Sweet Little Thing – The World Of Vanilla Part II

Here is Part II of Neil’s vanilla series, enjoy the delicious Part I here.


Vanilla vodka. Less heavy and direct than most vanillas, Molinard’s refreshing scent is still vanilla-bean centered  of course, and sweet: yet it is also cool, delicious – the flavour you know from glacés and sorbet. With a spritz of alcohol, an ice cream coolness graces the skin, softening nicely to a subtle, skin-close, crystalline vanilla I love; subtle but long lasting.

For me, this is one of the most wearable of vanillas, and one of my personal favourites. It is well made and great value.


L’Artisan’s Vanilia, unfortunately now discontinued but available online if you look hard enough, is a very original interpretation of the vanilla pod, whisking it up to an airy, floral delicacy you won’t find anywhere else. Rather than focusing on what humans do with the essence (making cakes and perfumes), Jean LaPorte takes an innocent, exterior snapshot of the entire plant, from bean to flower, as if from outside, at a distance.
Light as a meringue, the scent opens with an orchidaceous top note of vanilla flowers and high grade ylang. It seems to dance on air, undercut with subtle notes of nutmeg, clove, and ambergris, the overall effect adding up to a perfume that charms and magnetizes with its beautiful seamlessness.


This perfume, initially released as a limited edition, is now safely part of the main collection, so its devotees can breathe a sigh of relief. This Guerlain take on vanilla is a new take on the note, the ‘spiritueuse’ of the name not alluding to spirituality, nor some form of ‘spirited’, or spritely vanilla, but in fact an allusion to alcohol. Spirits: a honeyed, liquorous cherry brandy with a ‘double shot’ of vanilla: kirsch-like glints of ylang ylang, jasmine, rose, incense and pink pepper, boosted with warm, golden undercurrents of cedar and benzoin.

In fact, when you first put this on your skin, the main impression is of a delicious, boozy sweetness that you can’t immediately locate as vanilla. Lying within this dark amber liquid, though, is a shipwreck of vanilla beans drowning in liquor; hundreds of pods slowly surrendering their scent in brilliantly slowed down time. The final notes (four hours or so after application) embody the true soul of vanille; ripe, hummingbird sucrose.

Here is Olfactoria’s take on SDV.

To be continued…


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36 Responses to Sweet Little Thing – The World Of Vanilla Part II

  1. annemariec says:

    I’m interested to see the Molinard get a mention; I hope I get a chance to try it. Molinard fragrances other than Habanita tend to fly under the radar. The other refreshing vanilla I know is Atelier’s Vanille Insensee. That is fave of mine, as I am not attracted to sweet foodie vanillas.

    • ginzaintherain says:

      Annemariec :

      I think that Habanita is Molinard’s centrepiece, a work they cling to and reformulate to our varying delight and horror (much as Worth do with Je Reviens….)

      Meanwhile they produce very nice, and amazingly reasonable, price-wise scents such as their Vanille and Patchouli (which caused a ruckus in my household when my brother sneaked it off back down to London thinking that no-one would notice). My mum, who was in love with the bottle (I prefer the original but anyway) was having none of it, while my dad, who had fallen for it in a big way (it is a very cologne-like, fresh-musky patchouli, quite brilliant in a way) was having none of it. My brother was forced to bring it home and apologize!

      The Vanille is not special or holy grail material (like the Annunziata one I review in Volume One – I LOVE IT AND CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT IT, seriously), but it just smells lovely and icecreamy and is somehow somewhat essential.

      • annemariec says:

        Great heavens! Family ruckus over a bottle of perfume! I am squirmingly tempted by that Vanille Patouchli, which I see online going very cheaply. My problem has always been that all those single note Molinards attract me and I never know where to start. I like to have a few simple, legible, easy to wear fragrances on hand. Those are the ones that get a lot of use, while the great masterpieces languish on the shelf.

        • ginzaintherain says:

          Me too. I used up two of the Vanilles in a jiffy, and I reckon the Vanille Patchouli would be very nice and easy to wear as well. They are really good value in my opinion. You should get it!

