Perhaps it was an attempt to revive the Guerlain Vetiver market or tap into a younger audience. Adding ‘sport’ to a title is a popular antic by lazy marketing teams to attract the young unadventurous male dollar. Jean-Paul Guerlain created the original Vetiver fragrance in 1959. Inspired by the scent of a gardener, tobacco and soil, it became an instant success and continues to be the benchmark of a true vetiver fragrance that showcases the grass’s unique quality of fresh greenness and rich smoky earth. In recent times perfumers have pushed the dark moody aspect of the grass (Chanel Sycomore, Lalique Encre Noire) but Guerlain’s classic formula is unmatched. Beautifully weightless, airy green florals and citrus notes work magic with a sophisticated vetiver accord making Guerlain’s Vetiver the starting point for any fragrance purchaser wanting to buy a vetiver fragrance. These were confusing times in Guerlain’s history. Vetiver Sport was released in 2006. A number of flankers were launched at this time, Vetiver Frozen in 2004 and Vetiver Extreme in 2007. I haven’t sampled the other two variations but I feel Vetiver Sport is a simple but clever rendition of the classic formula. It is worth exploring if you like your vetiver with a dose of tonka bean, an ingredient considered by Guerlain as part of the brand’s DNA or Guerlinade. It is not known which perfumer was behind this formula. I don’t sense the work of Jean-Paul and this is a few years too early for Thierry Wasser.
Sport is in many ways the same machine as the original yet many of its inner workings are different. This is an aspect of a flanker that I love. Like the remix of a favourite song, you recognize the familiar until a part of the melody heads off in a entirely new direction. For Vetiver Sport I would have to say this new direction comes from two areas. The noticeable increase of tonka bean that creates a powedery vanilla and hay note, a gourmand quality. The other is the way vetiver is used. The original accord is a more filtered vetiver that relies on vetiveryl acetate. Sport references the dirty rawness that natural vetiver essence possesses. It feels a little less refined which when talking about vetiver can be an advantage. Aside from this the silhouette of the original fragrance is there. The crisp green citrus opening, progressing to the peppery green floral that melts away to a new sweet vetiver drydown.
Anyone who appreciates vetiver will enjoy this one. Ladies, do not be put off by the sport title, this version is as relevant to women as it is for men. Vetiver sport is a great winter fragrance that works just as well in the office as it does on the weekend. A great all rounder, possibly seen as a poor man’s Vetiver Tonka by Hermes, however some detective work may be required as supplies of this 2006 limited edition have since dried up.
Perfumer: Jean-Paul Guerlain
Bottle designer: Robert Granai
Release date: 2006
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Woods