Anise and Licorice- Love It or Loathe It, Some Gotta Have It
Anise and licorice are notes that are either adored or loathed, one’s scent muse or nemesis. I have yet to hear of someone who feels “meh” over either ingredient. I love anise and my mother hates it for the same reason- those little Russian aniseed cookies that babushkas love to press on children that come their way- they are popular throughout Eastern Europe and Italy but my mother feels nauseated whenever she smells them (too many bad memories of raiding grandma’s cookie jar, then feeling ill afterwards). Licorice candies are a real cult fetish these days- if you’ve been to Philly’s Reading Terminal Market, you know what I mean. The line is never less than 40 people at the licorice shop. The Dutch and the Australians seem to have lots of yummy varieties of the sticky, bittersweet black goop, too. I just love it.
I have a sub-collection of anise and licorice scents. Its cool, ethereal weirdness just makes me open my wallet every time I smell a new one. Some of them are too strange to wear, but I keep them anyway. Here are a few of my favorites. Perhaps you can add to this list:
L’Heure Bleue- the 1912 Guerlain classic- cold and contemplative. It’s so unfashionable with its bitter and powdery notes, so lacking in the fresh and the fruity, that it’s actually avant-garde. And talk about sillage and lasting power- wow!
Lolita Lempicka- seems like a sweet girly gourmand with all that vanilla and amarena but then that bitter anise hits and it’s just delightfully quirky. Very popular in Europe, I smell it everywhere in Italy. A freaky gourmand, and a fun bottle, too. This was apparently designed to be an Angel clone, but took off and established its own unique territory. I wear it about 5 times more often than I wear Angel, mostly because of the licorice.
Guerlain Anisia Bella- just plain bitter anise and woods. So austere that on a truly hot, humid day in the tropics, nothing can cool one as well. Beautiful smell for a library full of antique books. If the Amish could wear perfume, this would be the one. A Basenotes perfumista uses it to scent her shop. Smells really good on men, particularly the thin, intellectual kind. The new AA Laurier Reglisse is a greener, sweeter take on Anisia Bella, but that bitter anise note is still marked in the drydown, so I pronounce Laurier Reglisse bottleworthy for anise lovers also.
Caron Eau de Reglisse- I didn’t like this at first- the ginger just screams like a banshee. But it settles down beautifully and works wonders in hot climates. After a year of sniffing the sample I finally bought one of the huge, fragile bottles. It’s a bargain on the Internet, and there really isn’t anything else like it out there.
Etro Anice is a sweeter, lighter Anisia Bella so I didn’t feel the need to buy it, but it’s lovely nevertheless.
There are many other licorice and anise scents lurking out there. Let me know your favorites!