Whisky Review: Talisker Aged 15 Years Diageo Special Release 2019

Style: Sweet, Woody and Spicy

Nose:
Wood shavings and fat toffee melding with iodine and oysters, got to say it is a curious combination, but it works out pretty well, not sure if it is everybody’s cup of tea though. Chilli spike, then in comes assorted dried fruits, mostly tropical, decorated with wood varnish, acrylic, paprika and plenty of signature white pepper. As the sweetness slowly retreats, the tone becomes increasingly maritime – mineral notes, moss and limestone at the bottom. Some sour, green fruits tugged at the back, quite nice.

Palate:
The virgin oak continues to be quite outspoken and controls the palate – pencil shavings, cinnamon sugar, caramel, coffee jelly and dried paint. Tropical fruits, crystalized pineapple and mangoes unwinding overtime just as the woody side begins to dissipate. Maritime and smoky notes remain quite soft, sea rocks and unshucked oysters with a bit of damp moss, seasoned with abundant pepper and dried chilli. The vanillic oak sweetness staying till the end.

Finish:
Fragrance of toasted oak lingering in the air, cinnamon sugar dusted on dark cherries and peaches. A satisfyingly sweet and woody finish.

Thoughts:
This is a Talisker driven by virgin oak/ freshly charred cask, at least for me, this is a new and entertaining experience on this much beloved distillery. The caramelised wood component is the main character while the maritime, peppery spirit steps back to play a more supportive role. It seems there is no buzzing synergy between them like some other distillates do with virgin oak (like Yoichi), but the expression is steady, coherent with intensity. Not my favourite Talisker but it is still a very decent one.

☆ [Recommended]

[57.3% | Original Bottling | Natural Cask Strength | Limited Edition | *-]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Talisker Aged 8 Years Special Release 2018

Style: Sweet and Smoky

Nose:

Barbeque bacon served with sweet naval orange twists. Confectioneries, iodine, mineral and maritime notes at the second level. Bonfire smoke, roasted almonds and lemon-brine riding on fresh chilli spice. Vibrant, tidy, clean as a whistle.

Palate:

Massive citrus sweetness soars in magnificently on the palate, which then transmutes into smoked macadamias and almonds. Followed by charred notes, limoncello, baked ham hugging closely to form a rich and delicious core. White pepper sprinkles, Aloe Vera, honey and vanilla treading softly at its tail. Very, very nice.

Finish:

Orange-lemon sweetness softens with hints of dying smoke. Sweet Aloe Vera and subtle seaweed to finish.

Thoughts:

Sweet, vibrant and beautifully-layered, what else can you ask for from this young little gem? The tasting note is relatively short, not because it is too simple/one dimensional, instead, it is because the structure is so tidy, compact and focused that you don’t need extra words to describe how good this is. So young but already so composed, gosh, I love my Taliskers but this is certainly one of the highlights.

☆☆[Highly Recommended]

[59.4% | Original Bottling | Limited Release | 2018 Bottled | Cask Strength | **-]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Cask of Distinction Talisker Select Cask Aged 27 Years Exclusively Bottled for The Whisky Big Nose (Cask No. 2088)

[58.3%・27 Years Old・Distilled in 1991・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Cask No. 2088・Single Cask Release of 240 Bottles]

Nose:

The dram comes across as being especially brine-y and smoky, wood smoke from smoking rock salt rubbed bacon, an explicit dose of barbecue rub along with the oak staves. Mushed dark fruits and figs hang in the background.

Palate & Finish:

The palate packs a powerful punch from the condensed syrupy dark fruits, quite spicy as the poached figs run into squid ink and ashes. A chewy wet oak note arrives with ground pepper later on.

A seaweed-y and woody finish with the brown sugar evening out the tingling spices..

Thoughts:

This Talisker has been selected by the famed Keeper of the Quaich Mr. Steven “The Whisky Big Nose” Lin, at 27 years old and finished in a hogshead, the nosing of the dram is indeed quite distinctive and there is a certain masculine bruteness to it. I imagine this would pair quite well indeed with a heavier style cuisine.

✓ [Recommended if you like the distillery/style]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Talisker 12 Years Old (Bottled Circa 1980s)

[43.0%・12 Years Old・Bottled Circa 1980s・Official Bottling・General Release]

Nose:

Quite a bit more creamier with more Sherry influence than the current batches of Talisker entry level expressions, lovely submersion into citrus and malted barley, with sea salt and seaweed sweeping across.  Wet sand, burnt sugar and dried twigs, the ocean saltiness and minerals become more prominent to present an authentic picture of the unrefined nature of cold water hitting the Isle coast.

