August 21, 2013

Review: Tullibardine 1988 - Uncle Jerry's Dram

Unexpected Treasure

It was my uncle Jerry who turned me on to the finer things in life.  He took me to Jean-Georges where I ate foie gras for the first time.  He threw a surprise party for his wife on their anniversary at Birdland with a private performance by a famous jazz quartet.  He would always show up at our holiday dinners with a bottle of single malt.  Not as a present, mind you, but so that he'd be sure to have something he wanted to drink.  He poured me my first glass of good scotch.

Uncle Jerry never got to read this blog.  He passed away a few months before my wife and I started writing it.  But his memory is deep in its pages.

This evening, while watching a quiet summer sunset at my family home in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains, I found myself looking for a drink.  I usually bring a bottle with me from New York to sip on these types of occasions.  But between Pack & Play's, snacks, toys, PJs, and enough diapers to pamper China, I forgot the booze.  Oh how times have changed.  So in desperation I opened up the liquor cabinet and dug through its contents searching for a dram.

My father never picked up the single malt bug, and so I was planning on making due with Dewar's or Maker's Mark, maybe if I got desperate enough that bottle of Johnny Red.  I kept digging though, just in case.  Towards the back of the shelf, I saw a bottle with a fancy label and a few inches left in it.  "Distilled in 1988" sat across the top in white over a blue background.  I took it out to study it.  I was pretty sure that "Tullibardine" was not in my dad's repertoire.  Then I remembered, Uncle Jerry had come up for a weekend a few years ago and of course he'd brought a bottle of scotch with him.  As I held it in my hand, the memories came back to me.  His smile as he corked the bottle and poured us two glasses.  The gray whiskers of his well-groomed goatee crinkling as he swished it around in his mouth, savoring the first taste.

I put on some jazz trumpet (Jerry had played trumped in the Army), poured myself a glass of Tullibardine, and toasted Uncle Jerry.  The sun dipped over the hills and turned the sky deep and red in a miraculous show of color.  Jerry would have enjoyed this night.  A good drink, good music, and family were the things that made him happy.

About Tullibardine

Founded in 1949, the distillery is located in the Perth & Kinross region of the Scottish Highlands.  It was mothballed in 1995, however stock of the vintage barrels remained in the warehouse and was purchased along with the distillery in 2003.  The new ownership began releasing these old barrels in various vintages.  Our bottle, pictured above, was distilled in 1988 and released in 2007 at 19-years of age.  The label reads "The 1988 is a fitting celebration of quincentennial of King James IV's coronation.  To mark that special event of 1488, King James purchased ale from Scotland's first ever brewery, a beer sprung from the same pure spring water that feeds the Tullibardine Distillery today."

Tasting Notes

Nose:  Very delicate, light, and perfumy.  This has riesling grapes, sandalwood, rose, lilac, and comes together very much like apple cider.

Body:  Soft but full in texture, the gentle years of oak fit beautifully into the floral bouquet.  White chocolate, honey, some of the signature leather oil that we find in well-aged scotch, more apples and sweet grapes.

Finish:  Very well balanced finish where the wood and spirit level off the little bursts of fruit and candy.  No smoke here at all, this is not a smoky beast but a lovely lady.  Lemon hard candy (the kind that comes in a circular tin with cursive script on it), vanilla latte, tiny explosions of black pepper and nutmeg.


Our senses are by definition subjective and sometimes it's difficult to separate taste from sentimentality.  That being said, this bottle was a perfect compliment to a wonderful evening.  Its light and delicate finish was great for a warm summer night.  The fruits and smooth wood were marvelously mellow and delicious.  Perhaps the fact that it had been sitting in the bottle three-quarters empty for some years increased the mellowness of the malt, but it was incredibly drinkable.  Have a slow sip with people you love, and take a moment to appreciate the finer things in life.


1 comment :

  1. I enjoy reading all the reviews on the site; they're humorous, exuberant and knowledgeable. And the graphics are first rate. But this one on Uncle Jerry's Dram was touching as well. I don't drink much hard liquor but friends are. And so on some special occasion I'm going to gift them with a Smoky Beast pick! Keep it up!