Aftelier Vanilla Smoke is the latest launch from delightful Mandy Aftel of Aftelier , the friendly genius who kindly sends me samples from sunny California to overcast, chilly Wales.
Vanilla Smoke is exactly what this overcast chilly Welsh woman needed. If you look in the dictionary for the word “Cosy” you will find a description of Vanilla Smoke.
Vanilla Smoke opens with prickly spice and a creosote note that lands somewhere between Tauer Lonestar Memories and the smell of a leather jacket that’s just come in from the rain. I don’t know how Mandy achieves this, especially since she uses all natural ingredients, but this is what I could smell.
There is dark Lapsang tea, smoked over pinewood, and ambergris. Green mandarin is also listed but I could not detect it, unless its responsible for that slightly sharp tang on opening ? There are woods, or in my mind’s eye, logs, and there is saffron. But the star of the show, in every scene and frame, is vanilla.
Now what Mandy has done here is help me fall back in love with Vanilla. I used to love vanilla, and The Body Shop Vanilla Oil in the 1980s is to me, the epitome of a time when vanilla, worn alone, was good enough for any day.
Lately however, all the joy has been sucked out of vanilla for me. Cheap, synthetic vanilla seems to have been used in every mainstream scent with an overly heavy hand and frankly, even in fragrances where it had no business. Sometimes mass produced fake smelling vanilla reminds me of vanilla candles that you find in the pound shop, when what I actually want from vanilla, is something that borders on liquor and marzipan.
Vanilla Smoke is exactly what I’m looking for. The smoke is the smoke of a winter fireplace and the vanilla, although sweet, has nothing of The Cupcake Accord that has ruined many a sniff for me in the last few years. Rich and boozy, Aftelier Vanilla Smoke is blended seamlessly with wood and smoky dark tea to make it smell like that log fire I can see when I smell it.
Lasting many hours- around eight in fact, the last of the base note that is left on my skin reminds me a little of Dior Hypnotic Poison, which I consider an enduring classic.
Vanilla Smoke is a glass of whisky by a log burning fire in a huge old fashioned fireplace that heats the whole room. If you’re me, you’ll be adding Christmas Tree lights very soon. Superb.
Vanilla Smoke is available from the Aftelier website. My sample was kindly sent to me by Mandy Aftel. Opinions are my own.