Recently, the fellow fragrance blogger, Kafkaesque (http://akafkaesquelife.wordpress.com), posted a great review of Guerlain’s Spiritueuse Double Vanille, which inspired me to finally give it a try. I was fortunate to score a large sample from the Guerlain boutique, which was enough for a full wear and then some.
In case you didn’t guess it from the name, Spiritueuse Double Vanille is a vanilla-centered fragrance. In fact, it is so much vanilla that Jean-Paul Guerlain aptly called Double Vanille. There is more to the meaning of the name, however, and once you smell the scent it all make perfect sense. Spiritueuse Double Vanille translated in English means Double Vanilla Spirit (spirit as in alcohol). Indeed, Spiritueuse Double Vanille has a strong boozy facet to it. I’ve never drank any alcohol made from vanilla beans (I guess it is doable) but if there were one, it would probably smell pretty close to this.
Kafkaesque compares Spiritueuse Double Vanille to Ambre Narguille by Hermes. I do find some similarities too but to me Ambre Narguile is an amber-centered fragrance and Spiritueuse Double Vanille is a strictly vanilla scent. They do share common features of dried fruit, smokiness and booziness. I find these to be the only touching points between the two fragrances. Ambre Narguille, as Kafkaesque pointed out, is more subtle and sheer (it’s a Jean Claude Ellena creation after all) even though Spiritueuse Double Vanille is what I consider a polite unobtrusive scent.
Many perfume bloggers compare Spiritueuse Double Vanille to Tom Ford’s Tobacco Vanille. Their main commonality is the execution of the vanilla note. The boozy vanilla in Spiritueuse Double Vanille smells very similar to the vanilla note in Tobacco Vanille. This is as far as the common features go, however. The presence of sharp tobacco flower notes accentuates the boozy sharpness of the vanilla. Overall, Tobacco Vanille is a loud fragrance. It has a monstrous projection and will definitely get you noticed. On me, Spiritueuse Double Vanille acts as a more polite scent, something that stays closer to the skin and requires others to lean in to get a full sniff.
If the Spiritueuse Double Vanille and Tobacco Vanille were real people, the first would be a beautiful and constrained young librarian and the latter would be a loud frat boy. I almost imagine the two as the main characters in A Walk to Remember. Spiritueuse Double Vanille would definitely be the shy and sheltered Jamie Sullivan and Tobacco Vanille would be a perfect match for the popular bad boy with a good heart Landon Carter.
Contrary to the tons of slack Spiritueuse Double Vanille has been getting from fragrance pundits, (including His Majesty Luca Turin) I find Spiritueuse Double Vanille to be a well-structured and very pleasant fragrance. I wouldn’t say it turned my world upside-down or that it revolutionized the fragrance industry but nevertheless it is a very adequate fragrance.
Spiritueuse Double Vanille opens with a bright boozy vanilla and an accord of baked apples. Kafkaesque called this accord an apple pie, which is essentially it is the same thing. I believe the peppercorn note in the opening adds to the sweet freshness.
The form and execution of the vanilla-baked apple accord is key here to understand how much difference the execution makes in the art of perfumery. Paco Rabbane’s obnoxious monster 1 Million opens with similar accords except that they are horrific. They are so different that Spiritueuse Double Vanille and 1 Million do not have anything in common except traces of similar genetic material. The relationship between the two can be likened to the resemblance between distant cousins – if you stare and analyze their faces long enough you may find traces of resemblance but then you can never be sure they are there.
The vanilla continues to be present throughout the composition and the boozy aspect starts to wane towards the heart. At this point I detect a nuance of the rose accord, which gives more depth to the fragrance. As it continues to develop Spiritueuse Double Vanille turns into an innocent vanilla scent, which stays close to the skin.
From the point of view of offending anyone, Spiritueuse Double Vanille has great diversity. I see it as an appropriate fragrance to wear in closed spaces because of its timid-to-moderate projection. If applied appropriately, it can be detected within 1.5 feet from the wearer. As it dries down, Spiritueuse Double Vanille becomes even quieter.
From the point of view of weather and climate, I see Spiritueuse Double Vanille as more appropriate for colder weather. The warm vanilla, baked apples and booziness create a cozy feeling, which makes Spiritueuse Double Vanille the perfect snuggle scent. It would be interesting to see how Spiritueuse Double Vanille reacts in a hot weather, so if you have worn it in high temperatures please share your experience.
From the point of view of situational appropriateness, I find Spiritueuse Double Vanille to be fairly versatile. It is an exquisite fragrance and some may say it is for formal occasions only. I see it, however, as very appropriate for more casual situations such as a vacation at a ski chalet or a chilly night out by the camp fire.
Spiritueuse Double Vanille is definitely unisex. Some vanillas can have a very feminine bend and Spiritueuse Double Vanille is not one of them. The boozy note gives it enough of a masculine edge to put it in the unisex category.
I don’t think Spiritueuse Double Vanille would be the fragrance of choice for anyone under 25. It probably will not be how an athlete would want to smell when he is just about to bench press 250 lb. Besides these two categories, however, anyone can pull Spiritueuse Double Vanille off. After all, it is a vanilla scent and it can be worn by pretty much anyone.
Spiritueuse Double Vanille is available exclusively Guerlain boutiques and possibly high-end department stores around the world.
- Review en Bref: Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille (akafkaesquelife.wordpress.com)
- Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille : Perfume Review (boisdejasmin.typepad.com)
- November Obsession: Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille (scentbound.com)