...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Other Ts: Tullibardine 500 Sherry Finish

I have to keep looking up who the heck owns Tullibardine distillery.  Currently it's the Picard family, ascendants of the great Jean Luc.  Before them it was the generic sounding "Tullibardine Distillery Ltd", a company who released a number of well-aged whiskies (like a '88, '92, and '93) for bargain bin prices.  A few years after the new ownership took over they decided the range needed sexying up.  Now there are four whiskies without age statement or vintage -- Sovereign, 225 Sauternes finish, 228 Burgundy finish, and 500 Sherry finish -- as well as pricey 20 and 25 year olds.  The odd looking numbers on those finished whiskies represent the general volume size (in liters) of each type of wine cask they use for the finish.

We selected the Tullibardine 500 for an OC Scotch Club event last year.  Even though it was the second cheapest whisky of the bunch, a number of attendees liked it the best.  Their enthusiasm for it motivated me to give it a try too.  While I can't say that I loved it, I remembered it being a decent step up from Glenmorangie Lasanta.

Distillery: Tullibardine
Ownership: Picard Vins & Spiritueux
Region: Mid-Highlands
Type: Single Malt
Age: ???
Maturation: first ex-bourbon casks, then ex-sherry butts
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Chill filtered? ???
Caramel Coloring? probably not much

Unlike what the official notes say, its color is not a "dark, rich brown".  It's light gold, which is a good sign to me.  The lightly rosy nose is full of golden raisins and roasted nuts.  Some fresh stone fruits, rather than the dried ones found in many sherried whiskies.  Then vanilla bean, brine, cherries, and potpourri.  The palate is mild and malty.  Again, no dried fruits.  Roasted and slightly tart notes mingle with a light bitterness.  Hints of pepper, salt, and lemons.  Subtle dry sherry.  Totally inoffensive.  It finishes roasty and toasty.  Pepper and malt.  Light on the sherry.  Pleasantly dry.

And yeah, I didn't try this with water because I casually drank up most of my sample without realizing it.  Which is a positive, actually.  Again, to disagree with the official notes, I must say nothing about this whisky is "intense".  May I also repeat my own "Totally inoffensive" note from above.  It's clearly a thing one can drink and forget.  What I don't see is the quality that would make it worth $60+ in the US.  It's actually less than $40 in much of Europe, a price at which I would recommend it.  But if you're looking for something to drink and forget, and you want something better than Lasanta, and you have an extra three score dollars just lying around, Tullibardine 500 is not a bad option.

Availability - Some specialty retailers
Pricing - $50-$70 (US), $35-$55 (Europe, minus VAT, w/o shipping)
Rating - 81