Kerosene Black Vines ~ fragrance review

Kerosene Black Vines, closeup

It's a warm touch on the shoulder, as you are entangled in green vines of black licorice. The spices and gentle sweetness will warm your surroundings. This is climate change for your skin.

How much do you like licorice? If you hate it (the smell, that is), you can safely skip Black Vines, the latest from indie line Kerosene. If you love the smell, so much so that perfumes like Lolita Lempicka Le Premier Parfum (or the Au Masculin version) or Diesel Loverdose are just not enough, then Black Vines is for you. 

The opening is green and bright for nanoseconds before it turns spicy and dark and, well, licorice-y. It's strong, and it's enough of a ringer for black licorice (the really dark and chewy kind they sell overseas, not the sweeter, blander, Twizzler sort) that it's hard to concentrate on it as a perfume. If you do pay attention, you'll notice other notes: the cinnamon is quite pronounced early on, and yes, it's possible to make out some fig if you go looking for it (others on the list include ivy, star anise, Canadian fir, Peru balsam, tonka bean, incense and vanilla), but it's also possible, in the early stages at least, to just close your eyes and think: licorice.

As it calms, it gets a bit less anisic, but only a bit. The ivy leaves gradually give way to pine-y fir notes, and a smidgen of incense joins in; these give the scent some lift and temper the intensity of the licorice, but on my skin, the licorice keeps center stage for hours before finally settling down. Then, Black Vines is a softer, milder experience, not so dark as the early stages, just a bit of pale woods and resins with the vaguest hint of spice.

Verdict: Great fun. It does for licorice what Byredo Pulp does for fruit — tests the edges of endurance and wearability. If you're looking for something for the office, or to attract a potential mate, or whatever other "standard" reason people have for buying fragrance, don't bother. If you're looking to please yourself and you adore licorice, highly recommended. 

More licorice & anise notes can be found in Serge Lutens Douce Amere, Jo Malone Vanille & Anise, Kenzo Air, Hermès Brin de Réglisse, Mark Buxton Wood & Absinth, Guerlain Anisia Bella.

Please comment to add to the list, or if you have a favorite Kerosene scent. I've still only tried a few.

Kerosene Black Vines, bottle

Kerosene Black Vines is available in 100 ml Eau de Parfum, $140. For buying information, see the listing for Kerosene under Perfume Houses.

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44 Comments

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  1. melissa says:

    Smelling vividly of licorice would serve to attract the potential mate around my house, although I wouldn’t actually be able to stand it.

    • Robin says:

      Hey, then he should wear it when he’s mad at you :-)

  2. ringthing says:

    I got a decant of this recently and immediately put a big spritz on my wrist. Whoa! Once my eyes stopped watering, I began to enjoy it. It’s interesting – when I breathe in, I smell it but it’s during the exhale that I experience it almost to the point of being able to taste the licorice, it’s that realistic. After a while I realized that it reminds me of drinking ouzo, which is so strong it’s breathtaking until you’ve had a couple of shots and it all mellows out. I’m going to try Black Vines dabbed next. I am a huge licorice fan, the strong black candy and in perfumes, so I greatly enjoyed the drydown, just have to make the topnotes a bit more bearable. Really unique.

    • Robin says:

      You know, dabbed, it might also be a great layering agent. Not sure with what, but something.

  3. egabbert says:

    Robin, have you tried 1000 Flowers Reglisse Noire? It’s super licorice-y too!

    • Robin says:

      Oh, forgot that one completely, thanks!

      That was the one everyone said smelled like Good & Plenty. Have not smelled it in ages, but if my testing notes are accurate, this one is way, way stronger on the licorice.

      • egabbert says:

        Impressive! RN is the most licorice-y perfume I’ve smelled. The drydown is really great. (Oddly, I hate the taste of licorice, but love the smell in fragrances.)

        • Robin says:

          I’m not a massive fan of licorice (to eat) either, although a friend used to get some sort of very strong Australian licorice at Dean & Deluca that was admittedly pretty good. But it’s not what I think of when I want candy.

          I hope I’m remembering RN correctly. It has some sort of fresh or ozonic note in the opening, yes?

