In reading my new favorite book, Chef Folse's The Encyclopedia of Cajun and Creole Cuisine
(thank you Nolaegghead), I read that unless you buy very expensive vanilla extract, you are probably buying extract from the tonka bean, which has a very vanilla aroma but very little taste.
However, it is quite easy to make. Buy 750 ml of Jack Daniels (you can use bourbon, brandy, or vodka), add the scrapings from 6 vanilla beans. Also add the bean itself, cut into 1 inch pieces. Tightly seal and keep for 6 months (the longer the better - like a fine wine), shaking it every once in a while. It will keep forever, non refrigerated. At the end of 6 months, you can strain out the vanilla beans with a coffee filter.
I've had mine going for about a week, and it already smells like wonderful vanilla. Still a hint of the Jack Daniels .... which isn't a bad thing. I can only imagine how good it will be in 6 months.
P.S. I found the cost of vanilla beans to be all over the map. If you buy from Whole Foods or CM, you'll pay about $7 per bean. Penzy's had them - 3 beans for $9.xx
Dripping Springs, Texas.
Gateway to the Hill Country