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The Best Single Malt Scotch You’ve Probably Never Heard of

  • 17-July-2022

Tamadhu currently has a very respectable foothold in the single malt market after spending decades in the whiskey wilderness, known only to blowers and the industry.

Only Scotch comes to mind when we think about whiskey. In particular, we frequently consider Speyside, a heartbreakingly beautiful valley in northeastern Scotland. The undisputed whiskey capital of Scotland is this sparsely populated region of hills, glens, and barley fields. The most renowned distilleries are located there, including Macallan, Glenlivet, and Glenfiddich, among numerous others. Additionally, it is home to a limited number of distilleries that are content to maintain a low profile and are relatively unknown.

Tamdhu is one such distillery. Its unspoiled setting is strengthened with protection by a deep forest that stretches down the banks of Scotland's greatest Salmon River. It is situated on a broad bank of the River Spee.

The creators of Tamdhu were very clear about the type of Scotch they wanted to produce. Early on, European oak ex-sherry barrels were imported to give the maturing whisky a rich and fruity profile. Their foresight paid off; Tamdhu swiftly rose to popularity among Glasgow's blending firms, who prized it for its heavier, more wintery kind of distillate, which gave the top blended scotches of the time a much-needed bulk.

After the distillery was expanded in the early 1970s, the tavern was made available as a single malt, which means that no additional whiskey was added to the recipe. The rising availability of American oak, ex-bourbon barrels from the United States has caused several distilleries to change their tamarisk wood strategy in favour of the vanilla-driven aromas that bourbon casks bestow on their components.

Thankfully, the proprietors of Highland Distillers, which later changed its name to Eddington, brought back Tamadhu's original, sherry-driven flavour in the early 1990s. The Bodega company in Spain, which also provided wood for other distilleries including Macallan, was chosen by Highland to provide the custom sherry casks that were increasingly used to store Tamadhu's spirit. This made the Macallan and Tamadhu distilleries, the latter of which was located just about seven miles downstream on Spye, sisters. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that comparisons between their distinct flavour profiles, or "Distillery Character," to use the terminology of the business, are being made.

Tamdhu currently has a very respectable position in the world of single malts after spending years in the whiskey wilderness where it was only known to blenders and industry figures. In addition to higher-proofed batch strength releases, it has a manageable core range of ten, twelve, and fifteen-year-old malts that are all easily accessible and affordable. And it has been successful; at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the International Spirits Challenge, new releases have racked up numerous gold and double gold honours. The liquor is similarly excellent in older and more limited bottlings; at the 2020 World Whiskies Awards, a single cask of Tamdhu from the 2003 vintage won the title of World's Best Single Cask Whisky.

The new bottlings are reminiscent of the original Tamdhu's thick, meaty character. Texturally, they are once again displaying the heft that, decades ago, initially captivated single malt experts on Macallan and other titans of Speyside. They are bursting with flavours of Christmas spices and roasted fruits. Consequently, those drinkers have paid attention. People who prefer fireside Scotches with a blood-red hue and a treacle-driven aroma are increasingly focusing on Speyside's most underappreciated distillery.

Even the top-shelf bottles are far less expensive than the comparable offerings from Tamdhu's long-lost sister. The best part is that Tamdhu is once again creating a rich, traditional single malt that is now receiving the recognition it deserves, just as her creators intended. Despite the possibility that it is the new Macallan, it is undeniably the old Tamdhu.

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