Ian Macleod Distillers is a family run and owned business that has made quite a name for themselves in the Scotch Whisky industry. Not only do they own and produce Tamdhu single malt and a blending facility, but also Glengoyne and the Isle of Skye blend. To add to this, they just finalized a deal clinching the ownership of Edinburgh Gin which also brought them the brand Sheep Dip. I have seen Sheep Dip quite a bit in the states lately. This is a blend of single malts and is quite sweet and full of honey.
Tamdhu is in the heart of the Speyside region, but is not like its neighbors. They don’t typically give tours and this means I was fortunate enough to spend over 4 hours with the distillery manager after diligent emails and requests. This gave me the opportunity to really dig into the trickier questions and learn more about the brand. At the moment Tamdhu is producing around 3.0 million liters but has the capacity for 4.2 million liters of new make spirit per year. Thirty to forty percent of this is going to their single malt. They have a disgorging facility on site and a lot of new make spirit trading goes on throughout their distillery. They are definitely a different beast than their sister Glengoyne, that has thousands of followers coming through each year. Tamdhu is the Ian Macleod workhorse.
Although Tamdhu’s existence is largely in part to producing spirit for Ian Macleod blends, they have done quite a bit of re-branding lately and their single malt is looking really sharp. Not only the looks, but the taste is excellent as well. The bottles and labeling have an antique, Victorian feel. The secondary packaging definitely doesn’t do the actual glass bottle justice. Right now their core range includes the Tamdhu 10 Year Old and the Batch Strength Batch #1. They are working on the much anticipated release of Batch #2. From what samples are the in the mix, batch #2 should be even better than batch 1. They also have a few older bottlings coming out soon, so keep an eye out for that.
Information in regards to their equipment and capacity. They were doing malting’s on site up until 2010, which is quite unique. Their Porteus mill is quite retro and is one of the few that are still 1970’s green and not the usual brick red. Sixteen mashes are run per week and then moved into one of their nine washbacks which are all American Oak. Liquid yeast is used and injected into the wort lines to start fermentation and at the end of that period is moved to one of their three wash stills. Both their wash and spirit stills are traditional copper pot stills with no reflux bulge. The magic of Tamdhu is not only that they strive for a very fruity, sweet, new make spirit, but their strict wood and cask policies. Currently, all of their single malt is fully aged in the highest quality sherry butts and no caramel (color) is added to the malts with natural color coming all from the wood. The distillery manager regularly goes to Jerez, Spain to maintain the relationship with their cooperage. Tamdhu also has the capacity to fill casks on site and have many, many warehouses including traditional dunnage, racked and palletised although all of their malt stock is in the dunnage warehouses.
Tamdhu Single Malt New Make Spirit
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Very ripe apples, pear and pineapple.
Pallet: Older fruit, red apples.
Tamdhu 10 Year Old Single Malt
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Fresh fruits, sugary almonds from the NYC street vendors, roses, fig netwons and raisins.
Palate: Dried raisins, chewy figs, oak, a Cows Tail Chew Caramel with the cream in the middle, chocolate.
There is a 40%ABV and a 43%ABV in the market right now of this. I tried both!
Tamdhu Batch Strength #1 – 58.8%ABV
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Apples, apple pie, sugar, tart apple, cherries and berries.
Palate: Honey, caramel and dried cherries.
Their new make spirit is superb. I would buy this as is and drink it on a nice hot day. The aromas were amazing and apparently they have been told multiple times from visitors that have sampled it that they wish to buy a bottle. As people travel to Scotland and are on the whisky trail, it may seem frustrating that you can’t really schedule a tour of the facility at the moment. They are working on ways to get more people into the distillery as they continue to market their single malt. There are things in the works such as a Tamdhu Club, where once or twice a year there will be events hosted on site for the members to come and tour with the distillery manager. They are also working on linking kayak and canoe tours of the Spey River to include a stop off at the distillery. The Spey is right across the road from them and who doesn’t like a fun day of whisky canoeing! I recommend everyone going out and trying a dram of the ten year old. I don’t think you will be disappointed and the attention to detail is evident for this youngster. If they can do this with a ten, then we should be excited to see what’s coming next!
Now for real, next up is Balblair...