When I bake with vanilla extract, I am continually struck by how boozy the scent of the unadulterated stuff is. As I put in my tiny bit it always has smelled like I am adding some exotic liquor to my cookie batter. My favorite vanilla perfumes accentuate that; usually by using it in high doses. I received a sample set from a new independent brand, within it I found OK Fine Fragrance VBO Double Vanilla Bourbon is my kind of vanilla perfume.
OK Fine Fragrance is the independent brand begun by industry veterans Michael Simpson and Steve DeMercado. When you read their story on the website, they have an insouciant attitude of “let’s blow this mainstream perfume world and go do things we like”. In the middle of last year they released their first five fragrances under their new brand. Their unique take is to macerate their perfumes in the same oak barrels used to age wine or bourbon. That is more of a gimmick. The perfumes show what happens when a mainstream perfumer like Mr. DeMercado is given the chance to make fragrance without mass-market shackles. The collection succeeds because of that. These are perfumes which are not for the masses. They seem to be for those who want something more to their fragrance. VBO Double Vanilla Bourbon is a good example of this.
VBO Double Vanilla Bourbon is a mixture of multiple vanilla sources. It creates an uber-vanilla accord where I pick up pieces of the vanilla ingredients I am familiar with. Because this is done in small-batch the vanilla used can be of the higher quality natural sources than the usual vanillin found in most commercial perfumes. That blending of the natural sources is apparent from the first moments. The other thing which appears immediately is a soft suede leather accord. The vanilla and the leather fall together in a compelling accord of animalic and sweet. Mr. DeMercado uses tonka bean as a modulator to find the sweet harmony, bringing it into unison. It is here where the weeks being aged in a barrel come forward. The bourbon comes forward as a smoky undercurrent which takes the vanilla to its inherently boozy places. This is where VBO lingers for hours.
VBO has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
When you look at the website Mr. Simpson and Mr. DeMercado want to give off the vibe of being outlaw perfumers. The entire collection feels like something else to me. Two perfume people who have always wanted to create beyond the boundaries of the mall. VBO and the other four OK Fine Fragrance perfumes achieve that.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample set I purchased.