          • egabbert says:

            The top note is actually a very strong black pepper note. Not my favorite stage, but not ozonic either.

          • egabbert says:

            But, according to Fragrantica there IS an ozone note in it. I never noticed it behind all the pepper.

          • Robin says:

            Thanks! Ok, then I think my notes are accurate. I’m pretty sensitive to ozone notes, so not surprising I mentioned that and not the pepper in my brief synopsis. I wish I still kept testing notes, but I gave up last year…just too much work. Huge help though, when you haven’t smelled something in years & you have a crappy memory.

  4. pyramus says:

    Demeter Licorice smells EXACTLY like those licorice pipes and cigars, which I gather means that it smells like the core of Black Vines. It’s just wonderful.

    I was less thrilled with Caron’s Eau de Reglisse. When I wear a licorice scent I want it to really smell of licorice.

    • Robin says:

      If I remember correctly, the Caron was very summery & light. Maybe something like Anisia Bella, but don’t think I liked it nearly as much.

      Will have to try the Demeter! Can’t believe it is as strong or long lasting as Black Vines, but it’s way cheaper :-)

  5. Omega says:

    I may have to sniff this one out. 1000 Flowers was too green for me..to where I didn’t end up liking it..so, not sure about this one. Looking at the notes, I bet it was the mint and or ginger that threw it off, sometimes those notes can throw a scent off to me..and I do hate mint.

    I haven’t found *the* licorice scent yet. I do like that Jo Malone and Jasmin Noir L’essence which the later isn’t a candied licorice but is still there. Minuit Noir by Lolita smelled like Nyquil or that Jagermeister drink smell. I don’t drink and not even sure if I spelled it right..but I remember smelling that one and it was like the smell of that drink. I ended up selling that one. Lolitas don’t do it for me.

    Oh and the Hermes had a tomato note to me!!! That I found extremely disgusting as I hate tomato!

    • Omega says:

      Another one I tried was something called Sasallllittto..something like that and am too lazy for spell ck today, lol..but ot wasn’t quite right. Perhaps it was the rice note..not sure..I thought I would love it given the notes..but didn’t.

    • Robin says:

      This one is pretty green too. Worth a shot, but if you don’t like green you may not like it.

  6. thegoddessrena says:

    Just tried this yesterday and found it slightly peculiar but still intriguing once the Good N Plenty opening calms down. I seem to remember Reglisse Noire as being warmer and cozier while this gives me an impression of leafy shade. Will have to compare the two when I get home (either of which will be better than the horrid Omnia flanker I tried on at the mall)

    • Robin says:

      I’d agree with “slightly peculiar”, although to me, in a good way.

      Was that Omnia Indian Garnet? Sad to hear it’s horrible, they really are getting worse instead of better.

      • songeuse says:

        My favorite Omnia is the original one… reminds me of chai tea. :)

        • Robin says:

          It was the best of the series. Don’t think it sells as well as later ones though.

  7. mikeperez23 says:

    This week I recently fell for Vikt by Slumberhouse, another black licorice powerhouse, with menthol-y oud and incense too. Have you smelled Vikt Robin and if so how would you compare it to the Kerosene?

    I still haven’t properly sampled the Kerosene line. Too Many Fragrances!

    Oh and I agree with you on the Caron – it’s just not licorice enough to interest me. However the Hermessence I ADORE!

    • Robin says:

      I have not smelled Vikt…it is too hard to keep up anymore! But I will put it on my list.

      Brin de Reglisse is lovely, although not really a hardcore licorice.

  8. floragal says:

    Yum! I finished off a bag of licorice on my flight home today.
    I love the real stuff, not Twizzler, and especially black. Dean & Deluca (as you note in the comments) has some great licorice options.
    My favorite licorice scent thus far is Hermes’ Brin, but it lasts for all of 30 minutes on me.

    I’m not sure I want a too intense licorice scent to wear, but I’ll definitely give it a go!

    • Robin says:

      Yes, BdR is not a powerhouse! This one lasts much longer, but it’s also pretty darned intense.

