Apr 272013



For the benefit of the great unwashed, the Tullibardine distillery was founded in 1949 by an architect by the name of William Delmé-Evans.  It is located in the village of Blackford in Perthshire.  William Delmé-Evans, also known as Willie, was involved with the construction of the Jura distillery in 1963 and the Glenallachie distillery in 1967. He remained as managing director of the Jura distillery until his retirement in 1975, but not before overstocking the distillery with more Willies (Willie Tait & Willie Cochrane) to ensure that a Willie would always remain at the head of the distillery.

The Tullibardine distillery was built on the site of an old brewery from which King James IV was said to have purchased beer for his many overnight jousting parties, along with his coronation in 1488.  Hence the 1488 beer that is sold today and the unofficial distillery motto of: “A mounted Knight is a happy Knight”. The Tullibardine distillery was first sold in 1953 to Brodie Hepburn Ltd. and in turn was purchased by Invergordon in 1971, followed by Whyte & Mackay in 1993 nosing their way in and then mothballing the distillery in 1994. The distillery remained closed until 2003 when it was sold to a consortium of private investors who in the same year started up production again. In November 2011 the distillery was then sold to a French corporation and the current owner, Picard Vins & Spiritueux.

Recently Tullibardine altered their lineup and updated their packaging but what was the real reason behind the change? Well the answer may shock you, then again being a whisky drinker it may not, but if you have an open mind and are ready to accept an alternate version of what you have been fed by the whisky industry, then keep reading and we’ll show you how deep the French designer rabbit-hole goes.


Using our extensive connections within the whisky drinking community and for the price of a few drams, we managed to loosen the tongue of a whisky bar patron to talk us about the real story behind the change at Tullibardine, Glenmorangie and so many more Scottish distilleries.

The SHOCKING TRUTH is that some Scottish distilleries may be rubbing the inside of casks with truffles before filling them with new spirit.

This whisky bar patron and self-professed industry whistle blower known only as Jerry is quoted as saying, “The practice of rubbing ones truffle is well known”.  Jerry also went on to say, off the record, that truffle rubbing was born out of desperation after the 1983 downturn. Distilleries turned to bold innovative strategies to attract new consumers to help leapfrog sales. The French were targeted as an unrealized market and, given that the French possess a superior sense of smell and taste, it was thought that by rubbing out a truffle inside a cask would somehow appeal to their senses and give the consumer the ultimate bespoke Roja Dove olfactory experience. Jerry further said that certain distillers experimented using Perrier water to reduce cask strength whiskies, finished their whisky in Burgundy wine casks (now legal but not at the time) and would use subliminal subtitles on packaging to confuse the consumer into thinking the product was high-quality (“soufre est bonne, si elle boit”/”sulphur is good, so drink it”).

Jerry also said that a few distilleries went even a little further and experimented with intense potent cheeses infused with pureed land snails, in a process called Escargot Brie Blasting. This was done to new casks after charring, but was halted because the workers couldn’t handle the wafting bouquet…and then there was the problem with the mice infestations.

Nobody ever thought that this practice of truffle rubbing, also known as the Eiffel Effect, would become so successful that French consumers would abandon their beloved Brandy and, like catnip to a cat, cocaine to a lawyer or power to a politician, become so helplessly addicted to the golden malt that the French would become the number one (un) consumers of Scotch whisky in the world.

What happened next no one saw coming. French corporations, as quiet as beret wearing mimes inside invisible boxes, went about buying Scottish distilleries on a Grand Napoleonic scale. The purchasing of so many distilleries, we think, was a belief held by French corporations that by owning distilleries they could make the world a better and more beautiful place, while making enormous profits for themselves.

French corporations believed by designing packaging so exquisite that it would transform the average repugnant whisky bar troll/punter into a striking desirable six pack, yacht owning, polo player by simply holding the attractive packaging in front of their dreadfully average faces. Therefore, the great unwashed whisky consumers would line up like Lemmings on a cliff ledge to pay double, triple or more than previous prices all the while thanking the French distillery owners for the privilege to do so.

