Revisiting Hermessence : Myrrhe Eglantine, Cedre Sambac, Agar Ebene

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When the Hermessence collection was first launched in 2004, it was conceived as an olfactory haiku—a few subtle details combined to create a complex impression. I still remain partial to the original creations like Vétiver Tonka and Ambre Narguilé, but the Middle East-inspired trio of Myrrhe Églantine, Cèdre Sambac, Agar Ebène has become my favorite. The compositions are complex and layered, with the classical Hermès radiance.

Myrrhe Églantine, for instance, plays with the shimmering effect of rose, setting it against a velvety background. This contrast has fascinated me from the first time I tried the perfume and the more I wear it, the more beguiling it becomes. The fragrance starts out on a sweet citrus, followed by a dark glimpse of violet. Unexpectedly, however, the notes fuse into an illusion of a crimson rose. When later, myrrh, a plush, resinous material that smells like licorice, woods and unburned incense, stakes its claims, the rose becomes even warmer.

While Myrrhe Églantine is built around rich materials, it never loses its vibrancy. Similarly luminous is Cèdre Sambac. It’s a jasmine wrapped in the honeyed warmth of Atlas cedar, but overall its impression remains abstract, with the floral notes seamlessly blended into the pale woods. Jasmine, a bold flower with animalic instincts thanks to its generous dose of leathery, musky nuances—is rendered as creamy and silky. Christine Nagel, the author of the new Hermessences, is known for her skill in creating fragrances that cling to the skin seductively, and Cèdre Sambac is a good illustration. It’s a comfortable perfume to wear, enveloping, tender, and complex enough to keep its wearer’s attention.

All perfumes in the collection can be worn by men and women, and Agar Ebène is no exception. While at its heart is an oud accord, the fragrance is blended from a variety of woods that lend it a faceted character. Oud is a perfume in itself, a dark essence derived from a species of Aquilaria tree. Because of the cost and sourcing concerns, oud is often a fantasy accord created by perfumers seeking to capture the full range of its aroma, from leather to chestnut honey, from sweet spice to tobacco. Agar Ebène presents oud as full of light and shimmer. As the fragrance develops, it smells darker and richer, and yet it glows. The effect is contrary to all expectations and as such all the more mesmerizing.

Which Hermès perfume is your favorite?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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23 Comments

  • Caro: It is fun that you are revisiting Myrrhe Eglantine today. I have one of those boxes with four fragrances of the Hermenessence collection, including Myrrhe Eglantine and Cedre Sambac, and for some reason decided to wear the first over the weekend. I do love what I believe is the myrrh note that you so nicely explained here. June 19, 2023 at 9:14am Reply

  • Tara C: I think Ambre Narguilé is my favorite, although I enjoy many of them, including Cèdre Sambac and Agar Ébène. June 19, 2023 at 9:28am Reply

  • Martha: Hello Victoria. Great post. I love your blog and hope you’re thinking about revisiting some of the fragrances for which you did reviews in the 2000s, as they do change.
    I’m going to actually go to a brick and mortar store to smell these. I became something of a hermit during the pandemic and am only slowly reversing that behavior.
    I rely on your reviews to help me try scents. June 19, 2023 at 9:32am Reply

  • Adrian: I love the creaminess of Cèdre Sambac! I often crave jasmine in the summer months, so thank you for reminding me about it. Will have to revisit Myrrhe Égalitine and Agar Ebène now. My favourite Hermès has always been Cuir d’Ange. June 19, 2023 at 10:21am Reply

  • Aurora: What fun that you are revisiting Christine Nagel’s hermessences, I haven’t tried them, Myrrhe-Eglantine sounds appealing to me.

    My favorite remains vintage Calèche, but I adore J-C Ellena’s Jardins series in summer, especially Sur le Nil, I do like Christine Nagel’s Galop too. June 19, 2023 at 12:28pm Reply

    • Notturno7: Dear Aurora, I will send you M Englantine when I’m back at home unless I already packed it for you. Looking forward to Oxford. We’re ready for our 3. day of Cotswold Way. Legs are sore but we’re happy and excited. So far so good! June 20, 2023 at 4:41am Reply

      • Aurora: Thank you so much for the offer. It sounds like you’re having such fun hiking. I sent an email. June 20, 2023 at 12:12pm Reply

  • Hamamelis: I had Cuir d’Ange, but finished it, as well as Osmanthe Yunnan (both in travel sprays). Cuir d’Ange is my favourite, with that lovely hawthorn note. If I come across Myrrhe Eglantine I will surely try it, is sounds lovely. Nice to read a perfume review again! June 19, 2023 at 12:47pm Reply