Palate & Finish:

Such a stupendously sweet drop, honey, toffee and marzipan sprinkled with sea salt as the peat slowly sips out to lend a bitter edge, the mid-palate boosts a slightly rougher texture, with pepper and coffee ground particularly prominent.

There is a certain dirtiness at the back end, a relaxed layer with some infusions of dried fruits and dark chocolate.

Thoughts:

Well, what can I say, this is not how I thought a Talisker would be, a really enjoyable transition of such condensed sweetness on the front palate to a more masculine, maritime, peat infused presence.

☆ [Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Talisker Aged 20 Years 1982 (Bottled in 2003)

[58.8%・20 Years Old・Distilled in 1982・Bottled in 2003・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 12,000 Bottles]

Nose:

The nose sets a powerful maritime theme, fish sauce in a good aromatic manner with clean minerals as the oak presses lightly. Barbecue smoke sipping out in time and is seasoned by black pepper and lime twist.

Palate & Finish:

Quite syrupy and slightly citrus but at the same time the saltiness is well conveyed as the peat comes out, freshly shucked oysters giving that creaminess which gets dressed with pepper and dry herbs. English toffee slowly surfaces as some subtle ripe fruits also reveal themselves.

Quite a satisfying finish as the toffee fades away, washing up crisp malt, dried ginger, wood and sea salt & pepper.

Thoughts:

Maritime encapsulated. The 2002 version is magic and this is exceptionally good too.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Talisker The Bodega Series Aged 40 Years

[50.0%・Bottled In 2018・40 Years Old・Original Bottling・Limited Release of 2,000 Bottles]

Nose:

Fairly diligently woody that’s perhaps slightly on the damp side. Dark fruits faintly lingering in the background with the cherries giving a brightness that gels well with the wood. There are hints of plastic and pepper as the ripe fruits and berries continue to build on the oak, aged dried lemon peels subtly land on the pine wood, evoking a musky vibe from a well aged fortified cask. In the background a very soft layer of sea salt and barley with a vague umami note as this barely noticeable smoke draw out some cinnamon scroll.

Palate & Finish:

The Amontillado casks have presumably gift this brightness of passion fruit, sultana, elderflower and dried mango slices as the oak and faint smoke reach out to apply for a brush of tannin led bitterness. Pepper dancing as the creamy Sherry moves in together with some dark honey.

The fine strokes of smoke and barley tenderly elongate the tail with traces of brine and dried peat marrying hint of passion fruit.

Thoughts:

The whisky had been finished for a few months in a 40 year old plus Amontillado cask. Now there seems to be a common narrative that “finishing is cheating” and the sole purpose of finishing is to fix a poor whisky, in many cases common wisdom would prevail; but for me, as an exception this has been beautifully edited despite lacking this certain natural vulnerability some aged whiskies possess.

The pasting of the aged Sherry layer over the base whisky really adds to the depth and elevates what I would have imagined would be an otherwise flawless whisky.

Simply put, this works.

Thank you Ricky for sharing this dram with us.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Talisker Aged 25 Years 2007 Edition

Style: Dignified Fruits, Smoky and Vibrant

Nose:
A silky sherry veil wrapping around deliciously baked tropical fruits gently. Grains of sea salt and black pepper sprinkled into the mix, lemon myrtle and spearmint streamlined and embedded at the core. Raspberry sorbet, coconut milk and subdued tarry smoke flickering at the back. Harmonious aroma but at the same time it is rather bright and vibrant.

Palate:
Delicate sherry impressions trotting at the front, leading a dazzling collection of fragrant, overripe fruits. Nectar, sauternes gently simmering, faint sea waves, light peat smoke swaying into the fray. The tone is set here – all sweet and calm with the slightest smoke. Spices giving a small pinch, copper, while white pepper dusted wood shavings accumulating at the back. Very good.

Finish:
More stewed fruits, notably peaches with bits of green mint dressing on top. A thin line of amber smoke lingers till the end.

