The weather here today is cold and grey and dreary. We still have a few inches left of last week’s snow, and there are light flurries swirling outside my window as I type. It is the kind of day when you reach for a comfort fragrance, and so I am wearing two vanilla scents: Vanille Tonka by Parfums de Nicolaï, and Vanille Absolu by Montale.
Vanille Tonka was released in 1997, and has notes of tangerine, lime, cinnamon, Mexican vanilla, tonka bean and frankincense. It starts with dry citrus, very heavy on the lime. The citrus notes fade into a cinnamon sugar accord; the vanilla and tonka bean intensify over the next hour, and are joined by smoky swirls of frankincense.
It is a lovely fragrance, with a lightly powdery finish and a gentle, spicy warmth. Like L’Artisan Vanilia, it is perhaps not really a fragrance for the true vanilla fanatic, being neither foody nor more than lightly sweet. For incense fans, it is a must try.
The lasting power is excellent, but after a few hours it becomes very soft and close to the skin, and the spicy kick of the top notes fades considerably. Then I start looking around for something to layer it with. Mind you, this is not a criticism: there are few enough perfumes that hold my interest for even 3 hours, and a vanilla perfume that can do so is rare indeed.
Montale Vanille Absolu has similar notes (vanilla, cinnamon, clove, woods), but the focus here is more directly on the vanilla. It is sweeter and foodier than the Vanille Tonka, and has a bit more of a bakery edge. The spices are subtle but do provide some warmth, and there is a hint of a light floral note over the woody base.
I am very fond of several of the Montale oudh fragrances, but have not had as much luck with the regular perfume line other than the Patchouli Leaves. Vanille Absolu is a perfectly nice vanilla, but strikes me as rather basic, especially when worn next to the Vanille Tonka. Then again, I am not much of a vanilla freak. Any vanilla freaks who have tried this: please chime in.
Related review: La Maison de la Vanilla Eau Noire du Mexique