KWM Whisky Advent Calendar: Day 12

12 12 2017

It’s been a frenetic start to Advent, both in terms of the 22 posts that have graced this blog over the past 11 days and in terms of the kaleidoscope of countries and new whisky experiences to which Kensington Wine Market has treated us so far.  Maybe at this point, at the halfway mark of the calendar, we can stop and take a breath and revel in a dose of familiarity before launching ourselves again into the unknown.  Enter the safest low-cost whisky you can buy when you’re stuck somewhere out of town and the only accessible shop is Superstore:  Tullibardine.  I have had the same “hey, this is actually pretty good!” reaction to many a suspiciously cheap Tullibardine scotch and have come to the conclusion that they can deliver on a budget far better than most in the spirit world.  You will often come across a “1488” logo on the distillery’s packaging, and their website hints at their illustrious history…sort of.  It turns out their site was previously a brewery in the 15th century that King James IV once visited, which is impressive, but for the fact that the distillery had nothing to do with the brewery and wasn’t a thing until 1947.  The website does not discuss the intervening 450 years in detail.

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Take a breath.

Through its entire whisky lineup, Tullibardine only uses first-fill casks (barrels that were only previously used once before, so the interior toasting and wood grain is still receptive to liquid contact) for maximum flavour transference.  This Sovereign bottling is the foundation of the portfolio, a Highland Single Malt matured only in first-fill Bourbon casks, at $65 probably the price baseline for a proper single malt scotch.  It is a grainy pale gold colour and comes across somewhat aromatically muted, its baked apple, banana Runts, grass and honey aromas slightly shy and stunted.  Bourbon’s characteristic sweetness wakes it up on the first sip, however. launching flavours of vanilla bean and creme brûlée laced with char and toasted marshmallow skin, those scorched-barrel notes echoing into a smoky finish.  This is not a dynamic whisky, but it is easily an enjoyable weeknight sip, which is all it has to be to justify this price tag.

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