Bitter Peaches: Peaches in Perfumery
Raw Materials

by Matvey Yudov
07/04/21 13:08:01 ( 27 comments )

A peach, like a rose, for example, is a plant that has arisen through human intervention. The David peach (Latin Prunus davidiana) can be considered a distant wild ancestor of the peach tree, while the modern cultivated peach is a hybrid of David's peach, along with many other species (common almond, Chinese plum, quince, Gansuan peach, and common apricot).

Peaches on a table.

Peach or common peach (Latin Prunus persica) is a plant species of the Plum genus, the Almond subgenus of the Rose family. Yes, formally, from the point of view of botanical classification, peach is plum; its scientific Latin name literally translates as "Persian plum."

It is believed that peach first appeared in northern China, and from there it came to India and then to Persia (modern Iran) and from Persia it came to Europe. In Italy, peaches were already known at the very beginning of the first millennium.

There are many varieties of peaches. Traditionally, peaches are called as such only if they are fruits with velvety skin and easily detachable pits. If the pit is difficult to separate from the pulp, such fruits are called pavia. Peaches with plum-smooth skin are called nectarines; they are sometimes distinguished as the subspecies Prunus persica var. nucipersica. Nectarines pits should also easily separate from the pulp, otherwise, it is called bruignon.

Fresh peaches with their leaves.

Peach is perhaps one of the first fruits whose aroma perfumers have learned to recreate. This became possible thanks to the emergence of a substance called γ-undecalactone. The velvety peach peel warmed by the sun you smell in the legendary Guerlain Mitsouko is γ-undecalactone.

Undecalactone chemical formula and Mitsouko bottle.

Lactones play a very important role in the peach scent, but in nature, they are mainly lactones with an even number of carbon atoms: γ-hexalactone, γ-octalactone, γ-decalactone, δ-decalactone.

 

Peach hanging on a tree.

While lactones are responsible for the warm, creamy facet of the peach scent, the fruity aspects are formed by an intricate blend of esters, primarily acetic acid esters (acetates.) Often perfumers like to embellish the fruity component of the peach scent - that is when all kinds of pivalates, valerates and butyrates can help.

 

Peach acetates and their chemical formulas.

In addition to the aforementioned lactones and esters, aldehydes (in addition to the "usual" aldehydes, we separately mention benzaldehyde, which is responsible for an important "almond" nuance), alcohols and ketones (including linalool, ionones, phenyl ethyl alcohol, terpineol, geranyl acetone), and some terpenes (limonene, ocimene, theaspirane) also contribute to a smell of peach. A hyper-realistic peach will require trace amounts of specific sulfur and nitrogen compounds to add a subtle tropical nuance. When creating your own peach accord, look at frutonile, peach mercaptan, and epach thiazole.

Perfume peaches are a great opportunity to talk about an important class of fragrances. Many of you will remember that natural musky substances are macrocyclic structures. This is true for substances of both animal and plant origin, with only one fundamental difference: vegetable musks are macrocyclic lactones, and animalic ones are macrocyclic ketones:

Floral and animal chemical elements in peaches.

If by analogy, we change the ester group to the ketone group in γ-lactones, we then get a number of cyclopentanone derivatives that are very valuable for perfumery.

Nectaryl, Jasmone, Apritone, and other chemical formula.

With ketones, in contrast to lactones, there are significantly fewer waxy coconut and coumarin aspects, but flower facets are distinguishable in them. This is half a step from the lactone profile in the direction toward cis-jasmone (comparing the structures,) and then, moving forward in time, somewhere methyl jasmonate and hedione. Ketones have another important advantage: chemically they are much more stable and can be used in fragrances for fairly aggressive household products.

Usually, having a palpable lactone/ketone note in a fruity context is enough to add a peach smell to the scent pyramid, as in the case of Lancôme Trésor, Lancôme Poême, Dior Dolce Vita, Chanel Allure, Hugo Boss Scent For Her, D&G The One, Gucci Rush. If the profile is more floral, then we can see "peach flowers" in the pyramid, as in Lanvin Eclat d'Arpege, Amouage Dia or Burberry Weekend.

Tom Ford: Bitter Peach.