Tullibardine translated means “Hill of Warning”, so to sound a warning and to back up this claim, we have noted below the Scottish distilleries purchased by French corporations since 1983:

– 1989 Glenallachie sold to Pernod Ricard

– 1997 Ardbeg sold to Moët Hennessy

– 1997 Glenmorangie sold to Moët Hennessy

– 2001 Allt-A-Bhainne sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2001 Braeval sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2001 Glenkeith sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2001 Glenlivet sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2001 Longmorn sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2001 Strathisla sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2005 Glenburgie sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2005 Glentauchers sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2005 Miltonduff sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2005 Tormore sold to Pernod Ricard

– 2008 Glen Moray sold to La Martiniquaise

– 2011 Tullibardine sold to Picard Vins & Spiritueux

– 2012 Bruichladdich sold to Remy Cointreau

In California they have a saying “if the gloves doesn’t fit, let it go”.  Well…this glove fits. I’m sure along with the changes in packaging at Tullibardine, the price of an average bottle will be raised like taxation on the poor working class just before the French Revolution and we all know how that ended.

In the mean time you can still enjoy Tullibardine at a reasonable price, which prompted us to have a Calgary Revolution Tully Tasting, where we went about storming four liquor stores in Calgary to liberate four exclusive single cask Tully Hogshead bottlings. To be fair to the stores, we tried the malts blind and the guillotine was never used on any of the stores employees (officially).

To quench the blood red sherry thirst of the common people we finished the night by adding in three more single cask Tullies from 1973 , 1993 PX Sherry Cask and a 1966 Sherry Butt ( World Cup Vintage) but drank these disclosed.

“Vive La Revolution Deux”

So…on April 23, 2013, at the first formal club tasting of the Dram Initiative, we tasted the following Tullibardine malts. Members (Herein after called the Dramned) and some guests, judged the first four malts blind to determine which store can claim to have better taste.



1992 – March 2008   53.8 % ABV   Willow Park Wine & Spirits

Bourbon Barrel (Most likely Hogshead) Cask # 239 Bottle # 193 of 241

NOSE: Sweet fruit, vanilla, cherries, cinnamon, flora and minty.

TASTE: Butterscotch, grassy & musty, soft fruit and some raisins.

FINISH: Medium and elegant.

ASSESSMENT: A light delicate mellow dram.


1992 – September 2011   40.3 % ABV   Co-op Wine Spirits

Barrel (Most likely Hogshead) Cask # 1875       Bottle # 22 of 191

NOSE: Candy jujubes, caramel, oranges and some other citrus notes, white chocolate.

TASTE: Blueberry tea, burnt sugar, buttery and marzipan.

FINISH: Vibrant at the beginning. Medium and a tad more.

ASSESSMENT: Nice nose but odd palate.


1987 – March 2008   54.6 % ABV   Kensington Wine Market

Hogshead Cask # 632       Bottle # 117 of 191

NOSE: Burnt cherries, grape juice, little farmy, cinnamon, nicely layered.

TASTE: Green apples, dark chocolate, raisins, almonds and some tannins.

FINISH: Medium to long.

ASSESSMENT: Very robust for a hogshead cask.


1987 – July 2012    50.1 % ABV   Wine & Beyond / Liquor Depot

Hogshead Cask # 650       Bottle # 22 of 207

NOSE: Coke in a can, lots-o-vanilla, coffee and caramel some light stewed fruit.

TASTE: Creamy, marzipan, soft fruit, oatmeal, and some mild tannins.

FINISH: Medium to long. Very gentle fade at the end

ASSESSMENT: Tingles on the tongue. Pleasant candied dram.


********** Score card for the battle of the store picked casks **********


WIN          – 1992    Co-op Wine Spirits Cask # 1875

PLACE       – 1987   Wine & Beyond / Liquor Depot Cask # 650

SHOW      – 1987    Kensington Wine Market Cask # 632

WJWP*     -1992   Willow Park Wine & Spirits Cask # 239


*Whisky Judged Without Pity


1973 – May 2005   45.9 % ABV   Single Cask Release

Hogshead Cask # 2518       Bottle # 21 of 239

NOSE: Sweet honeyed heather, vanilla, cherries and oranges. Honeydew melon.  Some mint.

TASTE: Creamy, almonds, milk chocolate, grassy. A little pineapple & coconut.

FINISH: Medium. Succulent to start and fades softly away.

ASSESSMENT: This is so smooth you would think this is below 40% ABV. Sublime!


1993 – September 2009   54.5 % ABV   KWM

Pedro Ximinez Sherry Cask # 15081       Bottle #96 of ?  (Split with McLeod Dixon)

NOSE: Sharp sherry spices with lots of vanilla, raisins, and tart orange zest and tobacco notes.

