Tamdhu: Dalbeallie Dram & 120th Anniversary Cask

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It was a busy old start to month at Tamdhu, what with them releasing two new expressions within days of each other; the Dalbeallie Dram and 120th Anniversary Single Cask bottling. The Dalbeallie Dram was released to coincide with the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival whereas the 2002 single cask release was chosen by the distillery team to mark the distillery’s 120th birthday.

The Dalbeallie Dram refers to the Dalbeallie Train Station (latterly the Knockando Station) which was established in 1899 and has recently returned to its former glory with the ticket office, waiting room and signal box all undergoing extensive restoration. At the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival it even played host to several events and tastings. The Dalbeallie Dram is a NAS expression, with the whisky matured entirely in Oloroso sherry casks, and bottled non-chill filtered at 62.1%.

Commenting on the release, which is only available through the distillery website, Distillery Manager Sandy McIntyre said: “Having a new expression of Tamdhu is always exciting, and launching to guests during the Speyside Whisky Festival makes it all the more special. John Glass, our Master Blender, prepared a selection of drams for the team to nose and sample before we decided what we thought would best compliment the current Tamdhu range. We are absolutely delighted with the end result. “We owe a big thanks to the railway, and I only wish it was still running to return to those splendid days for Tamdhu. I often imagine the signalman in the old signal box on a dark and wintry night, with a blizzard outside, sitting beside the wood burning stove, waiting for the night train to pass – with a hearty dram or two of Tamdhu to warm him up! You can still see the restored signal box with the old hand operated levers if you walk along the platform.”

Tamdhu Dalbeallie Dram
Oloroso sherry cask matured
Non-chill filtered
62.1% ABV
£90 here

Nose: Very dark and brooding – rich mahogany, dark cherries, dark cherries, toasted raisins, prune juice and unlit cigar.

Palate: Holy shit! Hugely spicy – clove, cinnamon, cracked black peppercorns, mustard seed nip. Then some Seville orange peel, charred heather and leather.

Finish: Big, drying oakiness, bitter chocolate and some espresso.

The other release this past month was single cask bottling which commemorated the distillery’s 120th anniversary. Nine cask samples were drawn and put in front of the distillery’s 15-strong team to be blind tasted. The winner was a 2002 European oak first fill sherry butt which has spent around 16 years maturing in Warehouse Number 5, a traditional dunnage warehouse. The cask yielded 603 bottles and the whisky has been bottled at its natural strength of 59.3%. Speaking on the 120th Anniversary release, McIntyre said “The distillery team had a lot of fun nosing and tasting nine samples and voting for their favourites. The final top three were then selected for a blind nosing and tasting and ranked by each of the team members to agree on the winning cask.”

Tamdhu 120th Anniversary Release Single Cask
2002 Vintage b.2018
European oak first fill sherry butt
59.3% ABV
£250 here

Nose: Molasses, sultana cake, treacle toffee, hazelnut praline, chocolate coated Brazil nuts, wet logs, coffee liqueur chocolates, and possibly some black olives.

Palate: initially very juicy – red currants, blackberries, Morello cherries, and cinnamon on baked apple. Then there’s a lot of clove, honey glazed ham, some soy sauce, roasted walnuts and a lick of oak.

Finish: Coffee beans, black tea and spicy mixed dried fruits.

Overall: Let’s take these one at a time. The Dalbeallie Dram is a bit overdone to be honest – the sherry and oak influence is overwhelming to the point it’s tough to sip neat. With water, as with a lot of heavily sherried whiskies, it kinda disintegrates and loses a lot of body. Hmmm. The 120th Anniversary single cask, on the other hand, is much more rounded, fruity, complex, and enjoyable. It comes at quite a price though – £250 for a 16yo single cask is pretty wild, but I suppose you only turn 120 years old once.




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