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Tullibardine distillery began life as the Gleneagles brewery in the 15th century. Perhaps one of the oldest public breweries in the country, it counted King James IV as a customer, since the newly crowned monarch stopped to acquire a cask of ale on the way home from his coronation at Scone.
By 1927 however, the brewery had fallen silent and the buildings were slowly slipping into a state of disrepair until William Delme Evans arrived on the scene in 1949. Creating the first standalone whisky distillery in Scotland for nearly 50 years, Delme Evans had the site producing spirit within a year and by 1953 he had sold it to blender Brodie Hepburn.
Delme Evans went on to work on the MacDuff. Jura and GlenAllachie distilleries whilst Tullibardine eventually came under the ownership of Whyte & MacKay, after Invergordon Distillers bought Brodie Hepburn only to be taken over themselves by the famous Glasgow-based blender. Unfortunately however, Whyte & MacKay found Tullibardine to be surplus to their requirements and the distillery was mothballed in 1994.
The plant remained silent until 2003 when it was acquired by a private consortium who sold land to create a retail park and used the funds to restore the distillery. In 2011 however Tullibardine was purchased by french wine and spirits company Picard Vins & Spiritueux. Finding much of the ageing spirit resting in substandard oak, the new owners began an extensive re-casking program, transferring the liquid to a vast array of casks and beginning a new tradition of maturing the Tullibardine spirit in wine seasoned oak.
Bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society however, this particular offering was aged for 11 years in a first fill ex-bourbon cask before bottling as one of just 204 bottles at 60.5% abv.
*Full Disclosure: As an affiliate of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, I can be paid commission should any of my readers choose to become members or buy bottles that I have reviewed. I was sent this sample so that I could share my thoughts and will as always, strive to remain as impartial as possible in my review.
Smell: Vanilla and caramel with fudge and honey. Touch of Scottish tablet and condensed milk. Lemon sherbet and fizzy sweets (Tangfastics!), pineapple and apple danish pastries, sawdust and creamy malt.
Taste: Fudge and Scottish shortbread. Danish pastries and fizzy sweets. Limeade and ginger. Apple and pear. Pepper and a touch of wood.
Thoughts: An intriguing and unique drinking experience that I suspect would continue to surprise with repeat tastings. Not bad for just £56.
Sometimes it’s hard to judge a whisky based on a single dram and it feels like I’ve only scratched the surface of this Tullibardine. On the sample I tasted however, I’d have to say that it comes across as something of a curiosity, a trait which could of course make it a worthy purchase for those who enjoy being challenged by whisky.
At just 204 bottles, it is a great example of the unpredictable nature of single cask spirits. You just never know what you’re going to get and that’s all part of the fun.
You can buy SMWS Cask No. 28.42 here.
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society is a unique members only whisky club which releases an array of new single cask bottlings each month. Members not only gain access to this monthly out-turn, but also to the purpose built members rooms in Society venues in Edinburgh and London.
For more information on joining the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, click here.