Perfume Directory

Macaque (2016)
by Zoologist Perfumes


Macaque information

Year of Launch2016
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 32 votes)

People and companies

HouseZoologist Perfumes
PerfumerSarah McCartney

About Macaque

High upon the mountain, a group of macaques rest and play, the young mentored by exacting elders. Inside a solemn temple in the ancient mossy forest below, a ceremony takes place – a quest for inner peace. Frankincense, white oud, and jasmine tea chant in meditative harmony, their light florals and sweet offerings falling into rhythm with sweeping aromas of nature. Observing the macaques’ orderly, hierarchical society we can almost see our own hopes mirrored in their eyes.

The opening notes of Macaque offer a panoramic view of a cedar forest – intensely green and majestic. Gradually, whimsical frankincense and subtle aromas of ylang and jasmine tea begin to unravel. As you settle into the calming scent, you discover elegant traces of white oud, moss and musk, and find yourself reflecting on the tranquility of a soft but vibrant clearing among the trees.

Macaque fragrance notes

Reviews of Macaque

A pale jade green ice faerie

Macaque was unexpected. The nose behind this scent is Sarah McCartney, founder of 4160 Tuesdays, a house that makes quirky, indie perfumes that remind me of listening to lo-fi, shoegaze tracks. I was expecting something along the same lines, but Macaque is both more difficult and much smoother than the 4160s I’ve tried.

The opening is bright, sharp and clean. It’s a little too chilly for my taste, and high pitched, but it’s just on the right side of challenging. It reads pale green to me rather than a deep mossy forest green as the ad copy suggests. There's bitterness, but there's no weighty earthiness to it. Tart green apple emphasizes the scent’s crispness while galbanum intensifies its hue. I’m not a fan of the “green tea” accord which is a kind of transparent, floral soapiness we find with a number of green tea fragrances on the market that are as alike to smelling loose tea leaves or freshly brewed tea as smelling cherry lozenges are to real cherries.

The scent thankfully softens during its development, balancing the perfume’s sharp edges with a touch of sweetness and some blurring from the musk. “White oud” which I’m guessing here is a slightly fruity, clean take on oud wood, provides a little more depth, but on the whole, there's no satisfactory baseline drop to this perfume.

What impresses me most about Macaque is its contradiction between a smooth texture that plays against its colour. Imagine the drape of a soft silk with a gentle sheen that’s been dyed the colour of a frostbitten green jade.

