Sometimes, the best things are hiding in plain sight, a fitting headline for a brand that quietly produces some of Speyside’s best whisky. Tandhu started life in 1897 and became synonymous with sherry by design. From the beginning, Tandhu began importing sherry casks from Spain. The distillery, designed by famed architect Charles Doig- father of the Doig pagoda ventilator, was considered state-of-the-art at the time. These two factors shaped the future of what is now arguably one of the best in its class!
Tamdhu 12-year-old is the flagship expression in a long line of sherried Scotch, and we mean long! Tamdhu currently offers ten core expressions plus two duty-free (airport-only) bottlings! Launched in 2018 to replace the 10-year-old, this new flagship is the most commonly available and well worth the effort to find! Like other Ian Macleod brands, Tamdhu benefits from a long line of connected brands with their storied backgrounds and extensive experience.
The bottle itself is gorgeous, enhancing my expectations about the contained liquid. Pouring a golden amber, I’m immediately inundated with a full bouquet of sherry-born fruit aromas: red wine, blackberry compote, cooked prunes, raisins, and fresh-cut apples. Underneath are hints of fig newtons, red wine vinegar, cinnamon, oak, and a distant puff of smoke.
The mouthfeel is supple and round, with a syrupy honey-like feel just short of oily. Sherry is evident early in the taste, along with chocolate-covered orange gummies, coffee, banana chips, malty cereal, and a hint of tannins. The swallow releases plum juice, char spice, black pepper, pie crust, and more toasted oak. Again, there is a distant smoky quality, like the hint of a distant fire.
Adding a couple of drops of water opens the sherry flavor and reveals sweet biscuits, dried pineapple, grape jelly, and Nutella. The mouthfeel softens significantly, and the finish becomes silky and slightly drying. There’s an aftertaste of mint, nutmeg, and a final breath of far-off smoke and frosted cinnamon rolls.
Tamdhu 12 is an elegant whisky, equally at home as an aperitif or with a cigar. Although not scarce, it’s not considered “mainstream” and may not be available everywhere. But the search is unquestionably worth the effort, rewarding intrepid seekers with a worthy daily drinker or a dram for special events.