Category Archives: Tullibardine

Tullibardine Sovereign Review

Tullibardine SovereignIMG_2352

43% abv

Score:  80.5/100


No one really gets a pass in regards to the NAS thing, but there are a couple of distilleries (Tulli, Ardbeg, Laddie, ‘Glassaugh, etc) that have a slightly better reason than others for doling out these contrived concoctions.  Namely, sustained closures that led to substantial production gaps.  What they end up with then is a finite amount of older whisky and a growing store of very young whisky.  The logical options then become twofold: release the old stocks at high prices and decimate your ‘sure thing’ or release immature and underripe malts and reap the wrath of poor reviews that are almost guaranteed to follow.  The latter, of course, means that you may tarnish the brand and risk not recovering your reputation.  The former means that you alienate many due to price point and run yourself out of mature bonded malt.  Neither option sounds too appealing, right?

Here’s where things get shady.  You can also choose to ignore the two well-trodden paths and forge ahead on a new path of marrying the old and the young.  Doing so means that almost no one in their right minds is willing to put a 7 year age statement on something that may be substantially composed of 20 year old whisky.  And as we all know, the SWR states that only the youngest component malt may be stated on the bottle.  Hence we end up with malts like Sovereign.  And pretty much any NAS release ever.

But enough of the philosophical nattering for the moment.  We’ve heard this story many times.

Sovereign is an easy handshake of a whisky.  A pleasant meeting – enjoyable enough while it lasts – but not likely to make much impression in the long term.  Nothing wrong with that.  I count Compass Box Asyla in the same stable, and thoroughly enjoy that one when I have it too.  These are just not whiskies that keep me loyal, however.  They’re a little too simple and one-dimensional to make me want to buy ’em.  Good enough stuff though.  Well made.

In simplest…kind of a meandering little dram that I enjoyed more than I thought I would.

Nose:  Mandarins in syrup.  Lemon.  Tangerine.  Quite clean and very naked.  Touch of ginger and pepper.  Vanilla.  White bread.  Actually a rather pleasant nose.

Palate:  Flat.  A notch down from what the nose would have us believe.  Slightly drying after a moment or two…like a green tea in ways.  Grassy.  Pancakes.  Vanilla-heavy cream.  Quite sweet, but not as easy to pin down fruits as on the nose.  Fair enough.

Thoughts:  This is a breakfast malt.  Nothing offensive, but nothing really special either.  Exactly what an entry level malt should be.


– Images & Words:  Curt

Tullibardine…Calgary Revolution Tully Tasting



For the benefit of the great unwashed, the Tullibardine distillery was founded in 1949 by an architect by the name of William Delmé-Evans.  It is located in the village of Blackford in Perthshire.  William Delmé-Evans, also known as Willie, was involved with the construction of the Jura distillery in 1963 and the Glenallachie distillery in 1967. He remained as managing director of the Jura distillery until his retirement in 1975, but not before overstocking the distillery with more Willies (Willie Tait & Willie Cochrane) to ensure that a Willie would always remain at the head of the distillery.

The Tullibardine distillery was built on the site of an old brewery from which King James IV was said to have purchased beer for his many overnight jousting parties, along with his coronation in 1488.  Hence the 1488 beer that is sold today and the unofficial distillery motto of: “A mounted Knight is a happy Knight”. The Tullibardine distillery was first sold in 1953 to Brodie Hepburn Ltd. and in turn was purchased by Invergordon in 1971, followed by Whyte & Mackay in 1993 nosing their way in and then mothballing the distillery in 1994. The distillery remained closed until 2003 when it was sold to a consortium of private investors who in the same year started up production again. In November 2011 the distillery was then sold to a French corporation and the current owner, Picard Vins & Spiritueux.

Recently Tullibardine altered their lineup and updated their packaging but what was the real reason behind the change? Well the answer may shock you, then again being a whisky drinker it may not, but if you have an open mind and are ready to accept an alternate version of what you have been fed by the whisky industry, then keep reading and we’ll show you how deep the French designer rabbit-hole goes.


Using our extensive connections within the whisky drinking community and for the price of a few drams, we managed to loosen the tongue of a whisky bar patron to talk us about the real story behind the change at Tullibardine, Glenmorangie and so many more Scottish distilleries.

The SHOCKING TRUTH is that some Scottish distilleries may be rubbing the inside of casks with truffles before filling them with new spirit.

