Tam Dao is full of childhood memories for Yves Coueslant, one of the three founders of diptyque. Raised in Tonkin (northern Vietnam) he spent his holidays in the mountain forests where the cooler air was a welcome respite from the sweltering heat of Hanoi. Tam Dao is fragrant with memories of sandalwood…
During the stifling summer heat wave, holidaying at Tam Dao provided a relative breath of fresh air up in the mountainous jungle compared to the stagnant humidity experienced at low coastal altitudes. When Yves Coueslant revisited his native Vietnam in the 90s, he had the light bulb moment of dedicating a fragrance to the thick forests of Tam Dao and the tropical mists that he found, paradoxically, an airy glade during the summer months. These woods filled the air with fragrance…One of which was sandalwood – a vast woody family indeed – and this seemed to be the fragrant frame for the thousand scents produced by this jungle environment. And the same thing goes for the perfume called Tam Dao with its dominant sandalwood note.
Sandalwood is a precious, sacred tree. It grows in at high altitude, especially in Asian mountain ranges. It can live for up to a hundred years and takes thirty years to reach maturity. Known for four millennia, its spiritual and medicinal qualities (all Western) play a key role in Hinduism, Buddhism and Tantrism. It is used during meditation and as an offering. It smoulders in temples, and can be found in the mountains of Tam Dao… Very fragrant, it is often used in incense. The genus has many different species with rich properties, some of which are suitable for the perfumery business. The woody scent has a fresh twist. Once smelt, never forgotten.
Sandalwood in Tam Dao comes from Goa and is an exceptionally pure and powerful woody scent. This note is backed by the cedar that highlights it and two resinous camphor accords (rosewood and myrtle) retain the gentle, refreshing content of the sandalwood fragrance. White musk is also present to top off the delicate trail of spice.
Along with Do Son, Tam Dao is the second perfume inspired by Yves Coueslant’s childhood in the ever colonial Tonkin. The first is a floral scent that recalls his mother; tuberose and the bay at Do Son. Tam Dao is a woody fragrance from the mountains and is probably more Yang in nature.
As the Indian proverb says: « the virtuous man must imitate the sandalwood tree; when it is cut down it perfumes the axe that strikes it. » That is to say, there is a moral virtue associated with this noble tree. But here it is more the virtue of memory, a bygone world that lives on inside oneself and nourishes the reception of the present. It is invoked by the creation of Tam Dao, a perfume that can be romanticised by each one’s personal history.