How to Smell Peaches in Guerlain Mitsouko

When I wrote my article about lactones, I explained that Guerlain Mitsouko was one of the first perfumes to use these compounds redolent of peach skin and cream. Many of you then commented that you found it difficult to detect lactones in Mitsouko. This difficulty is not surprising, since the peach skin note in Mitsouko is not intended to be a dominant one. Instead, it offsets the darkness of moss and woods and harmonizes the warm drydown and the floral heart of the perfume.

In general, none of the Guerlain classics are easy to take apart note by note; this is not like modern niche perfumery where you can tell the percentage of Iso E Super at first sniff. The idea of the grand parfums like Mitsouko wasn’t to recreate a smell of peach or moss, but to evoke a mood, to tell a story and to tease the senses. I like the streamlined modern perfumes for other reasons, but if I want baroque complexity, Guerlain classics are my first port of call.

Like other perfumers, I spent months of my training recreating important classics without recourse to gas chromatography–with only my nose to guide me. So here I propose a technique that will help you identify the peach note in Mitsouko.

For this exercise, you’ll need Mitsouko in any concentration you wish and a bottle of another Guerlain classic created by Jacques Guerlain. Shalimar, L’Heure Bleue, Après L’Ondée will all work. I’ve used L’Heure Bleue in my video, and I explain the technique in the detail.

The most important thing is to keep the following order when you smell: first, smell L’Heure Bleue and only then smell Mitsouko. Although at first glance the two perfumes are completely different, they share a number of similar accords. The idea is to saturate your olfactory receptors with the Guerlinade accord used in both fragrances, and then when you smell Mitsouko, its distinctive peach skin note will stand out.

If you need to remind yourself what peach skin smells like, right now is the perfect season for it. Then if you have peaches on hand, you can do another exercise described in the video to help you identify the Guerlinade accord.

Don’t worry if this doesn’t work on the first attempt. It took me months to recreate Mitsouko. The most important part is to keep practicing and to enjoy smelling.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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42 Comments

  • Claudia: This sounds like fun! My next project 😀 June 29, 2020 at 9:14am Reply

    • Victoria: Please let us know how it goes. June 30, 2020 at 1:49am Reply

  • Nina: Will do🍑 June 29, 2020 at 9:49am Reply

  • Wendyr: Love this! I am a Guerlain Girl at heart – my favorite! June 29, 2020 at 10:13am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you liked it. June 30, 2020 at 1:49am Reply

  • Henry: I want to try this! June 29, 2020 at 11:40am Reply

  • Bill: What a neat trick! Thank you Victoria!

    I have one question though. It’s often seen that perfumers compare three or four mods on blotters at the same time. Won’t their nose be saturated with the smell of one mod and wouldn’t that affect their judgment of another mod? June 29, 2020 at 11:46am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it does. Whenever you smell something, the perception of another scent will be affected. Perfumery training, however, is to teach one how to use this to one’s advantage and how to circumvent it. A developed olfactory memory helps, because even though you perceive a scent differently, you remember the scent clearly that you’ve smelled before. Another simple technique is to switch the order to smelling. Again, you have to use your memory to fill in the blanks. So you usually see a perfumer smell blotters 1-2-3-4, then 4-3-2-1, then randomly. June 30, 2020 at 1:54am Reply

      • Bill: Oh I see. It’s very illuminating! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us! June 30, 2020 at 2:30am Reply

  • Joyce: Informative as always, thank you, Victoria!

    I only have Mitsouko from the classics. Sadly though, that one reminds me greatly of blue cheese on the skin. On fabric, it’s a strong unisex, and green Chypre. I will obtain Shalimar one day, but in the meantime, Mitsouko is on olfactory exile 😿

    However, I have Samsara EDP, EDT and Insolence EDP and the violets, iris and sandalwood make the three seem almost identical at the initial sniff. June 29, 2020 at 1:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: They do have similar accords, so I can see why they may appear close. June 30, 2020 at 1:55am Reply