This whisky bar patron and self-professed industry whistle blower known only as Jerry is quoted as saying, “The practice of rubbing ones truffle is well known”.  Jerry also went on to say, off the record, that truffle rubbing was born out of desperation after the 1983 downturn. Distilleries turned to bold innovative strategies to attract new consumers to help leapfrog sales. The French were targeted as an unrealized market and, given that the French possess a superior sense of smell and taste, it was thought that by rubbing out a truffle inside a cask would somehow appeal to their senses and give the consumer the ultimate bespoke Roja Dove olfactory experience. Jerry further said that certain distillers experimented using Perrier water to reduce cask strength whiskies, finished their whisky in Burgundy wine casks (now legal but not at the time) and would use subliminal subtitles on packaging to confuse the consumer into thinking the product was high-quality (“soufre est bonne, si elle boit”/”sulphur is good, so drink it”).

Jerry also said that a few distilleries went even a little further and experimented with intense potent cheeses infused with pureed land snails, in a process called Escargot Brie Blasting. This was done to new casks after charring, but was halted because the workers couldn’t handle the wafting bouquet…and then there was the problem with the mice infestations.

Nobody ever thought that this practice of truffle rubbing, also known as the Eiffel Effect, would become so successful that French consumers would abandon their beloved Brandy and, like catnip to a cat, cocaine to a lawyer or power to a politician, become so helplessly addicted to the golden malt that the French would become the number one (un) consumers of Scotch whisky in the world.

What happened next no one saw coming. French corporations, as quiet as beret wearing mimes inside invisible boxes, went about buying Scottish distilleries on a Grand Napoleonic scale. The purchasing of so many distilleries, we think, was a belief held by French corporations that by owning distilleries they could make the world a better and more beautiful place, while making enormous profits for themselves.

French corporations believed by designing packaging so exquisite that it would transform the average repugnant whisky bar troll/punter into a striking desirable six pack, yacht owning, polo player by simply holding the attractive packaging in front of their dreadfully average faces. Therefore, the great unwashed whisky consumers would line up like Lemmings on a cliff ledge to pay double, triple or more than previous prices all the while thanking the French distillery owners for the privilege to do so.

Tullibardine translated means “Hill of Warning”, so to sound a warning and to back up this claim, we have noted below the Scottish distilleries purchased by French corporations since 1983:

– 1989 Glenallachie sold to Pernod Ricard

– 1997 Ardbeg sold to Moët Hennessy

– 1997 Glenmorangie sold to Moët Hennessy

– 2001 Allt-A-Bhainne sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2001 Braeval sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2001 Glenkeith sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2001 Glenlivet sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2001 Longmorn sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2001 Strathisla sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2005 Glenburgie sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2005 Glentauchers sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2005 Miltonduff sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2005 Tormore sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2008 Glen Moray sold to La Martiniquaise

– 2011 Tullibardine sold to Picard Vins & Spiritueux

– 2012 Bruichladdich sold to Remy Cointreau

In California they have a saying “if the gloves doesn’t fit, let it go”.  Well…this glove fits. I’m sure along with the changes in packaging at Tullibardine, the price of an average bottle will be raised like taxation on the poor working class just before the French Revolution and we all know how that ended.

In the mean time you can still enjoy Tullibardine at a reasonable price, which prompted us to have a Calgary Revolution Tully Tasting, where we went about storming four liquor stores in Calgary to liberate four exclusive single cask Tully Hogshead bottlings. To be fair to the stores, we tried the malts blind and the guillotine was never used on any of the stores employees (officially).

To quench the blood red sherry thirst of the common people we finished the night by adding in three more single cask Tullies from 1973 , 1993 PX Sherry Cask and a 1966 Sherry Butt ( World Cup Vintage) but drank these disclosed.

“Vive La Revolution Deux”

So…on April 23, 2013, at the first formal club tasting of the Dram Initiative, we tasted the following Tullibardine malts. Members (Herein after called the Dramned) and some guests, judged the first four malts blind to determine which store can claim to have better taste.



1992 – March 2008   53.8 % ABV   Willow Park Wine & Spirits

Bourbon Barrel (Most likely Hogshead) Cask # 239 Bottle # 193 of 241

NOSE: Sweet fruit, vanilla, cherries, cinnamon, flora and minty.

