Licorice Notes

Happy Spooky Halloween!

Today will be dedicated to licorice notes – the notes used to flavour the gooey chewy sticky black candy that is of the signature flavours of this holiday. Licorice notes are strange. They are usually either loved or loathed. Very few people have intermediate feelings about them. The peculiar scent of licorice notes is a reconciliation of contrasts: spicy warmth and minty chill; rough dryness with smooth, mouthwatering sweetness. Perhaps it is the sweetness of licorice that is the most peculiar. I used to chew licorice root as a little girl, and it was a completely sugar-free candy, yet felt very sweet. I am saying “felt” rather than “tasted” because I think the licorice aromas cheat on the senses to create an impression of a sweet taste that is not really there.

Licorice root is not the only source for licorice sorcery. In fact, most licorice candies are flavoured with oils of aniseed, star anise and fennel. Anise is the sweetest of all three, and feels warm and diffusive. Its ability to mask odour only adds to its mystique. Star Anise is a tad more dry, clean and spicy in feel. Sweet Fennel is sweet indeed, with a hint of green. Tarragon is another plant with a licorice aroma, only greener and herbal, with a sense of tangy freshness. Tarragon absolute is a thick, syrupy version of tarragon, accentuating the licorice-candy qualities of this herb.

Here are a few perfumes for the licorice lovers amongst us. These may not mask your body odour when you go fishing or ghost busting, but they sure are olfactory stunners thanks to the mystical presence of licorice notes.

Apres l’Ondee might have been one of the very first scents to use aniseed note “out of the box” and in an unusual context. Here, the obscure quality of anise complements the melancholy of violet and orris.

L’Heure Bleue further expanded on this theme, and here the aniseed note is paired with the almost-gourmand almondy notes of heliotrope, sweet violet, carnation and woods.

Lolita Lempica (Au Masculine) makes a definite gourmand statement that is once again paired with violet. Vanilla and rum add sweetness, and woods and cistus add an underlining pine-like masculinity that is maintained through out the composition. The feminine version is just as high on licorice and anise, again paired with violet, only with a slightly different base (vanilla, tonka, musk and vetiver).

Chinatown takes licorice notes to yet an even more extreme sweetness, as star anise and fennel do in the infamous Five Spice. Like a Five Spice salt, Chinatown creates a strange, sweet and warm sensation, balanced by exaggeration as it is paired with even sweeter white florals and peach juice, and a counterpoint of patchouli and vetiver.

Eau de Reglisse, Caron’s most recent addition to their outstanding collection, takes a different route. Here licorice is taken as it is – the dry root – and infused into a refreshing lemonade drink along with litsea cubeba. The licorice is subtle and is revealed once the sparkling lemon notes of litsea have subsided. It is more like chewing licorice roots than the gooey candy. Eau de Reglisse is an interesting eau, while being cool and refreshing still retains the woody warmth of licorice twigs.

More perfumes with licorice notes:
Anice (Etro)
Anisia Bella (Guerlain)
Jean-Paul Gautier Classique (aniseed top note)
Piper Nigrum (Lorenzo Villoresi)
Salvatore Ferragamo for men
Rive Gauche pour homme
Silver Rain
Black Licorice
And two of my Zodiac perfumes: Sagittarius and Cancer


A fun activity that is easy to make. Young children will love making it - and using this fragrantly sweet lip treat.

4 Tbs. almond oil
2.5 Tbs. coconut oil
3 Tbs. beeswax (unbleached), grated
1.5 Tbs. dark chocolate (at least 85%), preferably unsweetened
1 tsp. honey
1 Capsule Vitamin E
10 drops aniseed oil
10 drop sweet orange oil
(or any mixture of these two oils)

Measure and mix all the ingredients except for the essential oils and vitamin E.
In a Bain Marie (double boiler), melt them all down over low-medium heat.
Once all the ingredients have melted, remove from heat and let it slightly cool off.
Add the essential oils and vitamin E, and pour immediatley into containers. Make sure the consistency is neither too liquid nor too hard to touch and use.

Après l'Ondée

Rain shower may leave a trail of scent behind, or may draw an invisible curtain hanging in the air; suddenly brightening the spirits and reviviving the thirsty plants and soil. Suddenly, one becomes aware of the possibility of other realities, of luscious greens and patience and calm. After the first rain in the dry lands, the earth releases a special scent emitted by the myriads of organisms inhabiting the upper layer of the soil – a musty and clean scent of wet earth. However, in places blessed with rain all year around, those scents are less than evident except for those times when the earth had enough time to dry and lust for water.

When I first heard of Après l'Ondée, I was longing to try it and could not find a trace of it anywhere until a few years later. However, I was so fascinated by the idea of it, that I immediately set to design a perfume as an homage to the scent after the first rain in my home village. The result was Rainforest – ironically a scent that is more similar to the rainforests of the West Coast, the exile in which rain bares no precious values. Nevertheless, it gives on the feeling of a veil that have been lifted after the first rain to reveal life and hope, while also portraying the wild greenness of the West Coast rainforests.

Après l'Ondée paints a completely different post-rain olfaction scenery, one that was for the most part foreign to me, until I traveled to countries where rain showers appear uninvited in the midst of summer, shuttering the delicate and fluffy blossoms of tiny purple flowers. Après l'Ondée is shy and quiet, like the cyclamen flowers hiding in the hollows of grey rocks, as if to escape the raging thunder storm.

The cool and distant powderiness of orris and violet is soft and obscure, warmed by anise and carnation, and underlined with a quiet resonance of jasmine and subtle vanillic accord – like a dreamy summer-stroll along the dusty paths of a flower garden that suddenly was given away to a gently showering overcast, a reminder of the intimate closeness between beauty and melancholy.

Top notes:
Bergamot, Aniseed

Heart notes:
Violet flower, Jasmine, Rose, Carnation

Base notes:
Iris roots, Vanilla, Heliotrope
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