Scent of Cherries

Before working for a fragrance and flavor company for several years, I had often wondered why cherry-flavored candy tasted nothing like the real thing. It turns out that just as perfumers have their classical accords to create the scent of rose, amber or jasmine, so do the flavorists. The cherry accord, for instance, is based on a compound called benzaldehyde, which has an almond-like scent, and since the molecule is present in cherry pits, it inspired the cherry flavor most of us recognize from sweets, liqueurs and cough syrups. Even if it lacks the tartness and floral accents of real fruit, today’s flavorists are bound by public expectations to keep to the classical cherry accord. Anything else may not register as cherry to many people.

In my recent FT magazine column, Scents of Cherries, I write about the flavor and fragrance of cherries and explore fragrances that capture something of the natural cherry scent. Cherry accords can appear in the most unexpected contexts in fragrances, from delicate colognes to warm orientals, without losing their distinctiveness. So, I share some of my favorites.

Right now, I’m also enjoying the cherry season, and I look forward to the sour cherries. They may taste tart, but they smell sweet and heady.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin




  • rosarita: One of these days I’m going to get to a Neimans and smell Lost Cherry. It’s way out of my price range but I do want to try it. And it’s been many years since I’ve smelled Lolita Lempicka, I should try it again. Thanks as always for sharing your interesting articles! June 14, 2019 at 9:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Lolita Lempicka is always a big favorite. I also like the bottle. June 15, 2019 at 8:10am Reply

  • Lema: Lost Cherry is beautiful and playful without being childish-it has a darker side, but sadly within minutes it vanishes. A bit like Rahat Loukoum (and Louve).

    Delicious Cherry Lady (Brocard)? June 14, 2019 at 11:35am Reply

    • Victoria: I haven’t tried it yet! June 15, 2019 at 8:09am Reply

  • Aurora: I’ve just had my first apricots of the season and cherries are favorites too.

    I really found your article so interesting with its historical background of the cherry accord. I must admit I’m not a big fan of cherry in perfumes, but I will seek out the ones you list.

    I do have a small bottle of Cartier Delices extrait but don’t reach for it and I remember fondly Dior Addict Eau Delice from some years ago. June 14, 2019 at 3:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: I was never one myself, but I realized that I had a few that appealed to me. June 15, 2019 at 8:09am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: I have Louve which I tested a day or so before spray testing Lost Cherry liberally in a shop. I found Tom Ford’s perfume to be similar during the very first moments. However, after a short while it got far more complex or deeper than the Serge Lutens.
    I must say I always feel the Louve is a girl’s scent, all pink and very girly. I can only layer it with some monster patchouli like the stuff from Santa Maria Novella. June 14, 2019 at 4:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also find Louve interesting, but it’s not as sweet on me as it seems to be on you. It does layer well, though. June 15, 2019 at 8:09am Reply

      • OnWingsofSaffron: It’s not really the sweetness: it’s the Cherry Coke cuteness; a naive gaudiness; something giggling— June 15, 2019 at 9:44am Reply

        • Victoria: Makes sense! I see exactly what you mean. June 17, 2019 at 11:10am Reply

  • Robin Charles: Sorry ladies,
    I am going to be more down to earth with the Cherry smells I like.
    I love cherries but found that the food industry did not do it justice so I gave up buying any food or products with cherries smells.
    As to the above mentioned perfumes, I did not know that they had cherry smells nuances. I will definitely try them.
    Rituals had this wonderful douche mousse called Sakura. It does have very refined notes of cherries and white rice. This has been for years how I indulge in the cherry smell. The fluffy texture of the mousse is just a bliss. June 15, 2019 at 8:01am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, that’s exactly what I said in my article. There is a reason why many of us find cherry flavors disappointing and not at all like the real thing.
      P.S. there are also men commenting in this thread. 🙂 June 15, 2019 at 8:06am Reply

  • Robin Charles: Me a culpa,
    I did not realize.
    Please let me correct my mistake: ladies and gentlemen.
    Thank you Victoria June 15, 2019 at 8:10am Reply

    • Victoria: No worries! It’s not always possible to tell from the screen names.

      Either way, I agree with you about things promising to smell of cherry, food or perfume. Often it’s the sweet, almond-like scent that’s anything but natural. June 17, 2019 at 11:11am Reply

  • Silvermoon: Cherry (fruit) is something I would never think to choose in a perfume. Cherry (flower) is what comes to mind. Amazed to read that Lolita Lempiska is supposed to have a cherry note. I always really like it (and also the lovely bottle), and had some when I was in my 20s (and only had 2-3 perfumes at a time).

    Staying on the cherry theme, my order of a sample selection of Shoyeido incense arrived the other day and the first one I tested was Kyoto Cherry Blossoms. Mild and pretty, but not too special. I have now tried Great Origin (sandalwood and cinnamon) too, which I liked much better. Six more to try…. June 15, 2019 at 12:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: Lolita Lempicka does smell of cherries, and it’s one of the accords that make up its gourmand profile.

      Looking forward to your other reviews of the incense. June 17, 2019 at 11:13am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: A post on Scent of Cherries. Isn’t it funny no one asked about Guerlain’s new Aqua Allegoria “Flora Cherrysia”? Is it the cheesy name, the scent mix (watermelon and cherry blossom)? Perhaps nobody really cares anymore? June 19, 2019 at 5:01pm Reply

    • Victoria: I didn’t care for it. It was both sweet and sharp on me, strange. June 24, 2019 at 5:23am Reply

  • Tami: I’m a huge cherry fan. I think I’ve just eaten my weight in them!

    But yes, most cherry scents have disappointed me. Lost Cherry has come the closest to what I want to smell like when I wear something “cherry”—on me, the cherry danish smell dissipates far too quickly… but the cherry tobacco notes last a REALLY long time. I enjoy it but I can’t wear it all the time. I have a small “sample” and I can’t bring myself to shell out the big money to buy a bottle.

    Viktor & Rolf Dancing Roses *almost* got me, but the drydown was icky on me. Someone on Fragrantica described it as “rosy DEET” (bug spray), and I’d say that was accurate for my experience. June 22, 2019 at 9:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: I also didn’t like the way Dancing Roses dried down. Otherwise, it was very appealing. June 24, 2019 at 5:30am Reply

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