After the Christmas advent calendar last year one of the surprise samples I enjoyed was the Tamdhu 10 year old. In my review I mention how I particular liked this dark and earthy sherry character. The review can be found here.
This 12 year old version is only available at Marks and Spencer in the United Kingdom. M&S have quite a few exclusives at the moment in their whisky selection. There is a 14 year old Glengoyne which will feature in a future review and a sherry finished Arran bottling. A visit to a larger M&S with a large food court is actually quite a good resource for interesting wine and spirits if you are not close to a specialist retailer.
A lot of whisky retailers gain an extra revenue stream by bottling casks from distilleries under their own house label. The margins on these bottles can work out better than official releases. The downside of this approach is you do not have the benefit of the official producers marketing and branding. The customer could be convinced that the house bottling from distillery X is just a few rather tired casks only fit for blending and not worthy of X’s core house range. The reality is more that the casks just do not fit into the house style expressions. Not bad quality just not the right ingredient to the recipe.
The solution to this potential problem for M&S is to do deals with generally smaller independent producers to have exclusive selling rights to an expression. The three bottles mentioned above are all packaged as an official bottle. This 12 year old is the same beautiful stylised bottle and the same grey and white cardboard tube as other releases. The only difference is a small marking stating this was bottled for Marks and Spencer. This is a strategy where everyone wins. The retailer gets the benefits of national branding and the producer has a guaranteed purchaser for the run of the expression.
Moving on to specifically talking about the 12 year old bottle this one is natural colour like all Ian MacLeod produced single malts. This expression only contains sherry casks and the colour of the whisky shows a lot of maturation has gone on it is a lovely colour. The bottling strength is 40% and available to order online for £36 here. The cask strength version of Tamdhu states on the bottle that is not chill filtered. The lack of filtration information on this bottle means it must be filtered to some extent. Lets see how it does in a tasting then.
Colour – rustic orange
Nose – milk chocolate, icing sugar, caramel. It is quite spirity as well
Palate – spicy with especially cinnamon, orange zest and banana cake
Finish – coco powder, more oranges and a subtle charring from the cask
This bottle is definitely a different recipe from the 10 year old. This is not a bad thing. It would be pretty boring if this was only the same as the standard widely available 10 year old only left hanging in a cask for an extra couple of years. This bottle is sweeter and sharper. Where the ten is musky this is zesty. The flavour profile reminds me a lot of an Aberlour 12 although this Tamdhu has a much nicer texture to it.
In going back to my ten year old review after writing the above it is interesting to note I mention expecting the 10 to be like the Aberlour 12. I guess in this M&S exclusive I got what I asked for.