Tamdhu 12 Years (2020)
Tamdhu has been turning heads for a little while now. Since being bought by Ian MacLeod in 2010 the distillery has made quite the transformation. From a producer that was far from a frontline player to a whisky that’s now highly regarded for its sherry maturation. Indeed there’s much to like about modern day Tamdhu.
Built by a group of blenders headed by William Grant, it was designed by famous distillery designer Charles Doig and eventually completed in 1897. A year later it was described by Alfred Barnard as “perhaps the most efficient and designed distillery of its era.” As much as it was a marvel of its time, Tamdhu’s history is not without hardship. For instance, it was closed for nearly two decades and only re-opened shortly after World War II.
That’s also when the malting floors were replaced by Saladin boxes, a nifty new way of malting barley. These devices aren’t used anywhere in Scotland currently, but I got an interesting look at the derelict Saladin boxes of Benrinnes a couple of years ago. In the end, Tamdhu would become the last site in Scotland to use this method of malting. When they were still working, Tamdhu’s Saladin boxes supplied all malt for its own need, but also Glenrothes and the unpeated malt for Highland Park.
The Tamdhu 12 Years is the distillery’s current entry-level offering. Like the older Tamdhu 15 Years (which I quite enjoyed) it matured entirely in sherry casks.
Tamdhu 12 Years (43%, OB, 2020)
Nose: Notes of orange zest and dark caramel, as well as a touch of cherry candy cane and clementine. Just a whisper of damp oak, accompanied by cocoa powder. Quite lovely indeed.
Taste: Pretty creamy and somewhat zesty, with the oranges making an encore, but I also find some mush banana. There’s a noticeable veneer of spices in the background, mainly clove and just a touch of pepper. Finally some burnt, slightly bitter caramel.
Finish: Lingering oak spices and rum raisins.
A good entry-level showing from Tamdhu with a spicy kick. An easy sipper, but one that’s probably of a high enough quality to keep things interesting for an entire bottle.
Photo: The Whisky Exchange
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.