Bought: Sainsbury’s, 13th January 2015
85/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
80.24/100 – Whiskybase (average from 27 member votes)
Having got the Tullibardine ‘Sovereign’ from Sainsbury’s last year, it was only a matter of time before I fell for the second Tullibardine that Sainsbury’s stock. My reluctance was the cost. At £45, it’s expensive for a NAS (non-age statement) single malt, which struggles in reviews to match others in its price bracket. Even with a £10 discount it competes with some heavyweights like the Macallan Gold and Glenlivet 15yo. But I have a soft spot for Tullibardine, so I had to have it.
The bible has very little to say about this single malt, which is “hits the heights early on in the delivery when the honey and Lubeck marzipan are in full throttle”. On Whiskybase, a respected reviewer says “I find it to be a very pleasant whisky in which the wine played a merely supporting role. Something for dessert.”
85/100 in the Whisky Bible classes this single malt as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”.
Here’s Horst Luening with his review on YouTube (February 2017):
Bought – Sainsbury, 23rd May, 2014
89.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
79/100 – Whiskybase (average from 68 member votes)
I tend to think of Tullibardine as one of the more obscure Scottish distilleries, so I was surprised and delighted when I saw this bottle of non-aged statement ‘Sovereign’ on a shelf in my local Sainsbury supermarket. Matured in bourbon barrels, Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible 2014 review describes the bourbon aromas as “an entire regiment of delicate oaky tones from the standard butterscotch through to polished oak floors.” He then summarises with “beautifully salivating despite the intricate oak notes.”
The colour is quite light, which suggests no added colour, although this isn’t declared anywhere on the bottle or box. What is stated, very proudly, is a quote from Jim Murray from 2008 saying “we are getting to the stage where Tullibardine is now becoming one of the true great single malts of Scotland”.
Clearly a whisky with pedigree and promise you would think but 79/100 on Whiskybase isn’t a fantastic score. Comments include “unmemorable” , “a pleasant, fresh and well made spirit, with a delicate balance of spice and floral notes, leading to a significant depth” and “an aperitif whisky, if you ask me. Nothing that jumps out, but I cannot fault it either.”.
Here’s Horst Luening with his thoughts on You Tube (July 2015):
Bought – Lincoln Whisky Shop, 4th March 2014
Review: Daniel Jakobsen, Youtube
One of the annoying things I’ve discovered about some Gordon & MacPhail miniatures is that their labels don’t always have the same information as their bigger 70cl brothers. This Tullibardine is a perfect example. According to the Malt Maniac’s database there is a Tullibardine 1993 that was bottled in 2003, and another bottled in 2004. I then discovered Daniel Jakobsen’s review on Youtube for an 18yo Tullibardine distilled in 1993 with exactly the same label on it as my miniature, except my bottle makes no mention of when it was bottled up. Very frustrating!
Does it really matter which bottle it is?! Not really. Whether it’s Daniel’s, the 2003 or 2004, none of them get an excellent rating. The distillery was closed between 1994 and 2003 so I’m wondering if the problem with the taste is due to how the casks were kept during this period. Perhaps the temperatures weren’t controlled correctly.
Any fellow collectors reading this will notice that the photo of the miniature below shows a badly damaged label. This is how it arrived from the Lincoln Whisky Shop, and it clearly didn’t happen in transit. They knew I’m a collector but, even if they hadn’t, this product is sub-standard and they should have told me in case I didn’t want it. I suppose the good news is it’s not worth keeping so I get to drink it! 🙂
Bought – Online Whisky Auction, 22nd December 2013
71/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 8 reviewers)
After winning this bottle at auction, I received it to find a label on the back written by a previous owner which said “15/7/08 Ebay £5.76”. Five years later and I win it at auction for £3.25. It goes to show that not every whisky has shot up in price in recent years! But getting 71/100 on Malt Maniacs, I might have bought a turkey rather than a golden goose.
What’s interesting about Tullibardine, and indeed this bottle, is that the distillery was mothballed in 1994, then opened again in 2003. According to Malt Maniacs this bottle was produced around 2004, shortly after the distillery reopened. Distilled in 1988 it was clearly a cask kept in storage during the time the distillery was in limbo. It makes me wonder what happens to casks during such times, and if they have much, or any care and attention?!