Tamnavulin is a relatively young distillery by Scottish standards. It was built in 1966 at a time when whisky was booming and demand outstripped supply. Original owner, Invergordon Distillers, was also responsible for the running of Bruichladdich, Tullibardine and Jura at the time but in 1993, the entire company was bought by Whyte & MacKay, who decided in 1995 that Tamnavulin was surplus to requirements and brought production to a halt.
The distillery finally re-opened, 12 years later in 2007, when Whyte & MacKay itself was taken over by United Spirits. Throughout much of it’s lifespan, Tamnavulin has primarily been used to supply malt for blends, only appearing as a single malt when occasionally released by independent bottlers. However, at the end of last year (2016), Whyte & MacKay, now owned by Emperador, revealed that a new expression named ‘Double Cask’, woud be released in the UK and rolled out to other markets in 2017.
The Tamnavulin ‘Double Cask’ single malt is matured in American Oak casks and finished in Sherry Butts before bottling at 40%. Recommended retail is £32 but supermarkets in the UK have been running deals since it appeared and you should be able to pick it up for closer to £22. There is a generous amount of caramel colouring here, which is a shame but alas, not a surprise as it seems to be standard practice for Whyte & MacKay single malts – both Dalmore and Jura are loaded with the stuff.
Smell: Almond & Vanilla with Cinnamon, Honeycomb, Apple & Lemon. Maybe some light Sherry notes as well.
Taste: Sherry on the palate at first but it doesn’t last long and fades instead to Honey & fresh Green Fruits with a little Spice. Light bodied, but then it’s only 40% and will likely have been chill filtered so this is to be expected.
Value for Money: As I mentioned earlier, this Tamnavulin expression has been in the supermarket sales since it’s introduction and at those low prices it is certainly a drinkable enough wee dram to warrant a try.
Score: 38 / 50.
Unlikely to become a classic, but for a NAS malt, bottled at 40%, it’s not half bad. The nose promises more than the palate delivers perhaps but it remains a tasty, lightly warming wee dram. Would love to see the range expand with a higher strength alternative.
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