  2. brie says:

    I love this post and hope to see more. I am a secret fan of vanilla and craved vanilla scents in the 70s (long before vanilla was popular) even going so far as to wearing vanilla extract on my wrists! My first vanilla exclusive scent in my younger years was “Vanilla Fields” by Coty- a very affordable drugstore fragrance with a gorgeous bottle. Nowadays I feel that I am too old to wear a vanilla exclusive scent so I get my vanilla fix from my daughters who wear Pacifica’s Vanilla Vera Cruz and Island Vanilla. I do keep a bottle of Eden Botanicals Bourbon vanilla essential oil (30 %) in the house for sniffing when I need it 🙂 !! It is such a comforting scent to me.
    Great read….can’t wait for the next one!

    • ginzaintherain says:


      Thanks very much for reading (and I very much love the idea of wearing vanilla extract because you are ahead of the times!)

      Funnily enough I found the Vanilla Vera Cruz at a ‘recycle’ shop here and obviously bought it on the spot as I can’t ever really get enough vanilla – not quite sure what to make of it, as it is quite ‘out there’ and no-holds barred initially, while fading extraordinarily quickly (probably because it is natural, or so they say…)

      I think the Coty is consistently underrated, personally by the way. It is cheap, yes, but it smells gorgeous (like White Musk by The Body Shop), and something of a classic I would say…

      • brie says:

        Yes, the Vanilla Vera Cruz is an odd one which is probably why it is now a discontinued fragrance….smells a bit of playdoh. You might enjoy the Island vanilla if you like your vanilla uber-sweet. Correct about the longevity..however, the Pacifica line is supposedly natural and quite affordable. Glad to know that you are familiar with the Coty (I was almost embarrassed to mention that I wore it once:) !!) yet back in the days it was well within my perfume budget!

        • ginzaintherain says:

          Seriously, if a perfume garners that many compliments (which I have heard this perfume does) then it must be doing something right…

  3. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Guerlain’s Double Vanille was one of the very few parfumes (the only one ?) I managed to use up completely. Unfortunately, I had the feeling that my 2nd bottle was very different from the first one (which was bought shortly after the scent was released), or went through a strong alteration with ageing, and got a fat, buttery note (rather unpleasant). The first bottle wasn’t really sweet on me, was a rather earthy, rummy vanillapod – what I loved immensely. Sigh.
    Anyway, in the meantime It’s place was taken by Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille…

    • ginzaintherain says:

      I find this extremely interesting as it matches my own experience perfectly, Ms Grey.
      I originally smelled Double in Paris, in that beautiful bee-stamped bottle, and after an hour or so I was besotted with it, absolutely besotted, but it came at the end of the trip and I simply had no money left and couldn’t buy it. I do remember though that it was so cherry, so kirsch, and glinting… edible and delicious.

      And then the last couple of times I have tried it, in the new bottles from the Guerlain branches in Tokyo and London, it hasn’t been quite the same, and I know EXACTLY what you mean about the buttery note. In fact I privately consulted Birgit about it only a couple of days ago actually because my mum asked me over the phone what I wanted for Christmas and I said that if she could get down to Harrods I would love Spiritueuese or Tonka Imperiale but couldn’t decide which, my worry being that right deep down in the base there might be, in the newer versions, a smidgen of ambroxan, that cheap, creamy, buttery sandal-synthetic I ABHOR (and which ruins any perfume it is in for me) Maybe it was that…I certainly detected something similar in the base last time…I think things are being reformulated at astonishing rates these days. I even picked up a Champs Elysees at the airport before coming back to Japan (which I wear to work, believe it or not), and it had been terribly messed with in the top note with a gassy, cheapo grapefruit. The Guerlain Vetiver I also picked up was better than the recent incarnation in which they tried to trendify the basic smell with citrus, but despite the opening salvo of twenty minutes or so that remained true to the original, it is ultimately shallow, and dare I say it, crap.

      • Lady Jane Grey says:

        Thank you, Neil, thank you ! Sofar, when I mentioned that oily, fat note people were looking at me as if I was a lunatic and dangerous to public safety. I find these reformulations (well, 99,99% of them) annoying and I wish they’d rather stop producing the parfums, instead of disfiguring them beyond recognition. Loved your post – greetings to Tokyo !

  4. Enjoying this vanilla series Neil, keep them coming! Used to think I didn’t like vanilla much, but I think it’s ethyl maltol that I’m not so keen on…Still looking for one that ticks all the boxes, so I will be looking out for the rest of the series here.

    • ginzaintherain says:

      Are you after a lighter vanilla, something subtle and leaf-laced, or an absolute core of vanilla to melt to? I will try and cover some of these next time!

