Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Tam Dao by Diptyque

This is one of the only fragrances I've ever bought without having first tried. I did this because I'm always on a search for the holy grail of sandalwood, and Tam Dao has received a lot of positive reviews.

I do like this fragrance a lot, and the sandalwood note is certainly there, so it works for me. I have a couple of issues with it, though. First, it has incredibly low sillage after about five minutes. I only wear one to two sprays of perfume usually, and I can use around five of Tam Dao and still not detect the scent sometimes. I have the EDT, so I would recommend the EDP if you are worried about this. Second, while the sandalwood-cedar-cypress combination is pleasant and works well, both the cypress and cedar give the overall texture of the smell a certain edge that a person who loves the creamy, buttery quality of good sandalwood might not love. There is also a feel here that reminds me of the smell of a lit cigar and lingering smoke, but I mainly notice this when I get some on my clothes (where it has incredible longevity compared to skin). I don't detect the ambergris here at all.

That said, I definitely like Tam Dao and wear it regularly. It's one of the few I could fall asleep with and it not bother my nose at night. However, I can't call it the holy grail of sandalwood because the cypress and cedar notes have equal presence and modify the overall effect of the sandalwood due to the rough contrast they provide. If you like subtle, natural-smelling woody fragrances with a good dose of sandalwood, cedar, and cypress, you'll probably like this one.
13th August, 2015
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.
18th May, 2015
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....

(edp version)
16th May, 2015 (last edited: 27th May, 2015)
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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.
12th May, 2015
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).
19th April, 2015
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.
06th February, 2015
Goa sandalwood, rosewood, cypress, ambergris

Surprisingly this is much lighter than I expected compared to Santal Noble. It's a nice fresh scent that doesn't overdo the smoky aspects of Sandalwood. Ambergris is definitely one of my favorite basenotes. It makes everything more like the outdoors and fresh. The tangy cypress adds another aspect I like. This is my favorite sandalwood I've tried so far. It's not perfect though. The sillage and longevity aren't as good as others for the price but scent, while it lasts, is truely wonderful.
10th December, 2014
I was astounded to smell the phony synthetic sandalwood note which pioneered in Samsara, I believe, and which gags me invariably anytime I'm within a mile of it. So many perfume fans I knew had given it rave reviews. Frankly, I was surprised to find such a synthetic note in a Diptyque fragrance. Big pass here. Because I dislike this note so much, I was unable to smell any of the rest of the fragrance.
09th August, 2014
Genre: Woods

This is supposed to be Diptyque's great essay on sandalwood. Forget the sandalwood. Tam Dao starts out dry and reserved, with a touch of spice and a whole dump truck load of cedar.

And that's it. Bone dry cedar and sharp spices on a bed of desiccated powder. Pure, simple...wait that's a soap commercial isn't it? Tam Dao is dry wood stripped down to its essence, with none of the potentially distracting notes that soften the edges of scents like Santal Noble or Santal Imperial. It smells like a carpenter’s shop, filled with sawdust. It's also utterly, unfailingly linear, just as many other Diptyque scents. Tam Dao is the Zen of cedar. The bare essentials. The unclouded vision. It's quite the achievement, yet it somehow fails to inspire me.
05th July, 2014
The opening of Tam Dao is nice and quite bold, you smell a lot of sandalwood and cedar, so basically a woody, sweet and slightly creamy accord (thanks to the sandal note) really aromatic and dense, refreshed by some floral notes - I guess white flowers - and with some short-lived citrus notes, on the floral-sweet-aromatic side, like neroli or orange leaves. All over this you also feel a greenish breeze, a bit plastic but crunchy and pleasant, which I don't know what may be due to exactly, it smells like Iso E plus green notes. Anyway: basically Cèdre by Lutens, less syrupy and more greenish. To be honest Tam Dao smells as much pleasant as plain to me: it's all a bit boringly glossy, polished, restrained as if all note were perfectly finished with a synthetic trim. It smells, say, a bit "grey" overall, despite the attempt at recreating a naturalistic type of perfume – assuming that is intended. Plus it has basically no evolution so after a while it becomes (more) boring, especially once you start to smell better the synthetic aftertaste some notes leave. Quite a "meh" for me.

