Clearly exciting times are head for Tullibardine under the ownership for Picard Vins & Spiritueux. Prior to 2014, the distillery sat at the end of a busy retail complex that resided beside the A9 motorway, which is the traditional road north to the Highlands and beyond. It felt like an odd marriage, as you wanted the distillery to live and breathe but it felt constricted by its neighbours.
Now the outlet is no more and the distillery as of this year has expanded to include more warehousing, its own bottling line and a vatting area. All of this bodes well for the distillery that was established originally in 1949 and has not caught the imagination of the whisky public. I recall taking a tour several years ago and observing how passionate the staff were regarding their efforts, but the whisky still required work.
Now Tullibardine has a new found confidence. This backed up by a couple I’ve tried recently that have marked the improvement in liquid form. With the current boom for all things whisky related, the opportunity exists to be grasped by the team. The location offers a unique opportunity as it’s also situated on the fringes of Gleneagles where golfers and the moneyed congregate all year round.
Tullibardine hit the news recently with a ram-raid carried out at the distillery and several bottles being stolen including one worth £12,000, which prompted many to joke about a bottle of Tullibardine costing such an extortionate amount. Jesting aside, the culprits also helped themselves to a couple of glasses no doubt to enjoy their endeavours at a later date. This isn’t the first Scottish distillery to be targeted by thieves in 2016, with Deanston also being a victim. My long term hope is that it doesn’t dissuade distilleries from displaying some of their finer bottlings to the public as for many of us it’s the only way to see their lavishly packaged items.
For now, I have to make do with reviewing the Tullibardine 500 Sherry Cask Finish that was released in 2013 as part of a new range including the Sovereign that I’ve discussed previously. The 500 comes from the size of Pedro Ximenez sherry casks used (some of which wait patiently in the car park) rather than the length of finish. In fact this whisky has been finished for a year in sherry butts and is joined in the new range with Burgundy and a Sauternes finished whiskies.
I’ll more than likely get around to these in 2017 when my wallet allows. I only managed to sit down with this 500 Sherry Finish thanks to some downtime at a country hotel. I finished this bottle off at the bar quite easily, whilst jotting down some tasting notes. No it wasn’t a complete bottle as previous guests had been clearly enjoying this Tullibardine.
Tullibardine 500 Sherry Cask Finish – review
On the nose: from the off its cherries and raspberries. More sweetness with barley sugar and syrup with a buttery note. Honey follows with vanilla meringues, ginger and a floral bouquet.
In the mouth: initially it’s a little oddly light at first with a rather gentle finish. Then it begins to settle and grow upon you. More raspberries but with the edge of cranberries are noticeable alongside Maltesers. It’s very pleasant with a little alcohol on the fringes suggestive of its youthful side. There’s a fair amount of cream and a nutty aspect with some milk chocolate notes.
A perfectly agreeable whisky bottled at 43% strength and thankfully priced accordingly at £39.99. I have no criticism of the experience nor the cost of admission. An ideal starting point for those wishing to explore the influence of sherry casks without jumping off the spectrum.