  5. Ines says:

    I’m wearing Vanilia today. 😀
    I feel lucky there’s quite enough left in my bottle as it’s one of my favourite vanillas.

    • ginzaintherain says:

      Ines I know! And I miss it…….The Vanille Absoluement thing is all very well, but I don’t see why they couldn’t have kept both in the range…I would go for Vanilia any day over Dufauchour’s laboured creation.

  6. Civava says:

    Wouldn’t mind having all three in my collection, adding Havana Vanille now named Vanille Absolument (grr…) from L’Artisan Parfumeur and Thierry Mugler’s A-Men Pure Havane to round up the family.

  7. ginzaintherain says:


    Je comprends parfaitement! What kind of marketing meeting must it have been where someone decided that Vanille Absolument was somehow better than Havana Vanille…..I think the most soulless executives won out that time…

  8. In the flood of catalogs this time of year, one of them, Isabella, I think, had a gift of a bottle with several vanilla beans. Supposedly you fill the bottle with vodka and then use that liquid instead of commercial vanilla in cooking. I’m going to try it. Will let you know how it works.

  9. Tara says:

    Great stuff! I hadn’t heard of the Molinard Vanille but it sounds like it could be good for the summer. I will have to check it out. I really like SDV and may end up going for a bottle. I need to re=try Mona di Orio’s Vanille first. Did you manage to get your sample out of that broken cabinet yet? Would love your take on it.

    • ginzaintherain says:

      Tara sadly I think that cabinet drawer needs TNT to get opened, in which case the vanilla would explode in the process. Might be a pleasantly scented smoke though I suppose.

  10. Undina says:

    After replying to your first post, I remembered vanilla-centered perfume that I love and wear not in any relation to me being sick and seeking comfort. It’s Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille. Now, after reading this post, I think that maybe I should find and try Molinard’s Vanille – you made it sound very appealing.

    • ginzaintherain says:

      Undina it is simple and cool, and easy to wear (unlike the Tom Ford, which is such an ….EVENT: too sweet for me!)

  11. masha7 says:

    I have to play Devil’s Advocate here and recommend a small vial of pure vanilla absolute! I love all your picks, actually, it’s the best Vanilla List I’ve seen. But my favorite vanilla is still just a tiny smudge of the absolute on my wrist….

    • ginzaintherain says:

      I know what you mean. The vanilla pods I got sent I am trying to decide what to do with…to macerate them in vodka? I love it neat as well. I adore vanilla full stop!

  12. laniersmith says:

    Wonderful post! I want to smell that ship wreck of vanilla pods drowning in liquor. What a succulent image.

    • ginzaintherain says:

      Lanier thank you. That is how it seemed to me the first time, as though they were invisible, but then started oozing…

  13. Scent Bound says:

    Have you tried Bvlgari Black? It has a very strange combination of burnt rubber and soft vanilla. It’s not sweet at all and is great for the winter.

    • ginzaintherain says:

      I once had a bottle of it and quite liked it (in the mean time it has become a kind of legend in the perfume world, hasn’t it?), but to me, anything that obscures the vanilla really gets in the way for me. I felt the same about 7Billion Hearts by I Hate Perfume, which has this insistent IKEA furniture note that ruins the vanilla absolutes in the base….

      Black is much more rounded and subtle, quite beautiful actually, although until you mentioned it I had never thought of it as a vanilla!

      • Scent Bound says:

        It sounds like you are a vanilla purist. Yesterday I wore Vanille Galante from the Hermessence line. What do you think of it? I get a very prominent ripe banana note and a slightly boozy vanilla accord.

        • ginzaintherain says:

          I think that salty tropical ylang note in the foreground, and the whole shimmering invisible lily aspect in the scent is kind of stunning, but not on me…I found it started to CLING if you know what I mean. But I like it on other people…..

  14. Alexandra says:

    Oh I am enjoying this series! I so so so want to love the Guerlian SDV, in every description it sounds like my vanilla HG, but it does something medicinal and odd on my skin – it has an almost minty note, most peculiar and so disappointing. But the Molinard intrigues me; I just need to find somewhere to try this…

  15. Pingback: Sweet Little Thing – The World Of Vanilla Part III | Olfactoria's Travels

  16. Pingback: Sweet Little Thing – The World Of Vanilla Part IV | Olfactoria's Travels

  17. Pingback: Sweet Little Thing – The World Of Vanilla Part V | Olfactoria's Travels

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