Distillery/Brand: Talisker | Region: Islands | ABV: 56.1% | Color: Pale Straw
Nose: 22 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 88
Diageo has come up with this marketing gimmick designed to bankrupt the average whisky fan. It’s called the Special Release. Every year they release a series of expressions from their portfolio which are increasingly being priced beyond the realm of ridiculousness.
Sure there are a couple of average priced malts in there but by and large expect to take out a second mortgage if you’re planning to procure the lot.
The 2013 Special Release included, among others, a 35 year old Brora (£750), a 34 year old Port Ellen (£1500), a 37 year old Lagavulin (£1950) and this, the dram in my hand, a 27 year old Talisker distilled in 1985 priced at a reasonable £475.
Now I’m not the one to harp on about price because frankly this is a whisky review site and I feel I should stick to reviewing whiskies instead of prices. But I’d like to take a little exception here.
Now don’t get me wrong. This is quite a solid bit of craftsmanship; as you would expect from Talisker. Their Port Ruighe and Storm series notwithstanding this distillery knows it’s strong suit and plays it beautifully.
I refer to the lovely 10 year old, the 57 North, the 18 and the Distillers’ Edition. That means there is no way they were gonna screw this one up. I mean it’s been maturing for 27 years for peats sake. That’s a lot of equity to mess up.
Now this is where I have a problem. This tastes almost exactly like the 57 North or a high strength 18 or a slightly more sophisticated 10. I know I shouldn’t expect a radical new profile but paying close to £500 for something that tastes exactly like something that costs £80 can be a bit disappointing.
That being said this is a very nice single malt. Matured for 27 years in refill American Oak this has been bottled at a cask strength of 56.1%
Nose: Lime. Mild peat. Wisp of smoke. Black pepper. Hint of iodine. Mild chocolate. Understated ash. Cardboard. Wood shavings. Fresh grass. Coconut. Crisp citrusy aromas that stay on point.
Palate: Controlled lime. Lemon. White pepper. Black pepper. Chocolate. Nuts. Green apples. Pears. Crisp peat. Sugarcane. Raisins. Quite an intense delivery with the spices in full force. The sweetness takes a while to come through. Still quite nice though tends to taper towards a slight bitterness mid-palate.
Finish: Long. White pepper. Oily. Woody. Spices.
A very nice whisky which doesn’t seem like it emerged with even a bit of lethargy after 27 years in hibernation. Though, if you want to know what it tastes like I suggest grabbing a bottle of the 57 North.
Colour: Pale Straw
Ah, yes! Finally some real flavors to sink my teeth into. I had been holding off this classic for a while choosing, instead, to sample some of their newer expressions like the Storm & Port Ruighe, before turning my attention to this gem. While the new expressions from the Skye distillery are doing it no good it’s the classics like this 18 year old that keep the faith alive.
The nose is truly a work of art. First the classic peaty smoke but so distinctly understated. Confident in it’s maturity. The salty pineapple citrus is next coupled with a refined lemon-lime toffee tartness. And finally a whiff of fresh cucumber sprinkled with the loveliest of white pepper. Oh, yes. This is what I had been waiting for!
The creamy mouthfeel is laced with intense black peppers but then mellows out to give you honey, lemon and chocolate with a dash of tobacco.
The long peppery finish is fruity with a hint of limestone.
These are the classic flavors that made Talisker one of my top distilleries and this expression should be on your list of malts to try before you die.
Colour: Old Gold
One has come to expect, and quite fairly, good things from Talisker. The standard 10, the lovely 18 and the delicious 57 North are the reasons for that. So, as a fan, it’s disappointing to try hard and eke out positives from their last two No Age Statements; Storm & Port Ruighe. And this is what I think about the latter.
The nose has the reassuring and familiar sea salty dampness that one expects from all malts from Skye. There is then a healthy ladle of meat stew with thick chunks of sausage sprinkled liberally with fiery black peppercorns. Cold cuts on the side are accompanied by a bowlful of pomegranate and raisins. I quite like it which makes the delivery that much more disappointing.
You are greeted with an unbalanced palate of caramel, molasses, spicy clove mixed with cherry syrup and a stick of licorice on a bed of mild peat. It has all the ingredients to make this a cracker but I think the spirit weighs far too heavy on the spicier notes not allowing the gentler sweeter profiles to come through. Plus there is a nagging bitterness in there some where which is hard to catch.
The lingering, spicy finish also retains that irksome bitterness.
I really wanted this to blow me away. Instead it chose to remain borderline average.
Talisker is one of my favorite distilleries and the ten year old is literally one of the reasons why.
The smooth nose on this Island malt is a thing of beauty. Light, fresh and delicate it first permeates your nostrils with a gorgeous lemon tart on a bed of sponge cake. Stuck to the buttery surface of the sponge cake are chopped nuts and the most delicate of light purple flower petals. Balancing all these is the unmistakable salty smoke bringing with it a touch of iodine. I could enjoy this for hours.
The multitude of flavors on the nose continue their march on the palate. The delivery starts of beautifully honeyed followed by the spiciness of the black pepper and small sticks of cinnamon and with it a touch of nutty citrus. As your palate enjoys the interplay between spicy and sweet the gorgeous salty charcoal smoke comes through reminding you of an early afternoon barbecue.
The long dry finish is a perfect finalé to this outstanding Skye malt.
Rating : 94