TASTE: Butterscotch, grassy & musty, soft fruit and some raisins.

FINISH: Medium and elegant.

ASSESSMENT: A light delicate mellow dram.


1992 – September 2011   40.3 % ABV   Co-op Wine Spirits

Barrel (Most likely Hogshead) Cask # 1875       Bottle # 22 of 191

NOSE: Candy jujubes, caramel, oranges and some other citrus notes, white chocolate.

TASTE: Blueberry tea, burnt sugar, buttery and marzipan.

FINISH: Vibrant at the beginning. Medium and a tad more.

ASSESSMENT: Nice nose but odd palate.


1987 – March 2008   54.6 % ABV   Kensington Wine Market

Hogshead Cask # 632       Bottle # 117 of 191

NOSE: Burnt cherries, grape juice, little farmy, cinnamon, nicely layered.

TASTE: Green apples, dark chocolate, raisins, almonds and some tannins.

FINISH: Medium to long.

ASSESSMENT: Very robust for a hogshead cask.


1987 – July 2012    50.1 % ABV   Wine & Beyond / Liquor Depot

Hogshead Cask # 650       Bottle # 22 of 207

NOSE: Coke in a can, lots-o-vanilla, coffee and caramel some light stewed fruit.

TASTE: Creamy, marzipan, soft fruit, oatmeal, and some mild tannins.

FINISH: Medium to long. Very gentle fade at the end

ASSESSMENT: Tingles on the tongue. Pleasant candied dram.


********** Score card for the battle of the store picked casks **********


WIN          – 1992    Co-op Wine Spirits Cask # 1875

PLACE       – 1987   Wine & Beyond / Liquor Depot Cask # 650

SHOW      – 1987    Kensington Wine Market Cask # 632

WJWP*     -1992   Willow Park Wine & Spirits Cask # 239


*Whisky Judged Without Pity


1973 – May 2005   45.9 % ABV   Single Cask Release

Hogshead Cask # 2518       Bottle # 21 of 239

NOSE: Sweet honeyed heather, vanilla, cherries and oranges. Honeydew melon.  Some mint.

TASTE: Creamy, almonds, milk chocolate, grassy. A little pineapple & coconut.

FINISH: Medium. Succulent to start and fades softly away.

ASSESSMENT: This is so smooth you would think this is below 40% ABV. Sublime!


1993 – September 2009   54.5 % ABV   KWM

Pedro Ximinez Sherry Cask # 15081       Bottle #96 of ?  (Split with McLeod Dixon)

NOSE: Sharp sherry spices with lots of vanilla, raisins, and tart orange zest and tobacco notes.

TASTE: Sweet cherries, dark chocolate, lots of spices….nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon to start. Some pepper and tannins.

FINISH: Long. Assertive younger sherry with some sweet notes.

ASSESSMENT: WBS ………Welcome Back Sherry, we’ve missed you after the five sweet bourbon hogsheads.


1966 – April 2006   48 % ABV   General Release (World Cup Vintage)

Sherry Butt Cask # 2132       Bottle #251 of 384

NOSE: Ripe melons, creamy toffee, oranges and cherries.  Cocoa & coffee.  Some floral notes.

TASTE: Mellow spices, green tea. Lots of jammy stewed fruits and some cedar tobacco notes.

FINISH: Long with a gentle fading finish.

ASSESSMENT: Complex, the more you drink it the more notes you can find. Sensuous and stunning for a 40 year old sherry cask.



Boire Comme Un Trou.


– Your humble drudge and member of the walking Dramned,


Tullibardine 1992 Premier Cru Classe Bordeaux Finish Review

Tullibardine 1992 Premier Cru Classe Bordeaux Finish

46% abv

Score:  86/100


I have a bit of a crush on Tullibardine of late.  Not so much the younger expressions or elaborate caskings of recent times (think crazy finishes a la Glenmorangie or Bruichladdich) though some of these are also great, but more along the lines of the older, sexier Tulli’s.  Perhaps this gives me a slightly skewed bias for the distillery, but if so…at least it is one that is come by honestly.  Through sheer dedication to tasting as many as I can.  😉

Having now confessed a general appreciation, I concede I find it decidedly difficult to pinpoint an over-arching flavor profile from this distillery (at least from what I’ve tasted).  While it is easy to explain to someone what they can expect from say, a Glenfiddich, it is much more difficult with Tullibardine.  For me, anyway, and I simply refuse to cop to referencing any other writer’s opinions.  I have, on the other hand, had enough solid examples from Tullibardine to know that they make good whisky.  Occasionally great whisky.  It’s also often the case that these malts will surprise by just how affordable they are.  Yet another reason to get behind this distillery, I’d say.

