Smells like Anise

aniceAs predicted by me, we had our endlessly cold Spinter of Discontent through most of April into last week; then we went from rainy fricking 50 degrees to sunny fricking 90, thus transitioning directly from heat to A/C.  Which is okay because everything outside is coated in the green stuff — whatever trees or other flora are busy pollinating all over everything and making eyes itch and skin crawl.

Oddly, this is perfect weather for anise, representing the brief window of time each year I think: huh, that smells really nice.  Maybe this year I’ll come to love it all summer like normal people do.  Etro Anice is a great, easy anise scent, although I wouldn’t say no to a bottle of Caron Eau de Reglisse, which I googled and is cheaper than dirt online — how about $35 for a 3.3 at  And now I kind of want the Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Laurier Reglisse, although I still haven’t seen it at any huge discount anywhere, have you?

Of these I find the Etro (rosewood, anise, bergamot, caraway, iris, jasmine, dill, amber, musk and vanilla) the most linear and evocative of pure anise in spite of that impressive list of notes.  It also starts off the sweetest, although the drydown is delicately pretty with a hint of musk, and it’s light enough you can reapply.  The Caron is slightly more nuanced (aniseed, licorice, green mandarin, verbena, nutmeg, ginger, patchouli, vanilla,  musk) in terms of composition — I love the mild spiciness — although it’s still relatively straightforward, and if you had to boil it down to a one-word description it’d still be anise.  I find it quite refreshing and entirely missing the standard Caron base, in case you’re wondering.

The same herbal/anise combination is used to slightly different effect in what I think is the least sweet of these, AA Laurier Reglisse (Bay Leaf, Licorice, Amber, Violet, Bergamot, Orange Blossom.)  The bay leaf and bergamot lend an herbal/citrus twist more traditionally associated with cologne, and the florals are muted.  If I could wave my wand and make one of these appear I’d probably take the Guerlain, but seeing that $35 Caron online, my finger’s hovering over the Purchase button.

I don’t think I ever smelled the Guerlain AA Anisia Bella, which is supposed to be quite nice (it’s discontinued but easily found by Googling, and cheap.)  If anyone’d like to weigh in on that, go ahead.

Finally, I resniffed Lolita Lempicka regular and Au Masculin for the umpteenth time today and … huh.  I just can’t get behind them.  Maybe it’s too hot outside, or I’m too sneezy, or something.   I am still unable to appreciate their genius; they never seem right for any season on my skin.  I don’t want that licorice smell in the winter, and then they’re too heavy for the heat.   But I know lots of people are wild for them, so I guess I’ll try again in the fall.  In the meantime, feel free to name any of your favorite anise scents, or (conversely) voice your opinion as to why licorice should be confined to jelly beans rather than unleashed in a fragrance.


  • Stephen says:

    Sorry…..I meant STAR Anise!

  • Stephen says:

    Try MPG’s Fraiche Badiane. Zippy and zingy atar anise. Great on a scorcher.

  • Olfacta says:

    I just got a small bottle of L’Origan vintage perfume on fleabay (cheap) and it is similar to LHB, especially in the drydown. I guess it was a precursor, according to BdJ and some other blogs I looked at. There’s something in LHB that just disagrees with me, but this walks up to the edge of whatever that is and then turns back. A good fall/winter perfume, I think.

  • gina says:

    March, I do love my Anisia Bella – lovely scent with a lot of staying power!

  • ~katie. says:

    I like Lolita Lempicka when it’s still cold out, but shouldn’t be anymore. I started wearing it in February this year… But once the thermometer hits 70, it gets pretty cloying. Go figure!

