Reviews of Tam Dao by Diptyque

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    Way Off Scenter's avatar

    United States United States

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    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.

    05 July, 2014

    Colin Maillard's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    I bless the day when I bought my little "reference bottle" of Iso E together with other aromachemicals. It is fun to memorise these smells then spot them in fragrances. Here, Tam Dao is incredibly stuffed with Iso E, just refreshed by a green/leafy breeze and settled on a sandalwood-cedar-white musks accord. It then opens up and becomes all more bright and luminous, also developing a slight metallic/salty feel, still in a totally dull, impersonal and generic way. Basically a sort of green/woodier tribute to Iso E, which I personally find as pleasant as completely useless. For me, perfume making is about using materials to create something new – not to sell them as-is "as something new" (unless you "declare" it, like with soliflores). Not giving this a "super low" rating because composition aside, it smells nice, clean, safe and soft. But it's like those mixes in music where they just add a synthetic clap to an existing song and pretend they've "remixed" it.

    5/10

    06 May, 2014

    2nosedtwin's avatar

    Netherlands Netherlands

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    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.

    28 April, 2014

    Kain's avatar

    Iran Iran

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    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.

    16 February, 2014

    nonnative's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    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?"

    06 October, 2013

    RichNTacoma's avatar

    United States United States

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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.

    07 September, 2013

    hedonist222's avatar

    Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi

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    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.

    02 September, 2013

    MrMookie's avatar



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    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:

    24 August, 2013

    Indagnacious's avatar

    United States United States

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    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.

    23 February, 2013

    Mick_Trick's avatar

    Ireland Ireland

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    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...

    12 February, 2013

    Possum-Pie's avatar

    United States United States

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    Cedar and Sandalwood, rather boring, I like sandalwood as a supporting note. This doesn't rise above the masses...

    27 January, 2013 (Last Edited: 29 January, 2013)

    timdoeswell's avatar

    Australia Australia

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    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.

    16 November, 2012

    rbaker's avatar



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    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.

    19 August, 2012

    Oviatt's avatar

    United States United States

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    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.

    07 August, 2012

    Hat and Beard's avatar

    United States United States

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    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

    gimmegreen's avatar

    Netherlands Netherlands

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    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.

    14 July, 2012 (Last Edited: 08 January, 2013)

    Bostonguy's avatar

    United States United States

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    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

    Sunsetspawn's avatar

    United States United States

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    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.

    15 April, 2012

    Clare's avatar

    Australia Australia

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    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).

    15 April, 2012

    alfarom's avatar

    Italy Italy

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    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.

    12 April, 2012

    kida2007's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    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.

    02 January, 2012

    NonScents's avatar

    Croatia Croatia

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    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

    drseid's avatar

    United States United States

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    I tried this years ago and did not like it. I just revisited Tam Dao, and I guess I have done a near 180. I still can't say I love the scent, but I at least like it now. I get some sweet sandalwood at the start that is quite nice, and then the scent turns briefly green. The green transition is brief, but a bit medicinal and unpleasant smelling. Finally the sandalwood returns, mixed with a strong incense accord. Neither the best sandalwood nor incense scent available, but worth a sniff if your tastes run to either of those notes. A mild recommendation from me at 3 out of 5 stars.

    23 October, 2011 (Last Edited: 02 June, 2012)

    Trifolium's avatar

    United States United States

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    I love sandalwood, and woodsy fragrances in general. I have to say I have been a bit disappointed with this perfume. I have to spray this on almost like one would a cologne. There is very little sillage and it lasts at most a half hour on my skin. I love the fragrance, but on me the strength of the juice is what's lacking.

    08 August, 2011

    sherapop's avatar

    United States United States

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    I held off testing my array of Diptyque samples for quite some time, and I'm afraid that I started with the wrong one: TAM DAO. To my nose, this is an incense scent, pure and simple. The good news is that it lacks the asbestos quality which I've encountered in a the incense offerings of a couple of houses, notably Comme des Garçons. The bad news is that I just don't find this one very interesting. TAM DAO is a dark woody incense composition which holds potential but lacks the base notes that make for great orientals. I'm not detecting any benzoin, resins, musk, or much of anything else here. Just a solution of powdered incense. If that's what you're looking for, then you might like this a lot, though I should say that the longevity is not great (predictably enough).

