As a child, it took me a while to get the correct meaning of “That’s pretty vanilla.” To me, it seemed that something pretty vanilla would be consistently smooth, creamy and delicious. No surprises, maybe, but there’s nothing wrong with having more substance than style. That approach got Tim Duncan — and his jean shorts — five rings. Still, some people like to get wild and buy French Vanilla instead of regular. So why not take it up a notch and try the Dutch version, Vanilla Kush? Made from Afghani and Kashmir strains instead of milk and cream, Vanilla Kush was developed by Amsterdam breeder Barney’s Farm, which introduced it to the world at the 2009 High Times Cannabis Cup. I’ve been chasing it ever since.
My first taste of Colorado’s take on Vanilla Kush came from the Mayflower dispensary, a now-defunct LoDo shop. It’s a shame that the Mayflower is no longer with us, because it had some decent pot, including its Vanilla Kush. Zesty, creamy notes of vanilla and floral hints of lavender were present in each hit of the Mayflower’s cut, calming me with each smell, hit and taste. Its effects matched up with its lulling aroma, creating heavy eyelids and emptying my brains before ultimately putting me to sleep.
Vanilla Kush probably won’t ever be a top-five selling strain, but it’s been a consistent presence on dispensary shelves in Denver for more than a half-dozen years. Herbal Wellness, The Joint, Oasis Cannabis Superstores, Reefer Madness and Strainwise dispensaries all carry Vanilla Kush, and it’s been known to pop up in other pot shops from time to time. Cuts from Oasis and the Joint, both from a wholesale grow and priced as such, were a little too harsh on the throat and had trichomes that weren’t fully developed, but they lulled me to sleep all the same. Reefer Madness offers eighths of the strain at a similar quality for $25.
Looks: Although the calyx density can range from tight and compact to open and loose, Vanilla Kush traditionally comes packaged in pointy nugs with golden-tan trichomes. Length can also differ depending on the phenotype, with some having more narrow, open nugs that take longer to bloom.
Smell: The aroma quickly gives it away as an indica; the strain’s relaxing floral scents of vanilla, lavender and chamomile are more reminiscent of a hot bath than of cannabis. The calming scents pair well with hash and bubble-gum notes from its Afghani heritage, which are brought back down to earth with a dank soil back end.
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Flavor: Spicy, warm flavors of vanilla and floral hints of lemon (sweet, not tart) greet tastebuds after the initial spark, while subtle hints of soil and hash round out each hit. While Vanilla Kush’s flavor is distinctive, it can be easily hidden by poorly flushed flower or slightly dirty glass, so toke accordingly.
Effects: Although euphoric and not debilitating at first, Vanilla Kush quickly robs users of focus and wit. It’s a heavy indica and should be treated with respect; I always advise friends to stay away from it during the daytime unless medicating or trying to fall asleep. Medical patients use it to treat minor pain, eating disorders, nausea and depression, but the strain’s strongest benefit for most users is stress relief.
Home grower’s take: “Such a relaxing strain, and I’m not even talking about smoking it. Its smell is just easy on the nose. Sativas are usually the ones that kind of give off their effects in their smell, like, when your eyes pop after smelling a Diesel — but Vanilla Kush does that on the other end. It’s aromatherapy. Takes a while in the grow, though — at least nine or ten weeks. I’ve had short, fat buds that bloom faster, and longer ones that flower more and take a week longer. That’s why that distinctive smell is so important.”
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