Bringing peach to the forefront and building a whole scent around this note is rarely done: Usually, you get a frivolous fantasy on the theme of fruity bubble gum and a bit of a beach cocktail. (Brocard Peachy SkyZara Peach Margarita, Victoria's Secret Peach Squeeze, The Body Shop Vineyard Peach, CSP Vanille Peach)

Probably many will agree with me that one of the most striking peach-themed fragrances of recent times is Tom Ford Bitter Peach, which does a trick with peach, similar to the one that was demonstrated in Lost Cherry with cherries. The fragrance is made in the current "delightful" gourmand style, the central accord of peach liqueur is carefully modified to a full-fledged aroma.

Peachy cocktalis.

At the beginning of the fragrance, the peach's own aldehyde facet is ingeniously enhanced by juicy tart greens, slightly cooling cardamom, and infused with alcoholic notes that support the illusion of liqueur. In the heart, fruity notes are balanced with floral notes, a tropical peach tone is framed by fruity-currant davana (perhaps, in terms of ranking, it is in second place in the aroma.) Gradually, the "beach" mood transforms into something more formal and strict: The base of the fragrance is inherently chypre and built on a serious portion of patchouli, woody materials, labdanum, and other resins.

Tom Ford's Bitter Peach bottle.

What are your favorite peachy scents?
 

Author

Matvey Yudov

Matvey Yudov Author, editor

Matvey Yudov is a chemist, perfumer, and musician. Mat is a researcher and specialist in the chemistry of aromatic materials. He graduated from Lomonosov Moscow State University in 1999. He writes for the popular perfume blog leopoldray.blogspot.com (in Russian).

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News Comments

Write your comment
Betsywoolbright
Tubereuse 1 La Capricieuse

Betsywoolbright

Peach is a note I want to love. Peaches are some of my favorite fruits. But sadly, the note goes sour on my skin most of the time. One of the first indications that I was pregnant with my son was when Samsara (eau de toilette) started smelling like rotten peaches on my skin instead of that glorious previously-dominant iris and ylang ylang.
Mat Yudov
Liquidnight

Mat Yudov

FlavrPoodle yep, thanks! Fixed.
banana47
Mure et Musc Extreme

banana47

Informative! Learned a lot, but I still hate peaches. 🍑
Vegas Pauli
Libre Intense

Vegas Pauli

JOY Forever by Jean Patou is one of the most peachy scents every created. Sad it is discontinued
Nicole5678
A*Men Kryptomint

Nicole5678

Love Mitsouko, Kiste, and Tresor. All so different, from subtle to juicy.
Khasia
Le Beau Parfum

Khasia 07/06/21 12:47

The most intriguing note of peach, among perfumes I know, is certainly the one in Andromeda by Tiziana Terenzi
shenamedel
Allure

shenamedel 07/06/21 11:29

I Really Enjoy Peach Fragrances As Well As Apricot, Nectarine, Etc. & I Wear Them In Allure Sensuelle & Allure Chanel EDT & EDP, Adam Levine For Women, Perry Ellis Coral 360, Sonia Kashuk Red Promisia, Jivago Bird Of Paradise For Women, To Name Some.
FlavrPoodle

FlavrPoodle 07/06/21 10:09

The structure shown for the trans-3-Hexenyl acetate is incorrect.
LSAUG
Fresh Morning

LSAUG 07/06/21 10:07

I just bought a bottle of Mitsouko and really liked it, great peach chypre. But my favorite peach fragrance is Last Light by Henry Rose.
Konga5000
Narciso Rodriguez For Her

Konga5000 07/06/21 08:49

Elizabeth Taylor Gardenia is really Tuberose /Peach as a cheapie! Also affordable is Burberry Woman : Peach cake (try to go for older formulas OR a tester bottle ) . Thank me later.
alexo
Gold Leaves

alexo 07/06/21 07:59

Pêche et Suède Linda Landenberg
myricle
Bebe

myricle 07/06/21 07:32

Peach is one of those notes that I LOVE in perfume, but keep forgetting that I love, so I don't go out of my way to seek out new scents featuring it. Thanks for breaking down the chemistry of how this succulent note works in fragrance, Matvey!

One of my favorite peach-centric scents (though the note is officially "nectarine") is the highly underrated Jimmy Choo Floral -- WAY more peach presence than floral, and it's a really distinctive peach: spicy/herbal in a very peculiar way that doesn't bring to mind any other scent I own, a bit dry, even a touch bitter, but very girly and easy to love, for all that. It's also *strong*, unlike a lot of Jimmy Choo's scents (particularly the "eau" types in the lighter-colored bottles -- Floral is in a pale blue one).

