Tam Dao by Diptyque is one of those perfumes that always get cited in top ten lists of sandalwood perfumes, and so, when the opportunity presented itself, I bought it. Semi-blindly, I should add, because I was in a great rush. I did smell it briefly. But after having read about it for a full year before I got the chance to test it, I was at that stage so convinced that this was the calming woody perfume I was searching for, that it almost didn’t matter if I liked the brief sniff I had of it or not. I was determined to have it.
Of course, by the time I got it home and had time to think, I realized the truth. And the truth is that Tam Dao (the EDT version at least) is a perfectly nice cedar woods perfume, but it is not the grand Mysore sandalwood I’d read myself into believing. It’s more the plank section at the hardware store than anything else, and while this is indeed a very nice smell, it is also rather ordinary. I was looking for a spiritual revelation – a sandalwood dream – and I got builder’s crack. Oh well.
The centerpiece here is pretty much a direct pencil-shavings accord. If you want to believe that it is sandalwood, I've got a bridge for sale that you might be interest in purchasing....
16th May, 2015 (last edited: 27th May, 2015)
Not what I was hoping for. Tam Dao IMO is a nice fragrance, but not entirely a great take on Sandalwood for me. This is just a little to stripped down for my taste. Other reviews state is much like sawdust and I think that's kind of accurate. Smells raw and I detect cedar as much as sandalwood, and cedar is just too overdone, flat and boring to me.
A beautiful cedar and sandalwood gem that seems to turn to a coconut and cedar paradise. I really like this one. A darker turn of Terre d'Hermes. The pencil shaving accord is not as prominent though (not a bad thing at all).
Thanks to me friends in the sample selling world, I've now taken a small dip into the world of niche and my main conclusion is that, by and large, the emperor has no clothes. This fragrance offers the space note profile: sandalwood. Nothing else. That could be fine. I can imagine a fragrance with just the note vetiver that explores the many faces of that note. But not here. The opening is sawdust, which is kind of cool and interested. Followed by...some slightly varied wood scents and more sawdust...followed up by more sawdust. You get my drift.
In my view, perfumery, at its best, is an art form telling a story in scent. There is no story here. There is little art. This is closer to a photograph, and not a very interesting one. The only thing to appreciate is the verisimilitude of the representation. The wood in this fragrance smells like, well, just like wood. In fact, remarkably like wood and sawdust. That verisimilitude is, apparently, the achievement. But I want art, not verisimilitude from fragrance. If I really wanted verisimilitude, I could stuff my clothes with hamster bedding. I'd smell EXACTLY like pine or cedar (depending on the bedding). But I'm looking for more. It's like a Demeter scent except with longevity.
This is my second one-note nice, and I'm starting to get the impression that, despite the hefty price tag and the laudatory remarks from folks that need to justify having forked over hundreds of dollars for the authentic smell of sandalwood, that the emperor has no clothes! I understand this is not the case with Frederic Malle and other such scents, but an awful lot of this stuff seems like form without substance. I'll take honest designer scents that attempt to tell a story, like Aramis Tuscany, over this any day.