Hermes Cedre Sambac : Perfume Review


The moment I set my foot in lands where jasmine blooms, I find a flower to smell–a single blossom, a sprig, a garland. I think that I know exactly what jasmine smells like, but every soil makes for a different scent. Jasmine in Provence has an apricot nuance. Indian jasmine smells leathery. Spanish jasmine has a cinnamon inflection in the afternoon and a simmering musky warmth in the evening. Indonesian jasmine is green and sweet, the most unexpected combination. Smelling Hermès’s Cèdre Sambac, I wonder where the perfumer Christine Nagel found an inspiration for such a creamy yet transparent impression.

Nagel says that the inspiration for the five new Hermessences came from the Middle East. Jasmine attars from that part of the world have a certain richness that can be either opulent or smothering, depending on the attar-blender’s skill and the perfume lover’s capacity for jasmine. Cèdre Sambac, however, is all glow.

I’m mad about the scent of jasmine–well, that’s not news for the readers of Bois de Jasmin, I suppose, but I don’t want a perfume that “smells of jasmine.” Because while it’s possible to capture the scent of blooming jasmine with all of the tools of modern technology, disconnected from its setting, the scent never feels quite right. Where is the green freshness of stem and crushed leaves? Where is the deafening bustle of an Indian flower market? Where is the delicious languor of an evening stroll through the Andalusian gardens?

So, Cèdre Sambac don’t give us a photograph of a jasmine flower. It gives the whole story. At first, as I apply the perfume, it smells of soft jasmine petals edged with green. As it warms up, it turns creamier and sweeter, but the luminous impression of the top notes doesn’t lessen. If anything, the fragrance only becomes more radiant as it reaches the elegant accord of woods and musk.

The composition is almost linear in structure, but it’s so polished that Cèdre Sambac doesn’t give the impression of simplicity. The nuances that flash under all of its jasmine–the honeyed warmth of cedarwood, the spicy murmur of gardenia, the tangy bitterness of green tea–create depth and keep the tension.

Nagel is known for her skill in creating fragrance that cling to the skin seductively, and Cèdre Sambac is a perfect illustration of the magic she can craft. It’s also a comfortable perfume to wear, enveloping and tender. It lasts for several hours on me, not vanishing but losing its intensity gradually over time, but it stays long enough to keep me riveted.

Hermès Agar Ebène, Cèdre Sambac and Myrrhe Églantine are available in the Eau de Toilette, while Cardamusc and Musc Pallida are in the oil-based Essence de Parfum. The fragrances are available in a coffret.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin



  • Anne: I’m growing to love jasmine after years of thinking that it wasn’t my flower. I must try this Hermes. May 21, 2018 at 10:25am Reply

    • Victoria: Please do. If you like jasmine, but don’t want a heavy, smothering blend, Cedre Sambac is a good choice. May 22, 2018 at 7:15am Reply

  • Sandra: Do you have a favorite so far after trying the new ones? May 21, 2018 at 10:56am Reply

    • Victoria: I still haven’t decided. I wear them all equally and I enjoy all of them but for different reasons. To me Agar Ebene is the most surprising of the trio, because it does something very interesting with the woods. May 22, 2018 at 7:14am Reply

      • OnWingsofSaffron: Oh, I am looking forward to your review of Agar Ébène! I too found it surprising, and I‘ll venture that it is the best of the batch. (A pity though that these scents are so expensive.) May 22, 2018 at 12:18pm Reply

  • Severine: I must try it! A really good review! Now that I take out white lawn and lace dresses, jasmine would be a perfect complement. Also great for the wedding season! May 21, 2018 at 11:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Isn’t it? Summer means jasmine for me. May 22, 2018 at 7:13am Reply

  • matty: I must try this as well sounds lovely May 21, 2018 at 1:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’d be curious to hear what you think. May 22, 2018 at 7:13am Reply

  • Andy: This sounds simple but captivating, with a seductive flourish. I was out at the nurseries yesterday, and stumbled upon some very healthy sambac jasmine. I had to take a good, long inhale, because that scent is like nothing else, and I love how it changes on the flower as the day progresses. I didn’t take one home, but I may just have to head back and snatch one up. May 21, 2018 at 4:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: They are such easy plants to go, especially if you put them in a sunny spot. Mine bloomed profusely every year, and I still miss them. May 22, 2018 at 7:12am Reply

  • Lari frank: i’m ready for a decant now. Love Moroccan Jasmine. Kiehl made a fabulous scent years ago and discontinued almost the whole line. I still miss it. May 21, 2018 at 5:05pm Reply

    • Victoria: Tom Ford Jasmin Rouge is another good jasmine, although it’s ridiculously priced. May 22, 2018 at 7:11am Reply

  • Jo: My favourite Jasmine, Giorgio’s Eclat de Jasmin, is unaffordable. I went through four bottles when they repackaged and it went to the discounters for a time. I sashayed through a couple of years, rapturous to the lingering lingerie scent on my skin hours after application. Reviewers didn’t like it, I didn’t care. I wore it on the weekend to watch the Royal Wedding, about 10 mls left, it’s still love. May 21, 2018 at 5:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: As long as you like it, it’s all that matters.
      I believe that it’s discontinued, no? May 22, 2018 at 7:11am Reply

  • Amalia: I know exactly what you mean! In Greece jasmine smells different from place to place, with one of the top notch jasmine, be from Chios island. May 21, 2018 at 5:43pm Reply

    • Victoria: The Chios island jasmine is the one I still need to smell. May 22, 2018 at 7:10am Reply

  • Emilie: I am already greedily planning my next four choices when I buy another Hermes gift set (probably years away but it’s fun to dream!)

