Spiritueuse Doubel Vanille

Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille: Review

Spiritueuse Doubel VanilleRecently, 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.

The Scoop

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.

Ambre Narguille

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.

Tobacco VanilleIf 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.

The Composition

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 warmSpiritueuse Double Vanille 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.

The Wearer

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.


19 thoughts on “Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille: Review

  1. Fabulous review with great depth. Thank you for the shout-out, but most of all for a very interesting comparison in our experiences. I agree (and noted) that Ambre Narguilé ends on amber and SDV on vanilla, but for much of the time that SDV was on me, they were extremely alike. The change was only in the final 1 to 1.5 hours where it turned to pure vanilla. (And, oh, what a lovely vanilla.) You’re right about how well that note has been executed here. (BTW, very amusing comment about Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million. Hilarious.)

    It was interesting that the rose note showed up on you much later. On me, it was there from the start, then it faded during the heart stages. Combined with the hookah/pipe tobacco notes, it certainly added to the similarities with Ambre Narguilé’s opening hours.

    I have the Tom Ford on my list of things to test out next week, so I’ll be back to compare my notes with you then. I’m really interested to see how my skin chemistry makes the experience as compared to yours. In truth, my wallet is rather hoping that I don’t love it…. 😉 All in all, thank you for a fascinating comparison. We should definitely do a He Said/She Said combined post one day! xoxox


    1. Thanks, Kafka. I think you’ll like Tobacco Vanille even though it is decidedly more masculine. Right now I’m trying out Vaniglia del Madagascar by Farmacia SS Anunziata. It is a very different vanilla than SDV and I can’t say I like it very much. I’ll post something on it soon but if you have a sample of it, please let me know what you think.


    1. Thanks, Lucas. If you want to try an interesting vanilla scent, have a look at Bvlgari Black – vanilla + burned rubber. I think it would be easier to find. I personally wouldn’t get a full bottle of Spiritueuse because I have enough vanilla fragrances to satisfy my craving.


      1. I’he heard a lot about Bvlgari Black, it’s discontinued and out of the stores but easy to find online.

        I on the other hand don’t have a staple vanilla in my collection.


      2. Bvlgari Black is unique. I haven’t smelled anything with the same note of burnt rubber. I find it here in the deep-discount perfume stores but I hear it is discontinued.

        I’m curious, since you have a background in cosmetic chemistry, have you considered making fragrances?


      3. Yes, I’m on a cosmetics chemistry master degree and when I graduate in 2014 with a master title I’m going to apply to perfumery concerns or perfume school.


      4. I made few floral waters but they were made with a recipe provided as an excercise at some lab classess at university.

        My favourite is chypre and fougere


      5. Yes, I’m familiar with that brand. In my case the problem is that I’m a student and that I don’t work (you won’t get a job in Poland unless you’re a university graduate) and I don’t have money for the start, oh well…


      6. I completely understand, Lucas. It could be quite expensive just getting essential oils. Where in Poland do you live? A friend of mine went to Warsaw for the holidays and she had an amazing time. She loved the city and the culture.


      7. Poznan looks like a very beautiful city. Apparently there is a very nice cathedral there. I’ve flown through Warsaw twice and unfortunately both times I didn’t have a chance to visit the city. I might have an opportunity to visit Poland for business, so hopefully it happens.


      8. It’s a nice city. Old Town area is especially beautiful with its architecture.
        If you happen to be in Warsaw you have to vitis Quality Missala headquarters, the best niche perfume boutique in Poland.
        You can read about them at Olfactioria’s Travel, I’ve written a guide to perfume shopping in Poland there some time ago as a guest post.


  2. The best line: “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.” It made me laugh out loud and I agree wholeheartedly!


    1. Haha, thank you Scented Hound. Both of those scents have opposing characters even though they are based on the same ingredient. Actually, your original post on Spiritueuse got me interested in the fragrance. Thank you for it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s