  • Fleurycat: I cant wait to try this. I have been intending to purchase some L’Heure Bleue, or a decant and I can purchase a small sample of Mitsouko and Apres L’Ondee (which I once loved) at the same time to carry out this experiment. Additionally, I am curious which currently available form of L’Heure Bleue would you recommend: EDT or EDP? And/or is it worth trying to find a vintage bottle? Thank you! June 29, 2020 at 2:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: Vintage L’Heure Bleue has a particularly velvety facet, but I like the modern EDP very much. June 30, 2020 at 1:57am Reply

      • Fleurycat: Thank you, Victoria. I will have to try them both!
        And I will try the Mitsouko experiment as well.
        Take care! June 30, 2020 at 3:30pm Reply

  • Peggy: I am so interested in seeing if I can find peach and vanilla in Mitsouko! What a great experiment! June 29, 2020 at 2:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: Give it a try, it’s such a fun experiment. June 30, 2020 at 1:57am Reply

  • Nick: You are spot-on! After having saturated my nose with L’Heure Bleue extrait, the fuzzy, lactonic note of flat peach skin is easier to detect in the EdP of Mitsouko, like an rounded creamy touch ‘at the surface’. June 29, 2020 at 2:45pm Reply

  • Forget-me-not: Thank you, Victoria! Did you use vintage bottles in your video? If one can’t get the vintage perfume, will the experiment still work? June 29, 2020 at 4:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: It works with any version of Mitsouko. All of the versions have lactones. June 29, 2020 at 4:51pm Reply

      • Forget-me-not: Thank you! June 29, 2020 at 5:47pm Reply

  • Peter: Aloha Victoria,

    I was already thinking about you this morning, as I was taking my first sniff of Aftelier Honey Blossom. Nina recommended the Cuir Gardenia and Cacao. I looked up your reviews to finalize my last choice in the sample trio. Your description of playing in the linden blossoms during Springtime won me over. I get the floral honey scent and then a sap-like hint of darkness.

    Maholo nui loa (thank you VERY much) for the Guerlain peach/lactone experiment. I followed your instructions using L’Heure Bleue and I think I got closer to identifying
    the mossy peach. How I love Mitsouko! June 29, 2020 at 5:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so glad to hear it, Peter!

      Lindens are blooming in Brussels right now, and I can smell their honeyed scent whenever I open a window. Bliss! June 30, 2020 at 1:59am Reply

  • Amanda M: What a lovely idea Victoria and one idea most definitely on my to-do list!
    I just adore Mitsouko and it’s peachy delightfulness in all iterations.
    I think I’m one of the fortunate ones on who’s skin it works…
    😊🍑 June 29, 2020 at 8:56pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s a challenging perfume, but when it works, it’s a beauty. June 30, 2020 at 2:00am Reply

  • Tourmaline: Hi Victoria,

    Well, I’ve had rather a charmed day, so far. I slept in, and when I woke up and switched on the radio, an interesting episode of “The History Listen” had just begun on Radio National. It was about “The Master and Margarita”, and how Australian director, Baz Luhrman had just obtained the film rights. For those who would like to listen to the 30-minute program, it is here:

    https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/the-history-listen/master-and-margarita/12387598

    Then, I tried your suggestion and was able to smell the peach in Mitsouko – a revelation. I often wonder why, for many years, I was unable to tell the difference between Mitsouko and Femme. I’d like to think that my sense of smell has improved, but it might be more likely that Femme changed, because these days it seems deeper, perhaps woodier, than Mitsouko, and I can tell the two scents apart easily.

    In the early afternoon, growing bored with the film I was watching, I checked the World Movies channel and, in another instance of serendipity, I was just in time to watch “This Beautiful Fantastic” for the first time. It is a 2016 English film and I found it lovely. It struck me as having similarities to The Secret Garden, except that it’s aimed at adults. I liked Bella’s first gardening outfit; with the black clothes and veil, she looked as though she was ready for a funeral!

