Tam Dao is a fragrance that I actually own a full bottle of, a rare occurrence for me, as I don't make a lot of full-bottle purchases. I am relatively familiar with the Diptyque line, having sampled Philosykos, Ofresia, L'eau de l'eau, Neroli and Lierre. It's one of those fragrance lines that always strikes me as being effortlessly chic, not trying too hard, yet occupying a fairly niche position in the perfume world. I find almost all their fragrances relatively simple and understated, but curiously contemplative, none more so than Tam Dao. Sandalwood is renowned for inducing this almost meditative state in various forms, and it is no exception with Tam Dao, which is probably one of the most linear sandalwood perfumes I know. However, simple is not inferior, and Tam Dao is a marvelous perfume. The notes listed are sandalwood, rosewood, ambergris and cypress. Four notes and they combine effortlessly to produce a calming zen-like journey to the east. Tam Dao opens with sandalwood, which never leaves. It is quite a sweet opening, which might be the combination of the creaminess of sandalwood, the effect of rosewood and the greenness of cypress. Just cutting through is a slight smokiness, almost incense-like, but slightly salty, a bit like an ocean breeze loaded with ozone, in a good way, believe me. I take this to be the ambergris accord. I read somewhere once that Tam Dao has real ambergris in it, but having read a fair bit about ambergris and its scarcity, I would be surprised if this is the case, but it does smell very much as described.
Once the top fades, the sweetness is gone for good and Tam Dao becomes dry and fairly linear. It is still faintly smoky and salty and as already said, the sandalwood is top notch here. If you want a good reference point for sandalwood, I would recommend trying Tam Dao. I think it is a perfectly unisex fragrance, although for some reason I can't help thinking it might be preferred mostly by men, but ladies, you could do far worse than giving it a go.
Tam Dao wears quite close to the skin and it is subtle, calming and very much takes me on a personal journey. I love to wear it in the evenings, particularly on a warm, slightly sultry evening, when its smoky, sea-laden mixture of woods takes me away to a place I can't quite reach in everyday life.
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