  • karin says:

    Lolita Lempicka is the only scent I have with anise listed as an ingredient. I always avoided LL in the past – associated it with boisterous, flamboyant, heavily made-up women who wore way too much of it. To me, it reeked, and I couldn’t identify with it. Well, fast forward about 10 years, and suddenly, I find myself owning a bottle. How did that happen????? Have I become that woman? I sure hope not. But I somehow recently acquired an interest in and appreciation for the fragrance. Weird. Tastes change, I suppose! I can’t imagine ever liking Opium, though. 😉

  • Robin says:

    Gracious, it’s hot. I like hot, but not before the pool opens for the year.

    I want that Laurier Reglisse too, and it’s better for this weather than Anisia Bella, which is heavier, sweeter, woodier.

  • JessicaGrace says:

    I just tried a free sample of Givenchy Very Irresistable that I picked up somewhere. It’s got five different rose notes in it, supposedly, but it’s the star anise that I get most powerfully — dry, rough, almost medicinal, but not unpleasant — with some vague florals in the background.

  • Gretchen says:

    . . . of course, if it brings anise to my nose, it will sadly repel me. Licorice tastes so bad to me it’s sickening, so I can’t bear any scented reminders of it. What a shame.

    • Gretchen says:

      How’d this get so misplaced? I meant this to be a continuation of my first response to Carter’s praise of Sacrebleu. It’s rather a non sequitur here.

      • carter says:

        Gretchen–Up there above this somewhere I’ve posted some remarks about the fact that Sacrebleue doesn’t actually have anise listed as one of the notes, so perhaps that is not the reason why it is so evocative of LHB; perhaps it’s something else and it simply doesn’t register that it’s not the anise that connects the two.

  • tmp00 says:

    since it’s firmly in the low 60’s here and cloudy for the next week or so, I might break out the Douce Amere.

  • mals86 says:

    I love licorice and anise – funny how that’s such a polarizing flavor. My mother would rather starve than eat licorice, and I have to fight my 8-yo for the black jellybeans.

    I wasn’t a big fan of Mandragore; I wanted it to be either more green and boxwood-y, or more mysteriously mandrake-and-anise. For me, it’s in the blah middle. Haven’t tested Lolita Lempicka, but Angel made me hack up a lung so I think I’ll pass, although I too would sniff the Masculin if I had access to a tester.

    I found Caron’s Aimez-Moi to be all anise/violet/heliotrope. Very girly-wirly, which I will not be embarrassed to admit I like.

  • Jessica says:

    I have a soft spot for anise. Smelling Lolita Lempicka years ago, I remember picking out and loving the individual anise note, opening up a whole new world of perfume.
    Now I love the Etro and AG Mandragore for my anise fix. LL is a little too sweet – I’ve been meaning to try LL Masculin but can never get my hands on a tester!

  • Gail S says:

    My favorite anise is one that doesn’t even list it as a note, but I swear it’s there, Guerlain’s Jicky in EDT. As far as AA Laurier-Reglisse, have you checked the scent split wiki? (hint, hint, 🙂 )

  • Lee says:

    You introduced me to the Caron you know, and I’ve been meaning to buy a bottle for the last two years. And dagnabit, I ain’t yet. I wonder if it’s available in the UK at a serious discount too (unlikely, given the pathetically feeble nature of our currency as our economy continues to collapse, unemployment rises, equity, investment and venture capital firms flee the deregulated land that was once their home, small children cry tears of sorrow at the impact of deflation on their miserable squalid lives, young mothers gnash their teeth and vent their spleens at the changed world into which their babes are newborn, dreams are shredded in the vast recycling unit of despair, and we plod on, boats against the current, or something).

    • carter says:

      You had me at “squalid”. Please excuse me now while I go jump off the top of the Empire State Building. I’ll be the one wearing Eau de Vast Recycling Unit of Despair because the sillage is fabulous.

    • March says:

      Excellent! Sounds like a perfect time to visit with my American dollars! Last time I was there I was living on fruit and candy bars from Tesco or whatever it’s called. I think I paid $6 for a coffee.

