Mill On A Hill: George Schulze of Tamnavulin Distillery

Tamnavulin TheOtherSideOfSpeyside | Tamnavulin Distillery | Food For Thought

Tamnavulin Speyside whisky has for the first time reached Malaysian shores, with its iconic rich and smooth finish. This whisky however, is quite light on the palate, yet both with a sweet aroma but extremely easy to drink, and honestly, quite moreish. We speak to Tamnavulin Brand Ambassador George Schulze to find out more about this Speyside whisky.

Tamnavulin Distillery | Tamnavulin Distillery | Food For Thought

Tamnavulin Distillery: Speyside Whisky

Tamnavulin is a Speyside distillery which takes its name from Gaelic to mean “mill on the hill” and is the fifth largest Scotch whisky manufacturer. Established in 1844, Whyte & Mackay’s portfolio today includes The Dalmore, Fettercairn, and Jura, and is owned by The Philippines-based Emperador Distillers Inc. Tamnavulin’s history began in 1966 with the opening of the distillery in the rural village of Tomnavoulin, Scotland. Although the doors were closed in 1995, it was reopened in 2007 after a major distillery refurbishment. Since then, they have crafted exceptional single malt whisky with a true Speyside character; rich, smooth and mellow.

Tamnavulin Double Cask | Tamnavulin Distillery | Food For Thought

Tamnavulin Double Cask

The Double Cask is matured in American oak barrels which has aromas of toffee and honey but was surprisingly light on the palate. The finish was rich and smooth, making this whisky very easy to drink.

Tamnavulin Sherry Cask | Tamnavulin Distillery | Food For Thought

Tamnavulin Sherry Cask

The Sherry Cask Edition on the other hand has a sweeter nose reminiscent of vanilla, which was probably a result of using sherry casks for that added layer of sweet complexity, with a rich finish as the Double Cask.

George Schulze of Tamnavulin Distillery | Tamnavulin Distillery | Food For Thought

Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

So I’ve had a very unique beginning in this industry which began from my life as a storyteller. I am an award winning Theatre actor who happened to be a whisky enthusiast. Whyte and Mackay found me and trained me because they really wanted someone who could highlight the unique and beautiful stories that each of their brands that I work with had. I’ve been working with them since 2018 as the premium brand spokesperson for Asia.

Tell us a bit about the Tamnavulin Distillery, and its chequered past and how did it end up being a silent distillery for several years?

Tamnavulin has not always had the easiest time. They opened in 1966 during the post war boom and were mainly there to service blends. Due to overproduction in the market, the 1980s into the 1990s were a real struggle leading to the closing of the distillery in 1995. It closed for 12 years. Once it reopened in 2007, with the popularity of single malts growing, plans were put in place to create Tamnavulin as a single malt. By 2016 they had launched the Tamnavulin Double Cask – a whisky that had matured beautifully. The year 2016 also happened to fall in line with the distillery’s 50-year mark.

Tamnavulin Double Cask 1 | Tamnavulin Distillery | Food For Thought

How did Tamnavulin turn from a relatively unknown distillery into one of the world’s fastest growing brands?

A lot of the push for this came from the amazing response to the Tamnavulin Double Cask followed by the Sherry Cask edition. Tamnavulin was in the perfect position to flourish based on the popularity of Speyside Whiskies. The Speyside region is the most popular whisky region in Scotland. We owe the success of Tamnavulin to our simple philosophy on how the brand looks great, tastes great and has a great price which brought on strong momentum from the different markets. It’s not hard to see why Tamnavulin grew this big when the product speaks for itself.

What are your current expressions and special releases?

Current Expressions: Tamnavulin Double Cask & Tamnavulin Sherry Cask
Special Releases: Tamnavulin Vintage 2000, Tamnavulin Vintage 1979, Tamnavulin Vintage 1973, Tamnavulin Vintage 1970
Products that will be available soon: –
– Tamnavulin French Cabernet Sauvignon
– Tamnavulin Spanish Grenache
– Tamnavulin German Pinot Noir
– Tamnavulin American Cabernet Sauvignon

Close up | Tamnavulin Distillery | Food For Thought

What do you look for in Speyside whiskeys? Are there specific notes or textures that characterise whiskies from this region?

With Speyside whiskies you really look for the fruits to start. Apples, pears and pineapple.  As well as vanilla, toffee and honey. For its characteristics you will find a lot of them to be smooth, rich and mellow. A beautiful flavour profile for new and old single malt drinkers.

Which are your personal favourite expressions and why?

All the Tamnavulin expressions really hit the sweet spot for me in terms of flavour, body and nuance. If I had to pick a favourite I would go with the Sherry Cask Edition. The main reason for this being my dad. My whisky journey began with him teaching me how to appreciate it. And sherry casks were always something we looked for in the flavour profiles. So I was incredibly proud to share this bottle with him for one of our whisky nights. And that memory to me is very warm.

Tamnavulin The Other Side Of Speyside | Tamnavulin Distillery | Food For Thought

Why Tamnavulin’s focus on the double-barrelling maturation process and non-age statement (NAS) whiskies works for them in reaching out to the mainstream market?

The double barrelling philosophy of Tamnavulin is always a winner in terms of mainstream market popularity. The flavours and nuance accomplished by that really bring out the Speyside flavour profile and that alone gives you an edge. But I would love to focus on the (NAS) Section and highlight that Non-Age Statement whiskies have truly grown in popularity, especially with younger distilleries. It truly allows for them to focus on flexibility and flavour profile over being locked into the age. It also allowed for the fantastic price point which all together were the driving force into the mainstream market.

What are the key differences between the Double Cask and Sherry Cask?

The key differences are first and foremost the cask story. With the double you go from an ex bourbon barrel that enhances with an oloroso sherry, an absolutely beautiful combination which brings forth that “Signature Speyside” flavour. But the sherry cask truly highlights the sherry story and how you can take that sherry story to the next level. Taking flavour profiles from 3 different sherries (all from some of the best cooperages in the sherry triangle in Jerez De La Frontera) So that leads into the second key difference. The flavour. When you think of Sherry you really think of spice, cinnamon, liquorice, Dark fruits and Nutty characteristics. It truly contributes something unique and enhances the whisky in a different way while maintaining the beautiful Tamnavulin House style. The Double Cask and the Sherry Cask are both beautiful expressions, but unique in their own way based on these factors.

You can purchase the Tamnavulin Double Cask and Tamnavulin Sherry Cask directly from Single And Available.


Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic and drinks writer and is the editor of independent publication Food For Thought. He has been a freelance journalist for the 15 years and has previously worked as a lawyer and in digital marketing. He currently is the Principal Consultant of A Thought Full Consultancy, a food and beverage marketing consultancy.

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