Ever had dinner in a jeweller’s shop? Nope, me either, until a couple of weeks ago. A unique location such as Hamilton & Inches in Edinburgh meant the dinner must be for quite a unique event, and boy, it didn’t disappoint. The dinner was to celebrate the launch of Tamdhu 50yo, a single cask release of only 100 bottles and soon to be on sale for the eyewatering price of £16,000 a bottle. Distilled in November 1963 and bottled in March 2017 (wouldn’t that make it 53 years old…?) this whisky has spent its entire life in a first fill European Oak sherry butt. Following a sumptuous meal we were guided through a tasting of the 50yo by Sandy McIntyre, distillery manager at Tamdhu. Here’s what I thought…
First Fill European Oak Sherry Butt
100 bottles only
Nose: Rum soaked raisins, prunes, dates, orange marmalade, muscovado sugar and apple wood. Some currants and Jamaica cake too. Really very rich and dark.
Palate: Pepper spice, and some chilli flakes initially. Then cinnamon stick, cloves, oak staves, and dunnage warehouse. There’s an earthy sweetness too; Ecclefechan tart, manuka honey, raisins and black forest fruits.
Finish: Long and drying, with nutmeg, dark chocolate, tobacco leaf and prunes.
Overall: A massive, massive whisky. The sherry influence almost completely dominates the whisky but the character is still there. At natural cask strength it’s a bit hot on the palate, but it calms down nicely with water. Sandy explained that this cask was filled at 71%, hence why the liquid is still a punchy 55.6% ABV. To be fair, simply analysing the liquid is to not do justice to the product. You have to remember what was happening in 1963 to really put this whisky into context; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr made his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, The Beatles rose to the top of the music world, and President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas to name but a few key world events. It was a privilege to taste this whisky and, should you ever get the chance, you should too. History in a glass.