Tamdhu 15yo 1991/2006 (60%, Adelphi, Bourbon Cask #1955, 257 bottles)

Well let’s continue with another oldie, shall we? Clear out some of the sample bottles to fill it up with something new. This is Tamdhu, and Tamdhu is not on Islay, nor will this Whisky be peated. I expect a lot of this Whisky. First of all it’s Tamdhu, which makes a lovely distillate. It’s bottled by Adelphi, a bottler so good, it almost seems as if they can pick any cask they like. This has 60% ABV and just look at the color. Yeah baby, bring it on!

Color: Orange gold.

Nose: Wood and sometimes a hint of an aromatic White wine. Very spicy. This must have been a very active (toasted) cask. Although you might think this cask previously held some sort of Sherry, I hardly doubt it. Creamy vanilla. American oak, all the way. No Sherry notes whatsoever and yet pretty sweet-smelling, although the dryness of the oak, soon takes over, to never let go. Ehhhm, is this all? Hints of fresh air, but it’s mostly all aroma’s that have to do with oak. It’s definitely not overoaked, mind you, but it seems to be rather mono-dimensional. I’m actually a bit disappointed now, since this is Tamdhu, from Adelphi, which has a reputation, and it’s 60% ABV. I love cask strength. Still, nothing happens for me. Sawdust and hot oak. It smells a bit like a carpenters workshop. This definitely could have done with some blueberry notes, now it smells a bit, dull…

Taste: Initially quite sweet, and again, everything you’d expect from an ex-Bourbon cask. Vanilla, powdered vanilla, creamy pudding, instant pudding powder. Milk chocolate (powder) and a totally different green feel to it, as well. My heart skips a beat right now, because, this is more or less it. Lots of oaky notes, and a strange sweetness. Not a lot more is coming to me to be honest. Earlier I already thought my nose was failing me, but tastewise I don’t “see” a lot of evolution in my glass. WYSIWYG.

Although Adelphi claim, Tamdhu prefers ex- Bourbon casks, I always thought Tamdhu was one of those distillates that work wonders with ex-Sherry casks, in both American and European oak. This particular example has no flaws, it’s nice, but it almost has no  complexity, nor does it evolve a lot after pouring or whilst drinking. I’m pretty sure I will forget rather quickly, how this tasted like, and I hardly forget the taste of a Whisky. Go figure.

Points: 83

Glenfarclas 15yo 1991/2006 “Breath of Speyside” (60.2%, Adelphi, First Fill Sherry Butt #5642, 615 bottles)

Almost two weeks ago I reviewed a Adelphi Highland Park, and here is the next Adelphi bottling. This time a bastard malt. A bastard malt is a Whisky of which the distillery name can’t be found on the label. Usually some kind of fantasy name pops up like Probably Speysides Finest (Douglas Laing name for Glenfarclas), Director’s Tactical (Douglas Laing name for Talisker) or Laudable (Douglas Laing name for Laphroaig). Well this is called Breath of Speyside and in this case, that is Adelphi’s name for Glenfarclas. Glenfarclas do sell off lots of casks, but never allow the bottler to use the Glenfarclas name.

Glenfarclas 15yo 1991/2006 Breath of Speyside (60.2%, Adelphi, First Fill Sherry Butt #5642, 615 bottles)Color: Orange copper gold.

Nose: Cream and cherries. Quite fresh and fruity. Very lively, and not that deep dark in your face Sherry. Very obviously a first fill sherry. Perfumy, with a nice touch of wood, very elegant. lovely stuff and easier on the nose than A’bunadh, that can be harder or harsher (due to its youth). Toast and pepper come to mind and very spicy. Pot roast, tobacco and furniture polish. Very lovely and interesting nose. Great complexity and perfect balance, between the Whisky and the Sherry.

Taste: Creamy and woody. Nice sweetness that is delivered after the initial woodiness. It’s not overly woody though. Again roasted meat, combined with the dry woodiness and the late sweetness (caramel), makes for a very interesting play on your tongue. Excellent. Definitely elements of wine (Sherry). Also some organics I usually get from some white wines. Thick excellent stuff that works well at this high ABV. This Glenfarclas really intrigues me. Well chosen cask.

Heavily Sherried and high in alcohol, so this is Aberlour A’bunadh territory, the only difference being the age. A’bunadh is a young Whisky, probably around 8 to 10 years old, and this Glenfarclas is 15 years old. This one is milder older and wiser. It’s deeper, more complex and less rough around the edges. The only problem, you can only get this at three times the price of the Aberlour A’bunadh, just to show you how cheap the Aberlour actually is…

Points: 89

Highland Park 16yo 1986/2002 (57,9%, Adelphi, Refill Hogshead #2288, 273 bottles)

Together with the Cadenheads Glen Scotia I reviewed earlier I found this Adelphi Highland Park in the back of my lectern. Highland Park is no newbie on these pages and this will be the third independent bottling of Highland Park, as I have earlier reviewed Highland Parks from Douglas Laing and a heavily sherried one by Gordon & MacPhail. Adelphi is new to these pages. Adelphi once was a distillery, but it closed already in 1907. The name though was bought and used for this independent bottler since 1993. Funny that the people who are behind Adelphi Distillery now, are building themselves a new distillery not called Adelphi Distillery yet, but for the time being is called: Ardnamurchan. Another claim to fame is that Charles “Rory” MacLean does some if not all of the cask selections.

Color: Dull light gold.

Nose: Creamy, heathery and slightly soapy. Candied yellow fruits. Dried apricots. Very powdery and appetizing. A breath of fresh (sea) air. Very clean smelling, but also has a dirty edge to it. Only a small hint of dry wood and toasted oak. The nose somehow seems sweet, and sweaty, already, and the sweetness blends right in with the cream that’s very up front. It changes with air, so let it breathe. Classy smelling Whisky.

Taste: Smoked heather, honey sweetness and a peppery bite. It keeps it together right through to the finish, it (it being the balance) seems a bit flimsy towards the end, but the balance does manage to stay. A sign of quality. It has a tad of soapy woodiness to it. The sweetness develops from honey into toffee and caramel, but it never dominates. It seems to me the sweetness is somehow balanced with some hidden acidity. Quite nice.

A pretty good, easily recognizable Highland Park. The Heather and honey are definitely there, but the real bonus is the Talisker-like peppery bite. Since there isn’t a lot of bitterness or toast in this, and there seems to be a lot of potential, I wouldn’t have bottled this yet. It’s good, but it could have been slightly better. Of all the independent Highland Parks I have reviewed here, I guess this particular expression matches the profile of Highland Park the best. But do allow for some breathing. It needs air. Well done Rory, I mean Charlie!

Points: 86