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Thursday, December 16, 2010

The 3 Bears: Note Vanillee, Un Bois Vanille, Spiritueuse Double Vanille


By Tom

This is the time of year where vanilla scents are the ones that I reach for. The weather is chilly, the holidays are upon us and the gatherings with friends seem to warrant some comfort scents. For me vanilla is comfort.

Of course, the weather in Los Angeles just refuses to cooperate. Somehow I just can't manage Christmas Spirit when it's 85 degrees out. (I know, you all want to slap me)

In any case I recently compared the three scents in the title of this review and it really reminded me of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. To wit:

Note Vanillee is the creation of M Micallef, and is decidedly the Bad Girl of the bunch. There's the comfort of vanilla, but it's tarted (literally) up with licorice, honey and quite a bit of booze. This is the secretary who wears sweaters just a little too tight and skirts a little too short and at the office party will end up doing it with the CEO on the Xerox machine. I love it.

Un Bois Vanille contrasts with its relative austerity. One of the scents that were fractured off of Feminitè du Bois, it's richer and darker and dryer than the Micallef. There's little that's playful to it and in comparison it can almost seem harsh. But only in comparison. On it's own there's a deep almost burnt caramel lusciousness to it that comes along with the austere woods that's touched with bitter almond. This isn't passing Cinnabon at the mall, this is a witches brew over an open flame in the deep woods.

Spiritueuse Double Vanille for me was the one that was just right. It has some of the kick-up-your-heels aspect of the Micallef without having both ankles in the air (if you'll pardon the expression). It has some of the burning wood feeling of the Lutens without some of the "Blair Witch" connotations. It's also one of the truest vanillas I have ever experienced in perfume: it is remarkably like a home-made vanilla extract, which is merely a pod and really good vodka that is left to sit. Frankincense, pepper, and rose flavor it and when I wear it I can't help but when I am alone stick my nose under my sweater and breathe deeply. If Nigella Lawson had come up with a perfume, this could well have been it

Now I just have to get it past these darned bears...

Note Vanillee is $115 for 30ML at LuckyScent

Un Bois Vanille is $120 at the usual Uncle Serge Suspects

Spiritueuse Double Vanille is $225 at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman

I tested the first two at ScentBar, I tested Double Vanille from the bottle I purchased at Bergdorfs

Image source, trovarsinrete.org

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30 Comments:

Blogger Carrie Meredith said...

Note Vanillee is my favorite vanilla by a mile, but to be honest, I've not tried the Guerlain (and I've REALLY wanted to). I love to use the Micallef for layering, too. I have a serious Micallef problem in general (Black Sea- in my top three favorite perfumes ever). Oh, by the way, thanks, I will have a nightmare about the Blair Witch tonight. But at least she'll smell good.

1:23 AM EST  
Blogger Flora said...

Oh great, now I am lusting after that Guerlain! I have been having vanilla thoughts too, now that winter is upon us.

I like Montale's Vanille Absolu for a big vanilla, but I can't imagine where I would actually wear it.

1:58 AM EST  
Blogger Katie Puckrik said...

Vanilla perfumes are one of those categories, like rose or incense perfumes, that compels fume vision questers to constantly seek out its ultimate incarnation. Just as well that I haven't been bitten by the vanilla bug, because there are SO many permutations out there. And it lets me off the hook from all the "what's the best vanilla" arguments. (Although Tihota smells pretty nilla-licious to me...)

2:39 AM EST  
Blogger Ines said...

I haven't tried the first two, but I adore SDV!
Eventually, I will have to buy a bottle of it, at the moment, I'm saving my decant. :)

3:35 AM EST  
OpenID olfactoriastravels.com said...

I´m sadly missing the Micallef from that line up
I´m in a vanilla mood these days too, if that makes me Goldilocks, that is alright ;)

4:04 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bvlgari Black is probably my fave vanilla, because it's kinda...eccentric! And definitely not foody. I do make a hand cream, though, with vanilla, ginger, and lemon, smells just like vanilla ice cream and lemon meringue pie, good for those gourmand craving moments! I'm still waiting to try the Guerlain, sigh....
-Marla

4:59 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Of the three, the Micallef would be just right for me, and I object to the Xerox imagery!! :))) Great article, Tom!