6/10
06th May, 2014 (last edited: 14th October, 2014)
Diptyque - Tam Dao
This smells like when you are at a petrol-station on the highway, filling off your car with gasoline. That terpenic, sweet smell that makes you a bit high while you are leaning against your car, thinking of nothing… Tam Dao captures that same meditative feeling when you spray it. I don’t know if this is due to the cedarwood alone, cause that must be one hell of a cederwood!- its very spiced and raw-edged. As the counteract, and central theme, Tam Dao is all about sandelwood(oil) which it contains for about 17%- which is a real heavy dose. On my skin it is gone after ca. 1,5 hours which is much too short, also because I like this perfume. I guess this no sandelwood from Mysore but more one of Australia or Haiti, which are lighter and have less tenacity. But its a very nice, attractive sandelwood that isn’t too dominant. I think this functions better as a perfume to scent the blankets of my bedroom. On the fabric, the tone it sings last longer so it lingers through the room more, which is nice. Its a very natural smelling perfume with a high content of non-synthetic ingredients. In my bottle the cedar- and sandelwood pushes itself up and creeps out of the bottle from underneath the spray cap, making the top of the bottle all sticky- which is a natural behavior of essential oils. This is why I like Tam Dao even more, it really walks a walk of its own. Very nice- thumbs up.
28th April, 2014
When you take a look at the notes, you may think it's a heavy woody fragrance but actually it's a very smooth and sweet sandalwood with some spices and some floral notes in the background.
At the opening you can smell a soft woody scent with a semi sweet musky scent and some green notes.
It's very smooth and OK and there is nothing offensive here.
As time goes by and in the dry down, you can smell a soft woody sandalwood with some spices and now the semi sweet musky scent changes to warm and sweet amber.
It's very pleasant and soft.
There is no changes in base.
Projection is very soft and close to the skin and longevity is around 3-4 hours on my skin.
The quality is good and women could easily use and enjoy this mellow woody fragrance.
16th February, 2014
a new favourite

A very good and original fragrance. Powdery without the classical talcum effect that makes you smell like babies. I appreciated the magical combination of white and creamy notes with some spice addition. But why, oh why, adding green notes to such a beautiful scent? Perhaps too gourmand to become my signature scent, but already a new favourite of mine.

Pros: unexpected and original
Cons: why adding green notes to such a beautiful scent?"

06th October, 2013
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Solid, but not much more

Woodsy, with a great deal of sandalwood. This is a good fragrance, but nothing exciting or interesting to me. It just lacks complexity and depth.

07th September, 2013
Tam Dao EdP review

This is a review of the newer EdP:

The EdP has copious copious amounts of sandalwood compared to the EdT.

Being an EdP is smelled more intense.

I get a tangy tart accord at the opening which is the lime/ginger accord.

The tart/tangy accord is employed to diffuse the deep woodsy facet of sandalwood and give it character.

Imagine sandalwood being dark and sticky, addition of lime/ginger makes the sandalwood tautly and more firm. The character I mentioned earlier. The coconut in it is the final touch that dilutes and diffuses the lime, ginger and sandalwood. These three notes are strong and the coconut milk note gently restrains them.

The same school of thought is heavily used in South East Asian cuisine where coconut milk is added to curries. Alone, coconut milk is very one dimensional, bland even but when coupled with chillis and curries it takes on another role. It levies a soothing aura over the spice. Yin yang philosophies.

Such skill and craftsmanship rendered to maintain balance with three very vivid notes.

The EdP is achieved by taking the EdT's structure, adding much much more sandalwood, the ginger/lime/coconut accord above.

I would not suggest the EdP for someone interested in cedarwood. The sandalwood envelopes the cedarwood.

The EdP strongly reminded me of Wonderwood sans the CdG signature touches.

02nd September, 2013
The quiet, meditative drydown does it

Im very delighted i found this (as it found me as it was given to me as a sample from a niche company)
Niche worthy, gives me a good feeling wearing it
Love the composure of all blended in one tranquillity potion.Its peacefull uberwearable and lovely.
Opening and midpart to drydown are both amazing!
Its almost if the cut off all ingredients by half blending it back to give each note a slight even balance.
I dont know how to describe this but in my opninion this is scent intelligence.

