Poor man’s Aberlour a’bunadh? Maybe. Maybe not. In terms of personal preference and local price point, yeah, I guess it would qualify as such, but the reality is that Tamdhu Batch Strength is more like a savoury variant of the big, bold and youthful sherry bomb that Aberlour took to the mainstage a wee while back when they launched a’bunadh. It’s great to have options, innit? And it’s even better to have options that come in $35 lower than said Aberlour. (a’bunadh is now $140 in Alberta! WTF happened there?!)
Most of the Tamdhu I’ve had thus far has been much older than this one, mellowed by a couple decades in wood and allowed to soften into something cool and complex. Especially those gems from the ’60s and ’70s. Wow! This beast, though? Never in a million years would I have pegged this as Tamdhu. The style is loud to the point of distortion. Distillery character is almost lost in favor of (obvious) wet-fill sherry casking. This sort of intensity is almost like sipping the syrupy eau-de-vie out of a jar of griottines. A one-and-done per night sort of dram for me.
All said…quite nice. Won’t have the complexity, depth and age that seasoned drinkers generally look for in their malts, but definitely serves as an occasional bombastic treat and will certainly light up the noobs.
Nose: Spicy mince. Ginger bread with kirsch baked right through it. Or maybe it’s Chambord. Berries or tree fruit either way. Quite figgy. Damp cedar. Melting chocolate and new leather. Tobacco. A floral note runs through the middle as well. Caramel-y, fudge-y notes. Freshly made cinnamon buns before they hit the oven.
Palate: Jaysus! This is hot. Big sweet and spicy arrival. Lots of tree fruits and berries. Ginger and cinnamon. Peppered berries. Big, bold and spicy oak notes. Hints of mulled wine and cold tea. A little bit of licorice, red and black. Reminds of Christmas.
Finish: Just slightly tannic, but overall very juicy and man…does this one linger. Eventually tightens up into cranberries and red popsicle (still on the stick).
Thoughts: Definitely not one of those antique-y styles of old school sherried malt we love so much, but still exciting. I’m not generally a water-in-my-whisky kinda guy, but something this young, this spicy and this high strength will absolutely take a decent dollop of water and survive. She’s a feisty ‘un. And I have a bit of a crush on her at the moment, despite the fact she’s not my preferred style.