  9. sweetgrass says:

    I’ve never been a fan of licorice to eat, but I’ve come to love it in perfume, so I’m curious to try this one and see if it’ll be the one that’s too much. I really like 1kF Reglisse Noire (I don’t get anything ozonic in it) and Lolita Lempicka Au Masculin. Regular LL is too sweet for me, so the men’s version is just right. I also really liked Douce Amere and its smell-alike, Keiko Mecheri Paname. Haven’t tried Brin de Reglisse.

    • AnnieA says:

      Brin de Reglisse is the usual Hermes, pretty but fleeting.

    • Robin says:

      I can’t remember why I didn’t love Paname as much as Douce Amere, I should maybe try it again? Argh, too little time to smell things a second time though…

      • sweetgrass says:

        Oddly enough, they were nearly identical on me. One day I wore Douce Amere on one wrist and Paname on the other, and I hardly noticed a difference.

        • Robin says:

          Interesting! But also, all the more reason not to try it again, since I already have the Douce Amere.

  10. elise says:

    I just got a bottle of Pretty Machine, and I’ve been a fan of Kerosene since he was just on easy; PM is very fresh and I was very happy with it!
    I’m not a licorice fan, but I’d for sure want to try a sample!

    • Robin says:

      Pretty Machine is lovely, I’d like to have a bottle. This is so entirely different, you’d never guess it was by the same person. Except Creature is also extremely different from both, so he must have very eclectic interests/tastes.

  11. AnnE says:

    Haven’t sniffed this one, but I like anise/licorice scent more than the taste. I bought a bottle of Etro Anice a few years ago. I loved it at first; it’s not harsh, as it has a nice bit of musk to round off the edges. In the end I swapped it away – I think my head kept saying “candy!” when there wasn’t any, and it was just too confusing. :)

    • Robin says:

      Ah, the Etro was pretty, I think I tried it around the same time as Guerlain Anisia Bella, and liked the Guerlain better.

      This one is more ‘realistic’ than either of those, so might be way too confusing!

  12. james1051 says:

    Slumberhouse Vikt extrait is a terrific anise-incense-oud-sandalwood scent. Super rich and still very smooth. Highly recommended for licorice fans.

    • Robin says:

      Thanks…that’s two votes, I’d better try it.

  13. 50_Roses says:

    Caron Aimez-Moi smells like violet and anise.

    • Robin says:

      Ah yes, dear old Aimez Moi! Can’t believe I didn’t include it on my list.

  14. PetronellaCJ says:

    I am a licorice addict (we eat a lot of it here in Scandinavia, both sweet and salt and ammoniachloridey), currently hooked on the licorice toffee from UK manufacturers Thornton’s!

    Haven’t stumbled upon many licorice scents yet, but CdG Black is my favourite so far. It is on my FB wish list.

    • Marjorie Rose says:

      Oooh! Licorice toffee sounds faboulous!

  15. Marjorie Rose says:

    Here in the Pacific NW, true black licorice fans can chew on fresh licorice fern root, should they desire a hit of it! The small ferns grow off of trees in the wet forests. If you carefully pull the fern from the tree bark to release some root, strip the outer layer of the root off and give the moist interior a gentle chew, you are rewarded with a very strong licorice flavor. But fair warning, I did this with a friend who didn’t know if he liked black licorice, and he found it overwhelming and repulsive!

    As for fragrances, I own a mini of Aimez Moi, and I’m on the lookout for a 15mL bottle of Reglisse Noir, so this new Kerosene sounds fascinating!

    • Robin says:

      Oh my. I’m not sure I want to try that, but it sounds interesting.

  16. sweetgrass says:

    I got a Black Vines sample today. I like it a lot. I had forgotten about the cinnamon and I got a pretty good dose of it. When I first put it on, the first thing I thought of was Chinese five-spice seasoning, then the cinnamon becomes more prominent, and it reminded me of Tazo cinnamon spice tea. I think I get the fir in the later stages but only a little. I don’t get fig at all. I like it. I think if I got more green in it, I’d like it for spring. With all the cinnamon I think it will be nice for fall.

    • Robin says:

      Yes, it would make a perfect fall scent! Too much for summer, definitely.

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