By Father John Rayls
Tamdhu 10 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky was a surprise tasting experience. I do love these kinds of surprises! Tamdhu 10 year is the signature malt offering from this Speyside (Scotland) distillery. It is aged exclusively in sherry casks and it shows in both appearance and flavor. The distillery was designed from scratch by the pre-eminent distillery architect of the day (1896) after a wealthy group raised approximately 20 million pounds (in today’s money) to locate and build on the River Spey. The distillery has been known for the only Saladin Box-style maltings in Scotland. As a result, the Highland Distillers produced their own malt as well as malt for Famous Grouse, J&B and Cutty Sark Blends. Of course those names might conjure up misleading ideas concerning Tamdhu 10 Year Old. The production facility ended up being completely shut down in 2010 and was purchased by Ian MacLeod Distillers in 2011. Full production resumed in 2013 using aged whisky already in the casks on the premises. With the motto “Now just as then”, they use a combination of European and American first and second fill sherry barrels for aging and draw water directly from the Tamdhu Spring which feeds into the Spey. One puzzling note reflects an apparent 80 proof release in Scotland and an 86 proof version for the US. I sampled the higher proof version.
The coloring does reflect the sherry cask aging and does produce a darker colored Scotch. It appears dark gold with some dark red tints observed. The light reflects off of and through the whisky with bright gold and polished brass highlights. The legs are somewhat reluctant initially, but eventually become prolific and persistent. They actually put on quite a show. The nose appears shy, but it is detectable. It simply takes time and patience. Initially, there is a faint pungent odor accompanied quickly by light and sweet orange, sherry, oak and vanilla. Some other various dried fruits make an appearance underneath the initial aromas. There is also some very light smoke available due to the lightly peated barley.
This is not a complex whisky, but it is nicely balanced. There is a light creamy mouthfeel with most of the action at mid-mouth both upper and lower. Flavors of toffee, orange and other dried (sweet) fruit appear. It is a smooth, easy drinking Scotch that will surprise you. The finish totally caught me off guard. It’s long, spicey and satisfying. The finish comes in medium waves of peppery spice on top of the light sweet fruitiness mixed with faint vanilla and malt. The mouth experience slowly moves from mid-mouth along the edges of the tongue to the tip eventually ending on the lips.
I’m guessing that Tamdhu 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch will become more available across the US as the marketing machinery of Ian MacLeod Distillers kicks into full gear. If you enjoy sherry finished Scotch, this will be a sure winner for you and your friends. The pricing is a little difficult to nail down, but appears available in the US for around $60.00 to $65.00.
Check out the video at https://vimeo.com/168316568