Who has driven on the A9 road in Scotland?
It’s not too presumptuous to say that pretty much every resident and – yes, I’ll say it – every visitor will have driven a stretch of this road. It runs from Falkirk area up to Scrabster in the north, and is the longest road in Scotland. Along its route it passes relatively close to a few distilleries, from Rosebank distillery (which is not too far away from the A9’s southernmost tip) to Wolfburn in the north. It passes the likes of Dalwhinnie, Tomatin, Glenmorangie, and Clynelish (and is close to others) on the way.
Now, there is probably a slight chance that I’m wrong with this but – for me – the closest distillery to the road is Tullibardine. The rest are visible, but I think if your car threw up a stone as it passed Tullibardine, there is a chance it would hit the building. Glenmorangie car park is about the same distance but the buildings are further in. So I would suggest that, if you’ve driven this road, you have probably been almost within touching distance of Tullibardine Distillery.
Tullibardine is in a small area called Blackford in Perthshire. In the big scheme of Scotch producing distilleries it is a relative newcomer. Originally a brewery, Tullibardine came in to existence as a distillery in 1947 when William Delme-Evans and a friend saw an advertisement for the sale of the disused brewery. Delme-Evans would go on to also construct Jura and Glenallachie. He was also involved at Macduff (Glen Deveron) but – after a disagreement during the build – resigned and opted to never mention the place in his resume again.
From its original construction commencing in 1947, Tullibardine set to work in 1949 and continued in operation until 1995, when it was mothballed by its by then-owners Whyte & Mackay. It lay dormant for several years before being sold in 2003, with production then resuming. By 2011 it was to change hands again, now coming under ownership of its current custodians, the French company Picard Vins & Spiritueux. Since that takeover it has continued to produce a stable core range of Highland single malt, some limited releases and can be found independently bottled.
Like those other distilleries mentioned above, Tullibardine was a distillery that I passed many times, but – for no reason that I can put my finger on – I never actually engaged with it. Then, I was given a sample from an independent bottler last year. I’ll be honest and say I can’t remember which one, but I know I enjoyed the dram.
Spring forward to earlier this year and I won an online competition. The prize? A bottle of Tullibardine 500 (sherry cask).
A wee note before I proceed: many of Tullibardine’s bottles carry large numbers on the label, and you will have seen me mention them here. This is a marketing tool used by the distillery and it indicates the size (in litres) of the casks used in production.
The bottle of 500 arrived and sat on the shelf in anticipation of being opened soon. Several months later and I still hadn’t opened it. Then, one day Amy was doing the grocery shop. She called, “Do you want a bottle of whisky?”
Never one to knock back on that offer I said yes, she duly arrived home with a bottle of Tullibardine 228 (Burgundy cask). Nice! I placed it on the shelf and – yup, you guessed it – I never opened it!
That is, until two weeks ago; with the kids going on two weeks’ school break. we decided to head north to Dornoch (I had plans to visit the Thompson Bros’ whisky bar and shop). Amy went off to do the grocery shop for our trip and – being the keeper she is – she called, “Do you want a bottle to take with you?”
Again, who can say “no” to a partner who looks after you like that? So, when she got home it should not have been a surprise when out she pulls… Tullibardine 225 (Sauternes cask). I’m starting to wonder if she has a secret job as a brand ambassador. If anyone who reads this follows my social media of watches my YouTube channel, you’ll know that Sauternes matured whisky is like a wee bit of nectar to me, be it Glen Moray, Arran, Tomintoul, Glenmorangie etc… if they have a Sauternes finish, I will almost definitely have given it a good bash.
So we headed north to Dornoch, And my friend Mark and I (his family had joined us for the trip) cracked open the Sauternes.
Tullibardine 225 Sauternes Cask Finish – Review
Colour:A light gold.
On the nose: Bright, fresh, citrus, very welcome and refreshing nose; the smell gives me the memories of summer. Some vanilla and chocolate perhaps as a base to the fruit-filled nose.
In the mouth The palate is a wee bit more spicy, its a 43% ABV but the spice is not the alcohol; it’s rather a sweet Chinese-style spice. Then there are the sweet fruits, candied fruits, citrus, pineapple, tinned pineapple juice. Some may think that this makes it sound far too sweet but, no, it’s well balanced for my palate. A medium heading towards long-ish lingering finish, fruity and pleasant.
I should have gone here so much earlier! Some will think that my notes perhaps give the impression that this is a very sweet dram; whilst I admit the sweetness is there, it is by no means just a juice drink. There are things in there to find, and another palate/nose will probably come away from this whisky with so many different takes on it. If you are someone who likes a Sauternes or a dram that doesn’t leave a bitter taste, then this is something to try. When it hits the pocket for less than £40, then surely it’s worth a sip? Now for me it’s time to open the other two bottles of Tullibardine and wait for the editor to scream at me for reviews!
Photo courtesy of Master of Malt.