You’re unlikely to come across a bottle of Tullibardine in your corner shop or nearest supermarket as they’re a small independent outfit only producing around 2.7million litres of spirit a year, unless of course you’re very fortunate and your corner shop happens to be a whisky specialist. When you do come across them you’re most likely to see the aged oak expression which is the starting point in the range. The distillery was mothballed between 1995 and 2003 and the most recent owners The Tullibardine distillers group have pushed the distillery from strength to strength releasing plenty of new wood finishes and a handful of single cask bottlings.
Any independent distillery are almost duty-bound to push interesting releases and really give their malts everything they’ve got to make sure that they can firstly compete with the bigger brands and secondly satisfy the malt whisky enthusiast and let’s not forget make a living along the way. Here we’ll be looking at three wood finishes and a single cask, cask strength expression.
No Age Statement, Sauternes Finish, 46%, Around £32
Sweet, Madiera cake covered in that chunky citrusy sugar, lemon toffee. A slight tropical fruit flavour reminiscent of Um Bongo.
Mr Kipling Lemon Slices, cream soda. Pink grapefruit with a generous dusting of sugar.
A clean crisp feel and almost refreshing.
I’m trying this on a warm sunny evening and it’s ticking all the boxes. Light, fresh and full of light sweet fruity goodness. A mid-summers nights dram.
No Age Statement, Galateo Banyuls Finish, 46%, Around £32
This is a first for me and if I’m right it’s also a first for the whisky industry. Galateo Banyuls is a fortified wine from the south of France and in this case has been made with hand harvested Grenache Noir. Certainly not the norm when you look across the wood finishes that can be found now.
The colour of this whisky is superb – it has an almost pinkish orangey hue to it. Really weird.
Sweet, creamy, raspberry tarts.
Zesty and lively with loads of full sweet berry flavours. Jammy and intense but light a creamy in texture.
Quite short and drying with hints of vanilla and oak.
The big hit of flavour really comes in the middle of this whisky – the nose and finish I find are a little restrained but when this stuff hits your tongue you get a real blast of flavour. The unusual cask behaves a bit like a port finish if you’ve ever tried one it’s on that kind of thread.Â Really moreish stuff and around £35 offers a very interesting and tasty dram indeed.
No Age Statement, Rum Finish, 46%, Around £32
Why? Why take perfectly good whisky and stick into a syrupy sticky rum cask it’s totally beyond me. For whatever reason, me and Rum just don’t get along and believe me I’ve tried to get on with the sweet vanillery b*stards but I’ve yet to try a rum I can genuinely say I like and that I would buy, some are okay but I nearly always find them massive overkill in their 2nd flavour profile of sweet and vanilla. On the whole however rum cask whiskies are growing in popularity and they provide a good stepping stone into whisky for some people, in fact I’ve even used them in the past to convince a few I don’t like whisky types into seeing the light (they don’t drink rum anymore).
Anyway Rum rant over………. for now.
Custard creams, vanilla and toffee the rum cask is really apparent here.
Soft and light a dark sugary thing oak and spice.
Sweet with some oak to chew on and plenty vanilla.
Really not my bag. To my mind the rum cask overpowers what is a good spirit and overshadows any complexities and subtleties that would otherwise be present.
I do however have every belief that many people will really like this and respond well to the strong rum-esque characteristics that shine through. It is a question, as always, of horses for courses and this just wasn’t mine.
John Black Single Cask 1993, Bottled 2011, Bourbon Cask, 55.1%, £Price TBC
More like it! Back to a good honest Bourbon cask…
This release is part of a run of single cask bottlings that are selected by Tullibardine’s master distiller John Black. This range seems to be where you’ll find the older expressions from this distillery and go well back into the 60’s.
Honey and lemon sauce over vanilla ice cream,
Clean and fresh with a tingly mouthfeel, hints at green apple and boiled sweets, malty
Crisp and refreshing with long lasting waves of vanilla and buttery toast.
This is by far the best Tullibardine I’ve tried on a technical level it delivers. I suspect if you dived into these single cask expressions you’ll find some real gems.
Some interesting and tasty offerings by Tullibardine but if I was going out to buy one of these it would have to be the Sauternes finish – really tasty and hitting the mark tonight.