Anise & Licorice: 15 posts

Any number of different materials in perfume can give an anise effect: anise seeds, fennel, star anise, or synthetics like anethole. Anise has a sweet, spicy scent, with a pronounced green note.

The spicy sweet flavor we associate with licorice is due to a reverse association–licorice candy which doesn’t smell anise like on its own is usually flavored with anise oil or anethole. The true scent of licorice, the roots of Glycerrhiza Glabra, smells sweet, almost cloying, and caramelized. It’s rarely used in perfumery, but is a very important flavor ingredient.

Salty Licorice

The look on my face must have said it all, because the woman running a small Scandinavian store not far from Brussels burst out laughing. “Yes, it’s an acquired taste! But we, Swedes, are addicted to it,” she said, fetching a glass of water for me. The topic of conversation–and the reason I couldn’t stop myself from wincing–was a piece of jet black candy called salmiaklakrits in Swedish or salmiakki in Finnish, salty licorice. It’s a confectionery made with licorice extract and ammonium chloride that gives it an unusual saltiness–the more ammonium chloride is added, the saltier the candy tastes. Licorice is an acquired taste to begin with, but salmiakki is in a category of its own.

salmiak

Besides the Nordic countries, salty licorice is also enjoyed in the Netherlands and the north of Belgium and Germany. People who love it are a passionate bunch and active proselytizers. If a Dutch friend casually suggests you try something called Dubbelzout drop, beware that you’re about to make the acquaintance of an extra salty licorice. I guarantee, the memory of that drop will stay with you for a long while afterwards. After your friend has delighted enough in your suffering, she will then pop the stuff in her mouth, make audible signs of pleasure and give you a smug–“my taste buds are so superior”–smile.

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Licorice and Anise Perfume Notes

Elisa’s guide to fragrances with licorice and anise notes.

In my day, bringing black licorice candy to school would win you no friends on the playground. Count me among the nine out of ten kids who found the taste of Good & Plenty absolutely repulsive. We looked at the one boy who wanted all the black jelly beans with horror.

licorice perfume

Perhaps, as with coffee and hard liquor, we appreciate these tastes extra much as adults because their appreciation came hard-earned. I still don’t buy and eat black licorice, but I’ve come to enjoy the taste of licorice in other forms – licorice tea, roasted fennel, Italian sausage, and so on. And as it happens, I adore the scent of licorice in perfume.

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Guerlain L’Heure de Nuit : Perfume Review

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When I bought my first bottle of L’Heure Bleue parfum as a teenager, I remember a sales associate, a tall woman with an impeccably coiffed chignon, mentioning that in her opinion Guerlain women fall into two main categories–those who wear Shalimar with panache and those on whose skin L’Heure Bleue smells like hot kisses and orange blossom marshmallows. I have worn my way through the whole Guerlain collection, including Vétiver and Habit Rouge, but L’Heure Bleue and Après l’Ondée are two fragrances that make my heart skip a beat. They are polished and elegant, but at the same time, they feel like a second skin.

This year L’Heure Bleue celebrated its 100th anniversary, and Guerlain and its perfumer Thierry Wasser decided to create a a new interpretation of the classical fragrance in three different concentrations. The velvety Eau de Parfum called Le Zénith eventually ended up as L’Heure de Nuit, and this fragrance is now a part of Guerlain’s Les Parisiennes collection. Why is there a need for another take on L’Heure Bleue, you might wonder, as I did. Don’t we already have Insolence? But for perfume wearers not used to the plush, heavy retro style, even Insolence is too rich.

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Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant : Perfume Review

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I love those moments when I catch a whiff of something beautiful and it turns out to be my own perfume. Kenzo Jungle L’Éléphant doesn’t unroll like a neat scroll; it undulates like ripples on water. Suddenly you find yourself catching a wave of scent–cardamom stewed plums,  smoky woods and dried orange peel, and it feels so unexpected and delightful.

Those who know Kenzo from their latest tame releases–Amour, Madly, and the like, will be surprised by Jungle L’Éléphant. It smells like something that should be called “Noir,” “niche”, and “exclusive”. Instead, Jungle L’Éléphant is available at Sephora* and online discounters. In 1996 when Jungle L’Éléphant was launched, Kenzo wasn’t the dull mainstream house that it is today, and this perfume is a great example of their previously bold and exotic aesthetic.

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Top Fall Favorites : Autumn Fantasies of Italian Summer

These past few days I’ve been waking up to cold, foggy mornings, and the idea of getting dressed and going outside seemed unpleasant. Just on Monday, I was tempted to break off my engagements and stay at home, wrapped in a warm sweater. As I made up my face and sipped coffee in a hurry, I imagined how good it would feel to make a cup of tea and jump back into bed with a favorite book. The best I could do before I braved the cool air was to spray on something redolent of summer.

And summer has been on my mind a lot, an Italian summer in particular. After a couple of work related trips to Italy, where the fall hasn’t even started, I came back to Belgium in love and yearning for the sun. Italy was the first place I visited abroad, and as I lived with an Italian host family as a student, it was my first immersion into another culture. My warm and generous host mom taught me to cook, to wear red and to tie my hair into a neat bun. But as work and family obligations piled up, my trips to Italy became fewer and fewer, until 10 years lapsed since my last visit.  Returning Italy reignited our love affair. Even Italian, which I thought to be long displaced by French, has resurfaced in my head. So these days I save money for my next visit, read Cesare Pavese, bake biscotti and track half way across town to my favorite Italian deli to buy some prosciutto, dry cured ham.  But the best way for me to get a dose of the Italian sun is through perfumes.

As I drew up my list, I realized that the fragrances  I selected were not just reminiscent of an Italian summer, they were perfect for cold and rainy days. If you’re longing for some sunshine or just want to something beautiful and uplifting, I hope that you will enjoy my choices.
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