You may well have smelled osmanthus in a fragrance without realising: this creamy white blossom gives a surprisingly mouthwatering, succulent, hints-of-peach-and-plum-and-apricot nuance to perfumes. Fresh – but sophisticated, too. Succulent – but somehow creamy and milky. You may also get hints of violet. And what is it…? A Far Eastern flower, a member of the lilac and olive family: known as Kwei Hwa or Mo Hsi, it’s been used there to fragrance tea and other drinks, as well as jam. But in the perfumer’s repertoire, it’s a pricy ($4,000+ a kilo), refined ingredient worth its weight in gold – sometimes blended with synthetics that bring out its peachiness, however. Osmanthus also works beautifully in leathery, suede-like scents, as well as florals.
Smell osmanthus in: