For those of you that know me, you’ll likely realise very quickly I’m not one of those can-do people, Tamdhu on the other hand..
Tamdhu isn’t a distillery I’ve actively sought out previously. I can count on three fingers the number of their expressions that I’ve had over the last 12 years. That’s not a direct reflection on the distillery or their parent, Ian MacLeod – I’ve just spent my money elsewhere historically. Usually when it comes to my sherry fix Glendronach being a prime example.
Ian MacLeod own two whisky distilleries in the form of Tamdhu and Glengonyne, the latter of which I have visited. They’re also in the process of resurrecting Rosebank distillery as we speak which is something to keep an eye on and hopefully means I’ll finally be able to afford some. Their portfolio is pretty broad overall considering the small number of distilleries on the books, you have a multitude of blended whisky brands such as Sheep Dip and Six Isles, as well as Smokehead Islay single malt from an unnamed distillery.
Ian MacLeod took ownership of Tamdhu in 2011 following it being mothballed by previous owners Edrington, with the former then putting a lot of time and love in bringing Tamdhu back to life.
Tamdhu is traditionally seen as something of an overlooked malt. Until their art-deco style re-brand back in 2013 (lovely bottles by the way), they were easy to miss in all honesty. This isn’t aided by a small product range with a 10yr old (edit: now discontinued), 12yr old and 15yr old alongside the occasional smattering of cask strength and distillery exclusive releases which in all honesty make my wallet wrinkle up and die on seeing the cost of the latter.
Founded in 1897, this Speyside distillery has it’s own quaint railway station, albeit unused. The whisky itself is a key component in the Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark blends which in a way goes further to explain the historically limited availability in Single Malt form. There is an emphasis on the use of sherry cask maturation at Tamdhu with the vast majority of production transferred into Oloroso sherry casks from Spain.
Tamdhu 12 yr old Single Malt 43% NCF – Natural Colour – RRP £45
The 12 yr old comes in at a modest 43%, is non-chill filtered and natural colour. Just from looking at the whisky both in the glass and the bottle, this won’t strike you as a sherry bomb in appearance with a relatively light amber hue. Refill ahoy!
On the nose I’m initially greeted with a whopping amount of intense brown sugar, then comes baked apples, sultana and hot sticky toffee pudding with vanilla custard. There’s a touch of milky hot chocolate and towards the back a smattering of crepes catching in the pan.
The palate, like the nose, remains sweet in profile. This time I’d say it feels more attuned and at one with itself. Salted caramel back with warming spice. This then puts me back in a cottage in Eskdale in the Lake District about 10 years ago in front of the fire eating Jamaica ginger cake. We then go back a few meals from dessert to breakfast in the form of honey on buttered toast, well done toast I’d add. In comes a touch of white pepper before the spices return to see out a warming and sweet finish.
The mouthfeel is good but I wouldn’t say as oily as other drams I’ve had in this style, 46% instead of 43% might have helped in this regard.
Overall an enjoyable dram, for me it took a few weeks in the bottle to open up but considering I picked this up for £32.99, certainly not one to complain about. This is on the lighter side of sherry maturation with what I feel is a complimentary lighter spirit in the category. I’ve happily sipped this over the last few days in between snow storms and heavy rain tapping at the double glazing. I’d add this was a noticeable step up from the 10yr Old that I’ve had a bottle of previously. I’ve also heard good things about the 15yr old but topping out at circa £70 this may be one to find on offer.
Fancy some tunes? The Malt Music for this dram is comes courtesy of North Downs, an English trio who blur the lines of electronica, funk and indie. This particular track – Nightlife Blues, showcases exactly that with almost ethereal vocals and a toe tapping bridge and chorus.
Holy Grail – Indiana Jones himself can only hope to find such a treasure.
Unbelievable – Among the best I’ve ever had. Must be tried at all costs.
Outstanding – One you should try to get hold of. Qualities in abundance.
Very Good – One to have on the shelf regularly. Provides consistent enjoyment.
Good – I’d happily drink this. One to buy at the right price.
Solid – No particular flaws but no wow factor either.
Fine – There to take the edge off. Good for highballs and won’t need much thought.
Meh – Somewhat flawed. More of a chore than a pleasure.
Oh Dear – Consistent flaws. Gets you where you’re going at the speed you want to get there.
Please Make it Stop – Not one to seek out. Hope for a gift receipt.