Tag Archives: best vanilla perfume

E Coudray Ambre et Vanille: Irresistible Me

 

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Escentual

 

Excuse me, I’ve been away but I’m back now.  I went camping in West Wales and smelled lots of interesting smells, none of which were from a bottle, some of which I am in no hurry to revisit (wet shoes, calorgas), and some which were delightful (wildflowers, grass, burning logs, ozone).

Now that I’m back in the land of civilisation, the current Wales temperature is turning my thoughts to Autumn already.  No, I’m not wishing my life away, but overcast and dull seems to be the default weather this August. This has had me turning to warmer scents and away from my beloved hesperide section.

e coudray vanilla

Do you ever spray a sample and sniff it, and find yourself quite unable to stop? Thus was my reaction to E Coudray Ambre et Vanille.

Now, you may recall my recent article about vanilla, and about how I felt that it had been cheapened, but the right stuff is still GOOD. Well, this treasure fits right into that category.  I am helpless to move my nose and may need smelling salts.

Ambre et  Vanille opens with the kind of vanilla that smells  unprocessed.  It’s like licking a vanilla pod before it falls into the hands of the lets-make-cheap-copies scoundrels.  This is like cold, rich butter.  There’s no sugar, just a silky wood feel to it that smells both elegant and cool. It’s opening notes are framed by bitter citrus: oranges and limes. These are hard to distinguish, but they take off the rich edges, which in my opinion, stops this smelling too crème brulee in the first few minutes.coudray retroIn the middle there are stately and sober flowers, namely iris and heliotrope, both doing their job quietly.  The vanilla, however, really lets go on the dance floor and sweeps everything under its warm, smoky broom with a touch of robust patchouli.  The amber is there, but is never as dominant as this glorious vanilla with its edges tinged in cinamon and tonka.   It is saved by a lack of syrup, yet keeps its warmth. This is a gourmand for the anti gourmand i.e yours truly.

e coudray selection

Remarkably, this was first created in 1935. I doubt very much that we are smelling the original formula post IFRA regulations, but this is a beautifully blended vanilla scent that bears no resemblance to the synthetics  that are so over-used on today’s saturated beauty counters.

E Coudray has been creating fragrance since  1822, despite several changes of hands. Their classic scents and ornate glass bottles deserve to be on every dressing table, namely mine.

Stockists

You can buy E Coudray Ambre et Vanille from Escentual, Amazon.UK or House of Fraser.  I find prices are reasonable at around £60 for a big 100ml bottle.  Sample is my own, as is my opinion. I can’t actually remember where the sample came from, so if I have forgotten to say thank you, please forgive me.

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Tauerville Vanilla Flash: Review

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Vanilla Flash is the kind of fragrance that will convert vanilla dodgers into vanilla lovers. As I have said before in this blog, in my opinion, vanilla has been frankly abused and overused in its synthetic cheapest forms in High Street commercial scents, to the point where we can lose sight of why it was so beloved in the first place.

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Not like this
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Like this

Tauerville Vanilla Flash has restored my faith in vanilla and made me love it again. There’s nothing synthetic smelling or cheap smelling about this beauty. This is the smell of the vanilla pod when you open the little perspex tube it came in before it has been used: that wizened, bendy twig like pod in its most pristine, ripe form. THAT sort of vanilla is what we’re talking about here: milky and rich. There’s no bucket of sugar and no cake flavouring.

The addition of cheap vanilla to floral scents has ruined many a decent sniff for me.  Here, on the flip side of that coin, rose has been added to very high quality vanilla. Rose and tobacco in fact. What you have here is a vanilla scent in which vanilla is part of the chorus, and a very harmonic chorus that is.

The tobacco gives an oaky, coconutty feel to the rose that reminded me both of pipe smoke and the actual wood of a pipe at the same time. The roses are subtle yet impossible to miss. Put both of these alongside vanilla and you have a unisex vanilla that has absolutely nothing to do with a cupcake and everything to do with a cool milkiness infused with woody roses and a hint of pipe smoke. Round it off with some patchouli and a gentle hint of spice, and you have Vanilla Flash. 

This vanilla dodger will be getting a full bottle. My faith in vanilla has been fully restored.

Stockists

You can buy the Tauerville range from Les Senteurs in the UK, Lucky Scent in the USA, or, of course, the Tauerville website.

