Bring on the animals! In perfumery, “lions and tigers and bears, oh my” turns into “deer and beavers and furry rodents,” with a strong whiff of goats and horses as well. It’s quite another world, one where the materials in their concentrated or raw state smell very different from how they end up in a fragrance bottle on the store shelves. This is Mother Nature in her stinkiest, most feral, most natural form, though the skank sometimes feels like Mother Nature is on steroids.
Beaver glands, the basis for Castoreum in perfumery. Photo: my own.
What was so special about AbdesSalaam’s perfume course was the opportunity to smell some truly rare materials, to actually hold them in our hands, smear them on our skin or, in one rather disconcerting incident, even taste them on our tongue. From fossilized African hyraceum to Ethiopian civet anal sac paste and muskrat genital glands, each bore a scent that was truly like nothing that I’ve ever encountered in perfumery. Their aroma was so alien from my every day existence that I lack the olfactory vocabulary to convey the full extent of their aroma, but I shall try to do my best. Ultimately, like everything else in AbdesSalaam’s perfume course that I’ve written about so far, there is no substitute for personal experience and my posts can only convey one-tenth of what it was like. The animalics are just one part of why his perfume course is so unique, as well as why it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you should experience for yourself if you have the time, means, and opportunity.