Thierry Wasser 2010
[tɔ̃'ka ɛ̃per'jal]
Family: woody, oriental
Notes: bergamot, almond, rosemary, jasmine, tonka bean, spices, honey, tobacco, frankincense, amber, cedarwood, pine, vanilla
Almond brandy
Period: The recapitulation years

The seventh member of the L'Art & la Matière family was dedicated to the tonka bean, source of the coumarin note that inspired the creation of Aimé Guerlain's Jicky (1889) and a staple chez Guerlain ever since. The small South American brownish-black "bean" is actually the dried seed of a fruit that smells deliciously of marzipan, vanilla, and hay, used over the ages for its unique flavour in various dessert dishes, in tobacco, and in fragrance. Thierry Wasser has said that he’s in love with the combination of bitter almond and tonka bean found in Jicky, and in 2010, he reinterpreted this accord to create the gourmand fragrance Tonka Impériale. The same idea was subsequently extended to L’Homme Idéal and Mon Exclusif.

Unlike Jicky, Tonka Impériale was devoid of refreshing top notes, which is typical of the gourmand niche genre. Guerlain explained that the scent was made up of sweet, balsamic materials that were selected to accentuate the natural facets of tonka bean: almond, honey, tobacco, frankincense, amber, and vanilla.

Besides tonka bean, the star ingredient was benzaldehyde, the aroma chemical that gives the bitter almond flavour, at once nutty-sweet and cherry-like. The sweetness of the composition was tempered by the warm dryness of cedarwood oil, and the result exuded a feel of true French luxury, "between gingerbread and chocolate," as Guerlain's then artistic director Sylvaine Delacourte put it. A camphoric pine and rosemary note added to the gingerbread aroma and its accompanying atmosphere of crackling fireplaces and walks in winter wonderlands, while cozily bundled in fur. Like the previous L'Art & la Matière fragrances, Tonka Impériale was pure sent-bon and didn't have much of a development once applied, although the opening bergamot-almond-jasmine accord had its own brandied vibe, a more sober variant of the boozy Spiritueuse Double Vanille.

The bottle for the L'Art & la Matière line is an oblong slender block of glass, decorated on one end with a golden metal strip with the perfume's name imprinted on it, as if it were the spine of an old leather-bound book.

  We love: the Christmas feel of it

  Classy gourmand

  When you wish you had a library complete with chesterfield, cognac, and cigars

Some images courtesy of

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