Also love the original Burberry -- it's one of my favorite comfort scents, and for this reason I often wear it to bed for easy sleep and pleasant dreams. Oh, and can't forget Gucci Rush! Oddly, I don't find it sexy at all -- just quirky, youthfully feminine, and happy-candy-peachy. Finally, Bitter Peach is amazing, in spite of Tom Ford's name being on the bottle. :P It smells very retro to me, like I remember peach-scented products smelling in the '80s -- but high-quality ones, mind you, not cheap/kids' ones. Now I need to go comb my collection for other peach-forward favorites and put them on my "scent du moment" shelf (it would be "jour," "semaine," or "mois," but I'm not that punctual). :D
seachase
Artisan

seachase 07/06/21 06:42

I love when my wife wears the original Burberry for women. The peach in this perfume is divinely blended with apricot and pear, yet it never sinks into fruity/girly territory. Rather, it shimmers in a classy, sophisticated and sexy fashion. My absolute favorite peach based fragrance.
MEOWITSTERRA
Dior Grand Bal

MEOWITSTERRA 07/06/21 03:47

Luciano Soprani Donna is my favorite peach. It's warm and cozy to me.
mszigetihu

mszigetihu 07/06/21 03:43

No mention of Slumberhouse Kiste? Seriously?
flordelceibo
Roses Jasmine

flordelceibo 07/05/21 13:54

Many thanks for this article and for bringing peach to the discussion. I am also a fan of perfumes with a peach note. My favourites ones are: Yvresse (or better so, the original Champagne); Allure EDP, both of which have already been mentioned by other readers. And I also love Liaisons Dangereuses (by Killian), which is a delicate combination of peach and roses. I can't stand Gucci Rush, though (I find it too synthetic). I am also keen on continuing reading further recommendations!
nelliebabes
Roses Vanille

nelliebabes 07/05/21 10:30

What a wonderfully informative article! As a designer I can appreciate all the work put in. I love peach fragrances! I'm always on the hunt for anything with a juicy peach accord. Open to recs!
mangoboii1
Palo Santo

mangoboii1 07/05/21 01:29

Love the organic chemistry class along with the lovely fragrant implications!
Glyph
Eau Fraiche

Glyph 07/04/21 23:00

To my mind, Mitsouko will always and forever be THE peach fragrance.
So much for you, Tom Ford!
(p.s.--Great article.)
RkrChk
Zen

RkrChk 07/04/21 18:03

What a seductive fruit AND similarly seductive article; it's so full of intensely interesting research and visuals...I happen to love the original YSL Champagne...The peach note in this vintage fragrance bomb lingers and lingers...I also enjoy Rasha [Al Rehab] which is a dead ringer clone for Gucci Rush; I have both...

As always, thanks much, Mat, for your hard work; I *love* reading the stuff you write!

~ ♥ ~
Catsylvania
Tresor

Catsylvania 07/04/21 17:58

Absolutely adore Allure EDP, Tresor and Black Pearls. These are my favorite peaches <3

Funny how a really long time ago when I was a young teen, I honestly felt like Tresor was bitter but wearing it nowadays, it comes off as pretty darn sweet after the initial opening.
RobinRC

RobinRC 07/04/21 17:23

My favorites are Flower of Immortality by Killian, Hedonist by Viktoria Minya, and Peche Cardinale by MDCI.
cardinal575
X For Men

cardinal575 07/04/21 17:09

Love Slumberhouse Kiste
Adelaide Rocks
Feerie Rose des Neiges

Adelaide Rocks 07/04/21 16:33

Most of the article is way over my head, but I still enjoyed reading it. Thanks Mat! My favorite peach, in fact the only one of my scents in which I can clearly detect the peach, is Linda Landenberg's Pêche et Suède.
MoonSparrow
Sikkim Girls

MoonSparrow 07/04/21 15:58

Great article, love peaches and Tresor is one of my favorites!
smellagent
Mademoiselle Piguet

smellagent 07/04/21 14:42

Good article love peach…… peche cardinal and Hedonist by VM but my fave might be Ouris by SHLucas.
ysatis
Yohji Yamamoto pour Femme

ysatis 07/04/21 13:17

Dear Mat!! Thanks for this juicy description!! I like the cocktail of science and art in your articles!!

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