Tamdhu isn't exactly one of the unknown T distilleries, in fact it has a pretty large production capacity of 4 million liters of alcohol, but the vast majority of its output has been dumped into White Horse, VAT 69, Famous Grouse, and Cutty Sark. While it was under Highland Distillers Company / The Edrington Group it lived in the shadows of its stable mates Macallan and Highland Park. That ownership even mothballed the distillery thrice. It was during its third closure that Tamdhu was sold to Ian Macleod Distillers in 2011. Since then, Macleod has been actively pushing the Tamdhu single malt, first in a 10 year old form with a fancy bottle (which looks like the offspring of a St. Germain bottle and a Coca Cola bottle), then as an NAS Batch Strength bottling.
This particular Tamdhu was released by independent bottler Signatory in the United States a couple years ago. They, along with a few other indies, have been putting young sherry cask Tamdhus on the market recently. I've been wondering why these companies are in such a hurry to bottle these babies. Let's see what the story is with this one.
Ownership: Ian MacLeod Distillers
Region: Central Speyside
Independent Bottler: Signatory
Age: 8 years (Jan 27, 2005 - August 22, 2013)
Maturation: first fill ex-sherry butt
Bottle count: 615
Alcohol by Volume: 60.6%
Caramel Colorant? No
This sample arrives courtesy of a sample swap with Chemistry of the Cocktail. Thanks, Jordan!
Its color is dark gold. The nose has one of the boldest fresh-brewed coffee notes I've ever sniffed in a whisky. Then there's beef brisket, prunes, and dried currants. It ends with bread pudding and cinnamon raisin bread. Now that's a meal to fill the tummy. The big ABV does sing out a bit in the palate numbing the tongue a little, but not too bad considering it's mostly poison. 💀 But tasty poison! 😸 Sorry, where was I? It starts with sea water, hazelnuts, and burlap. Then salted caramel ice cream and baking spices. It finishes sweetly and salty, with hazelnut liqueur and roasted almonds.
WITH WATER (~46%abv)
In the nose, the coffee becomes toffee. Newly split vanilla bean. Salty beach air and a hint of fresh donuts. The bread pudding note moves to the palate, topped with raisins. There's also that sea water note, along with cayenne pepper. A late note of gingerbread moves forward. It finishes all gingery gingerbread and spicy cashews (whatever recipe my wife makes).
WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose gets more syrupy and oloroso-y. There's a hint of the coffee, then vanilla bean and cherry pie. Lots of ginger in the palate now. Then vanilla, caramel, marzipan, cayenne pepper, and salt. It finishes with fresh ginger, salt, and cookie dough.
This is anything but a shy whisky. The nose, as you may gather from my notes, is a delight. The palate is good too, but needs some water to push back the ethyl and youth. While the flavors in the finish are nice, I wish they'd stuck around longer. But for an 8 year old sherry butt, this is quite a whisky. I can see why they'd bottle it now, firstly to please an audience looking for young yooge whiskies, but also because this sort of active cask can become too oaky/winey quickly. I still liked it a lot, and would be happy to recommend it if you've had enough of subtlety already and can find the bottle for whatever price you deem reasonable.
(For a pair of differing opinions on this whisky see these two Reddit reviews here and here.)
Availability - it was US release in early 2014, but it may be difficult to find now
Pricing - $???
Rating - 87