    From your review this one also sounds beautiful! It sounds softer, more luminous and floral than I was expecting. For some reason I imagined more of an emphasis on cedarwood and for it to be sharper. May 21, 2018 at 9:45pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also expected it to be a rich floral oriental, but it surprised me. I like the creamy but green jasmine in this perfume. Very unusual.

      Out of the set you bought which one is your favorite? May 22, 2018 at 7:10am Reply

      • Emilie: Cuir d’Ange which was a real surprise for me! I have always been a floral girl but this soft, buttery leather has me hooked.

        The only one I’m not sure about is Rose Ikebana but I know it was a slow burner for a lot of people so I’m going to try it anew each season and see how this changes my perception. May 22, 2018 at 2:43pm Reply

        • Victoria: It’s not the most dramatic of the series, but it’s a beautiful crisp rose. Cuir d’Ange was my other coup de coeur. May 23, 2018 at 2:16am Reply

  • Filomena: Today I wore my Rodin Olio Lusso pure perfume, which is jasmine. It was pretty expensive for a 1 ounce bottle, but a little goes a long way. May 21, 2018 at 10:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: Does it last well on you? May 22, 2018 at 6:46am Reply

      • Filomena: It lasts fairly well, although I would expect it to last longer as it is a perfume not an EDP. May 22, 2018 at 8:16am Reply

        • Victoria: Sounds like my own experience, but I know that others have complained about it. Yes, the concentrations don’t mean much in terms of longevity. May 23, 2018 at 2:14am Reply

  • mononoke: “The moment I set my foot in lands where jasmine blooms”. Such a great, cool and lyrical beginning! May 22, 2018 at 11:03am Reply

  • Hana: I’ll have to try this!

    I used to visit my family in Aleppo every summer, and the scent of the jasmine there is still the most beautiful thing I’ve ever smelled. Of course, at this point I’m probably developed an emotional attachment to it- it reminds me of my childhood.

    I’m always looking for something similar to it, but so far I’ve been disappointed. Maybe this will work. May 23, 2018 at 1:45am Reply

    • Victoria: To be honest, I doubt that this perfume would be it. No perfume ever will, because your memory is very personal and specific, and the chances of finding that exact replica are nil. It’s like looking for an identical fingerprint. The most you can find are the fragments, illusions.
      There are many excellent jasmine fragrances, of course, and this one is among them. May 23, 2018 at 2:21am Reply

  • pinkdiamonds: Thank for this review, of the new releases I love this one the most. Please try the Jasmine in Thailand one day. I have just moved here and it’s in garlands and gardens everywhere. May 23, 2018 at 6:06am Reply

  • Tara C: I loved this one and Agar Ébène very much out of the new scents. Cèdre Sambac was much more potent than I was expecting, Agar Ébène was much more subtle and complex. May 24, 2018 at 6:38pm Reply

  • Aurora: Thank you so much for reviewing Hermes new offerings. You don’t mention that it is indolic so it’s definitely a jasmine I might consider.

    Today I am wearing MH Jasmin Vert. May 27, 2018 at 6:23am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s not too indolic of a jasmine, but it doesn’t smell thin and lifeless either. May 27, 2018 at 7:51am Reply

      • Aurora: Thank you very much, I meant to comment on the lovely miniature on the photo, I love these shades of indigo and the couple are having a charming, shy embrace. May 27, 2018 at 8:26am Reply

        • Victoria: That color is what caught my attention. I love the deep blue and the delicate touches of white. And the scene, of course. May 28, 2018 at 1:49am Reply

  • cookie queen: I can‘t stop wearing the Jasmine Sambac. Absolutely gorgeous. May 28, 2018 at 1:18am Reply

    • Victoria: I agree. Nagel’s perfumes are meant to be worn on skin to show all of their facets. May 28, 2018 at 1:48am Reply

  • Silvermoon: Thank you, Victoria, for this lovely review. I had the opportunity to test the three new ones last week. I very much liked Cedre Sambac and Myrrhe Eglantine. The third did not catch my attention really (so didn’t test on skin). I am still deciding whether I want one or rather go for the set of four smaller sizes (with these two and another two not yet decided- maybe Muguet Porcelaine). May 29, 2018 at 7:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Agar Ebene definitely needs to be tested on skin, since it’s not as interesting on paper. But if you like florals, maybe the other two are better choices. May 29, 2018 at 2:07pm Reply

  • Mohammed Khouri: I already used Agar Ebene, it was and still one of my favorite perfumes. I am very interesting in purchasing Cedre Sambac because every time we grow I feel we appreciate the jasmine notes and it’s blended with Cedre that was also my main reason why I would like to purchase it. I don’t know what will be your thoughts of this perfume if men used it as I know it can be for both, however your valuable opinion means a lot to me. Sorry for my English and pls continue to post your experience with perfumes. October 9, 2021 at 10:16am Reply

What do you think?

Latest Comments

  • Maria Perry in One Summer Day in Our Ukrainian Village: Dear Victoria, What terrible news and I am so so sorry for your neighbor. It is devastating to hear about the war in Ukraine, but so important to have recounts… June 14, 2024 at 12:11pm

  • Victoria in What is a Rushnyk?: Thank you very much. You can try looking for a rushnyk on Etsy. A number of Ukrainian artisans have shops there. June 14, 2024 at 11:59am

  • Victoria in What is a Rushnyk?: It was such a lovely museum. A volunteer effort. June 14, 2024 at 11:58am

  • Victoria in What is a Rushnyk?: I also do that. Sometimes I paint, cook or practice calligraphy. It all helps. June 14, 2024 at 11:58am

Latest Tweets

Design by cre8d
© Copyright 2005-2024 Bois de Jasmin. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy