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.