Pros: Nice aromatic vanilla flavor
Cons: none for me
Years ago on my first trip to Mexico I bought a bottle of pure Mexican Vanilla flavoring. Wow, talk about great stuff! Sadly, when I looked for the same stuff in the states, I saw that the price markup was horrendous. No way! But thankfully I discovered my ever reliable Costco Kirkland brand offered a top notch Vanilla extract at a very reasonable price.
Believe it or not, the US Food and Drug Administration does stipulate what constitutes an extract --- in this case FDA requirements are a minimum of 13.35 ounces of vanilla beans to a gallon of a minimum of 35% alcohol to 65% water mixture. Vanilla flavoring (the real stuff, not stuff made with Coumarin) maybe has at the most 2-3% alcohol. However, since I use so much vanilla in baking, I typically opt for extract. Cheaper extracts do have a heavier alcohol taste, although that will bake out. But a good quality extract, such as Kirkland's, can make a huge difference. When I take off the lid, I smell wonderful aromatic vanilla and am not hit by the heavy scent of alcohol. Kirkland uses vanilla beans from Vanilla planifolia, which is the preferred source for Vanilla (other species come from the South Pacific, but have lower vanillin content.)
At one time Kirkland labeled this as "pure Madagascar Bourbon vanilla" but it no longer contains that labeling. It only says now that it is a "product of the USA."
This vanilla is gluten-free, but does contain sugar in the base. However, nutrition labeling is not included on the bottle.
I love the scent of Kirland vanilla - rich, warm, and very aromatic. The color is a deep, dark brown, and in this case, it's all natural since there's no added coloring. Not only do I use it for cookies and cakes that I make from scratch, but I also add it into mixes that I use (such as for Belgain waffles.) Other uses I have found include using to macerate strawberries, adding a dash to a smoothie, as well as mixing a bit in with my morning coffee to give it a hint of vanilla flavoring.
In regards to the sugar content, I'm guessing it's a very negligible amount. When I add this vanilla to my coffee, it doesn't have that sweet syrupy taste that those flavored creamers have.
As a home baker, I find this extract to be excellent quality. I suppose professional bakers might be a little bit fussier over their ingredients, but I think that for the price (around $7 in the store for a HUGE 16 ounce bottle that lasts forever,) Kirkland Vanilla Extract is an excellent value. 5 stars.