The best vanilla is the one you make yourself.
Use 2 1/2 ounces of vodka or cognac for each vanilla bean.
Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and then crosswise exposing the black seeds. Place these cut pieces in an airtight bottle. Cover with vodka or brandy and store at room temperature. Shake the bottle twice a day for 2-3 weeks. The pure extract made this way has a lighter aroma and flavor but is superior to the vanilla that you buy at the store. The true vanilla essence comes out in baking. I will sometimes add it to my afternoon cup of coffee. Yum.
Fresh cognac or vodka can be added to the beans two or three times. After that new beans should be used.