Hermes Hermessence Santal Massoia (Review)

Jean-Claude Ellena’s Santal Massoia for the Hermes Hermessence collection is a soft, creamy sandalwood scent, though perhaps too fleeting.

Jean-Claude Ellena's Santal Massoia for the Hermes Hermessence collection is a soft, creamy sandalwood scent, though perhaps too fleeting.

Hermes Hermessence Santal Massoia (Review)

Last year, I commented on Hermes Hermessence Santal Massoia, the most recent release in the Hermes boutique collection from Jean-Claude Ellena. While I gave my opinion on the scent, I never fully reviewed it in more detail. It’s time to correct that oversight by providing a more detailed synopsis.

prehome us santal 300x267 Hermes Hermessence Santal Massoia (Review)Name: Hermes Hermessence Santal Massoia

  • Release Date: 2011
  • PerfumerJean-Claude Ellena
  • ConcentrationEau de Toilette
  • NotesSandalwood, Massoia wood from New Guinea, milk, sugar, dried fruits, floral accords
  • AvailabilityExclusive to Hermes Boutiques

To Hermes’ credit, their boutiques are generally generous with providing sizable samples for testing. The come in 5ml long glass tubes with a plastic stopper. You can get a few conservative wearings out of this provided your sample vial was not like mine, which disintegrated at the top so that it couldn’t be resealed. Probably a great time to marinate in Santal Massoia, which would be required to achieve any longevity or projection from this juice.

Santal Massoia begins, continues, and ends as a very soft, creamy sandalwood. Now in all honesty, there should be an aroma of a coconut-infused wood resin (Massoia), but it’s less than distinguishable in this creation. Across the roughly two to three hours of duration, I could detect the sandalwood, the milk notes, and some other sweetness (perhaps the sugar or fig). Apart from that, nothing else compelling or creative other than a linear and rather anemic soft wood. Perhaps that would be appealing for certain wearers provided there was enough longevity to avoid reapplication so quickly. Thankfully, I still had that open (and broken) vial, so there’s still that chance for marinating.

I’ve said this before about Hermessence fragrances, but it bears repeating: They’re linear. They’re underpowered. They’re simplistic. And most of all…they’re quite overpriced. Santal Massoia shares all these traits and then some.  Like most other Hermessence EDTs, projection is imperceptible, and longevity is fleeting. After three hours of wear, the fragrance had completely evaporated and couldn’t be detected. I’ll sum up the experience in a moment and in a single word.

On a side note, I struggle with the concept behind Hermessence. At $235 per 100ml of linear, very light, very linear EDT, it seems that Jean-Claude Ellena did nothing more than ‘phone it in’. Having created other excellent scents — Un Jardin Sur Le Nil and Sur Le Toit come to mind — his latest addition for Hermessence seems a waste of talent and a waste of reviewing effort for this critic.

What others are saying:  Bois de JasminNow Smell This.

I seem to be the lone dissenting voice, as others have smelled and loved this or termed it as a favorite Hermessence. In my view, this is about as compelling as being the most mediocre of a very poor collection, which frankly isn’t impressive.

Rating: 1/5. Not recommended.

Bottom-Line:  Unremarkable.

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About Andrew Buck

Andrew Buck is the editor-in-chief of, and a lifelong appreciator and aficionado of fragrance. He's also the author "(Not) PMO-in-a-Can", a practitioner's perspective on project management, in addition to several articles on the topic. When not writing or discovering new scents, he is a technology manager in New York's Wall Street financial sector. You can read more about him on the "About" page, or say hi to him on Twitter @scentrist.