This particular expression is an 18 year old, bottled at 46%, and finished in ex-Chateau Lafite casks.

Here we have a nose rich in MacIntosh toffee (Y’know the one with the tartan on the box?  Can you even buy that stuff anymore?) and sweet wine.  It is slightly spicy and slightly grape jam-y.  It carries crunchy unripe pear and crème caramel.  All in all, a decent nose, but there is something slightly off here as well.  Just a minor tweak needed somewhere.  Not unpleasant, but almost like a misstep in a line dance.  Barely noticeable amidst all the action, but if you’re looking for it…

Now, the palate…wow.  Here is where this one shines.  Though the nose was pretty enough, the palate is actually quite beautiful.  Sweet and drinkable…tart and tangy.  Almost apple-ish.  Especially in the finish.  This is perfect development with no disharmony or off notes.

This is certainly not the best of the Tulli’s I’ve tasted, but it is absolutely a great example of the high standards that seem to mark this malt.  If you can get your hands on it…do give it a go.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

The Subversive’s Guide To Sherry Bomb Defusing & Disposal

–  BOMB –


It occurred to me while on page 124,754 of my personal manifesto that the world would be a better place if more people were disposing of bombs.  It was Che Guevara that said “Deje el mundo cambiarle y usted puede cambiar mundo”, which has inspired me through my experiences to help change the world for the better.

There are two schools of thought on defusing a sherry bomb.  The old school approach is to cut the foil around the bottle between the neck and the cork, which would allow you to remove the foil around the cork and leave the foil on the bottle.  The down side to this is you can cut your finger slicing around the neck.

The approach I like is to take the knife and cut up the side of the bottle, away from your body and remove the foil from both the bottle and the cork.  This will allow you to see the cork and see if there are any problems occurring.  Also for the benefit of the rum drinkers out there you won’t cut your lip swilling from the bottle using this method.

As for bomb disposal, I think the phrase “many hands or mouths make light work” would apply here.  So gather your friends, pour a large dram, repeat your favorite toast  (“I drink to your health when I’m with you, I drink to your health when I’m alone, I drink to your health so often, I’m starting to worry about my own!”)  and do a world of good and start disposing.

Tullibardine 1966

August, 2008.  49.9% ABV.  Cask # 3509.  Bottle 29 of 246.  Bottled for WP – Calgary.

NOSE:  Toffee, raisins and chocolate.

TASTE:  Very silky, not the usually spice parade.  Stewed fruits, maybe a bit jammy and some sweet port.

FINISH:  Very smooth and long.

ASSESSMENT:  Not a hint of sulfur and quite mellow for an older sherry cask. Very different from the 1966 world edition which had way more spice

1966 Tullibardine

Longmorn 1973

April 30, 1973 – May 26, 2006.  Bottled by Gordon & MacPhail.  54 % ABV.  Cask # 3650.

NOSE:  Coffee, sweet notes and some subtle fruit.

TASTE:  Apples and oranges.  Fruit cake with a little cinnamon and some marzipan.

FINISH:  Long and heavy.  Warming at the end.

ASSESSMENT:  Bam, green eggs and ham…this is a great first fill sherry bomb.  Right in the middle between the silky Tullibarine and the spicy Glenrothes.

G&M Longmorn 1973

Glenrothes 1979

1979 – 2006  56.6 % ABV  Cask # 13459 bottle # 246 of 492

NOSE:  Sharp hot spice, and yes some sulphur notes in the mix.  Raisins and dark chocolate with some bananas at the back end.

TASTE:  Robust and chewy.  Liquorice, raspberry jam.

FINISH:  Intense to say the least.  Long and warming.

ASSESSMENT:  First things first,rant…get rid of the packaging (not the bottles, love the holy hand grenade thing): heavy, sharp wood edges; bottles fall out; hard to store; almost impossible to get out of the cardboard box.  I mean really…who designed this?  Some rum lover or a single malt sadist?

This is a single glass per night after dinner drink.  Maybe a little long in the cask but still good…but you need to love scary sherry to drink this.

Glenrothes 1979