adventures in tincturing – tahitian vanilla cognac tincture

Decanting the Tahitian vanilla beans that had been maturing in Courvoisier XO cognac since August of last year was pure delight!  What you see here is the result of four months of some grade A vanilla beans drunk on some of the best damn cognac!  What better end?!

tahitian-vanilla-beansThis is only the first of two phases of a recipe I found on the Hermitage Oils UK site here. I sourced some amazing Tahitian vanilla beans from very far away and started the process in August.

On New Years day I took them out of the cognac and now I’m letting them dry.  The Givaudan site used to have an article that detailed (but they’ve taken that down apparently) their drying process as “…after sun drying the beans are slow-dried indoors for about 4-6 weeks on wooden drying racks in airy warehouses.”  Well, my wooden frühstück board and studio will have to suffice.  I’ll let it dry out for longer, probably eight weeks, seeing as how sun drying is six months off.  You should smell it in here!  The whole studio smells like vanilla, it’s glorious!

The tincture itself is magnificently soft, full of character and complexity due to the cognac of course.  From here the instructions after drying are, to chop up the beans and add alcohol with a bit of the cognac tincture.  I love it this way so much I’m reluctant to dilute the beans further but I will.  I have about 10 beans left and I’m definitely going to tincture them again in cognac.

The patience involved in building your own single notes is incredibly satisfying because you know you’re creating something unique, something that, even if replicated, will never be quite the same. It’s also grounding because you can’t rush a single step. It fills you up in a way that no instant purchase of any raw material can, no matter how extravagant, because you made it yourself and you know what went into making it. You earned the final result.  Now that’s gratifying.

Scentually yours,



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