Tullibardine is one of our favourite distilleries and not only because the whisky is superb. The site is small and has a very open and traditional approach, allowing the visitor to get a real feel of a working distillery. When it comes to the tour experiences on offer, Nick and the team really are as good as it gets, informative, passionate and creative, I can guarantee that every member of the tour will leave this distillery with a greater knowledge appreciation and love of whisky, not to mention a warm glow from the extensive samples on offer.
The history of Tullibardine as a location for brewing and distilling is one of the oldest in Scotland. Located in Blackford, the gateway to the Highlands, it was here in 1488 that the young King James 4th of Scotland stopped by on his way to his coronation, to purchase beer from the local brewery. This is recorded as the first public purchase of beer. In 1503 the brewery received the first Royal Charter issued by James IV, in recognition of the fine beer produced at Tullibardine.
Although the easy access from the north and the south makes this the perfect location for distilling and brewing, the most important aspect is the plentiful supply of fresh, spring water from the surrounding Ochil Hills. These hills were formed more than 400 million years ago with layers of basalt and red sandstone, and are well known for the gold that was mined from them. The water that reaches the distillery has taken 15 years to reach the Danny Burn, which is the spring where we take our water from. This is the same water bottled by the renowned mineral water company, Highland Spring.
In 1947 William Delme Evans began converting the original brewery buildings that remained into a distillery, and in 1949 the first spirit was distilled at the newly named Tullibardine Distillery. The name in Gaelic means ‘lookout hill’, and was taken from the small medieval chapel built in 1446, which is close to the distillery.
In 1953 the distillery was sold to Brodie Hepburn, who were themselves later sold to Invergordon Distillers. For the next few decades production continued using the original two stills and maturing the spirit in sherry casks. In 1973 the capacity was increased with the addition of two more stills.
Recently Tullibardine began a new chapter in its history as in November 2011 the distillery was purchased by an independent family company already involved in the Whisky Industry. There is no doubt that the future of Tullibardine is in safe hands. With a wide portfolio of stock ranging back as far as 1952, Tullibardine is a lovely sweet, elegant and complex malt whisky.