    • Gabriela: Hi! I can send you a sample if you want. I think you have my email.
      It is lovely indeed! June 20, 2023 at 5:09pm Reply

      • Hamamelis: That is very kind, thank you. I will contact you. June 21, 2023 at 10:35am Reply

  • hera: I love Christine Nagel’s style, i have the set with Myrrhe Églantine, Cedre Sambac and Agar Ébène. I love to layer Myhrre with Cardamusc. The result is spectacular. I really enjoyed the Violet Volynka too. June 19, 2023 at 12:51pm Reply

  • ninotchka: I love Cedre Sambac! If the price were more reasonable–or the scent more tenacious–I would absolutely buy a full bottle. June 19, 2023 at 1:33pm Reply

  • Joy Erickson: Thank you, Victoria for such a great article. I will have to find a sample of Myrrhe Eglantine.
    My Hermes favorites are vintage Caleche, Hiris, and Faubourg Eau de Parfum. I love the Faubourg for chillier days.

    Joy June 19, 2023 at 3:17pm Reply

  • Alyssa Harad: I adore these three and wear them a lot along with Brin Reglisse, but my forever faves will be Rose Ikebana, which I originally dismissed as too simple, and the Osmanthus. 🧡 June 19, 2023 at 6:41pm Reply

  • Mingzhe Wang: Thank you for another lovely article! I love reading your thoughts! I did not like Nagel’s work when she first made perfumes for Hermes. I think I was in the mind set to really just want to continue to smell perfumes in Ellena’s style. I disliked Terre Vetiver Intense for example. But Galop changed my mind! And Cedre Sambac and Cardamusc made me a total convert to her! Cedre Sambac is now one of my all time favorite perfumes, it is simple yet rich, and it’s ability to shape shift through the day make it fascinating! I still love Osmanthe Yunnan and Epice Marine from the Hermessence line, and I adore Bel Ami Vetiver! June 19, 2023 at 11:38pm Reply

  • Chris Hugh: I just found this enjoyable blog. It’s lovely. I just read the post from 2017 reflecting on the blog at 12 years. So now it’s 18! Congrats and thank you for your quality contribution to the Internet:-) June 19, 2023 at 11:45pm Reply

  • Robin Wright: My two favorites are Eau De Narcisse Bleu and Violet Volynka. Violet Volynka is more typical of my taste,but there’s something chilly and unusual about Narcisse Bleu that draws me in. June 20, 2023 at 1:36am Reply

  • Klaas: I am an all time fan of the Hermessence line and I think Christine Nagel is doing a fantastic job with it. She brings a plushness and a sensuality to her fragrances that sets them apart from Ellena’s creations, while still staying true to the ‘simple’ signature of the line.

    The fragrance that got me hooked at first was Brin de Réglisse, but Vétiver Tonka, Rose Ikebana, Cèdre Sambac and Agar Ebene are some of my more recent favorites. The 15 ml. bottles make them a bit more accessible, which is wonderful.

    I think Hermes is one of the most solid big perfume houses. I love the colognes! June 20, 2023 at 8:24am Reply

  • Natalie: I liked remember liking Hermessence Osmanthe Yunnan and Muguet Porcelaine. I wish all of them were available in 15 mL. June 20, 2023 at 4:34pm Reply

  • Nancy Chan: It’s nice to revisit old favourites from the Hermessence line. My favourite, and currently only purchase is Osmanthe Yunnan. It started with the four travel size bottles. Now I have almost finished the 100ml bottle.

    In future, I will purchase the travel size bottles from the Hermessence’s. This will allow me to try other fragrances within the line. June 20, 2023 at 5:23pm Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: The two accompanying perfume oils by Hermès (Musc Pallida and Cardamusc) are quite wonderful! They are intended to be layered with the above mentioned three perfumes. Obviously, they work perfectly with other perfumes too: the iris musc oil is quite delicious with Santa Maria Novella’s „Iris“ (the cool vintage juice). And Cardamusc and Cartier‘s Oud&Musc are quite beguiling as a duo! June 21, 2023 at 4:18am Reply

  • rickyrebarco: I have never tried Cedre Sambac or Myrrhe Eglantine. I will definitely try them now. I do love a myrrh note in perfumes. June 21, 2023 at 3:49pm Reply

  • Neva: I have tried Agar Ebene and the oud in it is pretty wearable even for me and I dislike oud in perfumes. The others I haven’t tried so far but both sound so appealing.
    My favourite Hermes is Galop d’Hermes. I love the soft suede leather note in it. It is also brilliantly blended in Cuir d’Ange, which is my second favourite Hermes perfume. June 21, 2023 at 7:51pm Reply

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