Tamdhu Batch Strength #5 59.8%

Posted by John Shearlock on

Tamdhu Batch Strength #5 59.8% 700ml
RRP $142.99 - Special $129.99

The cask strength non-age statement (NAS) distillery bottling has become a bit of a thing really and is often a great place to start if you’re looking for value for money.

Pioneered by Glenfarclas with their release of the 105 bottled at 60% ABV back in 1968 - now there are many distilleries with a similar high strength release. They’re often that good that you sort of wonder why there aren’t more official releases at this price and quality but then I guess it’s all to do with the overheads of ageing. If anything, aged distillery releases are often quite bad value for money (IMO).

We did a tasting of these cask strength NAS whiskies a while back at Regional Wines and the scores were high and the general vibe was that we were tasting whiskies that punched well above their price point. People seemed happy; I’m sure it had nothing to do with the ABV (laughs). The winner on the night was the Tamdhu Batch Strength #3 at 59% with a whopping score of 9.07. It went on to the end of year tasting known as Best of the Best where it was up against a slightly higher pedigree lineup, but where it still managed a very respectable 8.71 and came fifth in a lineup of very fine, not to mention, expensive whiskies.

Tamdhu used to be known as a major player in blends such as The Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark but its official release range now has it much admired for its use of sherry casks. Batch #5 is 100% oloroso sherry cask matured, a nice place to start when crafting a cask strength bottling. All those sweet sherry cask flavours mean that the alcohol has a decent chance of balancing straight from the get go. But does this batch balance?

The nose is dark and decadent with stewed fruits, cinnamon, licorice and sandalwood at the fore and backed up by caramel and vanilla notes plus some fresh fruits too. It’s a great start and has me wanting to get my laughing gear round it asap. Whoa, it’s quite the mouthful with burnt caramel flavors and heaps of sweetness framed by dark bitter chocolate notes that lead to apricots on the finish. There is balance, but at the heavy end, and really it’s the bitter notes that give it relief and balance the sweetness and massive abv.

This is a big whisky and the youthful malt that obviously forms part of its makeup does come through on the palate, but this is certainly no deal breaker. In fact, the profile of this whisky is similar in many ways to a single cask release; one that hasn’t been smoothed by vatting across casks. Batch 3, which did so well at tastings at Regional had a little more lift with crème brulée and banana lollies popping up as descriptors. I wonder if batch #5 has a higher percentage of European oak as it really is a spicy, dark, stewed fruit number.

Ok, it’s a fair amount dearer than the Tamdhu 12 which has obviously been aging and improving for 12 years. But, for that money you’re getting a much higher abv and some considerable depth - there’s a lot here to play with regardless of whether you like to add water or not. If you like ‘em big like the A’Bunadhs and Nadurras of this world then this is your cup of tea. It's on special for the next week too… in case you needed another excuse.

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