Before we talk about how amazing the new Tamdhu Cigar Malt is, let’s get into the Tamdhu timeline and some important numbers. Tamdhu was shuttered by Edrington (the owner of Macallan and Highland Park) starting in 2009. It was reopened three years later in 2012 after being purchased by Ian Macleod (the owner of Glengoyne and Rosebank). Shortly after, Tamdhu began releasing some of the aged stocks on hand. The 12 and 15 year old whiskies on the market today are still from those Edrington stocks.
For most of the Edrington years Tamdhu was primarily used for Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark (which I loved, especially the Naked Grouse that was pure malt in Sherry). From what I understand about the Edrington stock that was purchased as part of the deal, much of it was first-fill, full-term Sherry in European oak. To give you an idea of why that’s special, I can’t think of another standard release whisky from Scotland right now, other than something from Macallan (also Edrington) and maybe Glenfarclas, that has a whisky expression made up entirely of first-fill, full-term European Oak Sherry butts.
The Edrington stock is important here because a large percentage of the new Tamdhu Cigar Malt is made up of that inherited whisky, and 100% of the marriage is full-term, first-fill Sherry. To give you some context, the great Sherry-matured malts currently on the market—such as Aberlour, GlenDronach, GlenAllachie and Balvenie—are mostly finished for a couple of years in Sherry after maturing in hogsheads and other types of casks. If they are full term, they’re usually not just first-fill European Oak butts from Jerez, but rather a mix of Bourbon casks and hogsheads treated with Sherry, then filled.
Which is why I’m fired up about the new Tamdhu Cigar Malt. I’ve tasted it both with and without an actual cigar and it is nothing short of spectacular. Even if you hate cigars, you’re gonna love this whisky. If you love cigars, you won’t find a better pairing than this.
Bottled at 53.8% ABV and oozing with Oloroso goodness, this is a robust, tobacco-laden Sherry malt that falls short of what most would consider a “Sherry bomb,” but does so in the name of both complexity and balance. There’s a lot more going on here than just Sherry. There are no specifics on the NAS label, but I can let you in on the insider details. From speaking with the folks at Ian Macleod, the understanding was that the age range of first-fill Sherry butts was 8 to 18+ years of age for the marriage (there may be some 20+ in here too, if I remember correctly) so you’re getting a level of complexity from the combination of casks that is greater than the sum of its parts.
To be clear, however, this is NOT a sweet, supple, soft Sherry sipper. This is a dry, robust, spicy, and thick malt that is equal parts savory. You get rum cake, dark cacao, anise, diesel, blood orange, Christmas pudding, and all sorts of other goodness. Throw in the right cigar and now you’re really talking!!! It takes those notes and elevates them to new levels of deliciousness.
But before you freak out about the price, ask yourself how much a marriage of 53.8% ABV, full-term European Oak Sherry butts between 8 and 18 years of age from Macallan would cost you. I use this analogy because the same Edrington European Oak Sherry butts that Macallan utilizes were used to age the majority of this whisky. It was made by Macallan’s parent company and aged in Edrington warehouses before Ian Macleod took over.
-David Driscoll, Mission Sales Manager