Tamdhu is not a distillery I have had much of a relationship with so far. In fact, this is the first bottle I have purchased from the sherry dedicated Speysider. Actually, that’s a lie, as my wife bought it for me as a gift. I do buy sherry matured whiskies and enjoy many of them, but I am much more of an ex-bourbon guy if truth be told, or at least some sort of combination of the two.
Ian Macleod distillers purchased Tamdhu from the Edrington group in 2011, who had mothballed the distillery in 2009. It wasn’t until a year later in 2012 that production would get started under the new regime. Doing the maths, you come to the realisation that beyond 2021, Tamdhu will need to start using older stock in order to keep the 12 year old part of the core range. At least up to 2024, when the whisky they have laid down is mature enough to carry that age statement.
This expression was first released in 2018, and I must say I am a fan of the art deco inspired bottle design Ian Macleod have gone with across the range. It looks great on the shelf. It is bottled at 43% ABV and with natural colour. There is no mention on the packaging regarding chill filtration, but taking into account the ABV, and with the 15 year old release also proudly stateing it is un-chill filtered, we can safely presume it has been. It is matured exclusively in ex-oloroso sherry casks, but there is no mention whether these are first fill, refill or a combination of the two. Although the packaging and website does tell us they use “the finest sherry oak casks”. Don’t they all? 😉
Time to see how it performs!
Nose : Lots of your typical sherry flavours and it packs a punch. Sweet, dried fruits such as raisins, sultanas and figs. There are further fruit notes with marmalade orange, blackcurrant and cherry. Plenty of rich coffee along with cinnamon and nutmeg. A minty chocolate note too with some sea salt.
Palate : Sweet at first, but then bitterness overtakes with lots of dark roast coffee and christmas pudding flavours. More of those juicy blackcurrants we had on the nose and a whiff of smoke. The texture is a little thin and as a result the experience is over quicker than i’d like it to be. It is spicy in the finish with some saltiness and drying oak tannins.
Conclusions : I have spent a few months with this, and it certainly got better in the bottle once opened. I wasn’t really digging it at first and may well have given it a 4 or 5/10. I felt the sherry flavours were too simplistic and I wasn’t get a huge amount more from it. Goes to show how important it can be to spend time getting to know a whisky before judging it too harshly. The fruitiness has really come to the fore and it’s a tasty dram. I would like a little more complexity and texture on the palate, but it is still a bottle I will have no trouble finishing.
This 12 year old will be an interesting one to follow as the batches become older between now and 2024, assuming it isn’t dropped from the range during this period. If only Ian Macleod could bottle this at 46% and without chill filtration, the whisky could only benefit from it. The company owns Glengoyne distillery, which also presents its 12 year old at 43%, so i’d be surprised if such a move were ever to happen.
Score : 6/10
(Score descriptions can be found in the About page)
Three word review : Rich. Fruity. Coffee
ABV : 43%
Non-chill filtered : Not mentioned, but it appears it has been chill filtered
Natural Colour : Yes
Maturation : Ex-Oloroso sherry casks
Region : Speyside
Colour : Amber