Tullibardine is about 30 minutes drive away from me and it is undergoing a transformation during the last couple of years. A new marketing push is attempting to reposition the malt as one of 'quality' and 'luxury' and it seems to be working. Sales and profits are up and Tullibardine whisky is now being found in new territories across the world.
Having taken the tour previously right here, a return to the distillery is overdue once its transformation is complete. The site which used to include various motorway shops and service stations now belongs to the distillery and when I visited to purchase this Sovereign bottling, the units were all empty and the car park was full of sherry and bourbon casks.
This particular 20cl edition of Sovereign was the celebrate the launch of the Custodian Club on 25th June 2015. The Sovereign edition itself debuted in 2013 and is a No Age Statement release, which will normally cost £35 although this special edition is bottled at a slightly higher strength of 46% vol.
It's fair to say Tullibardine whiskies don't enjoy a great reputation but as my time with Deanston has shown; with dedication and the right people this can be reversed. So I'm approaching this release with an open mind and hopeful that the uptrend in sales is not just fancy marketing and there is some substance. Still my favourite Tullibardine remains the 21 year old bottled by Cadenheads as part of their Small Batch range. It truly caught me off guard and has surprised quite a few friends since and being only £66 its a bargain.
Nose: a light array of flavours including coconut flakes, almonds, icing sugar, tangerines, flint, pears and vanilla custard. Water brings out more floral characteristics and lemon peel.
Taste: big arrival of creamy vanilla and almonds. Jumbo oats, black pepper and more cereals take you into the finish.
I do think this benefits from a higher strength. It's not a dram I'd seek out but it represents an ideal starter malt for someone looking to step into the realm of whisky. Light, fruity and with plenty of sweet characteristics there's nowt present not to dislike.