Monday, December 14, 2020

Review / Tamdhu Batch Strength No.005

This whisky is the latest bottling in the annual Batch Strength series from the Speyside distillery of Tamdhu. The Tamdhu Batch Strength No.005 is a limited edition that has been created using different ages of whisky and only from ex-Oloroso sherry casks. These casks are both first-fill and re-fill, and of differing size - hogshead, puncheon and butt - with some made from American oak and others from European oak. There are just over 20,000 bottles available and these are released at a batch strength of 59.8% ABV. The whisky is non chill-filtered and of natural colour.

The Tamdhu distillery is located in the centre of the Speyside region in Scotland, close to the hamlet of Knockando. It was founded in 1896 by the Tamdhu Distillery Company, which was formed of a consortium of whisky blenders. Throughout its history the whisky produced has largely been used in blends and it is only really under the ownership of Ian Macleod Distillers, who took control in 2011, that the full restoration of Tamdhu as a single malt brand has taken place. The current production capacity is four million litres per annum.
"Fans of the first four batches will be right at home here. Batch Strength No.005 is more American oak forwards but still demonstrates the old school Speyside character of Tamdhu and the richness of the ex-Oloroso sherry casks that we use." 
Gordon Dundas - International Brand Ambassador at Tamdhu.
The Tamdhu Batch Strength No.005 is available now is specialist retailers in selected worldwide markets and via A bottle will cost £80/ $105 US.

Our tasting notes

The colour is deep amber with a hint of russet brown and the nose is rich, sweet and punchy. Aromas of caramel and hard toffee lead the way, followed by milk chocolate and brown sugar. There are also hints of fresh green apple, malted cereals and black treacle underneath. Everything is backed up with a hefty pinch of dusty baking spices (think of cinnamon and white pepper especially) and a whiff of dried walnut.

On the palate this whisky is big, bold and hot to begin with. The extreme ABV gives a peppery edge to proceedings and it is only when this begins to subside that other characteristics start to come through. Toffee and caramel-like sweetness come through first, closely followed by a distinct nutty quality that grips the tastebuds - think of those walnuts again, plus heavily toasted almond and hazelnut. Notes of milk chocolate, gingerbread and a hint of apricot jam also develop. These are joined by further notes of raisin, cinnamon and a pinch of clove.

The ABV suggests adding some water. This helps significantly, especially with the peppery heat. Bringing the strength down softens the whisky and makes it feel creamier. It also allows other more subtle aromas and flavours to come through - think of vanilla, treacle sponge pudding and hints of menthol and liquorice.

The finish is long and rich, becoming increasingly spicy towards the end - this is a combination of the hot white pepper and the ever-present baking spices. The sweet and nutty notes slowly fade and this gives the green apple and malt from before to shine through for a brief moment.

What's the verdict?

Under the stewardship of Ian Macleod Distillers the fortunes of Tamdhu as a single malt brand have taken a serious upturn. Their unwavering commitment to only using ex-Oloroso sherry casks has steered the brand in a very clear direction. This latest annual bottling of the Batch Strength will only reinforce these things. It shows perfectly what good quality Oloroso sherry casks can give to a single malt if used sympathetically.

Tamdhu seems an under rated (or is that undiscovered?) distillery. It is one that connoisseurs know but not the wider whisky drinker public. Batch Strength No.005 is aimed at those connoisseurs, but the hopefully the other bottlings in the core range - the 12 and 15 year old expressions - will get the word out there about the great work that Tamdhu are doing to that wider audience.

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