TASTE: Sweet cherries, dark chocolate, lots of spices….nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon to start. Some pepper and tannins.

FINISH: Long. Assertive younger sherry with some sweet notes.

ASSESSMENT: WBS ………Welcome Back Sherry, we’ve missed you after the five sweet bourbon hogsheads.


1966 – April 2006   48 % ABV   General Release (World Cup Vintage)

Sherry Butt Cask # 2132       Bottle #251 of 384

NOSE: Ripe melons, creamy toffee, oranges and cherries.  Cocoa & coffee.  Some floral notes.

TASTE: Mellow spices, green tea. Lots of jammy stewed fruits and some cedar tobacco notes.

FINISH: Long with a gentle fading finish.

ASSESSMENT: Complex, the more you drink it the more notes you can find. Sensuous and stunning for a 40 year old sherry cask.



Boire Comme Un Trou.


– Your humble drudge and member of the walking Dramned,


 Posted by at 2:34 pm
Apr 272013

Logo (2)The Dram Initiative Meeting #001 – April 23, 2013

First Formal Club Meeting – Tullibardine


Well, well, well.  First club meeting done and dusted.

I had hoped it would go over well, but was blown away by just how smoothly everything ran.  Great turnout too.  Just shy of 20, I think.  Considering three members couldn’t make it due to other commitments and one or two others who were planning to attend as guests had last minute…errr…issues (looking at you here, Lorenzo), I can’t help but be pleased with the attendance for a first night.

Either way…there is a guarantee the next will be even bigger, as a couple of those afore-mentioned guests were suitably impressed to the point of committing to membership, and a couple others should have their scheduling concerns alleviated by that point.

We were in the lower hall of the South Calgary Community Center (formerly Marda Loop).  The committee and a couple other keen members showed up early and immediately jumped to the task of set up (tables, chairs and tablecloths; distributing glassware, bottles of water and food trays; pouring drinks; spreading tasting sheets, etc).  Sincerely thankful for the help we had.

Yours truly was host/MC/rambling idjit up front of the group for this event.  Our friend and local Tullibardine agent, Andy Dunn of Gold Medal Marketing fame, was otherwise committed this eve, so I stepped in to fill his shoes.  Of course, we also had to lay the groundwork for the club, so I would have had to speak to some length even if Andy had been free.  Many an email had circulated prior to actually converging in this room, but it’s still always best to verbalize things, and allow the opportunity for questions and clarifications.

We discussed the club set-up, direction, goals, etc.  I also decided to drop a few tantalizing hints about future endeavours and planned events.  All the while, we began working our way through a lovely selection of drams from the Highlands.  I’ll come back to these in a moment.

One of the gents on the Dram Initiative committee who has been instrumental in recruiting members, had mentioned to me ahead of time that a couple of the gang were new to the whole whisky thing, and would be approaching this as an opportunity to learn.  He asked if I could take some time to explain a bit about our beloved dram.  Of course.  So…after a brief run-through of the club structure, I walked the gang through a bit whisky history, definition and conjecture.  It was an opportunity to share some tips…offer a few caveats…and again drop a few hints as to some of the drinks the Collective can expect to try as we take this club forward.


So…is this a whisky club or not?  Let’s get to the nitty gritty.  The evening’s fun was planned around a) a nice progressive range of mature Tullibardine expressions, and b) a ‘battle of the casks’.  Four different expressions of Tulli exclusive to various stores around the city of Calgary (Willow Park, Kensington Wine Market, Co-op Wines And Spirits and Wine And Beond/Liquor Depot) were the combatants in this ‘just for fun and bragging rights’ bit of tomfoolery.

At the end of the first four drams (those involved in the battle), the gang was asked to rank them in order of favorites.  I won’t reveal the results here, as Maltmonster will be doing exactly that in the companion piece to this little write-up, but all were suitably impressive in their own rights.  From there we tackled a lovely 1973 from a bourbon Hoggy…moving on into another Kensington exclusive, PX-matured 1993…and finally closing with a stunning 1966 sherry bomb World Cup vintage release from 2006.

This last was a true winner in all eyes, as far as I could tell.  Why would it not be?  Likely a second or third fill sherry butt 40 years old…what’s not to love?

The rest, as they say, is history.  But history that is exclusive to club members.  Gotta keep a few secrets to make it interesting, right?

