Last week I was very fortunate to be part of another Tweet Tasting, hosted by Steve Rush from the Whisky Wire, featuring Tamdhu. We were treated to the classic Tamdhu 10 year old, as well as 3 new releases. The Batch Strength 003 (you can see my thoughts on the Batch Strength 002 here), the new Distillery Team Single Cask, and the special release for this year’s Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, the Dalbeallie Dram. It was an amazing tasting with some of the best drams I have tried this year! But my close favourite of the four was the Dalbeallie Dram.
The Dalbeallie Dram (pronounced Dal-bee-alley) is a limited release by Tamdhu for the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2018. Limited to only 1,000 bottles, this comes in at £90, which, for me, is very reasonable considering how few of them there are. It has been created to pay homage to the nearby Dalbeallie train station. The Victorian railway lines throughout the area were once vital to the distilleries of Speyside for access and transportation, and this was the same for Tamdhu. Their Oloroso sherry casks, imported from Spain, would be taken by rail to this station before being filled with the new make spirit and left to rest in their warehouses.
The Dalbeallie dram, like all of Tamdhu’s whiskies, has been matured exclusively in Oloroso sherry casks and is presented at a whopping 62.1%ABV! If you like the Batch Strength editions then you are sure to like this; it’s like the Batch Strength on steroids!!
Upfront on the nose it is surprisingly meaty, though this fades quickly as aromas of old leather, tobacco leaf and pencil shavings come to the fore, there isn’t an official age related to this dram but it does feel quite old initially. Rich toasted malt and an array of sweet and savoury spice take over as does a lovely toffee/fudge sweetness. It gets increasingly rich as this sits in the glass opening up with baked figs, treacle pudding and fruity dark chocolate. Being presented at 62.1%ABV a dash of water does release more of the subtler flavours, and brings out more of the classic red apple notes you get with Tamdhu, as well as some orange peel. This dram just keeps on giving, you could sit with this all day and just keep reeling off tasting notes.
This has a very dry and fairly bitter arrival, perhaps due to the strength of it, though there isn’t much alcohol prickle considering. There is a lot going on here, the first thing for me was sticky and sweet maraschino cherries, joined by baked apples and sherry soaked raisins. It is just an assault of fruity richness! Like with the nose, a few drops of water really change this whisky, and for the better, it explodes out of the glass. Notes of muscavado sugar, cinnamon stewed apples and fresh espresso coffee. The toasted malt from the nose returns and is joined by some intense wood tannins. As sherried as this is, there is still a nice showing of distillery character here, it’s a great balance.
The finish is sweet and sherried with tannic wood spice, it is super chocolatey too. There is a slight metallic note, though this disappears with a drop of water. It’s lovely and warming with a good heat of spice. Fairly long in length and a nice ending to a great dram.
Well, there we have it, the Dalbeallie Dram. This is a really great whisky. Out of the four that we tried on the night I think this was my favourite as, although it is a sherry monster, there is still that beautiful character of Tamdhu’s make coming through. If you are a fan of the Batch Strength releases, or similar products like Aberlour A’bunadh or Glenfarclas 105, then this will be right up your street. For £90 it might be a little bit more expensive than them, but this is a very unique and interesting dram, and I’d say worth paying that bit more.