This review is a on relatively unknown distillery in the Highlands region. With more of their bottles appearing in the supermarkets in the United Kingdom it was time for Malted to review one of their offerings.
The distillery is located next to the motorway in Auchterarder and was built in 1947 before opening in 1949. This was the first distillery to be opened since 1900 in Scotland from a converted brewery which was previously on the site. That is the reason why for the 1488 markings on the bottle and on the side of the distillery. The site has been used since then for the production of alcohol but the distillery is essentially a post war creation. In my opinion dropping this loose connection to medieval times and embracing the accolade being the first post war brand new distillery in Scotland would make better marketing sense.
The distillery worked as an industrial distillery producing malt whisky for blenders until being mothballed in 1994 by Whyte & Mackay. In 2003 a private group of individual’s bought the distillery and the stock from the warehouses for £1.1 million and set about turning it into a distillery producing single malt whisky with a visitor attraction.
The group sold their stake in 2011 to a french drinks company Picard Vins but not before investing heavily in a new wood policy to revitalise the large number of tired casks in the warehouse. This is common for whisky being matured for blends and the barrel types did not allow for a diverse range of single malts to be produced. To provide additional revenue the site had a shopping centre added to it to provide rental income and passing trade to their visitor centre and cafe.
Today the Picard parent company is investing heavily in the marketing of Tullibardine and has closed the retail park. The space will now be used to expand the operations of the distillery as they grow their market share. It seems that the future of Tullibardine has been assured now and is going to grow into a volume producer of single malt whisky.
The 225 expression gets its name from the volume of the desert wine cask used to the finish the expression. The No-Age Statements bottles in the core range currently run to four different expressions. The first expression known as the Sovereign is the basis for the other three. So the Sovereign is a vatting of young and slightly older whiskies all in ex-bourbon barrels. This whisky is then bottled or re-cask to make other releases in the range.The 225 expression is made by finishing the whisky for another year in ex-Sauternes casks.
Sauternes wine is a sweet white wine from Bourdeaux and has been quite commonly used for whisky finishes in recent years. The presentation of the bottle is very good. The bottle itself is a large and heavy traditional bottle which feels high quality. The bottle is sold in a thick quality cardboard container. In general the product feels high quality when you buy it.
However, the whisky itself is what really matters. The strength is 43% ABV so just above the minimum 40%. The distillery YouTube channel refers to the colour differences between each of the expressions so I would like believe the colour is natural however looking at it I cannot believe it is. The whisky is also probably chill-filtered since adding water does not make any difference to the clarity of the whisky.
It is available for sale in Sainsburys in the UK and for the international customer it is £30 on amazon here.
Colour – Golden
Nose – Harsh chemical sweetness. Something I pick up in heavily artificially coloured whiskies. honey and vanilla are there but the sharp sweetness is quite over powering
Palate – thin mouth coating, more of the vanilla but again this sweetness that claws at your palate. young white wine is what I am reminded of with that harsh alcohol heat
Finish – the finish is quite short with yet more sweetness
I really do not like this whisky I am sad to say. It is just not for my palate at all this sweet wine finish. I like sweet foods an awful lot and I drink heavily sugered drinks with gusto but this is just too sweet for me. There is almost certainly some very young whisky in here as well or at least under matured because it has a really noticable rough edge.
The Tullibardine range also includes a very well priced 20 and 25 year old which come in nice presentation boxes. The reviews of them are very good but I have yet to try them. This whisky at least is an example of a poor no-age bottling but I will not be put off an entire producer on the basis of one disappointing experience. It will however, take a while to forget this one.