Geisha Botan by aroma M perfumes

Notes: Peony, rose, sandalwood, vanilla, velvet woods, oakmoss and musk. 

I love the whole aroma M perfumes aesthetic from the Yuzen paper used to decorate the bottles to the American indie brand’s Atelier (pictured below).


aroma m maria


Perfumer and style maven Maria McElroy regularly posts pictures full of beauty on social media, including Japanese fine art and her cat Tama chan. When it comes to the fragrances themselves, they are equally captivating. There has to be a perfume among the varied Geisha collection for just about everyone.

Geisha Botan (botan being peony in Japanese) is the latest addition.



Maria first encountered a peony garden when she moved to Tokyo in the 1980s and sees them as a quintessentially Asian flower. The peony derived its name from Paeon, a physician to the Greek gods. For centuries the roots, bark, seeds and flowers of peonies have been used for medicinal purposes and are purported to ward off evil chi.  They have a joyous, carefree quality and are a popular motif in traditional Japanese tattoos, denoting a devil-may-care attitude.


The peonies do not allow
The rain-clouds a hundred leagues round
To approach them.
– Buson


I was predisposed to like Geisha Botan because I knew it was inspired by the uplifting, rosy scent of peonies, but they are the overarching theme rather than the whole story. It is a much more nuanced and full-bodied fragrance than I expected it to be. I was imagining a breezy and innocent scent but it possesses presence and depth right from the beginning.

I was pleasantly surprised by the mossy facet and its juxtaposition with the fresh flower works well. The peony and accentuating presence of rose, lie like a bolt of vivid pink satin over the forest floor.  The contrast between the bright, blowsy blooms and the lichen covered earth makes what could have been a pretty but simple scent, into something rich and compelling.  It mirrors Aroma M’s eclectic feel, where Japanese influences are filtered through a New York state of mind.

The composition is filled out by a substantial though airy vanilla, similar to the variety found in Geisha Vanilla Hinoki, softening the overall effect and adding comfort. If you like vanilla but tire of perfumes where it’s overpowering and overly sweet, this could be a good option for you. The base compromises musky woods with a velvety feel, as advertised in the notes.

Geisha Botan is a versatile fragrance – relaxed enough to wear during the day but also intriguing enough to wear at night. It’s a sophisticated floral vanilla, the likes of which we don’t see often enough.





Do you like peonies? Do you like the sound of Geisha Botan?








Filed under Perfume Reviews

14 responses to “Geisha Botan by aroma M perfumes

  1. Loved your take on Botan, especially the beautiful image of ‘bolt of pink satin’! Isn’t it an unusual take on a peony scent, more substantial than expected, and perfect for the colder weather.


    • Thanks, V. Yes, so unexpected. Not at all wan as you mentioned in your post – though I wouldn’t be adverse to a lighter take. The timing with the weather is perfect.


  2. Sandra

    Hi Tara, Peonies are one of my favorite flowers. This perfume sounds wonderful especially as it has a touch of vanilla. Have a lovely weekend.
    Sandra xo


  3. I love the oil. So does Chris. And so does the cat, who licked it off in the morning. It lasts for hours. It’s just lovely. And yeah, a good hit of vanilla, but wrapped in the floral. I would be happy to own it. I already have two of Maria’s oils. Xxxx


  4. Hey Tara,
    Did you also know that, superstitiously, Peonies only open properly in a vase if they are given with love?
    Portia xx


  5. Peonies are beautiful and, in my opinion, underappreciated flowers. Of course, they are not as refined as roses but they smell wonderful and seem full of life and … wholesome (?).
    I tried several perfumes that feature this flower but so far none of them came close to how peonies smell to me. Maybe this one will be different?..


  6. Pingback: aroma M Geisha Botan by Maria McElroy 2018 | Australian Perfume Junkies

  7. I think all the pretty mainstream peonies with white musk have probably killed this note for me, but I love the flowers.
    The mossy facet and forest floor sounds like a beautiful contrast.
    ‘like a bolt of vivid pink satin over the forest floor. ‘ beautiful, Tara! I’m so out of training… 😀


    • Thanks, Asali. You are a beautiful writer so it means a lot.
      The fact that peony scents are usually just as you describe made this such a pleasant surprise.


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