In the Search for the Perfect Vanilla, Part 2

Topic of vanilla perfumes periodically circulates in the Perfumeland, and two-three years ago I could probably be observed commenting on those with the statement of not being a vanilla fan. I never seriously disliked the note, but for a long time I thought that vanilla-centric perfumes weren’t my cup of tea.

In some sense I was right: until recently the only two bottles of vanilla perfume in my perfume collection were Vanille Noire by Yves Rocher and Eau Duelle by Diptyque – a mini bottle and a travel bottle, correspondingly. But the “mystery” vanilla perfume that I came across on the last day of my Maui vacation (see the Part  1* post) has triggered my vanilla cravings. And while I was searching for that brand first and then waiting on the La Maison de la Vanille’s sample set arrival, I discovered that over the years I accumulated a wide variety of decants and samples of vanilla perfumes. So for the next month I wore and tested perfumes with the prominent vanilla note.

There are many great Guides to Vanilla Perfumes in the Blogosphere, so I won’t even attempt to write any serious comparison of the perfumes I tried. I’ll just share some personal numbers, observations and conclusions.

Diptyque Eau Duelle

During that month I sweetened the bitterness of the returning from my vacation with 22 vanilla perfumes. Only one of them – Eau Duelle doesn’t have one or the other variation of the word “vanilla” in the name. But Eau Duelle is unmistakably vanilla perfume, and I like it, especially in the heat of tropics (and that’s where I actually wore it on the onset of my vanilla kick).

Out of 22 perfumes in my experiment, I disliked 11 – so probably I wasn’t that wrong in thinking that I didn’t like vanilla perfumes. I won’t list them all, but mention just several where I have any additional comments. I confirmed to myself that Atelier Cologne’s Vanille Insensée does not work for me, which still surprises me since I find most of their perfumes pleasant even when I do not love them. I also suspect that my sample of Vanille Absolument from L’Artisan Parfumeur is off: though I don’t know how it’s supposed to smell, I don’t think it smells right (or I’ll be extremely surprised since I read many good reviews for it).

Five perfumes I neither liked nor disliked: Montale Chypre Vanille, Van Cleef & Arpels Orchidee Vanille, Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille, Jo Malone Vanila & Anise and M.Micallef Vanille Orient. They were quite nice but all of them were the type that I might wear, in principle, but having so many other great perfumes I would probably never finish even those decants/minis that I have now (Rusty didn’t care much for them either: I couldn’t persuade him to play with them for my camera).

Rusty and Vanilla Samples

That leaves us with 6 perfumes that I quite liked. None of them were new to me: they were my favorites from the previous encounters with them. In addition to the mentioned above Eau Duelle, I liked Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille. I have a decant of it but once it’s gone, I won’t pursue it. Unexpectedly I loved Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford. “Unexpectedly” – because this is one of the perfumes that I love on my vSO but I’ve never considered it for myself. Now I think that once we finish his decant, I should go for a bottle – to share, of course. I also liked Ormonde Jayne’s Vanille d’Iris though I have some uneasy feelings about it since I think I smell Iso E Super** in it. Good news: I do not smell carrot in it any longer. So I might consider getting one of the 10 ml bottles from their travel set. Or not.

By the end of this Single Note Exploration episode I got down to two contenders for the perfect vanilla title – Le Labo Vanille 44 and Mona di Orio Vanille. Thank you, hajusuuri and Suzanne (Suzanne’s Perfume Journal): if it weren’t for your generosity, with me not being a big fan of vanilla perfumes (and absolutely not a fan of Mona di Orio’s creations), I might have never actually tried these two. But I did, found both to be wonderful perfumes and decided to add one of them to my collection. Why not both? Even not talking about the price, these two fit exactly the same niche for me, and I just do not see how I would be deciding every time, which of the two to wear. So after many evenings of the parallel test runs on both wrists, as well as a couple of days of actually wearing each of them, I declared the winner: Vanille by Mona di Orio is my Perfect Vanilla.

Rusty and Mona di Orio Vanille

Now I want to “pay it forward”: I have one 5 ml decant of Mona di Orio Vanille to share. To be entered into the giveaway, let me know in your comment whether you’ve tried and liked it, or want to try it (I assume, if you didn’t like it, you won’t need more of it, but I do not mind your entering into the draw even if that’s the case). There are no other requirements. Open until 11:59 P.M. PST, December 11, 2016.

Question to everybody (not related to the giveaway): Can you name just one vanilla perfume that is hands down your favorite?

 

*I doubt anyone would have noticed, but I wanted to explain that usually, when I re-visit the same note in my One Note Exploration series, I name the consequent episodes “Take 2, 3, etc.” But in this case both episodes were the parts of the same tasting spree – hence Part 1 & 2.

** Recently I finally formulated how I feel about this aroma chemical: while I like it on its own (and have a bottle of Molecular 01 to prove it), and I do not mind it in perfumes, I prefer not to be able to pinpoint this ingredient in my perfumes.

 

Images: my own

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In the Search for the Perfect Vanilla, Part 1

I realized how uneventful recently my day-to-day life has been when I started questioning myself whether I was going a little overboard with a number of posts based on a single week’s vacation… It made me thinking that, as much as I enjoy my work, I should probably at least try to do something about it taking up most of the resources in my life so that I would have inspirations without having to fly two thousand miles. Meanwhile, I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth and proceed with the post.

