One of the reasons I find perfume so fascinating is it makes what you might think should smell bad something that smells good. Most of those smells originate from the anal region of different animals. One of the most unique is the ingredient hyraceum, or Africa Stone. Hyraceum is the petrified form of the excrement of a small rodent-like creature known as a Cape hyrax. It has been a seldom used ingredient, but I have generally enjoyed it. It provides a funky animalic aspect that the various musks do not.
My most memorable experience with the raw ingredient was at Pitti Fragranze in Florence a couple years ago. There I was given the opportunity to smell it in its unadulterated form. I gagged. It smelled like…um…excrement; concentrated excrement. Then I was shown how, as you dilute it, the gag-inducing turns into a rough leathery ingredient. It is this which gets used most often. When I received my sample of Zoologist Hyrax I had a feeling I would be smelling some hyraceum.
The owner and creative director of Zoologist, Victor Wong, has been working with different independent perfumers ever since the beginning of his brand. For Hyrax he chose to collaborate with perfumer Sven Pritzkoleit. Mr. Pritzkoleit has his own brand, SP Perfumes, which has been in existence since 2016. I’ve tried most of his releases for that brand. The best is when he uses the animalic ingredients. Those are what he seems to have the keenest intuition about. With some creative direction I expected Hyrax would be pretty good. I was correct. The reason I like it so much is it embraces the animalic in a boozy embrace of whisky.
Hyrax opens with a huge shot of hyraceum. If you aren’t expecting it, you might be wanting to get your arm as far away as you can. It is like turning on the amplifier without noticing someone has pegged the volume. It is so strong it almost carries its own kind of distortion wave. Mr. Pritzkoleit goes to work turning the volume down. At first saffron and pink pepper start to tame the hyraceum. Then a fabulous shot of whisky does the job. Like the hyraceum is soaked in a glass of Jack Daniels. I fell for this each day I wore it. So much so that when the more pedestrian patchouli and amber arrive to finish this off I had a slight twinge of disappointment.
Hyrax has 12-14 hour longevity and above average sillage.
Hyrax is the most animalic perfume released by Zoologist. It is a couple of levels stronger than Civet. For those who enjoy the brand you can use that as guidance for what your personal affinity might be for Hyrax. I have a special place in my perfumed heart for fragrances like Hyrax; always have. Which means I’m happy to shrug my shoulders and say “hyraceum happens” while spraying myself with more Hyrax.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Zoologist.