The Spirit of Speyside is a well established festival celebrating the scotch whisky producers from the Speyside region, with distilleries getting involved in many different ways. From special tours from distilleries that normally don’t allow visitors, exclusive expressions released for the event and extra special tasting held at the distilleries.
Tamdhu have been involved with the festival and like most others have made it special for the people who visit them. This year I was lucky to be involved even though I couldn’t make it to the festival, with Tamdhu and The Whisky Wire hosting a live tasting at the distillery that would run in conjunction with a tweet tasting.
The week before the tasting was to take place I received a nice little package from Tamdhu, inside was my four samples a leaflet about the two core range expressions and a great little Glencairn glass with the distillery logo on it. The samples were the 10yo and the new Batch Strength 003 that is the core range, then there was a mystery sample and a single cask one. Both at cask strength and looking very tempting to try, these had me very intrigued and wanting the weekend to arrive quicker.
The tasting was to take place on Saturday the 5th of May at 4:30, as I said above the distillery was hosting a live tasting at the same time which was being streamed on Facebook.
The first sample of the afternoon was the
10yo 40% abv.
Matured exclusively in European and American oak sherry casks, with a mix of unpeated and Peated malted barley. It’s bottled at 40% abv and natural colour in quite a distinctive bottle design.
Nose: Quite fruity, pear, apple, raisin almost a strudel note to it, butterscotch, soft toasted oak, sweet spice somewhere between nutmeg & cinnamon.
Palate: Lots of dried fruits, sultanas, raisins, orange peel, lovely and juicy but a little astringent at the same time, soft touch of ginger that becomes more prominent with time, nice toffee note developing.
Finish: Not too long with a nice ginger and toasted oak note very moreish.
Next up was the new
Batch Strength 003 58.3% abv.
The Batch Strength releases so far have all met with great acclaim for the quality and value, bottled at the higher abv of 58.3% it is natural colour and un-chillfiltered. It is also matured in a combination of European and American oak sherry casks, with a high proportion being first fill.
Nose: Lots of berries, raspberries, blueberries lingonberries, vanilla toffee, touch of roasted almonds, some soft allspice note with a gentle hint of oak in the background.
Palate: Huge juicy fruit hit, the berries are balanced with some sherry fruit notes, raisin, orange peel etc. The oak is more dominating, not as sweet as the nose suggests, some ginger working with the allspice.. very complex.
Finish: Medium in length with the oak spice becoming quite dry, very smooth and pleasant.
Next came the mystery dram, this turned out to be a new release for the distillery.
The Dalbeallie Dram 62.1% abv.
This limited edition releases has just 1000 bottles available, bottled at cask strength, natural colour and un-chillfiltered it is the first of what will become an annual release to coincide with the Spirit of Speyside festival. This was created to honour the Victorian train station that It is named after, highlighting the vital role the station had in getting the supply of sherry casks from Spain to the distillery.
Nose: Rich and complex, lots of rich berries, vanilla/caramel, touch of orange, earthy dunnage, hint of barley in the background, toasted nuts, almonds, cashew etc.
Palate: Very soft for the abv, nice gentle ginger and oak spice, rich berries carries over from the nose with a sherried twist, nice toffe note, lots of depth with a rich fruit cake note developing in the background.
Finish: Very long with richness of the palate continuing through the finish, quite a pleasant oak note at the end.
The last sample of the afternoon was something special as well and another limited release.
Tamdhu single cask Distillery Team Edition 59.3% abv.
To celebrate the 120th anniversary of the distillery, the 15 strong distillery team carefully selected this single cask to be bottled. Matured in the finest European oak first-fill sherry butt, it is un-chillfiltered, natural colour and bottled at cask strength. Meaning only 603 individual numbered bottles are available of this expression.
Nose: Rich treacle toffee, those winter berries again, sweet cinnamon spice, getting a hint of cherry Bakewell/marzipan, the alcohol is a little more prominent, also have a sweet note in the background, something like an old fashioned Kola cube sweet.
Palate: Lots of rich sherried fruit, nice oak influence, some stem ginger helping balance the oak, the cinnamon is a bit softer, the treacle toffee has a bit of a burnt hint to it now, just coats the mouth and excites all your tastebuds.
Finish: Quite long, it starts with intense burst of spice that settles down to a soft oak note. Has a drying edge to it.
Now I’ve only tasted the 10yo before in passing, so had no idea what to expect from the higher abv expressions. Wow is all I can say, fully matured sherry malts are not normally my cup of tea. Being more of a Bourbon and Port cask person, these make me want to reconsider that idea. They are rich and complex with so much character, yet at the same time have something different about them. I don’t get just the usual dried fruit note from them, the higher the abv the more complex and smoother they seem to become.
The dram of the tasting for me was the Dalbeallie with the Batch Strength close behind it, the single cask is a beautiful dram but just didn’t quite match the complexity of the Dalbeallie. If you can get chance to try any of these then I would highly recommend it, I personally will be trying very hard to get a couple of bottles of both the Batch 003 and the Dalbeallie..