Tamdhu 22, 1991 (Cadenhead’s)

Tamdhu 22, 1991
This 200 ml bottle of a recent Cadenhead’s small batch Tamdhu was brought back for me from Edinburgh by a friend a couple of weeks ago and was recommended by the redoubtable Jolly Toper, who I know from the WhiskyWhiskyWhisky forums.

I’ve never had a port matured whisky of this advanced age, and I can’t say that I would have been drawn to it on my own steam. 22 years in port casks seems like a lot and the risk of the whisky being overbearingly sweet or cough-syrupy seems high. And in general I’ve preferred port finished/matured whiskies that are also peated (the Ballechin #3, for instance) to those that aren’t (the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, for instance). I was willing to trust the Jolly Toper’s judgement though, especially as I had the opportunity to get relatively unusual whiskies that I couldn’t get in the US or get shipped to the US. And Tamdhu itself is a distillery I’ve had good, if limited, experience with. Let’s see how this goes.

Tamdhu 22, 1991 (57.1%; Cadenhead’s; port casks; from my own bottle)

Nose: The wine is not overbearing at all–no red fruit/berry assault here; indeed, it starts out very much in ex-sherry territory with raisins, orange peel and a savoury/nutty quality; some salt too. After a minute or two here’s the port: plums mostly. More citrus after a bit–lemon peel, marmalade–and just a bit of polished wood. With more time more sweet red fruit emerges: some cherry now. Water pushes the sweet fruit back a bit and pulls out some more wood. The fruit gets more stewed/jammy too.

Palate: Sweeter on the palate to start, but again it’s no winesky. Plum, a bit of cherry mixed in with some orange liqueur and then a nice woody bite leading into the finish. Highly drinkable without water. Spicier on subsequent sips (clove) and a little dustier too. Water brings the wood out much quicker and it’s dry and dusty and spicy. Far less sweet now and indeed a little leathery.

Finish: Medium. The sweet fruit lingers but the oaky counterpoint is more pronounced here. Some salt too. Less sweet fruit here too with water.

Comments: Quite nice and quite balanced, on the whole–though it does get sweeter as it goes, and I do prefer the nose to the palate. I’d take this over any of Glenmorangie’s wine finished/matured whiskies any day. Still, I’m not sure I’d want a full bottle. I think I liked it better with water.

Rating: 87 points.

3 thoughts on “Tamdhu 22, 1991 (Cadenhead’s)

  1. Stop the presses! The Jolly Toper advises that this whisky has not been matured in port casks for 22 years. He says that Cadenhead’s don’t note lengths of double maturations/finishes but hazards that this probably spent 4-5 years in port casks. That would explain the fact that there’s no cherry/berry overload and also how well integrated it is.

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    • Ah, interesting.
      I was thinking that your notes made this sound rather good, not to mention reserved, for a whisky that had spent so long in a wine cask.
      Mind you, I’ve quite enjoyed a couple of wine-finished whiskies over the years.

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    • Port always seems like a dicey proposition to me. But maybe that’s only because I was scarred by my bottle of Quinta Ruban.

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