Second Sunday Samples: Jo Malone Vetiver & Golden Vanilla

Years pass, I come across many new brands and new perfumes from old favorites, but it seems that Jo Malone (brand, not the person) still manages to produce, among the avalanche of new releases, something that attracts my attention.

Unfortunately, my attention span shrank recently, so unless I come to the store right when a new offering takes the central stage on the stand, I might completely miss it.

I remembered from reading an announcement on NST that new Jo Malone would be released. I even remembered that it was supposed to be vanilla. On my first visit to the store I looked around, tried reading multiple labels – and didn’t succeed. Since I couldn’t remember the name (and for whatever reason it’s almost impossible to get Internet connection from inside our Nordstrom store), I just left without even asking.

The next time I got to the store, I couldn’t spot anything new … and I couldn’t remember the name again. But I told myself it would be silly to go away without trying. So, I surprised the SA agreeing that I needed his help (you could see in his body language that he was already half-way turning away fully expecting my polite “I’m just browsing”). I said: “You are supposed to have a new vanilla perfume, but I seem not to be able to notice it.” He immediately resolved the mystery: Vetiver & Golden Vanilla is released in the Cologne Intense collection – I wasn’t even looking there.

The SA complimented me on being adventurous because I wasn’t afraid to try the Intense Collection, which “most women avoid.” Really? I was surprised: out of all the brands that ventures in the unisex perfume territory Jo Malone seemed like the one that leans more feminine. But since he works there, he might know better (or not), I’m not familiar with “civilian’s” tastes.


Jo Malone Vetiver and Golden Vanilla


Neither brand’s site nor Fragrantica are too generous with the notes: cardamom, grapefruit tea accord, vetiver bourbon and vanilla bourbon. Perfumer (according to NST): Mathilde Bijaoui, who previously created for Jo Malone Myrrh & Tonka.

To my nose, Vetiver & Golden Vanilla is all about vetiver. I don’t think I can smell cardamom, and vanilla is surprising in this composition: it’s much less sweet than you might expect both from the material and from the brand. But it’s not a bad thing, don’t read it as a criticism. It creates an interesting “adult” composition that keeps your mind far away from the cupcake territory. On my skin perfume has moderate to good projection and moderate tenacity (and I’d expect it to be even better if sprayed from a bottle instead of a small sample).

Since I like vetiver in perfumes, Vetiver & Golden Vanilla smells good to me but, unlike most of Jo Malone main collection’s offerings, it is not the one that everybody will either like or stay indifferent: I expect some people to actively dislike it or (virtually waving Hi to that SA) feel that it’s too masculine. But if you enjoy vetiver (and especially if you, as I, like but get tired of Hermes’s Vetiver Tonka), give Vetiver & Golden Vanilla a try: if not a bottle, it might be worth a 10 ml decant space in your collection.

I’m thinking that I still don’t have a single bottle from the Cologne Intense collection… I could probably take a closer look at one of those 50 ml black bottles (I’m glad Jo Malone finally moved away from 100 ml only, but I wish they’ve done them in 30 ml black bottles – I still remember how great the Dark Amber & Ginger Lily 30 ml bottle looked).


Images: from the brand’s site (my sample vial looked not interesting to warrant bribing Rusty; if I end up buying a bottle, I’ll find a reason to publish a picture of Rusty with it)


19 thoughts on “Second Sunday Samples: Jo Malone Vetiver & Golden Vanilla

  1. Any photo of Rusty is lovely to look at – it doesn’t matter about the subject he is presenting!

    I share your shrinking attention span. I think these days I am so overwhelmed by all the releases pouring out that I sometimes feel like we will be buried under all those bottles, and my poor little brain and perfume mojo have shut down.

    But your description of this has perked my interest a little. I do like vetiver, and in fact one of the nicest I ever smelt was JM’s Vetiver – the first ever bottle that I bought from Jo Malone years ago, when she had only recently started the company (and I even spoke to her on the phone!). I feel that the company lost its way after she sold it – that’s just my view, no doubt coloured by the tsunami of not particularly appealing (to me) new scents that they put out. However, you might have tempted me to give this a sniff.


    • As we saw more than once, after a small company is sold (or grows significantly), it’s almost inevitable that whatever we knew as the initial product will get worse, and new developments will gradually become less and less interesting. I keep following JM (brand) because once in a while they still manage to release something I like a lot (the most recent two were Mimosa & Cardamom and Orange Bitters), but with my success rate with them, I know that I’ll stop even testing them if I cannot come to the nearest counter and do that.
      As to this particular perfume, wait a couple more weeks: there will be 3 limited edition scents released on February 24th, so you’ll be able to try them all at the same time.


  2. Not a great Jo Malone fan myself but I would give it a try. I remember liking Orris & Sandalwood in Cologne Intense (discontinued now) and I quite liked the 2018 Christmas limited edition with snowdrop in the name.

    But they all last very short on me so it feels a bit like not spending the money well .


    • Since most Jo Malone perfumes are not original enough to warrant pursuing them on their own, and you’re correct, a lot of them are fleeting, in your situation where you cannot just walk to the counter, try it and leave, JM is not worth it – unless you get a strong recommendation to try some. After all, Mimosa & Cardamom is a solid composition, not knowing, it was JM, I would have easily believed it was one of a nicer niche brands.
      This one is worth trying if you get a chance but not beyond that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve tried this one and although it is a nicely done perfume, it smells similar to Carner Barcelona D600 which has iris and not an unrelenting nutty vetiver. With that said, if you ever buy a bottle, I would be first in line to request a 5mL split. Of course if I end up getting it myself to fill a cart, I will let you know 😉


    • 5 ml are yours for asking :) I’m looking really closely to it now.
      And now I’m curious to compare it to D600: I don’t remember how it smelled though I remember liking it.


  4. This one sounds interesting and If my Nordstrom has it, I’ll try next time I’m there. I’m finding that being on a no-buy for the year has already dampened my interest in seeking out anything new. I’m still daunted by all of the samples I currently need to go through.


    • If your Nordstrom has a JM counter, this perfume will be there. I’m just surprised that my Nordstrom wasn’t showcasing it the way they normally do new scents.
      As to the “no buy,” it shouldn’t stop you from testing “for free”: I can hardly imagine any perfume that you can try this way these days that would be of a real “NEED IT NOW!” type. And since this one is from the permanent collection (at least for the time being), even if you try it today and like, in a year it’ll still be there to buy.


  5. I smelled this one a couple of weeks ago and found it well done. If I were looking for another vetiver scent (which I’m not), I would definitely consider it. I have several of the cologne intense series and appreciate them. Really looking forward to trying that new lavender trio coming out Feb. 24th, the Lavender & Wisteria in particular as wisteria always blooms on my birthday.


    • I can’t wait to try 2 new lavender scents! I wasn’t too impressed with the one they had as a limited edition a couple of years ago but I’ll try it again since I’m a huge lavender fan.


    • It is! I should probably do a post about it soon since I have a story for it.
      One can’t miss vetiver here. So, you’re right: most likely, this is the one you can safely skip.


  6. I have not tried Vetiver and Golden Vanilla yet. I’m not a huge fan of vanilla note in my perfumes. As much JM I have, I don’t have a bottle of any of the Cologne Intense in my collection either.


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