Vanilla Bean Tincture

It was with much excitement (for me!) that my natural grape alcohol arrived today. A whole 20L of it! This alcohol is 190 proof and comes from the Barossa Valley in South Australia and will now replace the denatured ethanol 95PGP4 that I have been using in my perfumes to date.

I recently bought some lovely plump and gorgeous smelling organic vanilla planifolia beans from Papua New Guinea. Somewhere in my internet travels I came across the following information on tincturing vanilla beans by Steffan Arctander: coarsely chop 125 grams of beans and place in 1000 grams of 95% alcohol. I’ve adjusted the quantity to suit my needs. Here is a photo on day 1:

Vanilla Bean Tincture

Vanilla Bean Tincture

So now I patiently wait …. for around 6 months, giving a daily shake. When I think it is ready, I will then filter it. I am hoping that the final result will smell lovely like the Vanilla Bourbon CO2 from Madagascar that I currently use.

8 thoughts on “Vanilla Bean Tincture

  1. Hi Kerry,

    I have just come across your website as I have just started my perfumer journey.

    I have a quick question regarding your 190 proof natural grape alcohol. By any chance would I be able to purchase from you the pure grain alcohol ???

    I have completed a perfume course in Italy in January 2018 and my teacher was purely about 100% natural and best ingredients of high quality for a good perfume. In saying that the alcohol also has to be pure non-denatured (grain alcohol). Now I am finding it extremely difficult here in Australia to get my hands on pure grain alcohol as all I can get my hands on are denatured ethanol 95PGP4. In Italy it wasn’t a problem at all. I just find that denatured ethanol 95PGP4 so strong and on a vibrational level I feel it changes my beautiful natural essential oil synergy.

    Also, I would love to meet up with you one day and gain some more insight into tincturing as I love what you do. I’m not sure if you are still living in Newcastle or not, as I’m from Sydney?

    Look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Warm Thanks

    • Hi Belinda, lovely to hear from you.
      The sad news is that I no longer make perfume – for a variety of reasons, so I no longer have any alcohol on hand.
      I used to buy through a supplier that required I have a permit with the ATO to allow me to buy the pure alcohol at a concessional rate (which also meant I was unable to on sell the alcohol as it was – it had to be made into a perfume, plus I had to buy in bulk – 20L and I had to keep records of its use). All of this is a hassle and basically for running a business, so if you are currently starting out as a hobbyist I would recommend checking out the following websites – the alcohol is expensive, but it is more practical for home perfumery.
      distillery king
      Hope this is helpful. All the best with your perfumery and yes I am currently in Newcastle.

      • Oh what a shame….. I really liked what you were doing and your integrity with nature. I was going to even ask if maybe we could meet one day and so I could learn from you a few things which weren’t covered in my course. Pick your brains a bit, if you didn’t mind. I would pay you of course. I just loved your Jasmine formula blog and a few of the other blogs you posted.

        Thanks so much Kerry for your advise and guidance regarding the alcohol. I will look into the websites provided. So your saying that once you have a permit you can purchase the alcohol but need to record its usage?? So it was ok to use in perfume correct?. It may then be something I look into again down the track.

        Warm Regards

      • Thanks Belinda!
        Yes, that’s right – permit allows you to purchase from the manufacturer, you need to give them your permit number in order to purchase. Yes, records are needed for the ATO in case you get audited, otherwise they will charge tax on spirit unaccounted for, which is pricey. If you ever do go down the permit path and buy concessional spirit in bulk, just let the manufacturer know what you are using it for. A 190 proof neutral grape or cane spirit is what you would want.

      • Kerry, would you be so kind enough to explain to me how you tincture tea or even aromatics like Rosemary. I struggle with working out how much alcohol to put in jar.

        Is there like a formula to follow???

        Thanks for any advice given..


      • Hi Belinda, there’s not really a set formula. It can depend on how strong the material is you are tincturing and how porous your material is (whether it soaks up all the alcohol you put in). I’d suggest starting with 10% by weight of your aromatic component and assess it a few days down the track – you can either dilute further with alcohol if too strong for your liking or application or add more material. Also how long you leave it will also depend on the material, some things get worse the longer they are left, others get better! Tincturing is a personal thing, you may want subtle aroma or strong. It’s all about experimenting – which is part of the fun – just keep records so you know your dilution and length of tincturing time. At the time you swear you’ll remember what you have done, but you won’t! You might be interested in Maxine’s blog: her two scents she played around with tincturing a fair bit.

      • Hi Kerry,
        Thank you once again… it was a very interesting read.

        It makes me feel more relaxed about it now….. You just have to see how the tincture evolves and it all depends on how you want it to smell.

        Thanks, hope you had a great weekend.


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