Tullibardine: 225 Sauternes Finish (Scottish Highland Single Malt Whisky: 43% ABV)

Visual: Bright shining gold with fast, thick streaks coming from the spirit.

Nose: Oaken. Honey. Dried apricot. Vanilla. Sulphur touch. Lightly waxy. Water adds pears to the mix.

Body: Smooth and thick. Honey. Oak. Sulphur touch. Waxy touch. Golden syrup. Water adds custard, pears, apricot and cake sponge. Cherries and chocolate fudge.

Finish: Waxy. Cherries. Dried apricot. Honey and golden syrup. Lots of oak. Sulphur. Water adds custard slices. Pears. Light fresh cut apples. Still a waxy sheen. Chocolate toffee.

Conclusion: From what I remember from visiting the distillery, Tullibardine has a lot of experience with unusual cask finishes. Ok course back then it was to help eke out the value from their remaining supply of the odd distilleries spirit while they got their new distillery up and running. Still, experience is experience, no matter how you got it.

Neat this thing is pretty oaken – nice enough but a bit too woody for my taste. Though there are already a lot of good things going for it in the feel. It is thick, smooth but just slightly waxy – an element that gives, along with the wisp of sulphur, the imagery of candles that floats across the whisky. Even neat the sweetness from the Sauternes finish is shown with very honeyed notes – fairly simple but bright, thick and tongue coating.

Water give it what the whisky needs though and that is subtlety. The sweetness becomes gentle and breaks as if light encountering a prism, spreading into honey, custard and golden syrup against apricot notes that that work over the sweetness. Similarly more of the flavour from the base spirit seems to come out, though I will remind you that I have not encountered much from the distillery’s stock made since it reopened. Still, out from under the powerful cask finish seems to come pear and cut apple notes, along with a more recognisable general whisky feel that now back up the sweeter notes. The wax and sulphur notes lessen but still help hold some grip to the whisky.

Even with water this does pack a few rougher edges that feel like younger whisky spirit notes, but nothing that majorly hurts it, it just lacks polish.

Overall this uses the finish very well for a dessert feeling whisky. It does have a few rough edges, especially neat, but with a dash of water it is a sweet and enjoyable dram.

Background: Tullibardine is distillery I first encountered as part of a road trip around Scotland’s whisky distilleries many a year ago. It is a far cry from the usual rustic imagery, on an industrial area in the midst of grey concrete. It hadn’t been open long at that point, having been recently reopened after being mothballed back in 1995 so they were selling the remnants of the whisky from its previous existence. Since then I think I have encountered their new spirit once before, but without my notebook to hand, so this is my first set of notes for the re-opened distilleries whisky. This was given to me at a whisky night I hosted a few weeks back – it has become a tradition at our whisky nights that everyone else chips in to buy a bottle for the host. Which is nice. Many thanks. Originally they had planned to grab a different bottling, but the supermarket was out of stock, so bumped them up to this one – finished in Sauternes sweet wine casks – for free. Which was also nice. Put on Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes – Modern Ruin for this one. Seems a gentler album that their first, may take a bit of time to get used to that, but still solid.

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