Review: Cadenhead's Small Batch Tullibardine 21 year old

Saturday, March 07, 2015


It does sounds like the opening like of a joke when you say ‘have you heard about this Tullibardine whisky?’ and that’s because the spirit has not endured the greatest of legacies. It’s not the most attractive of distilleries squashed at the end of a small bank of retail units near a main motorway. However things are changing with increasing sales abroad and expansion plans; the future looks bright for Tullibardine so what about the whisky?
To be fair I’ve haven’t really experienced a Tullibardine that I have raved about, or was greatly impressed with. I’ve taken the tour and it is an enjoyable voyage; they are certainly trying to do their utmost when it comes to the whisky. Given time I expect we’ll see some very interesting releases and a continuing upward trend, as the benefits come through in the bottle. Much like Auchentoshan I’m very benign when discussing Tullibardine; it exists but sadly I’ve yet to be converted.
The great thing about whisky is that eventually you’ll have to eat your words or change a steadfast opinion. For Auchentoshan that moment of change arrived with a 21 year old that Cadenhead’s bottled a couple of years ago - they’ve not only gone and done it again with another 21 year old from Tullibardine!
 
One of the benefits of purchasing whisky via Cadenhead’s in Edinburgh is that the staff share the same inhibitions yet when they taste a lovely whisky and recommend it, then you know it is totally genuine and not sales or marketing patter. This Tullibardine was released towards the end of 2014 and was well received enough by the team to make it their ‘one of the best from 2014’ summaries. So I had to pick this one up and see if this was a magical Tullibardine. The things I do for Whisky Rover.
Distillery: Tullibardine
Distilled: 1993
Bottled: 2014 (21 years old)
Price: £66.15
Strength: 46.9%
Cask: bourbon 


Colour: a child's sand pit
Nose: lots of sweetness with creamed coconut, strawberries and those classic milk bottle gum sweeties and marzipan. A packet of wine gums followed by that familiar smell of a dunnage warehouse where time stands still and granola with plenty of nuts. A hint of rolled tobacco gives a spice depth.
Taste: an initial burst of citrus and mixed fruit juice on arrival then a distinct nose dive into a flatline of banal characteristics before a rising tide of crunch green apples and pepper to an encore of a finish. 

Tullibardine may come of age at 21 years old? There's no denying the delights of this small batch bottling from Cadenheads. The experience on the palate is unusual . An initial explosion followed by a noticeable lull in flavour before a crescendo builds towards a satisfying and long finish. Very much an old school whisky nose just sets the anticipation too high for the palate but I'm far from disappointed overall; a lovely journey and all the more remarkable as it was totally unexpected.

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