French niche fragrance brand Montale has made quite a splash in the fragrance world due to their rich, powerful, Middle Eastern inspired compositions featuring oud, rose, and spice.
Fragrances like Intense Café, Black Aoud, Chocolate Greedy, and Full Incense have been frag-com (fragrance community, for the uninitiated) darlings for years. Vetiver Patchouli, released in 2019, is a relatively new addition to the Montale lineup. But how does it stack up to the greats?
Montale Vetiver Patchouli is a fresh but earthy fragrance orientated around the namesake notes of rooty vetiver and clean, green patchouli. Featuring an iconic (love-it-or-hate-it) presentation, powerful performance, and decent value for money, Vetiver Patchouli is a great spring-summer option for vetiver lovers.
Want to know more? Let’s take a closer look at Montale Vetiver Patchouli.
Top Notes: carrot, pink pepper
Middle Notes: vetiver, jasmine
Base Note: patchouli
Keeping things 100% honest, I am not the biggest fan of the house of Montale. They have some good fragrances in their numerous collections, and I do quite enjoy Intense Café. But for the most part, the credo of Montale is one that I cannot exactly get behind: power, at any cost.
Montale fragrances are almost unerringly incredibly strong, almost overwhelming creations. Many of the oud-based fragrances, like Black Aoud and Oud Dream, are almost miasmatic when it comes to their performance.
Some might be keen on that, but I’m not.
Not to mention that the majority of their fragrances are quite synthetic in nature due to the artificial fixatives used to boost the performance. The power, combined with the synthetic, oudy scent profiles, can make for quite the headache.
Does Vetiver Patchouli fall into the same sphere as all that? No, at least not in my opinion.
But what is Vetiver Patchouli all about? Well, for starters, vetiver and patchouli, though erring more on the side of vetiver than patchouli.
This is a vetiver bomb, especially the rooty, earthy type, though it doesn’t skew into dark, dirty, Encre Noire territory. Still, if you don’t like vetiver, STAY AWAY. And if you think that you might be getting something along the lines of Guerlain’s Vetiver or Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver, think again – this isn’t the fresh, grassy variety of vetiver (which I honestly prefer).
The opening is a massive blast of freshness. Though no citrus is listed in the notes breakdown, I do detect something citrusy, perhaps bergamot or lemon. But the freshness is immediately met with a stark, powerful earthiness in the form of the rooty, almost medicinal vetiver.
The rootiness is amplified by the carrot note, which is honestly my biggest problem with the fragrance: in the opening: it really does smell like freshly cut carrots.
This is not a carrot seed note, which is often used in concert with iris, but a straight up carrot note. The carrot, along with the pungent vetiver, makes the opening by far the least palatable part of the fragrance for me.
But after a time, the harsh, medicinal nature of the opening starts to calm down. The edges are smoothed out, and a pleasing white floral element in the form of jasmine is introduced to add some levity to the mix.
Though the vetiver is still pungent and rooty, the impact is lessened, and the clean, smooth, earthy patchouli note emerges to create a pleasant green fond.
At this vibe, the fragrance takes on a clean, green, fresh, camphorous, and decidedly masculine aura which is really quite appealing. And that’s what remains throughout the (very long) life of the scent: clean, earthy vetiver and patchouli with a little bit of white floral suppleness, just like it says on the tin. It’s nice.
If I were to describe Vetiver Patchouli in a few words, they would be: earthy, rooty, fresh, clean, green medicinal, camphorous, and masculine.
Like all Montale fragrances, Vetiver Patchouli comes in a simple cardboard box with the name of the fragrance and the brand printed on it. It’s really nothing flashy or amazing, and hence I don’t have a box on hand to take a picture of.
The box design does vary with the fragrance, and there are quite a few different versions, but for the most part, you’re going to get a simple, straightforward, no-frills kind of box experience.
However, Montale does provide added interest with the drawstring bags they provide with each of the fragrances. This is a cool little touch, and they are much less bulky and wasteful than cardboard fragrance boxes anyway. The bags are made with simple satinesque material with the “M” emblem of the brand printed on them, and the bottles fit into them quite snugly.
Now comes the love-it-or-hate-it part: the bottle.
Montale bottles are unlike most conventional perfume bottles in that they are made of aluminum, rather than glass. Many have disparagingly referred to them as “tin cans”, though I won’t stoop to that.
The aluminum bottles make Montale fragrances light and easily portable, which I actually think is a good thing. Sometimes, the fragrance bottles are so light that you can’t believe that 100ml of juice is in there. And the opacity of the bottles means that Montale perfumes are less susceptible to light pollution and changes in ambient humidity and temperature than other fragrance bottles are.
However, it also means that you can’t see how much perfume you have left in the bottle, either.
Personally, I don’t exactly hate the bottles, but it’s far from my favorite presentation in the world.
The bottle for Vetiver Patchouli is pretty nice. In terms of color, it’s kind of like a gold-black ombré. The name of the fragrance is printed in a little box at the bottom of the bottle, and the name “Montale Paris” is printed in gold in the middle.
The atomizer is kind of weird. No cap is provided, so to prevent the atomizer from spraying, a little metal stopper is used to close off the neck of the bottle. The stopper has a little, dangling Montale medallion on it, which makes a pleasant jingling sound whenever you move the bottle.
