Hummingbird by Zoologist

As it’s a delightful Spring day in sunny Yorkshire we thought we would bring you a scent fit for the warmer seasons: Hummingbird by the ever-intriguing Zoologist.

This is one in a series of reviews we are doing on the Zoologist lines of fragrance. Our other reviews for Bat and Rhinoceros focussed on the more stereotypically masculine end of the fragrance spectrum. Hummingbird sits at the opposite end to those fragrances and where they are challenging and bold, Hummingbird is much softer and a great deal easier to wear. Perfect for a lovely Spring day.

The brand

Zoologist are an up-and-coming perfume house based in Toronto, Canada. They were formed in 2013 but are already making waves having won several awards and been critically lauded for their intriguing and unusual fragrances.

Hummingbird entered the line in 2015, according to Fragantica, and forms a softer and more feminine counter point to the other, very bold fragrances in their range.

Although Zoologist’s scents take inspiration from the animal kingdom, and are indeed all named after animals (funny that given the brand name), they are keen to stress that no animal products are used in their production.

Top notes

It’s fair to say that Hummingbird is a perfume that sits on the sweet end of the spectrum. Thankfully it’s not a cloying sweetness, just light enough to retain its vibrancy. It doesn’t give you that itchy type of headache that old fashioned, sweet perfumes can do. Indeed, throughout testing this scent, it felt like an updated take on something classic. A lighter, breezier and more vibrant way to wear 1940s elegance, perhaps.

Hummingbird opens with a bouquet of soft, ripe fruits, like plum and cherry. I almost felt like there were too many fruity notes here though, so it’s hard to pick them out individually and instead you are left with the more generic impression of ‘fruity’. That’s not really a criticism but does render the individual notes listed as a bit redundant. For example I get none of the apple or citrus that the scent notes list, but instead get the sense of walking through a fruit garden, fallen berries crushing under your feet to release their aromas.

There’s also an unexpected dryness here. I’ve noticed this in a couple of the Zoologist fragrances. It’s a dryness not unlike the way that gin is dry; a sort of fuzzy dryness that sits at the back of your tongue. It comes in just hints now and again but adds an interesting slant on what might otherwise have been a pleasant but fairly pedestrian opening.

Heart notes

Hummingbird settles beautifully and as it warms more floral notes develop. There was a strong lilac and something that reminds me of Viburnum – a sweet, almost jasmine-like smell. Honeysuckle is listed on the notes, and could be what I am detecting here, but to me it’s not a true honeysuckle scent, it’s not quite gutsy enough.

There’s also a lovely powdery note in the mix, that is reminiscent of the way that old fashioned pressed-powder make-up smells: warm, musky, but sweet too. Like in the top notes, this is unexpected and when it comes in it causes pause and reflection. It brings that sophisticated artisan edge to something that, if you bought a high-street equivalent, would smell flat and average. This elevates the fragrance to the level of being unusual, interesting, different, whilst retaining that easy-to-wear vibe.

The heart notes of Hummingbird are light and sparkling, but not in the way that aldehydes sparkle, instead it reminded me of a glass of something like Pimms, mixed with lemonade and sipped in the sunshine. It’s a bubbly, fizzy sort of sparkle.

Base notes

The sweetness of Hummingbird never really goes away. The base is less fruity, but the sweet-florals persist pleasantly. Underlying that there is a more substantial beeswaxy weight and a real unctuous hit of honey that comes to the fore as the scent matures on skin. There is a musk in there too, those nice clean-skin type musks that don’t give unnecessary weight to the fragrance but do give it a sophisticated hint of sexiness.

In many respects Hummingbird is quite different to the other fragrances in the Zoologist stable. It is far less challenging to wear, but I suspect its appeal will be broader as a result. I imagine it sells well, but fewer people would use it as the ‘one scent they would save if their house was on fire’ signature scent.

The other stuff

The longevity of Hummingbird was moderate, which was nice for a perfume which has a diaphanous nature – we expected it to quit long before it did. This isn’t a ‘shouty’ scent that proclaims your arrival in a room long before you do, it’s much classier and more elegant than that. The projection, or sillage, of the scent is also really lovely and gives the impression of the scent of blossom being wafted towards you on the breeze. Who wouldn’t want to smell like that?!

The artwork that accompanies the Zoologist range is very cool, not necessarily the clean, minimalist elegance that is customary from niche perfume lines, but cool nevertheless – perhaps more so that it dares to buck the trend.

This is a Spring/Summer ideal fragrance for those on the feminine end of the perfume spectrum. I would suggest it to someone who typically wears Jo Malone (something like Orange Blossom) and who wants to branch out into niche for a change and to mix it up a little.

A sample of Hummingbird was provided to us by the always wonderful Bloom Perfume, London, where you can buy this fragrance, priced at £125 for 60ml EDP. It is also available direct from Zoologist themselves.

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