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Exploring the Explosively Woody Original Rhinoceros from Zoologist

With the official announcement from Zoologist about Rhinoceros being reformulated, John and I decided to do another coordinated special this week, as he was able to get his hands on the new reformulation. Today I will be reviewing the “original recipe”, and for Scent Saturday, John will be taking a look at the new version to be released in late 2020.

Zoologist is known in the fragrance community for its bold, experimental take on fragrances themed on animals (hence the name). Launched by Victor Wong in 2013, Zoologist’s first fragrance debuted in 2014 and the house has amassed an impressive array of fragrances since then, created by a wide variety of perfumers. Though there are some reformulations being done at the moment, many of the scents are still available in their original form from the house (or from the perfumer on their independent stores). The original Rhinoceros was released in 2014, and the nose behind this scent is Paul Kiler.

Let’s take a look at the notes.

Rhinoceros Notes

Top: Rum, elemi, bergamot, lavender, sage, pine needles, artemisia

Heart: Pine, tobacco, immortelle, geranium, oud, Chinese cedar

Base: Vetiver, sandalwood, amber, leather, smoke, musk

Right away we can tell this is going to be a traditionally masculine-leaning scent, and we should be looking at a boozy/fougere type fragrance. Is this what we got?


Well… sort of.

Like any Zoologist fragrance, a little of this goes a very long way. I joke frequently about Tyrannosaurus Rex being able to clear a room. The same goes with Rhinoceros. Do not overspray this.

As is with a cautious application, I still found Rhinoceros overwhelming.

Rhinoceros starts off very dry and clean, almost sterile smelling. As it has a chance to breathe, more of the wood notes begin to come out on the dry down. Those first 15 minutes, however, are a borderline clinical lavender and sage burst.

Like I just mentioned, however, give it about 15 minutes and all the pine notes are going to slap you in the face with a two by four. The woody notes in Rhinoceros are explosive, to the point that I had a very hard time picking up on any of the tobacco or rum notes and forget about any of the florals or oud. It’s like someone created a pine needle porcupine and then set it loose to attack my face and I have its needles jammed up my nose.

By the time the dry down is well and truly set, the wood blast has really set up some nasal fatigue, and about the only note with any real presence I could pick out by then was the leather. Maybe a hint of the vetiver, but Rhinoceros remains a predominately woody grenade.

Now, if you love wood scents and think fragrances like Bowmakers by D.S. & Durga don’t go far enough, then the original Rhinoceros may very well be right up your alley! For people expecting a leather, boozy scent, you should probably stick to something like Terrible Teddy from Penhaligon’s.

You can order a 2 mL sample of the original Rhinoceros here for $8 (or heck, if you really want to be a walking pine tree, get the whole 60 mL bottle from the same site). Check back in tomorrow to read John’s take on the Rhinoceros reformation!

Have strong thoughts about this piece you need to share? Or maybe there’s something else on your mind you’re wanting to talk about with fellow Fandomentals? Head on over to our Community server to join in the conversation!

The Fandomentals “Fragdomentals” team base our reviews off of fragrances that we have personally, independently sourced. Any reviews based off of house-provided materials will be explicitly stated.

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  • Kori is an entertainment writer and Managing Editor at the Fandomentals. In her spare time, she is a fragrance and watch enthusiast, lover of Eurovision, and Yanni devotee. Find her on Instagram at @fmkori

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