Origin: Highlands (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing barrels: Ex-Bourbon first fill
Addional coloring: Yes
Owner: Picard Vins et Spiriteux
Average price: € 55.00
Official website: www.tullibardine.com
When it comes to Scottish distilleries, as we all know by now, they compete to find a historical foothold to call themselves “the oldest in Scotland”.
Tullibardine (which takes its name from the moor of the same name) dates back to 1488, not as a distillery but as a brewery in Blackford in the Highlands, where it seems a young King John IV of Scotland stopped for a tankard (or two).
It wasn’t until 1947 that William Delmé-Evans founded the distillery in place of this historic brewery, taking advantage of the clear waters of the nearby stream that descends directly from Mount Ochil.
He began production two years later, shortly passing ownership to Brodie Hepbun Ltd., which in the 1970s in turn sold Tullibardine to Invergordon, which proceeded to expand its production capacity, ending up in the hands of White & MacKay after being incorporated.
In 1995 the distillery closed due to surplus production, and it wasn’t until 2003 that Tullibardine Distillery Ltd bought the distillery to reopen its doors, initially with a low production rate that gradually increased over time.
The current owners took over in 2011, creating a specific division two years later called Terroirs Distillers, which significantly expanded the facility with warehouses, a visitor centre and a new production line.
The first bottlings are distinguished by the original choice of naming them according to the size of the casks in which they rested, so we have the Tullibardine 225, 228 and 500, i.e. whiskies matured respectively in 225-litre ex-Sauternes, 228-litre ex-Burgundy and 500-litre ex-Sherry casks.
There is then the Signature line (which includes those mentioned above plus Sovereign and this 15 year old), the Marquess Collection, the Fine Aged Collection (two bottlings of 20 and 25 years) and the Custodians Collection, with expressions of very important vintages, starting from 1952.
This 15 year old is the first age-declared bottling produced by the new ownership, released in 2019, and thus represents the pinnacle (so far) of the new distiller’s work.
The impact of the Bourbon cask is remarkable on the nose, very full and intense, mainly of ripe fruit (banana, apple, pear, apricot) together with orange, vanilla, pecans. Also present are rather lively, herbaceous notes, which break the dominance of sweetness.
In the mouth, it reveals itself to be less decisive, giving more space to spicy touches (cinnamon and cloves) and the roughness of leather, also keeping that herbaceous and somewhat metallic aspect of the nose in the foreground. Impressions of orange drink, a touch of sweet liquorice, marshmellow, dried apricots remain. A bit disjointed and disharmonious.
Medium long and dry finish, spicy, dried fruit, liquorice, wood, orange.
The nose promised more, but the end result is a whisky that still seems too young, untidy, not yet convinced of its path. There are, however, interesting notes that bode well for future ageing.