Civet, Nightingale and Macaque by Zoologist Perfumes

I’m a great admirer of Zoologist Perfumes and am extremely happy to hear they are now being stocked in the UK by Bloom. It’s great to see an independent brand that is brim full of originality and making the most of artisan perfumers.

After writing about the first three fragrances (Rhinoceros, Beaver and Panda)  I was excited to try samples of some of the subsequent releases.

It’s worth noting that none of these – of any of their Eau de Parfums – contains animal products.



Top Notes: Bergamot, Black Pepper, Lemon, Orange, Spices, Tarragon
Heart Notes: Carnation, Frangipani, Heliotrope, Hyacinth, Linden-blossom, Tuberose, Ylang
Base Notes: Balsams, Civet, Coffee, Incense, Labdanum, Musks, Oakmoss, Resins, Russian Leather, Vanilla, Vetiver, Woods

Perfumer: Shelley Waddington (En Voyage Perfumes)

I thought Civet was bound to be too much for this fragile flower but not so. Shelley Waddington was aiming for the effect of a fur coat over naked skin and that’s exactly what she’s achieved.  After a glittering citrus start, the warm vintage fur is draped around your shoulders. It’s a real stunner with facets of cosmetic powder, flower petals and body warmth. I find it sensual and a little heady rather than intimidatingly animalic. I particularly love its glamorously retro aura and the way it makes me feel cocooned.

The use of coffee in Civet is an inspired modern twist. You wouldn’t necessarily know it was there without the notes list but it adds a roasted depth which is subtle and – like the touch of vanilla – is blended nicely into the whole. The spices are also handled with a light touch. It doesn’t hit you over the head with its sex appeal but entices you to close your eyes and nuzzle it like a blissed-out feline.


Top Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Saffron
Heart Notes: Japanese Plum Blossom, Red Rose, Violet
Base Notes: Oud, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Moss, Frankincense, White Musk, Labdanum, Ambergris

Perfumer: Tomoo Inaba



Nightingale immediately showers you with plum blossom as if caught in a snowstorm of deep pink petals. It’s sweet and powdery, the way a combination of rose and violet often is. This cosmetic-style accord is underlined with a full-bodied opacity that comes from the patchouli and moss. It’s a vivid, striking opening to a perfume that has a unique character.  It’s fully embellished but doesn’t take itself too seriously.

A complex yet playful composition, Nightingale mellows out beautifully, developing that recognisable vintage chypre signature so many of us covet. I can imagine it successfully captures the feeling of celebration and optimism that comes with the onset of spring in Japan.  The tendrils of musk rising up from under its blush coloured skirts prevent it from coming across too innocent. Nightingale is ideal for lovers of classic chypres and the woman or man who is not afraid to indulge in a swathe of pink when the mood takes them.


Top Notes: Cedar, Green Apple, Red Mandarin
Heart Notes: Frankincense, Galbanum, Honey, Rosewood, Ylang Ylang, Jasmine Tea
Base Notes: Cedarmoss, Green Tea, White Oud, Musk

Perfumer: Sarah McCartney (4160 Tuesdays)

I imagined a perfume named after a monkey would be about base instincts and therefore rather confrontational and even skanky. It’s actually the exact opposite. On spraying, I’m pleasantly surprised to find myself surrounded by clean air, the head-clearing scent of evergreens and a cascading waterfall. The aroma of lush vegetation and mossy undergrowth is cut nicely by tart citrus fruit.

Macaque is more about the mountain habitat than the mammal itself. It represents not only the forested slopes but the temple that overlooks it. There are the slimmest scented strands of frankincense, flower petal offerings and fragrant teas which drift across the canopy. It’s much more spiritual than beastly and extremely atmospheric. Macaque is a refreshing bright green fragrance which creates a sense of place, far away from our material world and its humdrum concerns.


Do any of these fragrant creatures appeal to you? Do you have a favourite from the line?  




Filed under Perfume Reviews

26 responses to “Civet, Nightingale and Macaque by Zoologist Perfumes

  1. I don’t know any from the line but all three appeal to me in different ways. Notwithstanding my chequered history with Civet, I love the sound of nuzzling like a blissed out feline. 😉 Truffle’s ears also pricked up. Thanks for conjuring up more reviews from this scent menagerie! My vegan friend might also be interested. No animal testing history either, do you suppose?


