I purchased this bottle in December 2010. I cannot fully explain why it has taken me more than a decade to open it. I do know why I didn’t open it right away though. I’d been drinking single malt whisky for the better part of a decade at that point but 2009/2010 is when I began to spend a lot of money on it and when I began acquiring more bottles than I could drink down at my normal, rather moderate rate of intake (1-2 drinks a night). This was not one of the very first older whiskies I’d purchased then but it was the first whisky I’d purchased that was a pick by a group I was part of. That group was the venerable Whisky Whisky Whisky forum, which I was an active member of then, before it—like many forums—fell prey to the creep of social media. I think I’ve said before that the decline of that forum was a large part of the impetus for starting this blog in 2013. This was the first—only?—cask of whisky bottled by the forum and for me it was an entree to an exciting world of “exclusive” picks that I’d only read about till that point. And so I put it away for a special occasion…and then forgot about it for a decade. Now I’m drinking my collection—mostly acquired in the 2009-2014 timeframe—down far more rapidly than I’ve ever done and I’ve begun to open a number of these “special” bottles. I was a bit nervous when I uncorked this one for the first time last week—after a decade’s wait would it actually be good?—but I’m glad to report the notes don’t include retroactive regret.
Oh yes, this was also one of the first bottles I had muled to me from the UK. This bottling was put together by David Stirk of the then relatively new’ish Creative Whisky Co.—whose label Exclusive Malts was—and it was sold from his shop in Chester but only shipped to customers in the UK and EU. My friend Dev told me she was going to be visiting a relative in Leeds right around then and I had David ship it there. She picked it up and brought it back to Minnesota in January 2011. This wasn’t the last time I troubled Dev in this way but it’s been a while since the last time.
Tamdhu 26, 1984 (50.1%; Exclusive Malts for the WWW Forum; cask 2835; from my own bottle)
Nose: Stewed fruit (pear, apple), malt, wood glue and some oak. Rather nice. Gets creamier as it sits and the malt is joined by some toffee. The oak gets just a little too pronounced with air (manifesting as a rye/licorice note) but this is still very nice indeed. With more time/air there’s more toffee. Water emphasizes the malt and makes the whole sweeter; it does also pull out a bit of lemon though.
Palate: Comes in pretty much as you’d expect from the nose, maybe a bit sweeter. The oak is more present here from the get-go but it’s balanced nicely by the fruit and malt. Spicier on the second sip and then pretty consistent after that with the mix of fruit, malt and oak. I’ll give it a bit more air and then some water. With more time the fruit gets a bit more intense. Okay, water: a few drops pull out lemon and some white pepper and bring the oak into better balance.
Finish: Medium. The oak gets the last word as the fruit fades out quite quickly. Longer, sweeter and as on the palate with water.
Comments: Well, this was worth the wait. I don’t know how I would have felt back in early 2011 but in 2021, while it’s far from the greatest whisky I’ve had, I find it very enjoyable indeed. No fireworks, no real flaws, just good malt whisky. To think that I paid less than $100 for it then, even at the much higher exchange rate the pound commanded then. I believe the cost was £55 for members of the forum with remaining bottles sold at the shop for £69.
Rating: 88 points. (Pulled up by water.)