Tullibardine has come a long way in the past few years. Hostile takeovers, inconsistent ownership, a silent decade after being mothballed by Whyte & Mackay in 1993, production slumps, and a less than ideal wood policy all factor into this lesser-known distillery’s story. 35ml Tullibardine 225
Thankfully, that all changed in 2011 when the site was acquired by Terroir Distillers, a subsidiary of the family-owned French drinks firm Maison Michel Picard. Since then, the sleepy village of Blackford, which sits just off the A9 to Perth, has seen much activity as the retail buildings adjacent to the distillery have been transformed into warehousing, dry goods storage and a bottling line. The visitor centre has had an overhaul and an on-site cooperage has been created, with the heavy machinery (such as hoop drivers) now en-route to bring it into full operation.
A new, single-malt-focused wood policy has seen a significant change for already-maturing stocks, while new spirit is now predominantly filled into first-fill Bourbon barrels. However, expressions such as the new Marsala-cask finish, which follows on from last year's Châteauneuf-du-Pape cask-finish, (both released under The Murray marque) show that master blender Keith Geddes is not averse to sourcing out-of-the-ordinary wood. The overall result of this flurry of investment? Tullibardine is now one of the few distilleries in Scotland that can manage its entire production process on one site, from malt intake to export.
This new era has also seen Tulli take its first steps to engage in new creative and on-trade experience projects, such as cocktail creation in partnership with the bar teams at Bon Vivant and Nauticus in Edinburgh. Most recently, this exploration of flavour has led to the creation of a bespoke Tullibardine-infused tasting menu by Chef-patron Kamil Witek at the celebrated Leith eatery Aurora. “Our entire concept is based on local, seasonal and unprocessed values," says Witek. "We’ve really enjoyed the journey of working with a brand that shares this outlook, helping us express whisky in a completely different way.
Sovereign (43% ABV)
The entry-level offering from Tullibardine is a NAS expression matured in first fill ex-Bourbon barrels that boasts notes of vanilla, biscuit, fudge, and fresh pear. It forms the base for the cask finish expressions.
225 Sauternes Finish (43% ABV)
The Tullil 225 starts off life as Sovereign, before being filled into 225 litre ex-Sauternes wine casks for a finishing period. This extra maturation in dessert-wine casks imparts additional notes of pineapple and orange zest.
500 Sherry Cask Finish (43% ABV)
As with the 225, the Sherry Cask Finish starts off as Sovereign, before being re-filled into 500-litre sherry butts for a finishing period. This imparts notes of toffee apple, dates, and cinnamon spice.
Velvet Falernum (11% ABV)
Sweetened with sugar cane, this liqueur derives its flavour from botanicals including lime peel, almond and clove. Created in Barbados, it is often found as a sweetener in Caribbean cocktails.
Fino sherry (15% ABV)
A crisp, dry, pale and fresh style of sherry matured biologically under a layer of flor for a minimum of two years in wooden barrels. Served chilled, fino sherries generally boast aromas such as green apple, fresh dough, and herbs, and have a slight saline profile.
Oloroso sherry (17% ABV)
In order to produce this famous sherry, the base wine is fortified to around 17% ABV. This prevents the survival of yeasts and thus the growth of flor. As a result, this sherry undergoes oxidative ageing that produces a dark colour and an aromatic profile of nutty and dried fruit notes.
Benedictine (40% ABV)
An old French favourite that dates back to the mid-19th century. It is created by infusing four distinct botanical preparations in neutral spirit, each of which is then distilled, blended with honey and saffron, heated, and rested in oak.
Bitter Truth Celery Bitters (44% ABV)
Perfect for adding some fresh, green flavours to cocktails, G&Ts, or vodka sodas, these celery bitters are produced by the celebrated Bitter Truth brand.
Cut ginger into cubes and blend, strain the pulp through a jam bag and use the juice to produce a 1:1 sugar syrup. Keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks.
15ml Velvet Falernum
10ml fino sherry
20ml lime juice
5ml ginger syrup
Champagne as required
Shake first five ingredients with ice, fine strain into chilled highball glass over block ice and top with champagne.
40ml Tullibardine 500
5ml pineapple syrup
10ml oloroso sherry
Stir ingredients with ice and strain over block ice into a rocks glass.
An orange twist.
40ml Tullibardine Sovereign
2 dashes celery bitters
15ml spiced pear cordial
20ml egg white
Shake ingredients to emulsify egg whites, then shake again with ice. Pour into a chilled coupe glass.
Sprinkle foam with aniseed powder.