As Twitter followers will know, last night I attended a whisky tasting given by the fabulous folks at Independent Spirit in Bath. Chris Scullion is enormously knowledgeable about whisky and always worth listening to. Last night’s tasting focused on things that were new in stock, so it was a bit of a mixed bag.
There are a couple of things I want to mention from last night. The first is the question of non-proprietary bottlings. Normally whisky distilleries are incredibly protective of their brands. Nevertheless, casks of malt whisky do sometimes find their way onto the market. Mostly these are sold with made-up names, though the disguise is often tissue-thin. Once in a while, however, the independent bottler will do a really good job and the distillery will allow the use of their name. The final whisky in last night’s tasting was a 7-year-old Talisker from Douglas Laing which does bear the distillery name. Very nice it was too.
One of the malts in the tasting was a Tullibardine. That’s not a well-known distillery, but it is notable for two reasons. Firstly the bottles carry a date of 1488. That’s the year in which King James IV of Scotland stopped by to purchase beer for his coronation. Making whisky is a much more recent activity at the site, but the distillery still proudly trumpets its royal connection.
Tullibardine, however, is no longer Scottish owned. The current owners are a French family who are primarily in the wine business. Their name is Picard, and we all know what that will mean some time in the far future. For now, however, it just means that they have access to some very interesting barrels in which to mature the whisky. The malt that we had last night was the Tullibardine 225, which is matured in Sauternes casks. That gives it a very different, and very fruity, flavor. They also do the Tullibardine 228 which is matured in Burgundy casks. Personally I prefer the 225, but they are both very interesting.
My thanks again to Chris for a fabulous evening. If you do happen to be in Bath, do pop into the shop and say hello.