This is not a scent I would wear. I’m having a difficult time even imagining where this could be worn. I personally prefer a development with more heft. I wish the galbanum here was more earthy and grounding. Despite softening, there is a severity to it. Macaque is not easy to pull off. But it has definitely piqued my curiousity about Zoologist. This is on the good end of "neutral" for me.
23rd November, 2018
The Perfumer avoids a cloying, Honeyed mess by balancing Tannins and Citrus against this Ylang heavy
potion. Notice the sharp notes of Frankincense and Cedar are slightly blunted offering a focus upon the Lower Midrange Notes as Centre of Gravity.
Not unlike Roudnitska's creations, the perfume, of ripened boozy fruit, offers a background canvas to allow the Musk to layer in waves above. I have a vibrant 4 hours of Tutti Frutti LifeSaver deliciousness with this. Perhaps that is the result of Moss and Oud varnishy dregs.
Recommended, as it takes the focus away from WAC that bases most everything current.
05th August, 2018
A green, vegetal, botanic, eastern (far asian), meditative, harmonious atmosphere. Damp, fruity, fizzy-medicinal, gummy-aldehydic, musky greenness. Frankly the opening is kind of insufferable, one of the "hardest to tame" in contemporary perfumery. Zoologist Macaque's opening is super fizzy, sparkling and citric indeed, almost bursting of dry fruitiness, citric/berrish acidity and green bitterness. There is a tad of woodiness, some gumminess and "resinousity" as well, since this first stage under my ridiculus nose of province. A green tea's presence starts emerging with its charge of "angular fluidity" and floral leafiness. Synth resins, galbanum, green tea and sour fruitiness are the main elements of the fragrance's core. I definitely detect green apple and citrus. Something conjures me the grassy-gummy atmosphere aroused by scents from brands a la Oriza L. Legrand (Chypre Mousse) or Testa Maura (Carticasi). I detect this "secular forest's fresh-humus-aroma" rich of leaves, barks, cistus, mastic, mould, pine needles, aromatic herbs and oakmoss. Galbanum, connected to tart fruitiness and resins, arouses a sort of plastic pharmaceutical effect. I get more aoud than frankincense to bè honest (resins are more woody than ambery or incensey). Gradually, along the way, soothing balsams, honey, woody resins and floral patterns take softening the angular leafiness in order to provide a less vegetal and more properly musky-floral kind of vibe. Tea is still dominant but in a softer muskier floral way. In particular honey and white/yellow flowers provide a sort of mimosa/chamomille/magnolia/ylang-ylang-feel a la L'Erbolario Magnolia (fantastic fragrance). On this stage the juice is far more balanced, tamed, wise and harmonious (despite it is better to wait 3 hours before the huge fizzy tartness begins fading on the right level). The final wake is still musky-green but far less fruity and more kind of lightly rubbery, tea-oriented, honeyed and woody (but still too monolithic and intense for my full pleasure).
23rd July, 2018
An aromatic green for the ages. It has a cool, wet vibe throughout. There is a touch of sweetness in the middle from the honey and ylang ylang. The teas and galbanum in Macaque aren't bitter at all. A woody musk at the base is complimented by all the previous notes. Overall this fragrance has a unique identity all its own.
06th June, 2018
Overall, a creative fragrance. The "Green" notes dominate: Galbanum, Ylang Ylang, moss and a suspicious sounding item they call "White oud". Never heard of it myself, I think it is a marketing ploy, but it isn't oud that I smell. Almost a 'barbershop fragrance', it is complex, just not my style.
14th May, 2017
Victor Wong has used a model of art direction to build the Zoologist Perfumes line. As the brand’s owner and artistic director Wong commissions work from independent perfumers and collaborates with them to shape the perfumes. I’m interested in commissioned work because it allows an artist to step outside of herself to try on a new persona/style. The work can shift expectations and find a new audience.

Wong has used this approach to create a consistent but broad aesthetic for his brand. The line has expanded to include a number of genres, but the potent eau de parfum concentration of the perfumes, excellent presentation and cheeky anthropomorphic animal themes give the line coherence. Sarah McCartney is the author of the 4160 Tuesdays line of perfumes. She approached approached Wong, upending the pattern of the director pursuing nose, and then set herself a particular challenge by choosing a green perfume as her topic. Macaque is the second green woody perfume in the line after Paul Kiler’s Panda. Third if you count Chris Bartlett’s Beaver, which is a musky green floral. (Fourth if you count the reformulated Beaver.)

Cedar and frankincense reinforce galbanum’s balsamic olfactory profile and give Macaque backbone. The core of the perfume holds a coherent shape from start to finish, giving the more volatile aromas a chance to run their course at their own pace. McCartney makes the connection between wood and fruit via sap. Unripe fruit tends to be chalky and starchy, qualities often used to describe galbanum. At the cusp of ripeness, fruit is effectively resinous. McCartney takes advantage of this particular aspect of fruit to generate woody fruit notes. Her approach short-circuits the expected associations of green perfumes with springtime breezes, chirping birds and butterflies.

Macaque is painted in broad strokes and generates deliberate juxtapositions. The ‘sap accord’ defines the perfume and gives it a bittersweet balance. McCartney does some of sleight of hand in the drydown, recreating the balance with a different accord. For most of the perfume it is the mash-up of fruit and galbanum that produces bitterseetness but in the basenotes, fruit is replaced by a sweet muskiness. The slight dissonance of sweetness and bitter inkiness extends through the life of the perfume. It’s a clever use of a soft musk, avoiding the bland ‘soft landing’ white musks give to many contemporary perfumes.

Galbanum is such a particular and forceful scent that many perfumes that use it become penned in by it. It defined the vivid green perfumes of the 1960s-’70s and has unfortunately acquired a retro vibe. McCartney dives headlong into the material and implicitly begs comparison to some heavy hitters of the past, like Chamade, Chanel 19, Aliage and Safari. It’s a gutsy move and one that pays off by focussing our attention away from the bright floral stylings of these older perfumes and toward a more dusky, vegetal interpretation. McCartney succeeds in shaking off associations with the past and places Macaque solidly in the present.

01st March, 2017

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