A tiny yellow flower that blooms in autumn, whose fresh and inebriating scent is among the most popular in perfumery. Osmanthus, also known as sweet olive, is a shrubby plant that belongs to the Oliaceae family, the same to which the olive tree belongs. Although the name comes from the Greek "osme" meaning smell and "anthos," meaning flower, this plant is native to China and was brought to Europe only in the mid-19th century by French botanist Jean Marie Delavay. Since then, its cultivation has spread to many areas, but China still remains the territory where it is most present today.
Here the osmanthus flower has always been linked to myths and traditions: a symbol of love and romance, it was given by the bride to her new family as a wish for fertility and welcome, as well as being cultivated as an ornamental tree near Buddhist temples. In addition, even today osmanthus is used to scent tea and flavor desserts and Chinese cuisine specialities.
Until a few decades ago it was rare to find osmanthus in olfactory compositions, but things have changed since the 1980s and 1990s. The raw material used in perfumery is the absolute, a precious essence obtained from flowers by solvent extraction whose production takes place mainly in China. An aromatically very complex natural material, characterized by floral, fruity and even leathery notes, which can be used in many ways in perfumes depending on the aspect to enhance.
The variety of facets of osmanthus absolute derives from the natural presence of lactones, odorous molecules also found in fruits such as apricots and peaches, and from a peculiarity that characterizes its production process: because the flower of osmanthus is very small, producing the absolute requires enormous quantities that usually cannot be achieved within the same day. For this reason, the harvested flowers are stored in salt water until the quantity needed to proceed with extraction is reached. This preservation process gives the absolute an underlying leathery scent in addition to its distinctive floral flavor profile, fruity notes, and fresh tea facets.
At Aquaflor we have experimented with the use of osmanthus in Nuits d'Orient, a home fragrance belonging to the Rare collection that is inspired by the charm of oriental nights. Like a night bewitched by the moon, this precious fragrance contains pure mystery in its fragrant arpeggios. Amber is pervaded by the freshness of grapefruit and the sweet and inebriating scents of osmanthus. A synaesthetic journey of pure escape towards distant destinations, until then only imagined, the sensation of indulging in a moment of abstract carefreeness staring at the star-studded sky, where desires chase each other and become reality.