From the start I get the tonka. And, not dissimilar to similar experiences with such notes of this house, this is not one's standard and rich creamy tonka. On the contrary, it is light, airy and elegant.
Initially brightened up a bit by a touch of bergamot, the tonka, originally not really sweet, is sweetness up a bit by an almond undertone; there is a slightly herbal touch also present, although on me it is more general as I don't get much of the rosemary.
In the drydown a jasmine that is of an expected nature adds floral monents; I also get whiffs of muguet. Later on a very light and restrained tobacco makes a transient appearance; there is not much smoke here, and it is more like sniffing on the opened tin of a vanilla flavoured pipe tobacco. Again, this is not a heavy mix - this is not at all an intense gourmand like, for instance, Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille.
The base adds woods, mostly with a cedar aroma with the occasional touch of pines, and a slight incense vibe at times - the latter again is very restrained.
I get moderate sillage, very good projection and nine hours of longevity on my skin.
Subtlety is the motto of this autumnal creation, which manages to create a lighter and quite elegant result; at least in the initial stages, which are the best ones in the development of this creation. This is especially when comparing it with Spiritueuse Double Vanille of the same house, with is a bit richer partly due to the ylang-ylang that is missing in Tonka Impériale. The second half is a bit too generic for some stretches, but the performance is good. A tonka that has its merits. Not sure why it is Impériale - maybe it just sounds good. 3.25/5
A delicate blend of tonka and almond, it seems almost paradoxical to have such a subdued opening with such a creamy, rich gourmand. Florals sit politely in the backdrop in a haze of light, powdery airiness. It's slightly woodsy as well, adding depth and complexity. Very well blended, the drydown (after about an hour) becomes sweeter, more luscious: light jasmine-amber scents come more to the forefront.
Long lasting, I'm getting a solid 7-8 hours on my skin. The projection is very light: it's largely a skin scent throughout. I find it to be very unisex, the epitome of it actually. The price for this scent is steep: it's hard to give a strong recommendation at hundreds of dollars for a bottle, but it is very good. Perfect, in my opinion, for all seasons: in the winter coolness and the summer breezes. Buy some if you have the financial means to do so.
Maybe my sample is off because it's not sweet enough for me. Also, too powdery/feminine for my tastes. I do get some of the sweet tonka but it's an airy-lighter tonka, not sticky and syrupy like I was expecting. Doesn't smell cheap but has the "old-lady" vibe. Again, might just be my sample, so if I see in a store, I will try again and update.
Performance is really good. Projects nicely and is noticeable all day.
Like Spiritueuse Double Vanille, Tonka Impériale stays as a veil on the skin for a long time. They are not comparable, still I need to say that there is ironically more vanilla in this one that in SDV. And like in SDV, you've got to go through some very hard seconds in the opening (urine, here, jasmine I guess), before getting the nutty and spicy, sweet and soft tonka, allied to tobacco.
I thought I could compare it to Fève Délicieuse, but the tonka there is stronger, as beautiful, but with less work around it.
You've got to love almond as well, there's a lot of it.
A gorgeous unisex gourmand.
Having been to the House of Fraser Manchester's Guerlain launch event of L'Art et la Matiere, I learnt that the points of departure for this exclusive line were to pay homage to the Guerlain classics, but in an almost "inverted" way, and to use a small number of the highest quality ingredients across the range. Well, in the respect of putting into practice a concept, I think Guerlain have got this spot on: the fragrances as a body index many of the classic Guerlains, but in original and provoking ways. It is hard to find common olfactory themes therein, but no matter: the vision is clear, as it the quality of the raw ingredients.
It's hard without further testing to say I prefer this that or the other of the line, but one thing is for sure: Tonka Imperiale is up there among the best. It is listed as a unisex, and I can imagine this working in the right attire and in certain surroundings, but let's face it: this is largely for the ladies. The gourmand aspects are to the fore in TI, and as you would expect, the voluptuous vanillic and biscuity accords are highlighted. However, there is also an incense note that adds a slight edge of smoky austerity. I struggle to detect any tobacco on skin, although this was more evident in testing in other media - perhaps a shame, as this probably rules me out of the market for it personally.
But beyond that, a definite modern classic and surely something that would suit the majority of women. I'm now the proud owner of a 5ml decant thanks to the kind people at HoF, and my concern is now how best to use it.