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Friday, November 23, 2007

Perfume Review: Spiritueuse Double Vanille by Guerlain

Review by Tom

Thanks to the incredible generosity of Robin, I now have a quite large decant of this fragrance. This is not a fragrance that I should love at all- I pretty much dislike vanilla in scents as a rule, perhaps because they usually smell to me like Vanillin (that god-awful stuff that substitutes for real vanilla in commercial baked goods). Foody snob that I am, I only like the real stuff; one year a good friend of mine hooked me up with home-made vanilla extract, which apparently is the easiest thing in the world to make.

Split vanilla pods lengthwise

Put in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid

Pour on good vodka to cover.

Put on lid and walk away for a couple months

The opening of Spiritueuse Double Vanille is just that smell: sweet, slightly earthy vanilla pods and that slightly cold slap of spikey booze. There's a touch of the fenugreek here that deepens it from being totally cocktail, then I start to smell immortelle (I know, so did Colombina) as the scent loses the boozy edge and becomes more rounded, very full and, well, cushy is the word that comes to mind.

Colombina described it as "softer than soft, a gentle, fluffy skin scent with just a touch of dry piquancy" and it is: there's an pillowy quality to it's drydown that borders on being almost doughy. I do smell a touch of the Guerlinade in there, or perhaps I am just imagining it. There's also a touch of incense, and a bare whiff of uncured tobacco. I have a feeling that there's also some pretty fierce sillage going on there; I put one teensy spritz on my chest before going to work and I was smelling it strongly throughout the day. While this is a very soft scent that would be divine on a woman, there's really nothing in there that would make it something a man could not easily wear. Just go steadily in the application, boys.

Double Vanille is apparently going to be a limited edition, which is too bad. It's lovely, and deserves to be kept around far more than some of the snoozes that have come out of that venerated house recently (cough) Aqua Allegoria (cough). It's a perfect comfort scent for fall/winter: the gourmand thrice-risenness of the vanilla is cashmere-blankie level comforting, while not being overpoweringly foody or too literal in Cinnabon sweetness. It's a perfect midnight snack of a perfume, and if you'll excuse me I am going to go bury my nose in my chest for a while and enjoy. Ahhhh, my happy place....

$200 for 75ml, at Bergdorf Goodman


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, you made it sound very nice. Now, where to find it ? (stupid question, easy answer : Paris...).

And you're absolutely right : there is nothing better than real vanilla in foodstuff...

2:07 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think a drop of this should be with my any day now, thanks to one of those perfume angels you mentioned the other day on your own blog, Tom.

I'm distracted by your flexibility - burying your head in your chest indeed. And now you'vre got me wondering about things like the opening sequence of 'Short Bus'. Naughty naughty L!

3:57 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, my experience with SDV is the same. I'd just like to add that vanilla beans/pods of course contain a lot of vanillin, it's the main aromatic compound in the smell of vanilla, but I feel that the smell of "whole" vanilla is much much better. I take it you have somewhat similar preference.

Leopoldo, LOL at the Shortbus associaton. You're a, make that rotten man :D (and I love your writing and reviews and everything on PP!)

4:54 AM EST  
Blogger elle said...

Hmm. Your review makes me think I need to retry this..although I have grave doubts about being able to find the magic in it. Vanilla and I have had an off and on relationship for years, but it's been about two years now since our last break up and I am concerned it may be permanent. :-( Still, you're right about this being an interesting vanilla and I should probably give it a few more test runs.

5:42 AM EST  
Blogger Divina said...

I've tried to be jaded about this, but hell, it seems impossible. Do I need a vanilla scent? NO. But it seems like this one's different... What's a curious soul to do?

6:27 AM EST  
Blogger donanicola said...

Such a good review, thanks Tom. You've captured the slightly boozy then woodsy aspect perfectly. Until I got a sample of this from TPC following Marina's review I was a vanillaphobe. This piqued my interest which then turned into a full blown curiousity. It is so expensive to order it from Paris though so I'm trying to wait until I get there (Eurostar!)and in the meantime have comforted myself with PdN's Vanille Tonka, a quite different take on vanilla and one which will distract me - just - until I can satisfy my lemming. Thing is I want Bois d'Armenie too.... Actually, that's a thought - do you know who the perfumer was on SDV?

6:54 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh. my.

The package arrived. I'm sniffing it now. And I think I'll be ordering a bottle. Divine.

Chaya I love you for creating a lemming from hell.

7:59 AM EST  
Blogger Unknown said...

I adore this one too. The good new is Francoise at Guerlain says with the French shrug and rueful smile that it will be a long limited edition, which means it is open ended at this point, and they aren't saying when it will be over.

I am hoping fervently that they see how wildly popular it is and stock it for a couple of decades as an LE. It's just that good. I've heard some people say no, it doesn't work on them, and I can see how it goes wrong, but it is one of the best things Guerlain has done in a long time.

8:12 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Resistance is futile!" should be the warning on the perfume blogs that I read. (Yep, exposing my inner nerd with that Star Trek quote, but it's true: you perfume-blogging seducers and seductresses make it next to impossible to resist this one. Who on earth needs another vanilla scent? Apparently, I do. Damn, you're good!!)

8:38 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So nice to know you're also a foody snob, Tom. I'm too lazy to make vanilla extract myself with the bean I have in the fridge but I do have 3 different bottles of the stuff in my cabinet.

