Brooks Otterlake and the Quest for Vanilla

ihxb01

Well-known member
Jan 26, 2020
it's light and has a minimalist feeling

I’ve just compared it to the current version of Le Parfum (a sample of which I’ve got based on your review btw). In terms of lightness, I’d say Black Tie is approximately 0.7-0.8 of Le Parfum. It is persistent and doesn’t play peek-a-boo though. As for the minimalist feeling, it definitely doesn’t feel like a CgD with leathery iris and vanilla to me.
 

Brooks Otterlake

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 12, 2019
I’ve just compared it to the current version of Le Parfum (a sample of which I’ve got based on your review btw). In terms of lightness, I’d say Black Tie is approximately 0.7-0.8 of Le Parfum. It is persistent and doesn’t play peek-a-boo though. As for the minimalist feeling, it definitely doesn’t feel like a CgD with leathery iris and vanilla to me.
I'll add it to my test list!
 
Jan 21, 2017
Perry Ellis Oud Black Vanilla Absolute is a nice one, similar to SDV. Formerly known as a budget version of SDV, it seems to have been discontinued, and now commands high prices. I liked it better when it could be found for less than $50 online. I think I paid around $35.

L’Artisan Havana Vanille — I sniffed it once on a fragrance safari in Chicago, had it stuck in my brain that it was a must-have, finally tracked down a bottle — and found I didn’t like it so much. I get a strange cardboard-ish note. Kind of ruins it for me. I wonder if I got a bad bottle. Haven’t sniffed it since it’s been rechristened Vanille Absolument.

Lately I’ve been obsessed with tracking down the two vanilla Shalimar flankers, Madagascar and Mexique. I cling to the naive notion that I’ll magically stumble across them at original retail prices in an old, out-of-the-way store somewhere. It’s compelling stuff like this that keeps me in the fragrance game. I know it’s out there somewhere, just waiting to find a good home in my collection.
I'm 90% certain the cardboard note is vanillin created from lignin. I've been mucking around with Olibanum to add that specific note to things. You might want to dodge that note
 
Jan 21, 2017
So, in the past year, I embarked on something of a vanilla quest.

It was mostly frustrating. Vanilla-forward scents often end up with bog-standard, waxy vanillin (not my favorite effect) or foody stuff like cake batter or creme brulee.

The closest I've come thus far to finding *the* vanilla is Lalique Le Parfum (2005, Dominique Ropion), which is gorgeous. It isn't foody, but is still intoxicating, with a deep booziness contrasted with medicinal bay leaf.

The caveat there is that Lalique Le Parfum has that sort of baby/makeup powder note (ala Shalimar or Jaïpur Homme), which I'm not crazy about.

So will you help me on this fool's errand?

I'm looking for a vanilla that
  • has a dramatic, boozy or smoky feeling
  • is not foody (no cake batter or pudding vibes ala Indult Tihota, please)
  • is not tonka-centric (tonka is its own thing and I have plenty of stuff with tonka already)
  • is not waxy/rubbery

If it doesn't exist, then it doesn't exist! But you knowledgeable folks may yet help me find it.
Might I suggest a diy approach. What you seek would be available with vanilla co2 and good patchouli.
 

LG25

Well-known member
Aug 4, 2014
I saw it mentioned only once but I would think Tihota by Indult needs to be on your list. I am surprised not more general support for this.
 

Andy the frenchy

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2018
Throwing a few more ideas in which I bumped on:

Chopard - Vanille de Madagascar
AdP - Vaniglia
Dior - Vanilla Diorama
L'Artisan - Couleur Vanille
L'Artisan - Ode a' l'Oudh
Berdoues - Oud Wa Vanilla
Rochas - Moustache EDP

I haven't tried any of those, just putting more cards on the table. That said, I just bought blind Moments by Motif Olfactif and that could raise your interest. Forget about that sweet vanilla.
First impressions: the top is exactly the smell of pure vanilla extract sold in pastry shop, that is: very bitter dark vanilla in alcohol, without a hint of sweetness. Then it develops into spicy florals (supposedly elderflower, I would have said more something in between champaca and immortelle), with rum, and dark caramel (again, not really sweet). Possibly an effect of the cola-ish facet of the myrrh. There is also a remote animalic and oak-y note, but the woodyness is subtle here. I don't get any oud or sandalwood.
Overall, it drives at the croossroad of OJ Champaca, and the heavy resinous/sweet/herbal/spicy lutenade, reminding me of Le Partcipe Passe', Chene, Fumerie Turque and Bourreau des Fleurs each of these for a specific facet. A bit also ELdO Tilda Swinton.
To go back to the topic, the top is probably the best alcoholic vanilla I have smelt. Very bitter vanilla beans in alcohol, but later it takes a different direction.
 

maksidrom

Well-known member
Dec 30, 2003
What about Elizabeth & James Nirvana Bourbon and Nirvana Black?