The feedback following the event, both immediate and the day after, was overwhelmingly positive.  From kudos for the management of logistics, to the presentation itself, to execution of the overall event…members and guests were very liberal with their compliments and comments.  On behalf of the committee, I say ‘thank you’.  It’s nice to see the fruits of labour being enjoyed.  The efforts of several people made this happen, and it is appreciated by all of us.


Next up for the Dram Initiative?  BenRiach.  Our friend and resident wit, J Wheelock, will be coming to walk us through a selection of ‘Riachs from the ’70s through the ’90s.  Some beautiful whiskies to be sure, and maybe a surprise or two along the way.  More to come.  😉

Next club meet…Tuesday, May 28th.  Hope to see you there.

To those debating membership…spaces are filling up fast.  I wouldn’t wait too long if’n I was you.



– Words:  Curt

– Photos:  Curt & Scott 


 Posted by at 12:36 pm
Apr 272013

Glen Garioch 21 y.o.050

43% abv

Score:  85.5/100


Spectacularly unspectacular.  Hate to say it, but absolutely true.

Shame on me…I went into this one with rather elevated expectations.  We should all know by this point not to do this.  Malts should always be approached with the ‘hope for the best, plan for the worst’ type of mindset.  Especially when buying older/pricier drams.  How truly disappointing to find a whisky that should be at it’s zenith (that magic fulcrum between old enough and young enough), and simply…well…isn’t.

Glen Garioch is sort of a ‘middle-of-the-road’-er in Suntory’s stables.  It’s a Highlands malt which, in it’s infancy, is fairly average.  And as it gets older is…uh…still fairly average.  Generally a rather sweet, spicy, caramel-rich and apple-y malt, Glen Garioch offers little in the way of surprises.  I was kinda hoping this 21 year old OB (original bottling) would bring a little more to the party.  Oh well.

But hey…disappointment does not necessarily correlate with quality (or any lack of).  This is still a decent dram.  If you can scoop it at the right price point you’ll be sitting with a balanced easy-drinker suited to most occasions.  And maybe that ’21’ on the bottle will suitably impress your less scrupulous mates and houseguests.  😉

Nose:  Dust.  Red licorice.  Vanilla.  Floral and perfumed.  Sugar cookies, orange marmalade and touch of mint.  Pepper.

Palate:  Oak is very loud and it’s a bit too sharp on the deep vanillins.  Uber sweet with some mint again.  Kinda like a spritz of perfume on the tongue.  There may be a touch of peat…and a wisp of smoke.  Barley stands up to take its bow at the end in a crescendo of grains.

Not a bad nose, but the palate just doesn’t measure up.  Shame that at 21 years this Highlander shows so little true individuality and character.  By no means bad, just utterly mundane.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 11:08 am
Apr 212013

GlenDronach 21 y.o.21P1

48% abv

Score:  85.5/100


One of the older siblings in the GlenDronach standard range.  Named, apparently, for a parliament of rooks (read flock of birds) that nests in the trees near the distillery.

Label says Oloroso and PX maturation, but I’d peg this more as 80% Manzanilla/20% Oloroso.  Well…maybe not quite, but it certainly isn’t even close to as sweet and rich and vibrant as the Oloroso/PX mix would lead me to believe.  Perhaps it’s simply the saltier nature of a quirky meaty note in here that makes me think Manzanilla.

Sadly, though not necessarily a spoiling factor, there is sulphur all over this one.  Not a heavy sulphur, but a broad swath of it across all facets nevertheless.  Even so…I still don’t mind sipping at this one.

Nose:  Needs a little time in the glass before shaking hands with this one.  Surprisingly beefy for a ‘Dronach.  I don’t mean that in terms of strength, but a true meat note in there.  Some sweeter sherry notes coming through too (orange, black cherry, raisin,).  Clove.  Malt heavy.  Over-toasted cask notes.  Finally…as mentioned…a healthy hit of sulphur.

Palate:  Like a diluted a’bunadh with a heavier malt/meat component.  Strong high content dark chocolate.  Bitter greens meet bittersweet juicy grape.  Tart fruit and wine.  There’s a match-like ashy note here too.  Quite drying.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 6:23 pm
Apr 152013

Wow.  Not sure what to say here, but had to take the opportunity to express how sad I feel about this.

