As the Spirit of Speyside festival approaches for 2019, we take a look at the exclusive that we got share as part of last year’s festival, courtesy of another stunning Tweet Tasting with Steve Rush @TheWhisky Wire. This whisky was released by Tamdhu for the festival only, and the participants of the Tweet Tasting were also able to join in a special presentation from a Tamdhu warehouse via FaceBook Live and submit our tasting notes, thoughts and questions throughout the afternoon. The whisky itself is named after the local train station that brought custom, supplies and ultimately trade to Tamdhu (and Speyside in general) at a time when the Victorians had little other routes or options available to them, and so brought the area its initial whisky prosperity as the Great North of Scotland Railway. As per Tamdhu’s modus operandi, this is a 100% ex-cherry cask matured whisky, and has been released without an age statement, limited to just 1,000 bottles and captured at a hearty 62.1% ABV for the Spirit of Speyside festival.
Such a deep set of flavours coming through, and it is as if they’ve been steeped in tar – but in a good way?! Amongst the melee of dark fruits, there’s a smell like figs and balsamic vinegar without the bitterness. Well, maybe a tiny bit of bitterness. (That specific tasting note coming from a pizza I recently tried…) Back to the dense oak-drenched flavours I can also pick out notes of dark cherries, boot polish, blood orange and burnt caramel. Also, if it wasn’t for the packaging telling me so, there is no way that I’d say that this is 62.1%.
Oh wait, yes it is. That is quite the warming sensation. Oof. Who knows, with this kind of impact, maybe it’s the cure for the common cold? Particularly so with that syrupy coating of the throat it is leaving behind. On the tongue, the alcohol fizzes away and leaves lots of little fruit and berry flavours, like red grapes, Californian raisins and blackcurrants. Make that blackcurrant jam. On toast! There are some of those classic fruit cake flavours and spices coming out here too after a bit of time and even more so with a pinch of water. And oak. Lots of sherry saturated oak.
Once the tingling calms down, there’s a fizz and fruity sensation just like cola cubes. But imagine that they are ones that have been melted down and stored in fortified sherry casks. The oak of the casks themselves makes a final appearance on your final breath along with a signature gingery and peppery spice.
What a treat to have been able to participate in the event – one of our highlights of the year really. We will watch this year’s event with a keen eye too, and I believe that a sequel to the Dalbeallie Dram (version II) will await attendees of the Tamdhu distillery during the festival for a cool £90 a bottle. We don’t normally mention colour on this site, but with such a strong colour and set of flavours, it needs bringing to attention. Just what have they done to get it out at this colour? Amongst those dark swirls there are lots of things going on and that initial stealthy booze makes for quite the experience. One thing that I was a little surprised about was just how quickly it was drank during the TT and FB Live session itself. Particularly with those ABV outputs, but clearly the presenters (including renowned character and Distillery Manager Sandy McIntyre) were just excited and passionate about their products, using their staple 10 year old as the litmus test for their sherry-led output. With that in mind, and nearly one year on, it was great to come back to the second half and spend some more time on it and let the flavours come out. First neat and then with a dash of water. Not that there’s much sting to it, but just to enjoy it for a little bit longer. With water it becomes more sherry like. As in, actual sherry. Wow. Will have to see if I can get my hands on this year’s second iteration…
Sample disclosure: The sample was received as part of a promotional Tweet Tasting session and celebration of the Spirit of Speyside festival. All notes are intended to be an independent, fair and honest review of the whisky.