The quiet, meditative drydown is quite unique

Thumbs up!

Pros: Too many
Cons:

24th August, 2013
This definitely suffers from longevity and sillage issues. Very linear furniture wood/ sandalwood scent. Yes, sometimes in the fall/winter I do like to smell like a sawed-off piece of wood, thank you very much. Seriously, I do.

Starts out with bit of a bite, gets a little creamy. I heard it used to be better before sandalwood supplies became sparse. But that can be said for almost every fragrance that once was made with sandalwood and is now more than 10 years old. Pretty much everything else has be written about Tam Dao in the other reviews.

Barely a thumbs-up, as something of this nature should definitley have more shout to it. Could have been a contender, but can't help but feel slightly disappointed as when something is good and you really have to search for it, it hurts.
23rd February, 2013
A very nice fragrance, I'm almost at the end of my bottle, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I guess it's this scent that attracted me to the niche side of the wall.. and the beginning of a new journey, so it will always have a place in my heart.

For the top notes I get a blast of cedar and resins, this is the more astringant phase, I find it very invigorating. The heart and base notes focus more on a sweet and silky sandalwood that I find to be quite linear, but very calming and reassuring (a real wrist sniffer for sure).

As someone who likes woody aromas in all their dimensions, I can't but love this scent...

Can be a little light if applied sparingly, so I normally give it a good few spritzes! (just watch the first 10 mins in public as you'll be a cedar bomb before it settles down) :-P

ps: Have the old square bottle, it's beautiful. Not as impressed with the new style...
12th February, 2013
Cedar and Sandalwood, rather boring, I like sandalwood as a supporting note. This doesn't rise above the masses...
27th January, 2013 (last edited: 29th January, 2013)
This is a terrific fragrance, and I feel they've captured the feeling of the Vietnamese tropical forest for which the scent is named.

Sandalwood, rosewood and cedar are the major players here, with musk and some floral notes thrown in to keep it smelling too linear. I find the smell really deepens towards the end of its 5-6 hour longevity - turns sweeter and heavier than its fresh and dry opening would suggest. A lot of fragrances with powerful woody notes end up having notes that smell like sawdust, but this skirts the accord artfully.

Longevity and projection are both very good.
16th November, 2012
This is a clear and straightforward sandalwood fragrance. Little is distracting from that core, and it develops beautifully. Compared to Creed's Bois de Santal, my favourite sandalwood fragrance, it is a bit lighter, less creamy and a bit more linear; I get little development in Tam Dao. Nonetheless it is of very good quality, and one of the best pure sandalwood scents available, not dissimilar to Caswell-Massey's and Floris' Sandalwood. On me silage and projection are limited; it stays close to my skin. Longevity of about three to four hours. Overall a very good rendition of the sandalwood theme.
19th August, 2012
Oviatt Show all reviews
United States
This is a beautiful, dry sandalwood supported by rosewood and ambergris, which gives it a satisfying saltiness. There is cypress as well, which reminds me a lot of l'Occitane's much-missed Eau des Bergeres/Cade, that driest of all cypresses. Tam Dao is fairly linear, but is so great smelling that it is enough to have it as it is--no further development is necessary. Some think of this as a wet sandalwood, but to me it is as dry as a bone. It reminds me of the intricately carved sandalwood fans you can buy in Asiathat scent the air as you fan yourself. That said, this is a unisex that works very well on a man--it harkens to old masculine classics like Arden, Caswell Massey, etc., but with a chic, hip, French/Indo-Chinese vibe.
07th August, 2012
Being one who likes to create custom incense blends, Tam Dao reminds me of something that I have come across before in the incense world. I have some Indian sandalwood chips that I burn on white bamboo charcoal and Tam Dao smells exactly like the split second when the sandalwood hits the hot charcoal. I say "split second" because anything longer than that means the incense would start to smell much smokier. Even though dry, there isn't a whole lot of smoke in Tam Dao. There is, however, an even mix of cedar wood as well as some sweet amber muskiness that come out more as the fragrance sits on your skin. There is also mention of rosewood, cypress and myrtle in the notes list, but they are not noticeable to me.