My wife is a runner.  With pride I watched her cross the finish line in San Francisco’s 2011 Nike Women’s Marathon.  Today, watching events unfold in Boston, all I could think of is how special that moment was for her.  And how this day, some cowardly, soulless individuals robbed so many others not only of their opportunity at a great triumph, but in some cases of so very much more.

Those of us not personally touched by this will never fully understand the loss, but we can let it be known that we care.

This is a sad, sad day.  Our thoughts and condolences for victims, friends and family who were affected by this heartbreaking and cowardly act.

– Curt

 Posted by at 7:55 pm
Apr 082013

The Dram Initiative Meeting #001 – April 23, 2013Logo (2)

First Formal Club Meeting – Tullibardine


And then it was real.  My…how time flies.  Two weeks now till the Collective meets for the first proper group gathering.  Things could not be better.  Membership is growing…dollars rolling in…nearly all logistics covered.

And man…what a line-up for the kickoff!

Seven malts from Highland distillery, Tullibardine.  We’ll begin with a battle of the casks; four different drams exclusive to four different shops in Calgary (Willow Park, Kensington Wine Market, Co-op and Wine & Beyond/Liquor Depot).  These will be sampled blindly.  Not to dissect, but simply to determine who got the pick of litter in the cask sweepstakes.  In other words…a bit of fun to get it all rolling.

From there we’ll move on into three other drams from this distillery.  Just a hint…we’ll be slipping back a couple (or more) decades here.  Trust me…there’s some magic to be found this eve, folks.

On top of a stellar range tasting, we’ll introduce the committee…share a few details as to how this whole little initiative will run…open up the forum…and have a damn good time.

Said it before, and saying it again…membership is limited.  No more than 33 1/3 members.  We’re closing in.  If you care to scoop one of the last available spots…drop a line.

Much more to come.


– Curt

 Posted by at 9:28 pm
Apr 062013

Glenisla 1977 (Signatory)019 (2)

50.7% abv

Score:  90/100


Don’t go hunting through your whisky books and favorite online blogs for details about the Glenisla distillery.  It doesn’t exist.  Glenisla was a peated malt produced for a small window of time in the 1970s at the Glen Keith distillery in Speyside.

To date, the only versions of this malt I’ve heard tell of are from Signatory.

Much as you’d expect, after 32 years in wood, most of the peat has been knocked off.  The influence of time and decent oak has been kind here.  And rather gentle.  Though this is no showstopper of a dram, there is something about it I find rather endearing.

A mate of mine finds a rather ‘off’ industrial note to it, but it certainly isn’t a prevalent one to me.  Quirky, yes.  Off, no.  Irrespective…the charm in the depth of peach and spice are more than enought to please this palate.

Finally…if I had only two words to describe this whisky?  Peach putty.

Nose:  Playdough/plasticene.  Peach.  Lots and lots of peach.  Dried apricot.  A pouchful of fresh tobacco (here are the earthier, more organic peat notes too…though restrained).  Spiced yeasty dough.  Scottish shortbread and orange.

Palate:  Smoke and peat finally make a half-hearted attempt at putting in a proper showing.  Peaches.  An almost ‘sweaty’ note.

* An interesting note on the peating method can be found at the Malt Madness site.

Thanks to my mate, Vikash, for the chance at this one.  Love ya, brother.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:54 am
Apr 022013

BenRiach 12 y.o.076

43% abv

Score:  86.5/100


Wow.  I love how fun and vibrant this is.  Soooooo very much potential here.  Kinda makes me think of a shining young actress, stuck in indie films, but with the potential to be the next hollywood starlet if only discovered.  This one performs miles beyond others in its age bracket.  Nose especially.

Perhaps the sweet purple fruits on display here are a little foreshadowing as to just how incredible the BenRiach fruit melange is as it ages into its 30s or so.  By the time most of us are entering our quarter-life to third-life crisis, this whisky is just beginning to peek.

Truly a young winner from BenRiach.

Nose:  Purple.  Grapes and florals.  Juicy as fuck.  So fruity.  Vanilla cake…with icing.  Candy.  White chocolate.  How ’bout some Welch’s grape juice?  Peach and lilac.

Palate:  Sweet…sweet…sweet.  Oak up front, but pleasant and not overstated.  Fruits start to dry a little as it works its way around the mouth.  Hits a bit of a pepper note at the back.  Dries the corners of the mouth.

This malt at 20-30 years…can’t even imagine the fruit array you’d see.  Hopefully more of this run is still lying in repose in some dark ol’ warehouse.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:00 pm