Thoughts:
Such an elegant Talisker, despite bottled at a staggering 58.1%. Time has worked its magic on this – all the elements are softened, integrated and masterfully orchestrated. Very true to its house style, and meanwhile you are promised a never-ending journey of fruitiness with smoky and maritime notes loosely lacing around it. The high abv might be rough to adapt for some, but it also conducts a powerful vibrant tone at this strength. Complex and delicious. A perfect cask-strength nightcap for me.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[58.1% • Distillery Bottling • 2007 Bottled • Cask Strength • Limited Edition • Non Coloured • Non Chill Filtered • Bottle Number: 6464 • 6894 Bottles • **]

-Esmond

 

Whisky Review: Talisker Aged 10 Years

Style: Fruity, Smoky and Complex

Nose:

Caramel sauce drizzling onto tropical fruits. A small piece of waxy honeycomb, peat smoke and a subtle note of sea spray. Plenty of white pepper floating around, wood chips, red liquorice at the back giving a decent depth. Complex and integrated aroma, very nice.

Palate:

Tropical fruits, coconut shreds and oranges highlighted by peat smoked toffee. Reeling white pepper spice surfing in, whilst copper tone hidden in between sea waves. Strawberry daiquiri, herbal liquorice, lightly toasted oak with the faintest touch of spent coffee. More sea breeze wavering in the background. Finishes with a weighty stroke of mineral peat.

Finish:

More toffee orchard fruits, bon fire smoke lingers with delicate stewed tropical fruits.

Thoughts:

All elements delivered at perfect weight: Fruits, peat, sea breeze and toffee malt weaving together charmingly to paint a beautiful picture of the Isle of Skye. The complexity and completeness of this whisky is almost mind-boggling – for a standard range whisky (which implies a huge, huge batch for the product) to maintain such a high quality and consistency is almost unimaginable. Breathtaking drop. Very, very close to 2 stars.

☆ [Recommended]

[45.8% • Original Bottling • General Release • Circa 2015]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Talisker 1977 Aged 35 Years Special Release 2012

Style: Bright and complex

Nose:

Delicate stewed tropical fruits sprinkled with supple white pepper spices. Briny peat, a delicate, continuous copper undertone which is nicely protected by an emphatic layer of honey wax. Zippy lemon and orange drop shaping up beautifully, a touch of sour blackberry, sparkling vanilla sugar granules at the back. 

Palate:

Delicious orange bitters leading the line, herbal liquor, black liquorice, polished brass and dignified oak marching on the wings. Ultra-cooked tropical fruits thoroughly dusted with white pepper. Naval oranges, lemon candy, sweetness beautifully honed, all layers intertwined and braiding up a complex spiral string of expression… Finish with vanilla sugar and dry barley notes. 

Finish:

A soft and deeper tone on finish. Chocolate, peppermint mist, dry barley and earthy, maritime peat.

Thoughts:

A modern-legend bottling, and rightly so. Perfect illustration of how a spirit can be magnificently sculptured by time, alongside with great blending skills. Radiating sweetness, elements of Talisker entwined and delivered with perfect balance, near-endless complexities, my favourite Talisker I have tried so far, no doubt. Not a perfect whisky (which I am starting to question if it exists), but it is a small step above some of the best whiskies I had, a step ahead enough for me to give my first 3 stars whisky. Most recommended.

☆ [Most Recommended] 

[54.6% • 1977 Distilled • 2012 Bottled • Original Bottling • Limited Release • 865 of 3090 Bottles • Non Chill Filtered • Matured in refill American and European oak casks • ***]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Talisker Neist Point

Style: Sweet and Smoky

Nose:
Warm, rich almonds with a touch of signature meatiness on the nose. Subtle, dry maritime minerals clinging on the wave of vanilla meringue which is lightly smoked by the peat. Sweet plums painted with caramel sauce, dry black pepper crackling gently. Pleasantly balanced aroma.

Palate:
Sea breeze riding more on the forefront and link with fruity crème brulee on the palate. More sweet plums. Apricots and ester fruits sitting on top, menthol covering the dry spices and mineral notes hanging on the lower branches. The maritime back bone extends all the way to give a delicate depth. Thinned caramel sauce and almond blossoms with peat smoke, flickering gently towards the end.

Finish:
Silky, waning sweetness, very solid smoked almonds humming towards the end. Faint fruity peat, soft and tantalizing.

Thoughts:
Sweetness? Tick. Richness? Tick. Balance? Tick. Complexity? Tick. Strength? Tick. As if Talisker Neist Point is trying to prove a point for NAS here, and it certainly did. Delicate yet rich and charming. I can easily get a case here and drink this every night for a while. One of the gems you can pick up in the travel retail exclusive category. Quality dram.

☆ (Recommended)

[45.8% • 2015 • Original Bottling • No Age Statement • Travel Retail Exclusive • Limited Edition]

-Esmond