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Dràm Mòr are a small family business based out of Dumbarton, west of Glasgow. Husband and wife Kenny and Viktorija Macdonald expanded their reputable export business to include an independent bottling brand that began releasing single cask whiskies in 2020. Batches 1 and 2 included single malts from distilleries like Glenrothes, Glen Garioch, Tomintoul, Aberlour and Caol Ila and they rounded out the year with a festive release of three more drams, two of which I will be reviewing below.
*Full disclosure: I was sent these samples free of charge. As always I will strive to give an honest opinion on the inherent quality of the whisky and the value for money it represents.
Tullibardine 5 Year Old 56%
Tullibardine distillery began life as the Gleneagles brewery in the village of Blackford, Perth. In 1949 however, a Welshman by the name of William Delmé-Evans bought the premises and converted it into a distillery before he would go on to work on Jura, Glenallachie and to a lesser extent Macduff. Tullibardine meanwhile was sold to Brodie Hepburn who were in turn bought by Invergordon Distillers in 1971. When Whyte & MacKay later took over Invergordon they deemed Tullibardine surplus to requirements and closed it down. It reopened in 2003 under new management and in 2011 the French wine and spirits group Picard Vins & Spiriteux bought it over, beginning a tradition of maturation in wine casks.
The Dràm Mòr Tullibardine has been matured for five years in a first fill Oloroso sherry cask before bottling at 56% and retailing at the reasonable price of £57.
Smell: Sherry-soaked raisins and sultanas. Plum. Cinnamon and nutmeg. New leather. Walnut and caramel.
Taste: Warm, spicy arrival. Ginger biscuits. Black pepper. Needs a little water to get past the spice in fact. When diluted, there’s honey, orange, cinnamon and oak.
Value for money: It may be a young malt but the cask has given a lot in a short space of time and with the limited nature of the bottling, the price seems very sensible – and attainable.
If anything, the cask was a little bit too dominant for me. The nose is exactly what you want from a big sumptuous sherry cask but the palate took a bit of working to get past the spice. With the abv lowered however, it becomes a wonderfully satisfying experience, full of orange and honey, with a backbone of oak and spice that runs throughout – ever present yet no longer singeing the palate. Would have been great at Christmas, but just as effective on an icy day in January.
Linkwood 10 Year Old 55%
Linkwood distillery stands in Elgin, in the Speyside region. Owned by Diageo, it largely provides spirit for blends with the only regular bottling available coming in the form of a 12 year old Flora & Fauna release. The distillery was founded in 1821 and ran as a family business until 1893 when it was sold to Scottish Malt Distillers, a group that would eventually become part of Diageo. In the 1970’s a second distillery was built alongside the first, in order to increase production capacity. With Linkwood A and Linkwood B in operation, the site reached a potential 2.5 million litres per year.
Aged ten years in a first fill bourbon cask and bottled at 55%, it retails for £70 a bottle.
Smell: Lovely nose full of vanilla, buttered scones and fudge. Caramel. Apple turnover with a dusting of cinnamon. There’s fruit too and possibly just the faintest hint of smoke.
Taste: Juicy oak and honey. Ginger spice. Hazelnut. Baked apples and lemon. Cereal notes on the finish with cinnamon and Strepsil throat lozenges.
Value for money: A little pricier at £70 but doesn’t quite enter crazy land. It is after all, an extremely limited single cask bottled as naturally as can be. Good dram too.
Like the previous dram, oak seems to be the predominant feature at first – though nothing like to the same extent – and a bit of water helped to get under the cask and bring out the spirit character. The end result was a dram of pleasing balance and subtle complexity. Another good offering.
For more on Dràm Mòr, visit here.