...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Where's the Love? Tullibardine 1993 (46%abv US Edition)

And here is the Aged Oak Edition's sparring partner.  Yes, more Tullibardine.  Some of you American folks may still see this particular whisky sitting on the shelves selling for a very reasonable price.  But most of you have passed it up and will continue to pass it up.  Hell, I used to see old green-bottle Cadenhead dusties of Tullibardine selling for under $100 and yet I never even considered considering lifting the bottle off the shelf.

Thanks to a generous member of the LAWS crew, I was able to try the Tullibardine 1962 vintage.  48 years old, and something Jim Murray soiled himself over, the whisky was......okay.  If it was 1/4th its age and 1/10th its price, I'd happily recommend it because it sort of drank like something that was 1/4th its age and 1/10th its price.  Its smoothness (sorry, I had to use THAT word) made for pleasant drinking, and one could perhaps thank its age for that.  But that very age also cut out whatever lively zip a 12 year old single malt would exhibit.  Thanks to Jim Murray's pronouncement the 48yo mostly sold out a few years ago.  But there are a few bottles still floating about.  So if you're in the market for a sleepy 48-year-old officially bottled single malt that costs less than a Kia, keep lookout for the '62 at $800.  Or you can spend your money wisely.

Anyway, this review has nothing to do with the 1962.  I just wanted to say that 99.99% of the whisky community isn't missing anything having not tried the oldie.  Let's see what we missed with the 1993.

Distillery: Tullibardine
Ownership: Tullibardine Distillery Ltd (now Picard Vins & Spiritueux)
Distillation Year: 1993
Distilled by: White & Mackay
Age: ???
Maturation: probably ex-bourbon casks
Region: Mid-Highlands
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Chill filtered? ???
Caramel Coloring? probably not much
(Thank you to Florin (a prince) for the sample.)

Keep in mind that this was the US release of the '93.  It was bottled at 46%abv, but not finished in wine casks.  I'm unsure of its bottling date.  If I figure that out, then I'll update the above info.

The color is amber.  The nose leads with citron candles, peaches, and Three Musketeers chocolate bars.  Lots of grains, leafy.  The apples here are riper than those in the Aged Oak Edition.  With time, it picks up burnt bread, tree bark, and honeydew notes.  The palate starts off with a simple combo of lemon, caramel, and sugar.  Then there are hints of baking chocolate, honey, and rose petals.  With time a cardboard note opens and expands, countered by a wormwoody bitter note.  The finish is spicier and holds onto the honey note.  Also, notebook paper.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose gets weird.  Very rubbery.  Sunscreen, burnt raisins, burnt hair, and notebook paper (again).  A hint of caramel.  The palate is odd too.  Rubbery fruits, bitter carrot cake, burnt soap, and burnt vanilla.  Yes, some of those things aren't things, but there it is.  The finish is bitter and soapy.  Cardboard and generic caramel.  Thankfully it's all brief.

So, obviously, don't add water.  It's probably a good idea that this was bottled at 46%abv.  I'll focus on the neat serving.  The nose is easily the best part.  It gets a little quirky as it oxidizes but remains pretty solid.  I have little complaint about the palate until the cardboard arrives.  The finish is mild and short.

Before the Tullibardine Taste Off, I had expected I would ridicule the Aged Oak and trumpet this one.  Happy to find them both grain-forward, I actually wound up liking the younger (and lower abv) whisky much more.  While I can't give a rave review to either, I was intrigued enough that I'll keep a lookout in case any of Tulli's current non-finished whiskies end up in a clearance pile.  I'd very much like to try the 20 or 25 year old, but certainly not at their current prices.

Availability - Some specialty US retailers still have a few
Pricing - $50-$70
Rating - 76 (don't add water)