Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review: Gordon and MacPhail Tamdhu 8

Gordon and MacPhail Tamdhu 8
Price: $25
Strength: 43 %

A weekend last fall caught me light in the wallet, but curious to try something completely new. A browse through Yankee Spirits in Sturbridge, Mass (not as amazing a selection as I would have thought) yielded a bargain purchase of an independent bottling of 8 year old Tamdhu. Tamdhu, it turns out, is a recently mothballed Speyside distillery that was often used in various blends. I’d heard the name before, but never actually seen the stuff in a store. Additionally, I’m rather inexperienced when it comes to independent bottlings; I actually tried a 30 year old Glen Grant at 2010’s WAGG without really knowing what it was until afterwards.
Bargain shopping for Scotch can have decidedly mixed results. You’re simply not going to find that nicely aged, singularly flavored single malt for $25, but you can find some pretty decent if unremarkable whiskies. In fact, that sort of sums up the Tamdhu: decent if unremarkable. It’s clearly a young whisky. The nose is fiery with alcohol, but I also pick up muted caramel and toffee; the Speyside signature, as it were. The appearance is pale and quite viscous. The pale yellow color leads me to wonder if perhaps this has not been artificially colored; always a plus in my rather purist book.

A cautious sip reveals the same caramel and burnt toffee, along with a fair bit of fire from the alcohol, and a rather medicinal base. There are no real sherry or fruit notes here, though I can’t really say I expected them. A splash of water brings out more of the natural sweetness with some mild hints of honey and oak, which last through the rather average finish. I’d rate this a notch or two above a good blend. It’s too young of a malt to really pick up a lot of character from the wood, but has a longer and smoother finish than the blends I’ve tried, and is certainly pleasant enough for $25.

I would feel wrong doing it with a more aged or distinctive single malt, but I found the Tamdhu really shone when added to a strong cup of Scottish Breakfast tea sweetened with some honey. The caramel and toffee flavors blended wonderfully with the malty tea, and I decided to make this my remedy for the cold I was suffering at the time. Two strong cups of “fortified” tea worked wonders, but a third and later fourth actually worsened my symptoms. Lesson learned... a hot toddy helps temporarily ease your discomfort, but apply carefully.  68 points (C-).

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