The last day of our Maui trip we spontaneously decided to go to Makawao – an old Upcountry town. A Guide book (yes, I still use a paper book despite Internet, smartphones and all other modern ways of getting useful travel information) highly praised town’s famous bakery (it was closed that day but we knew about it beforehand thanks to my iPhone) and promised “unexpected shopping finds” (not the exact quote since my book currently is traveling again with a friend).

Makawao Restaurant

Going from one small shop to the other, we agreed with the Guide: there were many interesting small boutiques selling not the usual touristy rubbish you see in most other places everywhere in Hawaii. One of the stores (Designing Wahine Emporium) surprised me by an unusual choice of perfumes. Most often in Hawaii you can find some local offerings that play on the most common ingredients – plumeria, pikake, coconut – or exploit ambience theme – Kauai or Maui Rain, Hawaiian Night Mist and so on. None of those that I’ve ever tried was good enough to come back with me even as a souvenir from the pleasant vacation. But in that store I came across a large selection from the TokyoMilk line and several Kai perfumes.

Since I’m not a big fan of either brand and I haven’t even heard about the third one I saw on the counter, I was a little skeptical about three perfumes from that unknown brand. I inspected them carpingly: the bottles reminded me of Comptoir de Sud (one more brand that has never won me over), and they had “Made in France” label but the name of the brand did not sound familiar. I smelled all three from a nozzle: they all smelled of vanilla, which wasn’t surprising since each of them had that ingredient in the name. I even liked what I smelled but there were no paper strips to try them and I was an hour drive away from the place where we stayed, so testing unknown perfumes on skin was completely out of question.

It was almost time to head back, so we left the store but decided to make a quick stop at the local coffee shop – Sip Me. If you ever get there, try their wonderful drink “Simply Coconut” – a smoothie-like blend made just from fresh coconut. As we were drinking it with vanilla shortbread cookies, I kept thinking how wonderful the cookies smelled… until I realized that the smell was coming from my fingers.

It was too late to return to the store and try to figure out which of the three perfumes transferred to my fingers; so for the last sunset of my vacation I had to satisfy my hankering for vanilla with Diptyque ‘s Eau Duelle, which was great in the warmth of Maui evening.

Maui Sunset

On the return from the vacation I spent some time looking for that brand, the name of which I completely forgot. Somehow I managed to figure it out, went to their website – and a week later I had a full set of La Maison de la Vanille‘s samples.

La Maison de la Vanille is a relatively new niche brand from France: they started in 2006. Based on how they allude to exotic locations and “distant shores” citing those as inspiration, either their perfumes do not contain specific vanillas from those destinations, or their marketing department’s not doing a great job. My money’s on the former.

Even though 10 out of 11 perfumes in the set contain vanilla, only 6 of them are vanilla-centric, so I concentrated on testing those 6 – Vanille Givree de Antilles, Vanille Noire du Mexique, Vanille Fleurie de Tahiti, Vanille Divine des Tropiques, Vanille Sauvage de Madagascar and Absolu de Vanille. I can’t say that I disliked any of the six I’ve tested.

Vanille Fleurie de Tahiti and Vanille Sauvage de Madagascar are too sweet for me to wear. Somebody who’s more tolerant to this type of sweetness might find more nuances in these two but most of the notes listed on Fragrantica are lost on me.

Vanille Noire du Mexique and Absolu de Vanille are less sweet than the previous two and have some additional facets that make them a little more interesting to wear but probably I won’t: they are just not distinct enough. But, again, your mileage…

I like Vanille Givree de Antilles: it reminds me a lot of Angel. But I already love, own and do not wear the original Angel and its Taste of Fragrance flanker, so I should probably skip this one (after I test the remaining juice in parallel with Angel – just to confirm my impression).

And Vanille Divine des Tropiques is a winner for me. I should admit: out of the promised amber, jasmine, hyacinth, tuberose, gardenia, heliotrope and vanilla I think I can smell amber, vanilla and some floral component though I fail to recognize. And if tuberose of any kind – be that the most natural or a Fracas-style one – is in there, it hides well from my tuberose-adverse nose. I’m thinking about getting the smallest bottle of Vanille Divine des Tropiques for the next time I crave vanilla or want a reminder of the great vacation I had this year.

La Maison de la Vanille Samples Set

If you like vanilla perfumes and haven’t tried this brand yet, at 10 euro for the set, including S&H, I do not see a good reason not to (if French isn’t your strong suit, I’d suggest using Chrome’s “Translate this page” functionality as I did).

Images: samples from the brand’s site; the rest – my own

Tea Break

I enjoy drinking brewed tea. In my day-to-day life I consume mostly not caffeinated (not de-caffeinated!) teas from tea bags but on weekends or when having friends over I like making real tea. I’m not a tea snob, I do not read about teas even as much as I read about perfumes so I have no idea if teas that I like are amouages or britney spearses of the field. And I do not really care as long as I like how they smell, how they taste and how they look.

Golden Moon TeaI knew nothing about the brand when one of my friends brought a couple of Golden Moon Tea’s tins as a gift – one with White tea (with an unexpectedly for a white tea well-defined taste) and one with black tea and vanilla (they do not carry it any longer but this one is the closest to the one I tried before). If you were to apply L’Artisan’s Tea for Two lightly, wait for couple of hours and then add Diptyque’s Eau Duelle you would get something close to how Madagascar (black tea) smells.

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