Personally, I really like Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee, though while it is not foody or tonka or waxy/rubbery it is also not exactly what I would call dramatic or boozy.
 

Brooks Otterlake

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 12, 2019
Throwing a few more ideas in which I bumped on:

Chopard - Vanille de Madagascar
AdP - Vaniglia
Dior - Vanilla Diorama
L'Artisan - Couleur Vanille
L'Artisan - Ode a' l'Oudh
Berdoues - Oud Wa Vanilla
Rochas - Moustache EDP

I haven't tried any of those, just putting more cards on the table. That said, I just bought blind Moments by Motif Olfactif and that could raise your interest. Forget about that sweet vanilla.
First impressions: the top is exactly the smell of pure vanilla extract sold in pastry shop, that is: very bitter dark vanilla in alcohol, without a hint of sweetness. Then it develops into spicy florals (supposedly elderflower, I would have said more something in between champaca and immortelle), with rum, and dark caramel (again, not really sweet). Possibly an effect of the cola-ish facet of the myrrh. There is also a remote animalic and oak-y note, but the woodyness is subtle here. I don't get any oud or sandalwood.
Overall, it drives at the croossroad of OJ Champaca, and the heavy resinous/sweet/herbal/spicy lutenade, reminding me of Le Partcipe Passe', Chene, Fumerie Turque and Bourreau des Fleurs each of these for a specific facet. A bit also ELdO Tilda Swinton.
To go back to the topic, the top is probably the best alcoholic vanilla I have smelt. Very bitter vanilla beans in alcohol, but later it takes a different direction.
That sounds promising.

What about Elizabeth & James Nirvana Bourbon and Nirvana Black?

Personally, I really like Atelier Cologne Vanille Insensee, though while it is not foody or tonka or waxy/rubbery it is also not exactly what I would call dramatic or boozy.
I haven't tried the Nirvanas (not familiar with the house).

With the caveat that I only sampled Vanille Insensée once (and it was a while ago), I was underwhelmed. It felt fairly synthetic to me, IIRC.
 

Brooks Otterlake

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 12, 2019
So as I work through some of the recommendations mentioned, I'm sampling Tauer Vanilla Flash today.

This feels like it should've been called "Tobacco Flash" to me. Sure, there's a honeyed vanilla blast at the outset, but this is really about dusty spiced tobacco and rose - kind of a more robust, direct version of the tobacco that shows up in Sundowner.

I really like it, but more because of what it's doing with that strong tobacco and less because of what it's doing with vanilla. Still, a worthy discovery, nonetheless.

I'll be keeping track of my ongoing sampling here: https://basenotes.com/threads/brooks-otterlake-and-the-quest-for-vanilla.522371/post-5609994)
 

ascentofdreams

Well-known member
May 18, 2021
i really like L’Artisans Couleur Vanille but I don’t find that to be a boozy vanilla at all- it is definitely not gourmand but it is a decidedly salty vanilla. Works beautifully in the summer as it fades to a sun warmed skin that dried after going into the sea type scent.
i Have Cuir Bourbon - gorgeous and my favorite of the Cuir Saab series ( though I haven’t tried the ylang one). It’s focus however is boozy leather - well worth sniffing but not sure it’s a good one for a vanilla forward frag quest.
I also have the Elisabeth and James Nirvana Bourbon and that’s a great rec - yes, made by the Olsen twins but their fragrance line was pretty good, esp at the price point. entire line has been discontinued though you can find these really easily still at good prices. It’s a velvety boozy woody vanilla - sort of reminiscent of L‘Occitane’s Eau des Baux.
 

Brooks Otterlake

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 12, 2019
I also have the Elisabeth and James Nirvana Bourbon and that’s a great rec - yes, made by the Olsen twins but their fragrance line was pretty good, esp at the price point. entire line has been discontinued though you can find these really easily still at good prices. It’s a velvety boozy woody vanilla - sort of reminiscent of L‘Occitane’s Eau des Baux.
Sounds nice. I'll add it to the list.
Brooks Otterlake, ever since you started this thread, I’ve been wondering if you’ve tried Habanita. The current EDP is sweeter than the vintage EDT. I’m holding out for some vintage extrait.

It’s the great complex vintage perfume I love to hate.
I tried some 1980s juice that @Cook.bot sent me. Loathed it.
 

Cook.bot

Common Lackey
Basenotes Plus
Jan 6, 2012
Brooks Otterlake, ever since you started this thread, I’ve been wondering if you’ve tried Habanita.
It’s the great complex vintage perfume I love to hate.

I tried some 1980s juice that @Cook.bot sent me. Loathed it.

Ah well. Cook.bot hates it too. It’s like a perfume conundrum that I am trying to crack.