  • Melissa says:

    I like my anise muted by other notes apparently. But it seems that others do as well. I love L’Heure Bleue and Douce Amere is a winter favorite, but in both cases, the supporting notes soften the anise and remove what I find to be its sharp edges. Jasmine de Nuit, which Kim mentioned, has that marvelous star anise kick. But I have yet to find a “pure” anise fragrance that I can comfortably wear. I like to eat black licorice, but scents like Etro Anice make me feel like I’m wearing it.

    • March says:

      Yes, I think I have the same issue with scents like Etro — the same as, I like chocolate, but I don’t want to wear it. The other two are just different enough I don’t get the gourmand thing.

      I am sniffing this LHB right now and I get all sorts of glorious things, but anise isn’t one of them. Huh.

  • Elle says:

    I literally live and die for double salted black licorice and licorice flavored dried Chinese plums. I also love raki, anise biscotti, Swedish cookes and rye bread w/ anise – basically, I think any food or drink is vastly improved by the addition of anise or licorice. However, I find I rarely reach for anise scents. I like them, but I just don’t crave them. If I occasionally need a licorice scent fix, I spritz on Demeter’s Black Licorice and enjoy it for all of the three seconds it lasts on my skin.

    • March says:

      AHA!!!! And one of the SALTED LICORICE freaks emerges from the woodwork! You are a very special breed. It’s not my thing, but then I love tapioca so I am no position to judge. 🙂

      Demeter Black Licorice sounds rather nice!

  • sara says:

    Great column! Off to spritz L’HB extrait in honor of it. Let’s say I’m anisethetizing myself!

    • March says:

      Wonder how many people put LHB on today? Okay…. it’s hot, I’m trying it.

      • carter says:

        Having already been brazen or dumb enough to attempt it on a hot day once before I am too cowardly and not dumb enough to do it again. But that’s just me, because on me it’s not a happy warm weather event.

  • Francesca says:

    I have a generous sample of Brin de Reglisse. I never wear it, because it lasts for about two seconds. Not crazy about anise or liquorice as a fragrance or a candy, but I have been known to eat an entire fennel bulb for lunch!

  • Louise says:

    Dang, it got hot! Yesterday’s hike was lovely, but I think we almost lost one of the wee ones to heat stroke (we roused her with ice packs and a Frosty). Of course my condo has no a/c….it’s not May 1st yet, so why deviate from schedule. It’s gone from comfy to stifling here in a day. Hmmm, maybe sleeping on the balcony is not a bad idea?

    I love me some anise. I’m with Masha-eat it, wear it, dip me in it. I haven’t tried the Etro yet, but bet I’d like it. I’m going to be brave and try my Blue Hour in the heat, yeah. I think I need to find the Anisia online. Le Labo has a wearable Anis room spray-very long lasting, but also way sweet-I’ve been layering it with Kamali’s Zagara, and the sweet and bitter play nicely together.

    My current fav is the Laurier Reglisse-it’s be my SOTD to get through a stream of meetings. I have the smaller bottle, from Sephora last spring. And dear Marchele-page me if you need some to get by 😉

  • Joe says:

    Hmm, of course I had to go running off to Wikipedia even before seeing Trish’s comment and I found out that anise and fennel are in the same family, but licorice is totally unrelated. None of them are at the top of my favorite scents or flavors, but they can be nice for variety. I was really digging some chewy black licorice sticks that a coworker brought back from Australia in the winter, but normally I stay away from that black stuff.

    March, you’re making me want to find and smell that dang Laurier Reglisse again — I’m going to have to check my local Sephora to see if they still have it on the shelf. And did they stop making the smaller AA bottles altogether, and now only have those huge 4.2oz things?

    For almost a year now I’ve been singing the praises of the anise note in KenzoAir (am I the Kenzo fan club or what?). However, I’m thinking you don’t like vetiver, so that might not work for you. It’s great and also dirt cheap online. I may need to seek out a sample of the Caron for kicks. I just pulled out my vial of Brin de Reglisse, too.