  2. Wonderful review, Tara. They all appeal, altough the green-ness in Macaque might not be my thing. I am planning a Covent Garden outing next week and will hopefully be able to sniff all of the Zoologists then. Esepcially looking forward to Civet.


    • Oh you’ll have fun trying the range, Sabine. They’re all really interesting and high quality, even if they are not all your style. Plus they have great projection and outstanding longevity. Civet is fab and my current favourite, though I haven’t tried Hummingbird yet.


  3. Lady Jane Grey

    I like the idea of this company as such – but the notes are not really calling my name… Civet with tuberose and black pepper is quite a nemesis for me, and while a parfume named “nightingale” sounds lovely the colour pink makes me shudder. But hey, one never should say never, next time when around Covent Garden…


    • Hi M,
      You know, I don’t pay much attention to the notes lists these days and certainly didn’t notice tuberose or black pepper in Civet, so you may well like it. I’m happy to hear you’ll give them a try.


  4. Sandra

    Hi Tara. Wonderful temptress that you are…I will need to seek these out to sample them. Have a wonderful weekend. Sandra xoxo


  5. Zoologist have certainly shaken the tree with their range! Civet was a huge surprise to me, gorgeous as it with without any discernable civet note per se. And that coffee note, honoring the recent fad of “animal-coffee” is terrific. Shelly and Victor really got it on one with Civet! -Robert H.


    • Oh my goodness, Robert, the civet cat coffee connection never dawned on me – that’s genius!
      I would never have dreamt Civet would be my pick of the bunch but it totally is. Fabulous stuff. Hats off to Shelley and Victor.


  6. I keep reading good reviews for this brand but the names and packaging is soooo not appealing to me that I’m not sure I should even try them: would I really want to wear Macaque (and especially answer a question about what l’m wearing 😉 )? Probably not.


    • Names and packaging do play a big part in a brand’s/perfume’s appeal. I guess you have to either embrace the quirkiness or it’s just not for you. Out of the range, I would say Hummingbird sounds the most likely to suit your style and you might not mind telling someone the name of that one 🙂


  7. BearUK

    I didn’t like ANY of the Zoologist range. Maybe there is something common to the range that I find unpleasant or the synthetics simply don’t work for me (although I find that unlikely seeing as so many fragrances use synthetic ingredients these days).


  8. These appeal to me in principle: enough to make me want to seek them out next time I am back in the Big Smoke.


  9. Nemo

    I loved the beautiful imagery in your reviews! That in itself makes me curious to try these three out. The only Zoologist perfume I’ve tried so far is Bat, which was fascinating in principle but really did not work on me in practice 😦 I do love their packaging, too.


    • Thanks very much, Nemo. I hope they appeal as much in real life.
      You know, I have a sample of Bat but haven’t felt in the right mood to test it yet. It’s sure to be an experience!


  10. Oooh, I’m all for Civet too. Just reading the notes, but even better your description. I haven’t yet tried a single one of the Zoologist perfumes, it’s the not readily available thing 😉 I do absolutely love the design.


  11. Ingeborg

    I tried Beaver, Panda, Civet, Nightingale and Hummingbird in January. All seem to be well crafted and were interesting to test. Sadly Civet didn’t click with me, perhaps because I expected something more animalic in both that one and in Beaver. I think Panda is my favourite, with Beaver a good number two. Both of those would be perfect in spring and I think about buying travel sprays. I find the drawings and other design details good, much more so than those Penhaligon bottles with animal heads on top.

    I also think Hummingbird and Nightingale would be perfect entry points into niche for those who like sweeter, pink or fruity perfumes. Nightingale was too sweet and girly for me, but it is a nice perfume all the same. I found the name so poetic, so really wanted to try it.


    • Thanks for sharing your experience of the line, Ingeborg. It’s funny how I liked Civet because it was less animalic than expected but it was a disappointment for you for the same reason.
      You make a great point about Hummingbird and Nightingale being good entry points for those new to niche/indies.


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