Haha! I think I only keep that bottle so I can share samples from it and lure others into the Habanita Haters Club.
 

Brooks Otterlake

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 12, 2019
This wasn't on my sample list, but a friendly Basenoter tossed it my way:

La Maison De La Vanille Noir Toscane Vaille Raisin​


This is a curious one, to be sure: white grape juice and honey-infused vanilla. It swirls together combine to create a sort of medicinal effect (my wife said it reminded her of Dimetapp, in a good way), but in a way I initially find comforting, although the scent on the whole is a bit too direct and thin and it becomes monotonous pretty quickly.

UPDATE: I've had it on skin for long enough now and am finding it annoying.
 
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Brooks Otterlake

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 12, 2019
Vanille Noire by Les Senteurs Gourmandes
I'm trying this Hednic recommendation today. Given the price, definitely should be added to the "good cheapies" library.

It's not as full-bodied or complex as the likes of Lalique Le Parfum (or Meharees, Cologne of the Missions, and Mercedes-Benz Club Black), but it does offer a convincing Mexican vanilla extract scent with some clovey-colo spice. It's dark and not aggressively sugary, so Vanille Noire doesn't go cake batter/sugar cookie on my skin. The drydown stays in a darker "boozy extract" space.

It's not the vanilla of my dreams, but it is a good vanilla, and given its restraint when it comes to sugar content, it's probably the best one I've found for layering potential.
 
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Clarissochka

Well-known member
Jul 1, 2015
Whomever has tried both Meharees and Cologne de Missions, do you feel if you have one, the other is repetitive?
Also any suggestions on best place to get Lalique Le Parfum? It is cheap enough to be under the min shipping for Fragrancenet, any place with free shipping? What about Vanille Noire by Les Senteurs Gourmandes - best place to find it?
 

Brooks Otterlake

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 12, 2019
Whomever has tried both Meharees and Cologne de Missions, do you feel if you have one, the other is repetitive?
They're very different (as far as vanilla scents go).
Also any suggestions on best place to get Lalique Le Parfum? It is cheap enough to be under the min shipping for Fragrancenet, any place with free shipping? What about Vanille Noire by Les Senteurs Gourmandes - best place to find it?
I got both on eBay.
 

Goldweave

Active member
Jan 14, 2018
OK, it's YOUR fault. As in ALL y'all who contributed. On the "advice" of people constantly mentioning how good it is, I just got a mini of Lalique Le Parfum. I am obviously easily swayed. :rolleyes: I like it very much indeed (OK a whole big bunch), but that is not the point. The POINT is that this place is full of enablers!!!!!! :eek:.

Why did I come here? WHY?? ;)
 

Andy the frenchy

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2018
OK, it's YOUR fault. As in ALL y'all who contributed. On the "advice" of people constantly mentioning how good it is, I just got a mini of Lalique Le Parfum. I am obviously easily swayed. :rolleyes: I like it very much indeed (OK a whole big bunch), but that is not the point. The POINT is that this place is full of enablers!!!!!! :eek:.

Why did I come here? WHY?? ;)
Welcome to the rabbit hole!
 

Brooks Otterlake

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 12, 2019
OK, it's YOUR fault. As in ALL y'all who contributed. On the "advice" of people constantly mentioning how good it is, I just got a mini of Lalique Le Parfum. I am obviously easily swayed. :rolleyes: I like it very much indeed (OK a whole big bunch), but that is not the point. The POINT is that this place is full of enablers!!!!!! :eek:.

Why did I come here? WHY?? ;)
I'm ignoring everything except the bolded text.

Lalique Le Parfum is great and we've all been sleeping on it for far too long.
 

Brooks Otterlake

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Feb 12, 2019
Andy, repeat after me: no I will not make another blind buy.... no I will not make another blind buy.... no I.... I.... I.... o_O
Most of us don't need another bottle in our collections and I hardly wish for anyone to add to the clutter.

Still, Lalique Le Parfum knocked me out. It is currently my favorite selection from the entire Lalique lineup.
 

Andy the frenchy

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2018
Most of us don't need another bottle in our collections and I hardly wish for anyone to add to the clutter.

Still, Lalique Le Parfum knocked me out. It is currently my favorite selection from the entire Lalique lineup.
Thank you for your 'help' in keeping my collection small.
PS: I agree with Goldweave: you're evil. ;)
 

Andy the frenchy

Well-known member
Sep 16, 2018
Adding Dev #1: Foreplay by Olympics Orchids to your test list if you haven't tried yet.
To my nose, it's a better take on Armani Myrrhe Imperiale, with some (controlled) smokiness and a hint of animalics (just a hint) to keep it on the masculine side. (as opposed to MI, which is unisex to my nose). A beautiful dark vanilla and myrrh combo.
 

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