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Camel – resinous and spicy and woody – December 2, 2017

Photo: Courtesy Zoologist Perfumes

One of my favourite Christmas films is ‘Love Actually’ and Karen, a stay at home Mom played by Emma Thompson, is one of my favourite characters in the film. I love the scene where Karen’s daughter, Daisy, comes home from school, all excited to tell her mother that she has landed a big part in the nativity play at school:

Karen: So what's this big news, then?
Daisy: [excited] We've been given our parts in the nativity play. And I'm the lobster.
Karen: The lobster?
Daisy: Yeah!
Karen: In the nativity play?
Daisy: [beaming] Yeah, first lobster.
Karen: There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?
Daisy: Duh.

I’m with Karen on this. I’m fairly certain there wasn’t a lobster present at the birth of Jesus, but I’m pretty sure there was a camel involved since camels were a mode of transportation in biblical times. Goods and people were moved across the desert by camel. It’s how Mary and Joseph journeyed to Bethlehem, it’s how the Magi travelled to see the new baby king.

Camel is also the latest fragrance from Zoologist Perfumes, a Canadian niche fragrance line that is making some of the best fragrances of the last few years: Hummingbird, Bat, Civet, Beaver, and Rhinoceros. Camel is a fabulous addition to the Zoologist stable.

Here’s the description from inside the box:

“On a track through an unforgiving desert, starting point and destination are indistinguishable from one another. Terracotta-hued dunes twist and writhe, their shapes ever-shifting. Only the merciless sun and aloof constellations can be trusted to point the way. Weighed down by treasures - some tempting the eyes with their glittering sheen, others enticing with exotic aromas - the camel plods towards a far off marketplace. Water is but a dream now, the taste of sweet dates a distant memory. There is nothing but an endless ocean of sand.”


It opens with the smell of dried fruits – apricots and raisins for sure – that soon mixes with resinous, balsamic-spicy Frankincense from Oman, rounded out with the warm, honey-sweet smell of palm date. A note of lush rose completes it. This is what I smell on my arm but what I feel is an exotic journey unfolding on my wrist. Warm, resinous and sweet-smelling amber is up next, along with the balsamy woody smell of cedar. A note of aromatic cinnamon keeps the mix warm and spicy as it evolves.

There’s more incense here too, this time from India. Two different incenses, give Camel two different dimensions of the note making the fragrance even more compelling. Bitter, pungent myrrh, warm and woody, just the way I like it, brackets the incense beautifully. Sweet, narcotic jasmine, wafts through the incense, as orange blossom adds a lovely fresh floral counterpoint to the incense.

At the base, there’s civet, not enough to make it skanky or fecal, just enough to give it an animalic warmth, before a sweet, rich, woody note of oud appears resting on creamy sandalwood and bolstered by vetiver. Tonka bean and vanilla sweeten it just perfectly.  The drydown is smooth and seductive, resinous, spicy and woody and that OUD! It lasts and lasts on my skin.

This really is the smell of a caravan traveling through the Arab desert as I imagine it where the smell of the  pack animals and the smell of the marketplace, where exotic treasure of all kinds have been bought, sold and traded, are now being moved across the desert, all mingle together in the desert air.

Victor Wong, creative director of Zoologist Perfumes never skimps on quality and nowhere is that more evident than with Camel. And what makes it extra-lux is the extrait de parfum concentration. And, while camels may be a reference point for me for Christmas, this gorgeous juice isn’t just a seasonal pleasure – it can be worn anytime by men or women.

There are many great fragrances in the desert-genre (the stunning L'air du Désert Marocain by Andy Tauer leaps to mind) and Camel is a stand-out among them.

Camel is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.