Polishing it off
Posted 07 November 2017 by Matt / In Tamdhu
Bottle Name: Tamdhu 25 year old
Tamdhu was founded in 1896, and barring several closures (one long: 1927 – 1947 and one short: 2010 – 2011) quietly went about making malt whisky for use as filler in many well-known blends such as Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark. The distillery was picked up by Ian MacLeod Distillers (owners of Glengoyne) in 2011 and production resumed in 2013 with a new focus – 100% sherry cask maturation. Since the handover, the distillery has produced only a handful of bottlings: a 10 year old and a Batch Strength make up the current core range, with a limited edition 10 year old matured that has been matured in first fill sherry casks providing a more exclusive experience.
However, don’t expect Tamdhu’s range to remain quite so compact for long. The distillery is building up stocks of sherry casks for future age statement releases. Watch this space as they say – and in the meantime check out the current offerings for a taste of what’s to come. Today’s Tamdhu is an older bottling and comes from before the revitalisation of the distillery, when it was predominantly producing for blends. The 25 year old was bottled around 2004 (I believe there’s also a 2006 version), therefore being distilled around the end of the 1970’s. It was discontinued along with past 18 and 10 year olds when Ian MacLeod’s took the reins – cleaning the decks for an exciting future to look forward to.
Nose: Like a daytrip to the Mr Sheen factory – full of highly polished wood. Honeycomb, toffee and chocolate provide rich sweetness, but that’s really only the supporting act for the myriad pronounced woody notes. Leather polish, furniture polish, shoe polish – all of the polish! That’s not to say this is a one tricky pony – far from it – but, it really does display its 25 year of maturation openly. Also in the mix are some aromas of freshly baked pastries and brown sugars, alongside some mustiness (to be expected frankly) like wet soil or musty brick walls. Cask spicing is surprisingly restrained, though still displaying ginger characteristics. There’s some sharpness here, part citrus, part balsamic vinegar. To my taste a stunning nose that I could engage with for hours. But, did I already tell you how woody it is?
Taste: Deck polish (I’m running out of solvent analogies now), rich fruit and bitterness. Again, we’re in the same realm as the nose, but there’s more fruitiness here – sweet but heavily reduced stewed berries. More chocolate cake and hints of raisins, but joined by some astringent wood – quite well balanced, but certainly more prominent than on the nose. Ginger again, and now joined with some pepperiness. Not quite as awe-inspiring as the nose, but still showing age and elegance together with some really tasty flavours.
Finish: Medium in length with a tangy spicy bite of pepper and yes….of course…polish.
Tamdhu 25 year old is not a dram you’re going to like if you’re cask adverse, or likewise not particularly fond of what happens to spirits under longer maturation periods. But, if you are then you’re in for a real treat here. I don’t know of too many whiskies that have notes of polish this well pronounced. It’s hard to describe quite how prevalent they are. To my taste, that’s delicious! There’s fruit, there’s spice, there’s poise and elegance, but polished wood is the real order of the day here. Sadly no longer available, but seen occasionally on auctions. Even if you’re not quite as solvent-appreciating as I am, this comes highly recommended. If future Tamdhu releases are as good as this then expect the distillery’s star to rise very quickly indeed.
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