Tamnavulin Red Wine Cask Edition

German Pinot Noir Cask Finish - No. 3 Batch 000164 - 40%


The word Tamnavulin is the Gaelic translation of ‘mill on the hill’, and the Mill on the Hill is named in-part after the former carding mill which is where the distillery is now located. And before you Google the word ‘carding’, carding is another term for the combing of wool during the woolen cloth-making process.

A bit of history first up... The distillery is quite young. It opened in 1966 at a time when there was a complete and utter whisky boon, and demand was far greater than the production. It was built by Invergordon Distillers, who then handed over to Whyte & Mackay in 1993 where they closed it down 2 years later. In 2000 they opened up again and briefly resumed production, but was promptly mothballed again. In 2007, Whyte & Mackay was bought by the Indian company United Spirits who opened up the doors again to kick-start production. Then 7 years later in 2014, United Spirits sell on Whyte & Mackay to new owners, Philippines-based Emperador for £430m.

This whisky purchase was a complete shot in the dark as it’s 40%, chill-filtered, and no doubt coloured (although I can’t see it says that) But I do like wine cask finishes and at the price (£22!), I thought it was an easy risk to take.

This whisky is matured primarily in American Oak casks and then finished in casks that contained German Pinot Noir red wine. The latter finishing is said to give the spirit a big hit of fruit.

Appearance: Medium amber with a reddish-golden hue. Fast & thin oily legs.

Nose: Gentle soured cherries and berries at the fore, followed by vanilla sponge cake, brown sugar, marmalade, and a sweet oakiness.

Palate: Thin on the mouthfeel. There’s no escaping that. However, once it’s sat for a few seconds in the mouth and then swallowed, there’s some sweetness, creaminess, and gentle spice. A second sip delivers more fruit and fudge with a timid pepper-crackle.

Finish: Short-medium. However, whilst the finish is only fleeting, it’s quite good. Sweetness, red berries and warmth are there before a more licorice-dominance comes in and sits at the back of the mouth.

Conclusion: Well, do you know what. I actually like it. It’s thin, won't set the world on fire, and could do with a higher ABV, but I actually think it’s extremely drinkable and is easily something that can sit in the open collection with its head held high. If it came in at 46-48% ABV, it would be a bit of a winner as the template is already there at 40% to deliver a lovely fruity sipper. So, it wasn’t a wasted £22, and was money well spent in my opinion.