Tamdhu 20, 2000 (OMC for K&L)

Speyside week comes to a close with another refill hogshead bottled for K&L in California. This is a Tamdhu and it is two years older than Wednesday’s Linkwood. You may recall that I quite liked that Linkwood and also Monday’s 10 year old Dailuaine (that one from a sherry cask). Will the oldest of the trio be at least as good as the one half its age? There are no guarantees but I did like the last Tamdhu 20 I reviewed—that one was also bottled by Old Malt Cask (for their own 20th anniversary). And I did also like the last K&L Tamdhu of similar age that I reviewed, that one a 19 yo. Anyway, let’s get to it.

Tamdhu 20, 2000 (52%; OMC for K&L; refill hogshead; from a bottle split)

Nose: Cereals, toasted oak and some sweet fruit—citrus at first but then some cherry joins in as well. As it sits the oak expands quite a bit, making me a bit apprehensive about the palate…On the plus side the cereals get more malted and the fruit turns a bit muskier (somewhere between apple and pear). With more time still the oak recedes again. Water pushes the oak back further and pulls out some cream. Continue reading


Tamdhu 26, 1984 (Exclusive Malts for the WWW Forum)

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. Continue reading

Tamdhu 15

I’ve reviewed a few Tamdhus over the years but this is my first review of an official release. When I first started drinking single malt whisky the Tamdhu 10 was always a very affordable malt that presented reliable, if unspectacular pleasures. But about 10 years ago the line got revamped—I think there was an ownership change—with new bottle designs (somewhat resembling cola bottles) and higher prices. I still had a few bottles of the older 10 yo in reserve and by the time I got through with them (though I still have one bottle squared away, I think) I had lost touch entirely with the distillery. Indeed when the chance for this bottle split arose I was not sure how long ago the 15 yo joined their lineup. A quick bit of googling suggests that it hit the market in early 2019 as a “limited edition” of 24,000 bottles. And it is apparently entirely aged in oloroso sherry casks, made from a mix of European and American oak. Continue reading

Tamdhu 19, 1999 (OMC for K&L)

Another week, another K&L exclusive. This here is a 19 year old whisky from another distillery I haven’t had a lot of; again because there hasn’t always been such a huge amount of its malt out there, certainly not in the US. I’m one of the few people who enjoyed the old Tamdhu 10 from 10-12 years ago but haven’t followed it since it got the Coke bottle-style redesign. Actually, I just looked up the official website and it appears the current 10 year old is a limited edition being sold for the very reasonable price of £120. For reference, the old 10 yo used to be available <$30. (In fact, as I think about it I may still have a bottle of the old 10 yo—perhaps I’ll open it next month.) The regular lineup now includes a 12 yo and a 15 yo plus a couple of NAS releases. If you have tried any of these please write in below to let me know if I’m missing an experience I shouldn’t miss. Meanwhile. I have reviewed a few indie Tamdhus of this approximate age before (see here and here for the two most recent). In fact the last one I reviewed was also in the Old Malt Cask line—part of the release commemorating the 20th anniversary of the label—and I quite liked it. Will this be as good or better? I hope so. Let’s see. Continue reading

Tamdhu 20, 1998 (OMC 20th Anniv. Release)

Back in January I posted reviews of a number of the releases that Hunter Laing put out last year to mark the 20th anniversary of the Old Malt Cask label. I liked a number of those a lot (especially the Arran 21; and surprisingly, not the Laphroaig 12) and this emboldened me to buy a few more of the releases from the series. A bunch of these are still available—perhaps because there’s no information on them at Whiskybase, and really no reviews at all on most of them. It’s also, of course, the case that the ones that are still available are malts distilled at non-name distilleries. Such is this Tamdhu 20. And so I find myself in the unusual position of being perhaps the first person to review a recently released whisky that is still available. I opened this bottle last month at a tasting that featured two more whiskies from this series that are still available (from the similarly unsexy distilleries, Inchgower and Teaninich) and it was quite well received. Here now are my formal notes. Continue reading

Tamdhu 22, 1991 (Càrn Mòr)

After an Allt-a-Bhainne released in 2012 and an Old Pulteney released in 2014, let’s complete the trifecta of reviews of whiskies no one cares about with a Tamdhu released in 2013 or 2014. It’s also hard to know if anyone cares about Tamdhu in general. It’s certainly better known than Allt-a-Bhainne, having put out official single malts for some time now, and having relatively recently overhauled their branding in a premium direction; but I’m not sure when the last time was I heard or read anyone talking excitedly about Tamdhu. Of course, every distillery is capable of putting out great casks, and I have liked 75% of the Tamdhus I’ve reviewed a fair bit (the most recent I liked more after it “opened up” in the bottle after a few months. That was also—like this one—a first fill sherry cask, but about half the age and from a butt not a hogshead. 22 years in a sherry hogshead does seem a long time (unless it was only re-racked into the sherry hogshead for a shorter period at the end of the maturation period). Let’s hope this isn’t an oak bomb.  Continue reading

Tamdhu 10, 2005 (Signatory for Stoller Wines)

Tamdhu 10, 2005, Signatory for Stoller
This is the third of four Signatory exclusives I purchased from Binny’s while in Chicago in September. Like the Glen Keith 19 that I reviewed in October, this was bottled not for Binny’s themselves but for Stoller Wines & Spirits, a Chicago-based wholesaler/distributor. As to whether anyone other than Binny’s carries their cask selections I’m not sure, and I rather suspect that these casks are also selected by the Binny’s crew. If you can confidently confirm or correct please write in below. Anyway, I took a flier on this bottle as I’ve had some pretty decent young, sherried Tamdhus before and the price was not too bad. I opened it a couple of weeks ago for my local group’s November tasting and while it smelled nice as I was pouring it, it didn’t really impress any of us overmuch. I thought it was too oaky and raw and that the sherry character was not as evident as you might expect from a first-fill sherry butt. It is at a very high strength though, and I rather expect there’s been some improvement with some air in the bottle. Let’s see.  Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Tamdhu 7, 2004 (Van Wees)

vanweestamdhuAnother Tamdhu. I mentioned in my recent review of the Lombard bottling that I had encountered the nutty/beany note I got on the finish of that whisky in another young Tamdhu, and remembered later that I had saved a large reference sample of said young Tamdhu before finishing that bottle a few months ago. So here is a quick take on that for purposes of comparison (I first tried a very small pour of the Lombard Tamdhu to see if my impressions of that one were consistent, and they were).

This is, in fact, a much younger whisky, and was bottled from a sherry butt by the Dutch budget bottler, Van Wees (the Lombard bottling was from a bourbon cask). They don’t have the strongest reputation but I have not had any bad experiences with their bottlings, and, indeed, have had a number that presented great value for money.

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Tamdhu 13, 1989 (Lombard)

tamdhulombardTamdhu is a not-particularly-storied distillery located in the Speyside region. Until recently, it was part of the Edrington group, which owns the far more storied distilleries of Highland Park and the Macallan, but was mothballed in 2009. It has since been purchased by Ian MacLeod, who own the Glengoyne distillery and release various lines of independent bottlings and blends. It is not clear what form the output of the distillery will take under the new ownership, but in its previous incarnation Tamdhu was known in the US for its 10 year old whisky, which was (and where still available, continues to be) one of the great values in malts, often available in the vicinity of $20. Not a remarkable malt but far, far better than the price might indicate and better than many priced far higher. Independent bottlings of Tamdhu are not difficult to find, however, and my review today is of one of those. The bottler is Lombard, whose presentation generally outstrips the reputation of its bottlings–at least from what I have read; if your experience is different please make some recommendations in the comments below.

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