Tamdhu Distillery – On the River Spey

In the heart of Speyside, on the banks of the River Spey is a distillery whose name does not begin with Glen…This is Tamdhu, Gaelic for ‘Little Dark Hill’, set in the Spey valley. It was founded in 1897 by a consortium of local distillers and was sold a couple of years later to Highland Distillers, who still own Tamdhu. Lying between Knockando and Archiestown in the Highlands of Scotland, its name is not the only original thing about Tamdhu.

It is only remaining distillery in Scotland that malts all its own barley. It is the only one to still use Saladin Boxes, which were originally installed in 1951. Further, Tamdhu does not have the traditional pagodas on top of its kilns, but has a short, square concrete chimney instead. The old Victorian railway station of Knockando has been converted into an attractive visitor’s center and reception.

Their Tamdhu Fine Single Malt Scotch Whisky is the distillation of the simple, natural ingredients of the countryside around it. The source of water is the Tamdhu Spring which flows through woodland into the River Spey. The peat too is collected locally. The distillery is impeccably well kept even today and has its own touches of tradition. It is well known for its use of wooden fermenting vessels.

Tamdhu Distillery was non-functional from 1927 to 1947. It was expanded and rebuilt in the 1970s and as a result the distillery has buildings from several different periods. The distillery originally had two stills which were increased to four in 1972 and six in 1975, when the distillery was largely rebuilt. Today it is one of the most modern distilleries on Speyside. At one stage it was known as Tamdhu-Glenlivet Distillery, but it is not any more.

It introduced Saladin Boxes to replace floor malting and the germinating barley is shifted by mechanical turners in shallow troughs kept at controlled temperatures. The original boxes have been largely rebuilt. The drying kiln is modern with hot air blown through the malt, reducing drying time. Peat is burned in a small furnace and the smoke intermingled with the drying air in the kiln to add a touch of smokiness to Tamdhu spirit.

Tamdhu is a light, smoky and well balanced drink with a lasting flavor of a toasty sweetness and a touch of spice. Tamdhu does not specify the age of its spirit. The whisky is now marketed as ‘no-age statement’ single malt. It is largely used as a component for the popular The Famous Grouse blended whisky. At barrel proof, Tamdhu has performed especially well in Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottlings. Its popularity as a single malt of exceptional quality is growing.

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