    Speaking of my own gardening, if only it would rain, so I wouldn’t have to go outside later and water a few plants, then my day of good fortune would be complete. A week ago, my 91-year-old father kindly gave me eight bougainvillea cuttings to plant in the eight empty alcoves around the unit block – a task I’d volunteered at a Body Corporate meeting to do. My father advised me that I would have to water them every day for at least six weeks if they were to have a hope of striking during the winter. The plants have gorgeous bright colours – four are fuchsia and four are purple. So far, so good. No sign of rain, though…

    With kind regards,
    Tourmaline June 30, 2020 at 2:23am Reply

    • Tourmaline: Sorry for the spelling error – Baz Luhrmann June 30, 2020 at 3:42am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, I hope that it rains then. They’re such beautiful flowers. July 1, 2020 at 7:24am Reply

      • Tourmaline: They are indeed! July 1, 2020 at 7:52am Reply

    • Victoria: And it does sound like you’ve had a beautiful day. July 1, 2020 at 7:25am Reply

      • Tourmaline: 😊 🌺 July 1, 2020 at 7:43am Reply

  • Notturno7: Dear Victoria, I can smell the peach note in Mitsouko. It took a me a bit to fall in love with this perfume but I love it. I read in The Guide that Mitsouko means mystery in Japanese. I have the perfume that I sparingly use and the recent buy, a spray bottle.
    On another note, I’m looking for a vintage Vacances. After I read your review I bought a new bottle but it’s missing something. It’s lovely but not a 5 star, remarkable perfume with stunning green notes. I’ve been trying to find a vintage bottle ever since on ebay but no luck so far. Any idea where I should look? Thank you so much July 1, 2020 at 6:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, it’s one of the readings. A couple of years ago I wrote this article about the meaning of the word Mitsouko
      https://boisdejasmin.com/2017/07/what-does-the-word-mitsouko-in-guerlain-perfume-mean.html

      I really have no idea, I don’t buy vintage perfumes these days. July 1, 2020 at 7:22am Reply

      • Notturno7: Wow, Victoria! Thank you for that link! It’s so interesting about how person’s name Mitsouko can mean a different thing depending on which characters are used.
        Is Japanese one of the languages you study?
        Are you learning a new language this year or improving on one of the many languages you speak? July 6, 2020 at 3:29pm Reply

        • Victoria: I’ve started learning Turkish and Serbo-Croatian before the lockdown started, because I had a travel plan, and I continued with those. I already understand Turkish well, since some people in my family speak Azeri, which is very similar, but it’s been great to formally study the language. There are many Turkish words in both Russian and Ukrainian (not to mention the Balkan languages, Persian, Arabic, etc.), so making such connections is exciting. At least, for me. July 8, 2020 at 2:28am Reply

          • Notturno7: Dear Victoria, it’s so exciting and inspiring that you’re learning so many languages.
            If you need to practice Croatian/ Serbian/ Bosnian w someone in exchange for practice in French, German or Italian, I’d be more then delighted. 🙏🌷
            I’m forgetting everything. French would be on top of my list. Oh, I so hope you need someone to practice with! Please let me know! July 9, 2020 at 6:04am Reply

  • Aurora: It worked like magic, thank you, Victoria, it has reconciled me with Mitsouko, I have never had ups and downs with l’Heure Bleue, but Mitsouko is temperamental I find. July 3, 2020 at 12:48pm Reply

  • Charlotte Barrow: Thank you Victoria, I’m loving these instructional videos! This is such a fun experiment.

    I tried Mitsouko back-to-back with Shalimar and the peach note was more pronounced. However, where I really noticed Mitsouko change was when compared with peaches (became very rich and vanillic, closer to Shalimar) and with vanilla extract (peach and oak moss far more noticeable). I never realised how smell comparisons could so drastically change how we perceive aroma!

    PS Tourmaline thank you for sharing The Master and Margarita clip; I read the book last year and am very curious to see what Baz Luhrmann will do with it (I loved his early films; Strictly Ballroom is fantastic and Romeo and Juliet was one of my favourite films when I was a teenager!). July 5, 2020 at 7:21am Reply

  • Julie A. Basile, MS: Adore this one. Love all citrus, water, salt, lily of the valley and apricot peach fragrances.

    Vanille Abricot
    Hadrien
    All the Hermes ones
    old 1970/1980 favs were
    Cristalle by Chanel – can’t find
    Tatiana by DVF – can’t find
    Diorissimo — I still wear
    This is a beautiful post — going to review it again.
    Have a beautiful day!
    Blessings,
    Julie July 6, 2020 at 10:12am Reply

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