Obviously, I have a 20ml bottle rather than the full 100ml bottle, so mine is a little different. However, in terms of the details, it’s functionally the same in every respect save for the color of the bottle.
Overall, if nothing else, the presentation of Montale Vetiver Patchouli stands out from the crowd.
The performance of Vetiver Patchouli, as is to be expected with Montale fragrances, is beastly.
The longevity of Vetiver Patchouli is phenomenal.
Two to three sprays on skin and clothing give me ten to twelve hours of longevity, longer on fabric.
This is an incredibly long-lasting perfume, and I can’t really believe all the reviews I’ve read of this online saying that it is “weak”. Seriously guys, get your nose checked for olfactory fatigue ASAP. Fragrances very rarely last this long for me, but Vetiver Patchouli is definitely an exception. This easily lasts all workday and then some, which is more than enough for me.
Projection & Sillage
Similarly, the projection and sillage of Vetiver Patchouli are incredibly powerful.
Two to three sprays gives me all-day, though not overly intense projection and arm’s length sillage.
This is a fragrance which doesn’t stop projecting, at least not in my experience. I recently wore it to work and I did not stop smelling it penetrating my mask all eight hours I was there. Any time I moved, I would get a stronger whiff. This was with one spray under my shirt and one spray on my wrist.
This is seriously powerful stuff, very much in line with Montale’s reputation. If you are looking for a beast mode fresh, rooty vetiver fragrance, look no further my friends – you’ve found it.
Value For Money
The value for money for Vetiver Patchouli is decent, pretty much on par with other niche fragrances.
A 3.4 oz (100ml) bottle of Montale’s Vetiver Patchouli retails for $170 ($1.70/ml).
20ml travel sprays, like mine, unfortunately can only be bought in a kit of three for $120, which is actually a good deal considering the performance. However, if you want a full presentation of Vetiver Patchouli, it’ll set you back almost $2/ml.
For the level of quality and performance on offer, though, I don’t think it’s that bad. And I have no doubt that a 100ml of this fragrance would last you for a whole lifetime, if not two lifetimes, given the extreme performance.
At the end of the day though, the real value for money will always be up for you to decide.
Who Would Like It
Vetiver Patchouli is obviously for lovers of vetiver (and to a much lesser extent patchouli). But really, I think this is going to appeal to men of a certain age (say late twenties to thirties and up) who are looking for a signature scent that is not sweet.
There is nothing sweet or cozy about the scent. Instead this is a clean, masculine kind of fragrance for people on the serious end of the spectrum. CEOs and businesspeople looking to give off an aura of cool restraint would likely find much to love here.
And as much as I like to say that fragrance has no gender (it doesn’t), this doesn’t strike me as a unisex or female fragrance at all. This is about as masculine as it gets, in my book.
When To Wear It
Like most vetiver fragrances, Vetiver Patchouli smells best in warmer weather. Spring and summer would be the best choice for this fragrance, bringing out its best, fresh qualities. However, I do think that you could wear it fairly easily in cooler weather as well, especially on a late winter day when it’s not as bone-cold, or a warmer, early fall day.
In terms of occasions, Vetiver Patchouli is fairly versatile. It would do best in an office situation, but you could definitely wear it to a casual hangout, on errands, to a nice dressed up brunch, or to a semi-formal or formal event. The only situation where I wouldn’t wear it would be on a date, since there is nothing really sexy or “inviting” about the fragrance.
Vetiver Patchouli is very, very, very similar to a vastly more expensive fragrance – namely, Orage by Louis Vuitton, which costs upwards of $300. There are minor differences – for example, Orage is fresher, muskier, and a bit more inviting in my view – but they are functionally identical in the drydown. If you’re a fan of Orage and want a cheaper alternative, this is it!
Additionally, Vetiver Patchouli reminds me a lot of the Terre d’Hermes line by Hermes, specifically the original and the Eau Intense Vetiver flanker. However, Terre d’Hermes and co. have a greater focus on citrus and a metallic accord from the flint note, which is absent from Vetiver Patchouli.
Finally, I get slight shades of Diptyque’s Tempo, a fresh, ozonic patchouli fragrance which shares some of the earthy, medicinal, mineralic vibes of Vetiver Patchouli. However, while Vetiver Patchouli is all about vetiver with a dash of patchouli, Tempo is all about patchouli.
Pros & Cons
- High quality fresh, rooty vetiver scent
- Incredibly powerful performance
- Decent value for money
- A scent profile that is certainly not for everyone
- The strength of the fragrance is a double edged sword – might be intense for some noses
- Presentation might turn some off
The Final Word
Overall, Vetiver Patchouli is a pleasant, earthy, clean, cool vetiver fragrance which is ideal for spring-summer wear. Though far from my favorite fragrance in the world, nevertheless it’s a fragrance I find myself reaching for more and more as the weather warms up and I’m in search of a reprieve from heavy, sweet, smoky winter scents. With incredibly strong performance, decent value for money, and memorable presentation, Vetiver Patchouli is a worthy pick-up if you’re searching for a vetiver fragrance off the beaten path.
I give Montale Vetiver Patchouli:
★★★☆☆ 3 ½ stars out of 5