Have you ever bought a perfume just for the name or the bottle? I've made a few purchases inspired primarily by beautiful packaging, even when I wasn't crazy about the fragrance inside — L de Lolita de Lempicka and Bond no. 9 Union Square come to mind — although I've managed to avoid that temptation in recent years. However, when I saw the visuals for Memo Tiger's Nest last spring, I smiled and sighed.
Tiger's Nest belongs to Memo's "Art Land" collection of fragrances created in "tribute to these territories readopted and transformed by the inspired hand of humankind." In this case, the reference point is Paro Taktsang ("Tiger's Nest"), a Buddhist temple and monastery perched in the mountains of Bhutan. One legend holds that Padmasambhava, an eighth-century Buddhist master, arrived at this remote cliffside spot on the back of a flying tigress, hence the site's name.
This fragrance's composition includes notes of absinthe, aldehydes, lime, amber, saffon, incense, osmanthus, ylang ylang, rose, papyrus, vanilla and balsam of tolu, and was developed by perfumer Aliénor Massenet. Tiger's Nest is described as a "woody incense" scent. I don't wear many incense fragrances, but how I could I resist that big cat in its stylized mountain abode?! (Not to mention that one of my nicknames for my dear departed cat Margaret was "Tiny Tiger.")
When I apply Tiger's Nest, it radiates saffron and frankincense top notes. They're simultaneously calming and uplifting — the way I imagine meditation would make me feel, if I could ever get the hang of meditation. The heart of the fragrance is a little woodier (cedar, to my nose) and the floral notes are soothing and subtle. The incense theme of Tiger's Nest turns into a duet as the fragrance develops: the frankincense is joined by the tolu balsam, which is sweeter, almost vanillic, with a faint spiciness. Benzoin is my favorite incense note in perfume, and Memo's take on tolu smells similar to benzoin. (If you want to know more, this post from Bois de Jasmin explains the balsamic notes in beautiful detail.)
When I read the Memo website's description of Tiger's Nest as "fire and flame, in the forests of the night" (did you catch that nod to William Blake's "The Tyger"?) I expected something smokier and more dramatic. Instead, this is a comforting, velvety incense that wears easily. If you loved L'Artisan Parfumeur's Safran Troublant, long ago, you might want to try Tiger's Nest. If you're incense-shy, like I am, but you know that you like vanillic amber scents, this might be your way into the incense genre. Tiger's Nest smells as though it's been made with high quality ingredients, and although it doesn't feel heavy or overpowering, it has excellent staying power on my skin.
So, will I succumb to the lure of Tiger's Nest? As much as I love the fragrance and the bottle design, I can't quite justify the price. I'll enjoy every drop of my sample vial and I'll keep the attached card, but I've resisted this temptation...so far.
Memo Tiger's Nest is available as 75 ($295) or 10 ml ($62) Eau de Parfum. For purchasing information, see the listing for Memo under Perfume Houses.