Founded: 1966 Stills: 3 Wash 3 Spirit Water Source: springs in Easterton Capacity: 4 Million Litres Owners: United Spirits (Whyte & Mackay)
Completely unpeated and produced in a style that accentuates the more ester driven, fruity aspects of the distillate, Tamnavulin has long been a more elegant and gentle Highlander. It has a profile relatively devoid of any overly powerful or dominating factory but is rather a subtle balance of honey, biscuity, cereal, fruity and sweet characters. Also interesting is the fact that, unlike many other lighter style malts, it does not have the mileage to achieve great age too well. Tamnavulin seems to be at its best between the ages of 15-25 where its freshness and soft complexity shine brightest, after this and the wood just seems to speak a little too loudly.
The best bottlings of Tamnavulin are largely independent with most of the major bottlers having at least one or two very worthwhile examples of the make. There was an official 35yo single sherry cask a few years back that was the exception that proves the rule as far as ageing goes. However, this bottling was more about the quality of the very active cask rather than the distillate, which had little actual distillery identity left and was just stunningly good, sherry matured malt whisky. This bottling is hard to get now but if you find it go for it. Generally the best Tamnavulins are teenage ones from refill wood, the elegant and gentle profile of the distillery shines brightest here and the whiskies are very pleasant and exceptionally good for afternoon or summer sipping.