I really like Tam Dao and proudly have it in my collection, but one could criticize that it is a very linear fragrance and doesn't have the best longevity. Don't get me wrong here as it is very well executed in it's linearity and smells very warm and inviting, but too many excessive sprays bring about an almost offensive anise-like note. If you are looking for a nice, soft, incense-like sandalwood that stays close to your skin then Tam Dao is the way to go.
21st July, 2012
Sandalwood is a bit of a mundane note for me thanks to my Indian childhood. I smelled it in hair oil and soap, and every evening in the little censer of smoking sandalwood shavings that was taken round the rooms of my parental house. The trees grow extremely slowly and so mature examples are highly prized. One afternoon my mother woke from her nap to find that someone had sawn down the two that had been growing in our garden and carted them off.
Well, Tam Dao is a greasy sandalwood scent and little else; it gets a bit creamy and cedary in the drydown. Pretty monochrome and without the redemption of texture. Far too chaste for my liking, it would suit good Brahmins with oiled plaits and sacred ash on their foreheads.
14th July, 2012 (last edited: 08th January, 2013)
This smells like white rice and cedar wood. It's powdery, clean, and I've been told "old man-ish." Imagine smelling a wet cedar plank, a wet oak log, a box of white rice from Chinese takeout, and a quick whiff of baby powder. That's pretty much the smell of this, on me. It's pleasant, has below average sillage, and, at least on me, decent longevity (6-7 hours).

It's just a clean, creamy, woody scent. I don't get much sandalwood, actually. More cedar and oak. Like a fence or a deck after a rainstorm.

Is it good? Yeah. Is it a good value? Up to you. For me, $120 for a 3.4oz is a bit steep for this. Art of Shaving's Eau de Sandalwood provides similar creamy, woodiness (it's probably a bit more powdery) for $50 less.
01st May, 2012
Many of the notes that we so enjoy, when stripped down too far, can become as off-putting as misguided complexity. Due to sandalwood being much more benign than patchouli or vetiver it's hard for a sandalwood-centric fragrance to offer a truly negative experience, but Tam Dao is able to firmly entrench itself in the "who cares" catagory.
15th April, 2012
This is nice, but I don't think it's exceptional. It's a very light fragrance with some sandalwood, other generic sweet woodsy notes, and in the drydown something like maple syrup emerges. To my nose there's some similarity to Feminitè du Bois which probably signals the presence of Iso E Super.

It's a white and pale green sort of scent; if you prefer lighter scents and aren't a fan of incense/wood fragrances in general you may get along with this one. It's quite pretty but I can't picture myself wearing it - I prefer my incense/wood to be loud and aggressive (back to CdG then).
15th April, 2012
To anyone who's expecting a prominent sandalwood composition in the same vain as Santal Noble or Massey's Tricorn be advised that Tam Dao is to sandalwood as white boiled rice is to haute cuisine. Instead, if you're up for a minimalistic and straight forward spicy-cedarwood concoction with an overall incense-y vibe, go ahead. Sharpness and sawdust included...

Downline: Tam Dao will more probably appeal to Comme Des Garcons lovers than to sandalwood purists. Me? I quite like it and wear it every once in a while but I've to give it a neutral rating because it doesn't deliver what it promises.
12th April, 2012
kida2007 Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Still a great scent, fairly unique.
Obviously a quality scent, i dont pick up on much synthetic stuff here
It does have a strength to it thats really sharp on my nose and can be slightly headache inducing!
Its woody but not dark, strong sandalwood, sharp cedar and spicy notes!
Still a clean scent though not in the 80's sandalwood territory like a lot of frags.
Nice autumn/fall fragrance.
02nd January, 2012
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm sandalwood, cedar, incense, drying down to a lovely ambergris creamy woody finish. The nasal equivalent of an early rise dawn adventure leading into a day of travel ending curled up by a fire with the one you love.
31st December, 2011