    I have a bit of the Lempicka au Masculin and I’m with you: it doesn’t do much for me.

    I love L’Heure Bleue and can wear it in the heat (or what passes for “heat” in coastal California), but I do NOT get a huge anise kick from that at all. Maybe it’s more pronounced in the EdT? I have the EdP.

    • Kim says:

      try the extrait/parfum for more anise from L’Heure Bleue – even more anise than from the edp.

      • Musette says:

        Kim –

        Funny you should say that – I was going to post earlier my inability to wear the parfum or even the edp of L’Heure Bleu, though the edt is a lovely, luminous thing on me. I never knew why….but now suspect it’s the anise that is concentrating and magnifying on me in the stronger forumlations. I’m not a fan of a lot of anise so that probably explains it!


        • March says:

          Huh. Well I’m going to retry but I’m with the folks who don’t get anise from LHB. I have the EDP I am pretty sure. Off to try it.

    • March says:

      I always want things right after they leave. So our Sephora has quit carrying Laurier and now I want it.

      Okay, that’s it. I’m buying some KenzoAir, I can’t find it anywhere locally and I forgot you mentioned it. Another possibly epic fail blind buy coming up!!! But you make it sound so good, and I love my Kenzo.

    • March says:

      PS At least at the time our Sephora had the smaller bottles — 1.7 or something.

  • Trish/Pikake says:

    I know Hermes Brin de Réglisse is licorice and not anise, but are they in the same family? Anyway, close enough. Brin de Réglisse is my pick. I really love it, and it’s great for a hot summer night when all you can stand is a sheet barely touching your skin.

    • March says:

      Hey, look, if I don’t get on here until the afternoon somebody else does my homework for me! 🙂 My understanding is (was?) that anise/aniseed was the herbal flavoring and licorice was the product, along with ouzo, pernod, etc., but what do I know? And there must be other stuff like fennel in the same family.

      • carmencanada says:

        Non non non! Licorice is very much a plant of its own (Glycyrrhiza glabra): the roots are odorant and can be bought in French pharmacies to chew on when you quite smoking…
        Anise is Pimpinella anisum and the seeds are what you use for their smell/taste…
        Other materials have an anise/licorice smell: cassie flower essence, for instance.

  • Kim says:

    L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain is without a doubt my all time favourite anise perfume, and somehow amazing on my skin in hot/humid weather – the heat seems to make the anise sing on my skin. I prefer my anise mixed so another favourite is Guerlain’s Angelique Noire – not strictly anise but the bitterness of the top notes settles into a gorgeous anise-like scent layer on my skin that cuts through the dense Guerlain base. I’m almost ready for my second bottle of this lovely one!

    Douce Amere by Lutens is lovely although not as anise heavy on me as the Guerlains and I prefer the Guerlain base over the Lutens base with my anise. Jasmine de Nuit (The Different Company) is really star anise but is another nice one for the spring/summer.

    • carter says:

      I can’t believe the synchronicity of it all but I wore Deuce Amere to sleep last night, I probably had’t worn it for at least 2-3 years up until deciding out of the, uh, blue, to get it out and see if it was good in bed 😉

    • March says:

      LHB is really getting some love on here today. And y’all Douce Amere freaks are way too hardcore for me 🙂

  • Masha says:

    Great post! I’m an anise maniac, grew up on those little Eastern European aniseed cookies my gran made every weekend. My favorite is Anisia Bella because it’s so…austere. Bitter, dry, very unisex. It’s very cooling. I have the Caron as well, it’s terrific, but the ginger is very strong on me (I love ginger, too, so no problem there). I’ve already run through a bottle of Laurier Reglisse, and it’s disappeared from the shelves of all our local stores. Luuurve Lolita Lempicka, but it’s very gourmand, not exactly refreshing. I wear it in winter. Etro Anice was very pleasant but too sweet for this bitter-loving herbal gal.