    My own preference is for incense ensconced in a significantly more perfume-y base. Incense alone is not enough to hold my interest. Désolée.

    23 July, 2011

    kcg211's avatar



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    This is a very beautiful fragrance, I own a bottle of Australian sandalwood essential oil and the opening of tam dao is very similar. The dry down is the star of this fragrance, the original sandalwood note sweetens; making the fragrance smell like a sandalwood and vanilla candle.

    12 May, 2011

    yoyo's avatar



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    Top note is very incensy. Then dries down to a sweet incense which reminds me of Azzaro Visit. However this is more refined and doesn't have the medicine smell to it. If I didn't already own Visit, I would definitely buy this.

    27 April, 2011

    mickers's avatar

    United States United States

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    Beautiful soft sandalwood fragrance. The top has a slight touch of fresh cypress but this scent is very linear. It's sandalwood throughout the life on my skin. It's like someone took some sandalwood essential oil and thinned it out a little bit. It's very smooth and has the perception of sitting like a velvet blanket on my skin. This one sits closer to the skin. I would have liked more power from this fragrance. Longevity on me 6-8 hours.

    15 April, 2011

    Jack Hunter's avatar

    United Kingdom United Kingdom

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    It opens with a green Cyrpress accord then quickly moves to its cedar/sandalwood heart. I find it to be very calming and a good take on sandalwood though linear.

    02 April, 2011

    Black Mask's avatar

    United States United States

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    Tam Dao has a very pleasant cedar note that is at its center. I do not smell sandalwood. In particular, I do not smell the sandalwood I know from fine sandalwood boxes, and incense made in India.

    I do smella nice cedar note in Tam Dao, but very unfortunately it is is obstructed by a volatile oil the smell of which settles closest to anise. If you apply too much Tam Dao, Tam Dao is very unforgiving, and volatile, spikey distillate smells of anise will waft from off your skin. I do not like the odor of this volatile substance. It does impart a kind of volatile woody oil haze around the cedar, and I imagine this is what members who like this fragrance respond to when they say sadnalwood.

    Sandalwood, either Indian or Australian (Santalum album or Santalum spicatum) is a compellig, gentle fragrance which is woody smooth, not volatile or spikey in nature at all.

    Unlike fine sandalwood, Tam Dao is sharp at its heart. It smells of wood oils more coniferous, and agitated than the gentle, calm sandalwood oil of ancient spiritual renown.

    Tam Dao does smell of wood. But in addition to this central petroleum like note, this fragrance does not develop or radiate waves of interesting combinations at all. It is a strong, rather flatfooted blast of wood smell. For thos who enjoy its notes of cedar and anise petrolate, it is long lasting and persistent.

    I do not consider Tam Dao an example of the perfumer's art. That so many people believe it represents one f the better sandalwoods, indicates to me that people are no longer familiar with fine sandalwood that was common 35 to 40 years ago, and that Dyptique's marketing, and high end and very expensive distribution and pricing have convinced many folks that this must be it in sandalwood.

    They are wrong. Elizabeth Arden makes an inexpensive "sadalwood" that smels no more of sandalwood than Tam Dao, but smells OK for the money. Dirt cheap online. Caswell Massey, which used to brag about its sandalwood products with some small measure of truth, still does brag, but with no measure of truth.

    Fact is that sandalwood is endagered, and few houses are using it pure for a primary note fragrance. I wish I could find one. A creamy, sacred, ritual Hindu or Buddhist sandalwood. So far I have only tried a few contemporary fragrances that claim to be sandalwood. Tam Dao is the most expensive. In my opinion it is a strong woody smell, but not sandalwood. And not a refined fragrance. I cannot afford to experiemnt further.

    If anyone knows where true sandalwood resides in the heart of a master fragrance, please let me know.

    31st March, 2011 (Last Edited: 03 April, 2011)

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