By Kim Taylor

Whether discussing ice cream, frosting, cake or fragrance, vanilla is usually equated with the no-frills basics, yet this lineup of vanilla-based master-blends is anything but bland. Now that things are cooling down in New York, it’s time to revel in the sweet warmth of intoxicating vanilla, so here are some recommended fragrances of note:

Those who worship pure vanilla will treasure Indult’s Tihota, a raw, unadulterated paean to the vanilla bean. A heady mixture of strong vanilla and delicate honey water, this is a purist’s dream come true. All strong ‘n’ sassy vanilla and sweetness, Tihota will turn heads as you pass by, and capture all hearts within whiffing range. Find it at

All vanilla-loving fragrance connoisseurs will naturally know of Annick Goutal’s Vanilla Exquise, and may even sadden when their gold-flecked bottles are empty.

Since this vanilla classic will stand the test of time for generations to come, you’ll do well to invest in it now – it’s the gold standard for warm vanilla scents. You can find it at Aedes de Venustas,, and at Bergdorf Goodman.

Sophisticated vanilla fragrance palettes will appreciate M. Micallef’s Vanille Aoud, which artfully melds the spiciness of aoud with ylang-ylang, prune and sweet vanilla. The result is an unforgettable, worldly fragrance for those who like their vanilla with a cutting edge. Visit and have it delivered in time for the holidays.

Montale’s new Vanilla Extasy is an enticing mélange of vanilla, fruit, flowers, and resins. Those who prefer their vanilla to be understated will appreciate this complex bouquet. Sandalwood, ylang ylang, apricot and vanilla have equal play in this warm symphony of smells that inspires requests for an encore. Montale’s beloved Vanille Absolu will never be replaced for vanilla purists who love this fragrance’s upscale vanilla style: a vanilla infused with cinnamon, cloves, woods and a hint of intoxicating rum. You’ll be besotted by its charming blend; find both at

Profumum’s Acqua e Zucchero, or “Sugar Water” is rife with orange blossom, tart wild berries, and comforting vanilla. The result is pure comfort tinged with joy. This fragrance is bewitching and as sweet as a wink, but never cloying. If you can’t fly to Italy this winter, then find it at

Whether you like your vanilla intermingled with flowers, or prefer it straight up with a whiff of rum, or like it sweet and pure, or as warm as sun-drenched sand — one of these finely crafted vanilla elixirs is sure to sustain you this season.

Originally published November 2008
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