8:05 AM EST  
Anonymous lady jane grey said...

Spiritueuse D.V. is the only bottle in my parfume collection (and not a small one) I managed to use up completely. There has been no other fully used up parfume during my 45 years lifetime. However, O.J.'s Ta'if could become the 2nd one. But then there is a huge gap. Anyway, I had to buy a new Spiritueuse D.V. in the meantime... I love its boozy, earthy vanilleness

9:48 AM EST  
Anonymous March said...

DANG, I wish I got what you got from SDV. I've been playing in the vanillas too, and I like mine with a twist. SDV is very pretty but almost a tobacco-scent on me, rather than vanilla. How weird is that?

My go-to odd vanillas are Annick Goutal Vanille Exquise and vintage L'Artisan Vanilia.

11:31 AM EST  
Anonymous Geordan said...

Unlike Katie, I unfortunately have been bitten by the vanilla bug. I try any and every vanilla I can get my hands on. I've tried the second two, have yet to try Note Vanillee, but it gets such good press that I'll be trying it any day now. My favorite vanilla is SDV, and I so laughed at your comment about sniffing inside your sweater when alone. I sometimes look around the cubicles and then sniff my wrists, my arms, inside my shirt, anything to get a greater whiff. I, of course, "probably" wear it a little too heavy for the office, but that's okay by me. ;)

11:43 AM EST  
Anonymous Wordbird said...

So true that Nigella should smell of Spiriteuse Double Vanille. I swear I once saw her dab a little extract of vanilla behind her ears during one of her shows.

6:10 PM EST  
Anonymous Marian said...

People usually think of oud as being animalic/fecal, but there are some that actually have vanilla notes!
Of the 3 vaillas you mention, it's Note Vanille for me, and hoping that Xerox is one of the bigger machines.

9:11 AM EST  
Blogger Elisa Gabbert said...

I agree that SDV is the truest to real vanilla extract, especially in its booziness (rum). I also get hints of rose, licorice, and tobacco (as March noted). I love it! Wish it weren't so pricy. I like SL UBV too but I actually find it VERY sweet, too much so. The smokiness is great, though.

11:17 AM EST  
Blogger Karin said...

Thanks for the laugh, Tom - that graphic is hysterical!!!

I recently purchased a bottle of Un Bois Vanille - I like it. But that "vanilla extract" of Spiritueuse Double Vanille - can't deal with it. Same thing happened with Havana Vanille. Guess I'd rather bake with it than wear it!

11:44 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Carrie-

The Guerlain is more accessible for me. I like the Micallef a lot, but I don't think it's office friendly..

1:24 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Donna-

I have the same problem with the Micallef that you do with the Montale.

1:24 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Katie-

I haven't tried that one, I'll have to seek it out!

1:25 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Ines-

I went through about 3 decants before I bought mine so I feel justified

1:26 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

olfactoria

I'm being Goldilocks as well

1:31 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Marla-

Vanilla isn't right there in the front for me with Bvlgari Black, but I do love it..

1:32 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Marina-

:-)~

1:33 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

lady jane-

That's the best compliment to a scent, isn't it?

1:34 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

March-

Tobacco? Crazy! I don't get even a whiff..

1:34 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Geordan-

It's not only okay by me, it makes me wish I lived in your office...

1:35 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Wordbird-

I think that's what gave me the idea..

1:36 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Marian-

Ha! Good one!

1:37 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Elisa-

It would be nice if it were less costly. But it's a huge bottle and a little goes a long way..

1:38 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Karin-

Thank Marina for the graphic, which is hysterical indeed!

1:39 PM EST  
Blogger Ducks said...

Wonderful! And now I need to follow some of the bread crumbs left in the comments... (to mix my folk tales...)

1:22 AM EST  
Blogger Ducks said...

And I'm with March, I get lots of tobacco in SDV -- and of course the booziness. I think I use tobacco for booziness sometimes in my own laboratory noodlings, which annoys my brother, who always tells me I have the wrong vice.

1:24 AM EST  

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