And dammit, now I have to find a way to sniff SDV someday soon.

12:01 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

Lady Jane, I think one can get it in New York as well- if Robin is reading perhaps she can answer..

12:09 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I am very flexible indeed...

12:10 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I do like the smell of the pods as you do- perhaps I was putting it badly. I remember there is this fake vanilla stuff that you can buy that's much cheaper than real vanilla (it's the stuff that cooks on the Food Network are always warning you not to use) that I thought was called Vanillin- the synthetic extract. Like Little Debbie cakes. Nice in junk food but I don't want to smell like it.

Lee is a cheeky one isn't he?

12:14 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I am not big on vanilla in perfumes but this one was really nice- maybe it's because it had that slightly dirty bit to it?

12:15 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think a curious soul should get a sample!

12:17 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


thanks! Is it really only available in Paris? bummer...

12:19 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'll bet now you can sniff your own chest as well...


12:20 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I think this needs to stick around and it needs to be available at Neimans or Saks.

Now please.

12:21 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I just report...

12:28 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Total foody snob here! My fist job out of school was at Dean & Deluca way back in the day and it spoiled my already spoiled self..

I have a feeling that Bergdorfs carries this- isn't that just an F train away from you? Just sayin..

12:30 PM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Have a sample on the way and looking forward to trying it, although I rarely like immortelle. The price seems awfully steep?? I might want to stick w/ my Aqua Allegorias :-)

1:00 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I'm not quite sure that there is immortelle in it, it's that glottal doughy feeling and the fenugreek that makes me think it's in there.

I look forward to reading what you think of it when you do try it!

1:43 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yum - that splash you hear is moi, diving into this perfume......Tom, you make it sound SO inviting!

11:02 PM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

Tom, I lurve this thing. Dropping by very late to say it is available at NYC Bergdorf boutique, where I first tried it, in spite of the best efforts of the Guerlain harpies guarding the gates, trying to ward everyone off with frowns and irritable sighs. (FWIW I find everyone else on the beauty floor there very friendly, esp. the JAR guys, have *no* idea what the problem is at Guerlain.)

I'm not at all a vanilla fan for the same reasons you list, and this and Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale have really brought me around to a new way of thinking.

8:06 AM EST  
Blogger chayaruchama said...


I love it, too.
What a guilty pleasure.
Lee- I'd give you my soul, if it weren't attached...

Tom, you can simply have your way with me, anyoldhow...

[Ditto for my beloved stinky friends]

Let's have a VANILLA ORGY !
Toga, toga, toga !

9:30 AM EST  
Blogger Ducks said...

This one is glorious... I just tried a sample myself. It's darn near perfect. I am going to present my sample to my mom and see if this might, at last, be The One for her...!

On another note, I am doing just that with vanilla beans this year as stocking stuffers for my co-workers. They decided they liked my bread pudding, and the only "secret" in it was that the vanilla was the good stuff-- vanilla beans macerated in good ol' bourbon.

12:06 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, this explains why Nigella was once seen on TV dabbing a drop of 'proper' Vanilla Extract behind her ears...

Think I may just be tempted by Guerlain's heavenly-sounding concoction. I'm such a sucker for vanilla.

12:37 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have been resisting "Double Vanille" until reading your review - now I'm over the edge. How does it compare to Tiholta IYO?

9:53 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Dive in, the water's fine!

2:28 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I went andd tried Sushi Imperiale at ScentBar today and it's wonderful...

I normally don't like over-application, but I like perfume harpies even less, especially at my dear Bergdorfs, where I expect stellar, welcoming service. So I invite any New York area readers to go in, stare these hags down and spray, spray, spray until your Manolos are soaked...

2:32 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I'm crazy for you! A vanilla orgy indeed!

2:33 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Vanilla in Bourbon? Ooooooh, I want to be on your Christmas list! That could be lethal!

2:35 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Anything Nigella does is in my opinions worthy of emulation. If you do try it I'd love to read your impressions..

2:37 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


You stumped me- I've never heard of that and it stumped a google search as well. Enlighten me?

2:40 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They mean Indult's Tihota. And it doesn't really compare. DV has much more going on in it, more rum. Make's it sort of holidayish. Now I bought mine in "France" at Epcot in Orlando. The Guerlain counter there is huge. I went in with a shopping pass, you give them your ID and a credit card and they let you go in for 1 hour to shop. It's wonderful. I love this, I do however believe it's a tad on the masculine side and I urge all the ladies here to seek out M Micallef's Note Vanilee if you want to be completely wowed. I actually prefer it over this. It is probably the best stuff I've ever smelled, and I've almost smelled too much :-)

8:08 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kayliana, thanks for your input on Micallef, I may try a sample of both the DV and the Micallef Note Vanille. Have your tried the Micallef Gaiac? I actually like scents that are a tad on the masculine!

11:22 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Thanks for the clarification! I love the Micallefs as well..

2:14 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...


as the commercial says, "Manly yes, but I like it too!" ;-)

2:15 PM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not a vanilla in perfume girl but in food - yes. That said, I would love to give this scent a try .
I too make the extract for cooking but I use sherry. Works just fine too.

1:12 AM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

lady jicky-

I have a feeling that I am going to try making some vanilla extract that way soon- that and the bourbon sound wonderful!

Of course, I'll want to cook with it, drink it and wear it, all at the same time!

11:57 AM EST  

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