Blog post by Gwen

Spiritueuse Double Vanille – rich and smoky and woody

Photo Courtesy of Guerlain


Vanilla. It’s such a compelling perfume note for me. I’m not talking about the sweet, gourmand scent that young girls are lemming for. No, I’m talking about the darker, complex, earthy, boozy, treacly, vanilla scent – the one that’s the reference note for Oriental fragrances, the one that’s key component in ‘Guerlinade.' That vanilla can make me pleat to the ground whenever I catch a whiff of it.

We’re not talking vanillin here. We’re talking real vanilla. And we’re talking expensive. Eighty percent of the world’s vanilla comes from Madagascar. There are two reasons for this: a suitable climate and affordable labor. But the price of vanilla has been rising steadily since 2013 when a kilogram of vanilla seed-pods cost about $20. Today, a kilogram of vanilla seed-pods cost about $600, making it more expensive than silver.

Part of the orchid family, vanilla has always been a challenging crop to grow. It takes years for newly planted vanilla vines to mature enough to bear pods. And when they do, they only bloom for 24 hours a year, during which time the flowers must be laboriously hand-pollinated with a toothpick-like stick. After the pods are picked—again, by hand—they have to be soaked in hot water, “sweated,” and carefully dried for an hour each day. Processing alone can take months.

But what’s really jacked the price up in recent years are the storms and cyclones that have decimated crops along with the rising the consumer demand for ‘all-natural’ flavors that have driven food companies like General Mills and Nestlé to source vanilla.

Knowing all of this only makes me value and appreciate Guerlain's Spiritueuse Double Vanille even more. Created by Jean-Paul Guerlain in 2007, as a special edition, fans of the EdP spoke and Guerlain listened, making it a permanent part of the L'Art et la Matière collection. This is good news for  perfumophiles everywhere.

On the Guerlain website it says that in Spiritueuse Double Vanille “each raw material recalls the journey, the long crossings by boat, in which the wood of the hull melds with that of the rum barrels and spice boxes.” One of the qualities of this EdP that I especially enjoy is that the notes are true.

Spiritueuse Double Vanille opens with a burst of bitter, tart bergamot balanced with a note of heady, rich, Bulgarian rose, boosted by rose-scented pink pepper. As it warms on my skin, a wisp of incense starts to curl through the fruity/floral opening. There’s vanilla here too, boozy and dark, hinting at what’s to come. As it develops, jasmine and ylang-ylang appear and surround the rose as the booziness becomes more pronounced from a note of rum. Soon, the florals step back and allow a sweet smooth note of incense to add its smokiness to the rich vanilla. The beautiful scent of dry, woody cedarwood closes the deal.

The drydown is rich, smoky, boozy and woody and performs beautifully on a man or a woman.

'Spiritueuse’ translates into English as ‘liquor’ or ‘spirits’, so Spiritueuse Double Vanille is rum with a double shot of vanilla. the names says it all.

Only Guerlain could make a stunning vanilla fragrance like this.

Check out Spiritueuse Double Vanille in our Shop.