    • March says:

      I love aniseed cookies! And maybe that’s why I like the Caron so much, now that you mention it I get a lot of ginger.

    • rosarita says:

      Sign me up for anise cookies and Anisia Bella, too! I put my bottle up for swap, then got it out the other day and I’ve decided to hang on to it. It is wonderfully cooling in the summer.

  • carter says:

    Well, I’ll go first and state the obvious one which is of course L’Heure Bleue and I completely agree that it and other anise fragrances can be hard to handle under any but the most ideal weather conditions, preferably a crisp, cool autumnal evening at twilight. I don’t remember who it is here who craves it during the dead heat of August, but I bow down in deference and awe of her because she’s one hell of a broad and twice the woman I’ll ever be.

    But PdN Sacrebleu, now that I can get with any old time. The notes are black currant bud, peach blossom, jasmine, tuberose, vanilla, tonka bean, Yemenese incense, with nary a trace of anise mentioned, but it always evokes the other great blue scent every time I wear it. It was LT’s beautiful description of it in The Guide that sent me scrambling for a sample and I have never looked back. In it, he reflects upon his night travels on Europe’s railways and the lights “the size of a teacup nestled between the rails, shining the deepest mystical blue-purple light through a filthy Fresnel glass…Sacrebleu has the exact feel of those lights, a low hum that may be eclipsed by diurnal clamor but rules supreme when, at 3 a.m., you know you are looking into your true love’s eyes even though you can’t see them.” Holy crap! Heavenly scent.

    • Kim says:

      why thank you!! and yes, somehow on my skin L’Heure Bleue is gorgeous in the heat, full glorious anise. And some say skin chemistry has nothing to do with it? (would use the cross-eyed, tongue out emoticon but they have disappeared – spring fever?)

      • carter says:

        I believe it’s Luca who says that 😉

        • Shelley says:

          Luca says it; Tania disagrees; I let them dither about it while smelling the same scent on different pals’ arms and know that *something* lends itself to varying effects.

          • carter says:

            Luca says it, and the entire rest of the known universe disagrees, except for possibly Chandler Burr 🙂

      • Gretchen says:

        Each one of us has his or her own individual skin smell– so any fragrance one wears is being layered with that base scent (not to mention one’s cosmetics, toiletries, etc, and the effects of one’s diet). Not a matter of different skins processing the perfume differently (the idea that Turin objects to when he dismisses the term “skin chemistry”) but different skins making their own contribution to the final mix.

        • carter says:

          I’m dredging it up from way down deep somewhere where I’ve got it stored, but it is my understanding that Luca’s theory is that (and I am paraphrasing like crazy here) we perceive scent through vibration and he firmly asserts that how it reacts on the skin of individuals has nothing to do with it. As I said, this is a very sketchy, very vague recollection of what the point he was making in Chandler Burr’s book The Emperor of Scent, but wasn’t there quite a kerfuffle over this very issue? His theory of smell, that is?

    • March says:

      I just got back from a field trip with 100 kindergarteners, out in the pollen and 90-degree heat. I’d describe the experience as … indescribable?

      I really need to hook up with Sacrebleu, what is wrong with me? Everybody loves it. and I love LHB so I’d likely love it too.

      I’m going to try some LHB in the heat when my allergies settle down a little, just for grins.

    • Gretchen says:

      Turin’s description of Sacrebleu is so beautiful I’ve hesitated to try the scent for fear that my nose won’t find in it what his (and yours) do.

    • karin says:

      I don’t really get anise in Sacrebleu, but regardless, it is one of my HG scents. Absolutely LOVE IT!!!!

      • carter says:

        There isn’t any anise included in the notes from PdN, but what I get is a blueness — that lovely mystical blue-purple light of LT’s that it has in common with LHB — it’s an impression or suggestion of the mother scent somehow, but perhaps there really isn’t any anise in it at all. Perhaps that’s the key difference and why one is so much more wearable for me than the other.