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Odor profile: apricot-smelling blossom, soft, pliable, sensuous, from an exotic plant cherished in the East. Pairs well with lactonic florals.
Osmanthus blossoms, though not as popular in the West as some other flowers more commonly found, have the olfactory beauty of an intricate dentelle of fruity-leathery smells evoking plums, apricots and prunes hidden in the suede pouch upon a warrior-poet’s belt, as if taken out of a Chinese vignette. It's hard not to be enraptured by their at once complex and delicate scent once you experience it and they lend their delightful and refined aroma in many a perfume composition.
BOTANY AND TRADITIONAL USES
Osmanthus fragrans (Sweet Osmanthus) or 桂花/ guìhuā in Chinese and金木犀/ Kinmokusei in Japanese is another member of the Oleaceae family (like olive or lilac) and its fresh and highly fragrant aroma is a natural wonder professing a nuanced texture. Also known as "Tea Olive" (because olive is the pre-eminent member of the Oleaceae family) it is the emblem flower of Hangzhou, China.
It is especially valued as an additive for tea and other beverages in the Far East where usually the aromatic extract comes from the golden yellow flowers variety. This is because the variant Osmanthus fragrans Lour. var thunbergii has more carotenoids in its chemical make-up which contribute both to the sunnier colouring as well as the enhanced aroma. The flowers are also used to produce osmanthus-scented jam (called guì huā jiàng).
THE CHEMICAL ANGLE
According to Leffingwell: "While the flowers of osmanthus range from silver-white (Osmanthus fragrans Lour. var. latifolius Mak.) to gold-orange (Osmanthus fragrans Lour. var. thunbergii Mak.) to reddish (Osmanthus fragrans Lour. var. aurantiacus Mak.), the extract (alcohol absolute) is usually prepared from the gold-orange flowers. Osmanthus absolute is very expensive (~U.S. $4000.00 per kilogram) and accordingly is used in only the most expensive perfumes and flavors.
Various workers have examined the different colored varieties and find that the gold-orange variety (e.g., Osmanthus fragrans Lour. var thunbergii ) tends to have more of the desirous notes and tend to be higher in carotenoid derived materials. Among the carotenoids of Osmanthus are all trans-beta-Carotene, all trans-alpha-Carotene and Neo-beta-carotene B.
In addition to cis-jasmone, gamma-decalactone and various delta-lactones which contribute to the flavor of Osmanthus, an extensive number of ionone derivatives and Theaspirane derivatives derived from carotenoids are present."
OSMANTHUS IN PERFUMERY
Osmanthus absolute is indeed an expensive raw material for the perfumer, but worth investing in due to its unique olfactory profile: Highly fragrant and succulent in its peachy-apricoty top note it is nothing short of mouthwatering. The effect of the natural flower is undoubtedly enhanced with a synthesized apricoty creamy note (benzylaldehyde, aldehyde C16, amyl butyrate), giving an almost velours effect. The essence of osmanthus naturally contains cis-jasmone (a white floral note), gamma-decalactone and various delta-lactones (peachy-milky notes) as well as several ionones derivates, which accounts for its violet-like sweetness.
Synthesized essences are essential to reinforce and extend the fruity nuance of the real blossoms in most commercial formulae, while the underpinning with suede-like materials gives depth and sensuality.
FRAGRANCES WITH OSMANTHUS NOTES:
Aubusson Histoire d'Amour
Ayala Moriel Kinmokusei
Badgley Mischka by Badley Mischka
Calvin Klein Escape
Davidoff Echo for women
Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers
Estee Lauder Beautiful Love
Escada Sunny Frutti
Givenchy L'Interdit (2003 re-issue)
Hermes Osmanthe Yunnan
Hove Tea Olive
Jean Patou 1000
Keiko Mecheri Osmanthus
Kenzo Jungle Le Tigre
Lancome Benghal (travel exclusive)
Marcela Borghese Il Bacio
Michael Kors by Micheal Kors
Narciso Rodriguez Narciso for Her (recreated note)
Nina Ricci Deci Dela
Oleg Cassini Cassini
Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus
Oscar de la Renta Volupte
Parfums d'Empire Osmanthus interdite
Providence Perfumes Osmanthus Oolong
Roger & Gallet Fleurs d'Osmanthus
Serge Lutens Datura Noir
The Different Company Osmanthus
Author: Elena Vosnaki is a historian & perfume writer from Greece and a Writer to Fragrantica. She is the founder and editor of Perfume Shrine, one of the most respected independent online publications on perfume containing fragrance reviews, industry interviews, essays on raw materials and perfume history, a winner in Fragrantica Blog Awards and a finalist in numerous blog awards contests. Her writing was recognised at the Fifi Awards for Editorial Excellence in 2009 and she has been contributing to publications around the world.
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