Photos-top photo by Fragrantica, photo of pod by ZoeBakes.com, Photo of cupcake from HealthyRise.com

 

Guerlain Shalimar: Sorry I’m Late

shalimar

 

I know, I know! I’ve been doing a perfume blog for three years and never reviewed Shalimar. How can this be allowed? I was getting nervous of the blog police doing a dawn raid on me from crimes against fragblogging, so I thought I’d give it a proper test drive today to avoid arrest

The reason I haven’t reviewed Shalimar is because I used to think it smelled like Castrol GTX. It was petrolly on me and I didn’t like it. However, Shalimar is a good example of how taste can change. I don’t know if this is an age thing now I’m nearer fifty than forty ( gulp), or if it just comes with wider appreciation. When I started the blog I wore Chanel Cristalle more often than anything. The more perfume I try, the more Oomph I seek and I find myself eschewing the light hesperides I loved, at least until hot weather comes ( remember that? Hot weather? No?) Now I wear Chanel Coco it seemed a logical transition to Shalimar after that.

shalimar ad

I tried Guerlain Shalimar EDP today in my local House of Fraser. Immediately there was spice, incense and woods. It was rich and smoky and I went into the posh ladies loos sniffing my wrist like an addict. Once all that settled ( but didn’t leave) I had another sniff. There isn’t a lot of room for the flowers to shine: there is only a mere hint of rose and sober iris. The smokiness was starting to emerge along with the warm vanilla (minus the all too common sugariness. Phew!). By the time I got home this was a smokey, woody vanilla, wrapped in frankincense and sandalwood and I was smitten. Oddly enough, I didn’t get any animalic civet, but that’s just me.  I find knicker notes in perfume where there are no knickers to be had and can’t spot civet even if they’re mating noisily under my nose.

Eight hours later and I totally get it. Shalimar has found a new fan for life. It almost seems like a cliché to say this is a classic that will never date, but cliché or not, Shalimar has held its own since its inception in 1925 and I need a bottle of my own as a matter of urgency. My only question is why? Why did I wait so long?

Stockists

Guerlain Shalimar is widely available. You can buy it from House of Fraser, Boots and allbeauty.com to name but a few. It’s next on my hit list.

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Aftelier Vanilla Smoke: In Which Mandy Reinvents The Word Cosy

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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.

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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.

Stockists

Vanilla Smoke is available from the Aftelier website. My sample was kindly sent to me by Mandy Aftel. Opinions are my own.

fireplace.lifcow.com
fireplace.lifcow.com

4160 Tuesdays The Sexiest Scent on The Planet Ever (IMHO)

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Sarah McCartney, founder and one-woman chief of 4160 Tuesdays, named this scent after a quote from a young fashion journalist.  This was originally the unadorned base for The Gin Garden, but the journalist smelled it naked as it were (the base scent, not the journalist) and made the now familiar declaration.

I have reviewed 4160 Tuesday scents before, but just to keep you up to speed in case you missed them, the name of the company is based on the fact there are 4160 Tuesdays in your life if you live to be 80.  Sarah uses her Tuesdays to make scent.  They are gathering support like a snowball rolling down a hill, with an increasing amount of media and word of mouth interest.  It’s a friendly company: accessible and happy to chat about the process and host sniffing days (which I plan to do one day- Lisa Wordbird are you with me?)

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So let’s get down to it and have a look at whether this scent really is as gorgeous as it reckons.  The quick answer is yes.

  Imagine if you will, a vanilla pod walks into a bar, gets sozzled on gin and tries to kiss you in an antique wardrobe wearing a lime based eau de cologne.  That’s the best way I have of explaining it.

Vanilla-Pods-6-150x150The notes are few and simple:  The opening is citrussy and  has lots of bergamot and almost at the same time smells like the inside of an antique wooden wardrobe: almost but not quite, musty.  The vanilla, in a Nancy Drew sort of way, draws itself up to its full height and takes control of the situation.  Vanilla has frankly been over used and abused lately in mass market perfume and its beauty has been devalued via synthetic cup cake and candy floss concoctions.  The Sexiest Scent On The Planet Ever puts Vanilla back in the driving seat like an overexposed soap star having a come back as a glamorous matriarch.

The Vanilla here is thick and rich and  almost fuzzy.  Not a hint of cupcake here.  No Sir.  In fact the Vanilla is such good quality that it tips over into boozy territory.  Had I smelled this blind, I would have said there was patchouli in it, but there isn’t.  However, it does have that raspy spicy quality that patchouli has, despite being a spice free zone.

Longevity is very good, and surprisingly, I get a hint of rum soused fruit in it, a bit like Serge Lutens Arabie, which in turn smells like Nigella’s recipe for black cake. But mysteriously, there are neither fruit nor rum notes in the scent. I have a  30 ml bottle of  Sexiest Scent On The Planet Ever (IMHO) and I think the price is very reasonable indeed, at £40.   This is the same price  as a Jo Malone, but  far more niche and  deeper and richer.  In other words, it’s very good value and you’re not going to smell like everyone else.  Although if 4160  Tuesdays goes on snowballing, there will be others like us! And that will be no bad thing at all.

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