is done either with ghee or oil. You roast spices like cumin or mustard seeds in fat and once they pop, you can add curry leaves. If you decide to try fenugreek, then be sure not to let it change color too much or else it will taste unpleasantly bitter. I have never added anything to a batch of ghee, since I use it not only for Indian dishes but also when I cook other things (unlike butter, it doesn’t burn), so I like to keep the flavor pure. But I know that Moroccan smen sometimes includes other herbs and spices. Perhaps, it’s because smen, unlike ghee, is aged, so you need something to mellow out the flavor. August 6, 2013 at 3:05pm

              • Austenfan: I love this Russian proverb, much better than the Dutch one about dairy products, which says: Dairy on dairy is food for the devil. ( It rhymes in Dutch: Zuivel op zuivel is voer voor de Duivel).
                No wonder we are not known for our fine cuisine! Although we do have some good pastry. August 6, 2013 at 4:05pm Reply

                • Victoria: That’s the Dutch restraint speaking, and some restraint is not at all a bad thing.

                  Dutch pastries at Holtkamp in Amsterdam were some of the best ones I’ve had recently. But in general, I’ve very much enjoyed Dutch dishes I’ve tried so far. For instance, stamppot is now a regular in my repertoire. August 6, 2013 at 5:24pm Reply

                  • Austenfan: I am sure it isn’t and considering the alarming amount of overweight adolescents and adults I see I wonder how much restraint is actually practiced these days. But thanks for the kind words about my country!

                    I am glad you like stamppot; one of my favourite winter dishes. August 7, 2013 at 5:36am Reply

        • Edward: Daisy,

          I am also very much a “buttery-pastry” person so I Googled the food you mentioned. Looking at the pictures alone really made me hungry and want to try these if an opportunity comes. Thanks for the info.

          Edward August 6, 2013 at 1:51pm Reply

  • george: I’m sure I went to Cancale when I was a kid; I couldn’t remember the name of it though and though it might be Concarneu but it must have been Cancale: I can still remember seeing the oyster beds. We used to holiday at St Briac sur mer which is a short distance from Saint Malo, which is again a short distance from Cancale, and we certianly visited everywhere else around there. The sea around there was so beautiful and clear and emerald coloured, and was always such a pleasure to swim in. I look forward to trying this fragrance: it sounds very interesting, and if Ellena is reaching for the Vanilla it means that it will be in a way that less obvious than making a crowd-pleasing gourmand. August 5, 2013 at 6:30pm Reply

    • george: It was cancale; I googlemapped it, and I can see the view I remember, and all the oyster beds! I love this modern world (and your blog for giving me this nudge). Will have to see if Epices marine can conjure anything of that view! August 6, 2013 at 6:52am Reply

    • Victoria: And now I want to visit Cancale even more!

      I also remember tasting some very good honey from Brittany, Miellerie de la Côte des Légendes to be exact. I heard about it from a friend, so I placed an order at Miellerie’s website. It arrived from Brittany to NYC within days, and even though the cost of shipping was not insignificant, it was the best honey I’ve tasted. Their Miel de Dunes (salty, marine) alone deserves to be made into perfume! August 6, 2013 at 8:37am Reply

      • george: that sounds really interesting! You have made me long for a honey/amber- -salt/musk- spice/sandalwood perfume too! August 6, 2013 at 9:53am Reply

        • Victoria: Makes me wonder what will happen if you layer Serge Lutens Jeaux de Peau (toasted bread) with his Miel de Bois (musky honey)! August 6, 2013 at 10:33am Reply

      • Daisy: I want these honeys! They sound fantastic. Googling now to see if the have a US retailer . . . August 6, 2013 at 12:05pm Reply

        • Victoria: They’re not even widely available in France outside of Brittany, so it might be tricky to find them in the US. On the other hand, they ship internationally. You need to contact them to get the quote, but at least, their honeys are reasonably priced, especially given their quality (4 euros for 250 g). August 6, 2013 at 12:25pm Reply

          • Daisy: Yes, it looks like their production is tiny and I will need to place an order with them directly. I don’t mind that. Small production often translates to better quality. And the price for 250ml so reasonable! August 6, 2013 at 12:52pm Reply

            • Victoria: And their buckwheat honey is another must try, if they have it in stock. August 6, 2013 at 12:55pm Reply

  • Aisha: Oh, heavens! Look at all those yummy spices! (Yes, I took a virtual tour of Roellinger’s website).

    Epice Marine sounds quite intriguing. I hope I’ll get a chance to sample this one day. August 5, 2013 at 7:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: Isn’t it amazing? I need to stop by his store the next time I’m in Paris. I’m really curious about those unusual peppers. August 6, 2013 at 8:38am Reply

      • Daisy: Are you familiar with Lior Lev Sercarz’s La Boîte? I learned about him through a feature on his spice blends in the NYTimes.

        Just after reading this post, I saw a quick blurb in the latest issue of F&W where he recommended Roellinger too. August 6, 2013 at 12:08pm Reply

        • Victoria: I read that article a couple of weeks ago, but no, I haven’t visited his store. If you go, I would love to hear what you think. I understand that Sercarz studied with Roellinger. August 6, 2013 at 12:22pm Reply

          • Daisy: I haven’t visited the shop either, but I do have several of his blends (they are sold at outlets around the city). All of them are divine and the descriptions read like poetry. Makes me want to visit Roellinger’s shop even more! August 6, 2013 at 12:54pm Reply

            • Victoria: I think that you would like La Poudre des Bulgares. The combination seems classical–cardamom, saffron, but his unique touches make completely unlike anything else I’ve tried. August 6, 2013 at 3:08pm Reply

  • Emma M: I’m intrigued by this one; in general, I find many of the Hermessences pleasing but I’m yet to find a true love amongst the line.

    And I wish I’d known about the Roellinger store when I was in Paris six weeks ago! August 6, 2013 at 5:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: They have a very distinctive aesthetic and feel to me. My main qualm though is that most are far too fleeting. August 7, 2013 at 2:50am Reply

  • Marvin: Just tried this today (couldn’t find it in Australia, but it’s now available at the Hermes store at Singapore’s Changi airport.

    Let me be fair: it’s a fantastic scent.

    However, it is similar to two of his previous works: Voyage d’Hermes and Cartier Declaration. And therein lies my disappointment.

    As a standalone perfume it is awesome, and I’ll probably buy it at some stage when I run out of my bottle of Declaration. But after raising my expectations (unwittingly) in the wait for the 11th Hermessence, I felt let down that this isn’t something new, and different from what he’s done before, but something which adds to a set of notes which he’s mastered. The cardamom, spicy, slightly citrusy – it’s a fabulous perfume to wear. September 26, 2013 at 6:14am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much for this detailed description, Marvin! I love Voyage, but even that is reminiscent of many other JCE’s perfumes. Well, at least, it has a distinctive aesthetic. September 26, 2013 at 11:57am Reply

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