Back in 2010 I was browsing around an antique store in the Barossa Valley here is South Australia, when I came across an old bottle of Friars’ Balsam. It was over-priced, locked in a cabinet and the proprietor didn’t seem very disposed toward unlocking it at the time so I didn’t ask. But I was curious and looked up the ingredients on my mobile…
Siam Benzoin resin
Balsam of Tolu
Balsam of Peru
Cape Aloe leaf latex
Wow, I could just imagine how all those balsams and resins would have mellowed after aging in that bottle for 50 years or so! An idea was born right there – not so much to replicate the smell of this expectorant / antisceptic, (ironically this formula wouldn’t even be legal to sell as a perfume in Europe), but just to create something smooth and mellow, sweet and balsamic, preferably with lots of creamy vanilla.
Four years later, and I have finally arrived at a version that I am happy has fulfilled this brief. Over that time I completely scrapped the project twice (once after actually having sold a couple of bottles of that current version) starting fresh three times, with six months or so break between each attempt. My notes show at least twenty different formula variations each time. This has not been an easy perfume.
The problem has been trying to use mellow, rich balsamic ingredients without the whole effect becoming sickly sweet or smelling like Le Tan coconut oil. There is also the problem of vanilla turning sour on the skin – I hate that.
So Vanille Tonique contains a refined blend of different vanilla materials, including my own bean tincture blend, vanilla bourbon CO2 extract along with synthetic vanillin and ethyl vanillin, with some dry woods and tropical florals to balance the sweetness of the vanilla. I also discovered that frankincense goes surprisingly well in the top note of this perfume, so there is a select blend of frankincense oils and extracts in there, along with some resin tincture.
Vanille Tonique has become a rich, deep, languorous, exotic fragrance that I’m sure you will enjoy, if you are indeed a lover of vanilla.