Whisky Review: Tamnavulin Double Cask
Category: Speyside single malt scotch whisky
Origin: Tamnavulin Distillery
Bottling: Emperador; Whyte & Mackay
Cost: RRP £32, available at Morrisons for £20
What they say:
The Moray distillery, which predominantly produces single malt for the Whyte & Mackay blend, has introduced Tamnavulin Double Cask, a no-age-statement single malt in the UK. Matured in American oak casks and finished in Sherry butts, the whisky carries an abv of 40% and costs £32 per bottle. The expression will be rolled out to other markets in 2017. Due to an upgrade at the distillery in 2007, when it was reopened following a 12-year silent period, Whyte & Mackay claims the liquid is richer than expressions bottled prior to the 1990s.
Stephen Watt, off-trade sales director for Whyte & Mackay, said the new release will ‘bring a refreshing change to store shelves for existing and new whisky fans’. He added: ‘Tamnavulin distillery has been crafting remarkable whisky, full of Speyside character, for the past 50 years and this latest expression is no exception. ‘This new release will meet the needs of consumers in terms of flavour, innovation and price point.’
Double Cask is the first single malt bottled by Tamnavulin since the 1990s, and while it will be the only release from the distillery for the forseeable future, Whyte & Mackay confirmed that ‘we are sitting on some aged stocks that go back to the founding of the distillery, which may help form some exciting releases at some point’.
The distillery was built in Tamnavoulin by Invergordon Distillers in 1966 during the great whisky boom, and sold to Whyte & Mackay in 1993. Its new owner mothballed the distillery two years later and it lay silent until 2007, when Whyte & Mackay itself was sold to Indian group United Spirits. Tamnavulin distillery currently produces around four million litres of alcohol per year.
What I say:
While not our first Tamnavulin expression sampled, this one is almost as unique as the last (a 45 year old distilled in 1968 bottled by Douglas Laing) being a new introduction to the market and potentially the start of a stable range of whiskies from the re-invigorated Tamnavulin distillery. Left languishing for many years by Whyte & Mackay and reportedly sold in bulk to a famous budget supermarket to bottle, most expressions available bearing Tamnavulin’s name have been well-aged vintages like the Douglas Laing example above. Reputedly blended (and perhaps coloured) by Whyte & Mackay’s ‘Nose’ Richard Paterson it will be interesting to see where Tamnavulin sits within their single malt distillery portfolio of Dalmore, Jura & Fettercairn…
This one bears ‘batch 0308’ on box and bottle label – whatever that may mean? The double cask refers to initial maturation in American Oak ex-bourbon followed by finishing in Sherry casks. No age is declared.
Dark amber/burnished copper gold – I suspect well caramelled (12/20), quick loose legs and few medium droplet tears
Sweet toffee, vanilla essence and marzipan, stewed fruits with red apple, plum and fig, hints of milk chocolate, slightly leathery, quite gentle/superficial aromas
Light-bodied, thin caramel sauce a touch of citrus zest – orange mostly and some cinnamon spice, dates, dried figs and apricots all over-stewed served in vanilla custard, some woody oak, toffee and malty barley round this off
Medium, slightly bitter oakiness results in mocha and later some toffee sweetness
Clearly they have tried hard using both cask types to infuse as much flavour into this as possible on the backbone of what appears to be quite a light single malt structure. Easy drinking and hard to find fault in it, also with the over oaking this didn’t taste particularly young (lacked vigour of young malt too but this may be the lightness of spirit). For the price it was a nice dram and I have tried much more unmemorable whisky that carried an age-statement. For a mass return to market the absence of age is slightly concerning but entirely in keeping with current trends, perhaps in time age statement Tamnavulins will return?
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