Reviews of affordable whiskies with some entertaining tales along the way…
Tamdhu is a whisky I used to enjoy on a fairly regular basis. I was a frequent purchaser of the old 10-year-old when it first appeared but for whatever reason, I’ve drifted away from the brand somewhat. So much so, I don’t think I’ve paid all that much attention to the whisky that replaced the 10 – the Tamdhu 12-year-old. I think it’s time I did something about that.
Tamdhu Distillery resides in the village of Knockando in the Speyside region of Scotland. The distillery was built in 1896. An article in the Elgin Courant and Morayshire Advertiser of Friday 16 July 1897 describes the commencement of production:
“On Monday the interesting ceremony of turning on the first mashing at Tamdhu Distillery was performed by Provost Grant of Elgin. The distillery, which has been over a year under way has been erected on the haugh below the promontory of Tamdhu. The site seems an ideal one for carrying on the industry. The Speyside railway passes close by on the south side, and rails have been laid round the works which will completely relieve the company of a heavy item for carting. The site was selected also in consequence of its vicinity to the Knockando burn, which generates all the power required for driving the machinery.”
It wasn’t long before the new distillery was attracting the attention of Highland Distillers (later to become Edrington). The distilling giant purchased it in 1899 and it remained with the company until 2011 before being taken on by Ian Macleod Distillers, the firm behind Glengoyne, Smokehead and the rebirth of Rosebank.
The current owners released a flagship 10-year-old single malt in 2013 (check out my review here) but that was later replaced by the current 12-year-old version. It’s matured exclusively in ex-sherry casks, both first-fill and refill, before being bottled at 43%.
*Full disclosure: the sample featured in this review came in an advent calendar that I was given for free. As always, I will strive to give an honest opinion on the quality of the dram and the value for money it represents.
Smell: Nuts and dried fruits. Raisins. Sultanas. Walnuts. Crunchie bars – chocolate and honeycomb. Runny honey. A wee charcoal note in there too. Orange peel. Some dark chocolate now. Some dusty malt under the sherry casks.
Taste: Arrives honeyed and sweet with some orange. Even some orchard fruits. As it develops, the sherry influence comes through with raisins and sultanas and chocolate digestive biscuits. Turns woody, dry and spicy in the finish.
Thoughts: There’s a little bit of body about the mouthfeel, even at the relatively low, and presumably chill-filtered 43%. That touch of weight compliments the sherry casks. The whole thing develops well, transitioning from one stage to the next. Sweet beginning, sherried middle, spicy finish. Interestingly, despite the exclusive sherry cask maturation, you wouldn’t call this a sherry bomb. It’s far more balanced, which is no bad thing. Really enjoyable dram. Despite the dry finish, my mouth was soon watering at the thought of another sip. Sadly, that obviously led to my sample disappearing all too quickly.
Price: £45. Like all whiskies, the price of standard 12-year-old bottlings is creeping ever upward. I still think of Tamdhu as a £35 bottle but that’s what I paid for the 10 back in 2013 – 2015. It’s no doubt unreasonable, however, to expect it to remain the same, ten years down the line. Anyway, £45 doesn’t seem ridiculous and to my palate, the quality of the dram stands up to it. The Tamdhu 12-year-old is a nicely balanced Speyside malt with a complimentary rather than overpowering sherry influence. I certainly wouldn’t be averse to picking up a bottle when it next crosses my path.
For more on Tamdhu visit here: https://www.tamdhu.com/