Tamdhu, whose name means “little dark hill” in Gaelic was built in 1896 next to the Knockando Burn just north of the river Spey. It was designed by Charles Doig and was run by a group of blenders called the Tamdhu Distillery Company in the early years. Tamdhu endured a relatively quiet history and was owned by Highland Distillers Company who used Tamdhu’s spirit for blends such as The Famous Grouse, J&B and Cutty Sark. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the distillery introduced their product as a single malt after increasing production significantly. By 1975 the number of stills had been tripled from two to six and in 1976 a Tamdhu 8 year old single malt was introduced to the market. During the 1990s a Tamdhu release with no age statement was heralded as the ‘best value single malt’ on the market. Unfortunately the distillery was mothballed in 2009 and completely silent for two years. In 2011 Ian MacLeod Distillers (owners of Glengoyne) acquired Tamdhu Distillery and relaunched a sherry matured single malt whisky in May 2013. The new Tamdhu sports a nifty retro bottle which was inspired by the Victorian era. This release was assembled with whisky aged in ex-sherry casks including some first fill casks. The Tamdhu 10 available in Europe has been bottled at 40% ABV, however the sample I received was marked as 43% ABV. Could the US Tamdhu’s be a slightly higher proof? I’ve been unable to verify, but can only say that my sample was marked at 43% ABV.
Nose: orange, rubber, vanilla, honey, brown sugar, almonds, vinegar
Mouth: mild spices, dried fruits, vanilla, oak, toffee, citrus
Finish: oaky, peppery,antiseptic, berries, tannins, burnt hickory
Verdict: This whisky has a very peculiar nose: there’s orange, vanilla, brown sugar and almond notes accompanied by bizarre rubber and vinegar scents. It’s really strange and I’m not sure I really enjoy it. The rubbery scent was quite jarring and immediately set alarms off in my head. Thankfully there is no rubber of vinegar on the palate which is mildly spicy with with vanilla, toffee, dried fruits, oak and a touch of citrus. It’s a very ‘standard’ tasting whisky that is pretty straight forward. The finish is medium in length with oak spice that lingers for a while after the berries, stone fruits and oak fades. After a while there’s a burnt hickory aftertaste leftover. This whisky is fairly one-dimensional and there’s nothing about it that stands out. It’s a fair entry level whisky at present, but I’m more excited about what Tamdhu will produce next. The re-launch is only in the early stages and I’m eager to taste future releases from this revitalized distillery.
Special thanks to Impex Beverages for generously providing a sample