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Dràm Mòr is an independent bottler of Scotch whisky. It was established in Dumbarton by husband and wife team Kenny and Viktorija Macdonald. The company began as an events and training business that worked with the likes of Ian Macleod Distillers, Arran Distillery, Wemyss Malts, Douglas Laing, Speyside Distillers, Borders Distillery and gin producers like Port of Leith and North Uist. Then in 2019, the family branched out and began bottling single cask spirits sourced from a variety of distilleries around Scotland. In the years since, Dràm Mòr has become a key player in the world of independently bottled single cask, single malt Scotch whisky.
In this review I’m looking at two bottlings, each from the same distillery. Tullibardine was established in 1949 in the village of Blackford, Perth & Kinross. The Gleneagles Brewery was purchased by designer William Delmé-Evans who converted it into a brewery and began to produce Scotch whisky. It was the first new distillery to be built in Scotland since 1900.
The distillery has seen many owners throughout its life but since 2011, it has been under the stewardship of Picard Vins and Spiriteux. The French wine and spirit group brought some stability to the business and introduced a new core range of single malts that put a heavy emphasis on wine cask finishing.
The two whiskies reviewed below come from sister casks distilled at Tullibardine in 2015. The first has been finished in a Bourbon cask, the second in a Palo Cortado sherry cask.
*Full disclosure: the samples featured in this article were sent to me free of charge. As always I will strive to give an honest opinion on the quality of the drams and the value for money they represent.
Tullibardine 7-Year-Old Bourbon Cask
Bottled from Cask No 140, this single malt has been finished in a first-fill Bourbon cask. It’s bottled at 56% and retails around £55
Smell: Malt. Flour and grist. Vanilla. Custard creams. Lemon. Some new oak spice. A little bit of cask char. Also some toffee apple. Oatcakes and butter. Barley sugars. Bit of lime.
Taste: Bourbony vanilla. Caramel, toffee and oak. Blast of pepper. Some fresh fruits in there as well. Especially apple. There’s a wee moment just before the finish where there’s a blast of young, almost new make spirit character before a malty, biscuity finish.
Thoughts: Particularly at full strength, I thought this stuff felt young. Younger even than its 7 year age statement. A wee splash of water separated the oils a little and things did improve – for a start some of the fiery, almost chilli-like heat was gone and the fruits came through with more clarity. It also developed a creamier texture. I still think I would have liked to see the Bourbon cask bring a bit more to the party. There’s nothing wrong with a spirit-led whisky, I’m just not sure Tullibardine has enough personality to really carry it off. Didn’t quite hit the spot for me, unfortunately.
Value for money: It’s well priced, in fairness and it may work out for you if you enjoy a lighter flavour profile but if you’re a fan of big, bold drams I’d maybe give this one a miss.
Tullibardine 7-Year-Old Palo Cortado Cask
From Cask no 144. This whisky was finished in a first-fill Palo Cortado sherry cask. It’s bottled at 55% and also retails around £55.
Smell: Malty with apple and toffee. Real nutty character too. Walnut. Some dried fruits sherry. Gingerbread. Chocolate orange. Almost a rye quality to the spice. Some red berries in there too.
Taste: More of that rye note. Lots of gingery spice and oak. Charcoal. The Palo Cortado seems to have smoothed out some of the raggedy edges that were on show in the Bourbon cask. There’s certainly less heat. Chewy toffee and Werther’s Originals. Dry, woody, spicy finish.
Thoughts: This certainly seems like an improvement on the previous whisky. The sherry cask has added some new layers and made things a little more interesting. It’s still spirit-led but there’s more going on. Has a subtle, dry sherry character, rather than the big sweet, raisin-y blanket you often find. For me it works quite well with the young, malty Tullibardine spirit. Still young, still quite subtle but enough happening to keep me interested.
Value for money: Priced similarly to its sibling but to my tastes at least, the better dram.
For more information on Dràm Mòr visit https://drammorgroup.com/