Talisker's hard, mineral-like peat is totally unique, and it melds beautifully with the dark purple fruit and sweet honeyed malt notes in this whisky. The maritime influence (brine) is restrained and complementary.
Quality control at Talisker seems to be worsening. I and several others have experienced bottles of the 10 year that are much rougher and saltier than the bottle that this review is from.
From an outside perspective (at least for this American), there’s something serene and poetic about the Talisker distillery. A solitary fortress…er, distillery sitting atop sea-battered cliffs on the lonely isle of Skye. Storms batter the little island while pot stills boil, steam rises from the smokestack into the damp sky, and thousands of casks of stock sit patiently in dark warehouses filled with maritime air.
Back to reality, Talisker has been around since the mid-19th century. It sits in the town of Carbost on the isle of Skye, a ways north of Islay and just off the coast of the west Scottish highlands. Talisker peats all of its barley to a moderate level of 18-25 ppm, and ages all of its casks in low warehouses on the island right next to the sea. I’d encourage you to read more about Talisker’s distilling process here. Talisker is currently owned by spirits behemoth Diageo. A small portion of it is used in different blended whiskies, but the vast majority of Talisker goes into the distillery’s single malt portfolio, which includes the 10 and 18 year, a few NAS bottlings, and some much rarer older age stated bottlings.
- Bottled at a peculiar-to-Talisker 45.8% ABV.
- Zero information to be found about chill filtering or caramel coloring (thanks Diageo). My guess is that it is both chill filtered and colored.
- A vatting of predominantly ex-bourbon casks, with some sherry casks.
Nose: A mineral peatiness and campfire smoke up front, with some maltiness, dark citrus, and raisin. Flecked with a pervasive brininess that rather than overpowering (like in Laphroaig) sits fairly subdued in the background.
Palate: Dark fruits and clean mineral peat intertwine in a beautiful tandem. The fruit is reminiscent of candied plums and dark red cherries. There’s such great balance between the peat and fruits here, with some honey and sea salt in the background. Crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel.
Finish: Warming, with lingering notes of peat and sea salt, citrus, and a creamy honeyed sweetness. This finish is very long.
Buying Recommendation: Buy it now! There’s nothing like Talisker. It is a category all by itself. I love a craft presentation, but it doesn’t matter here. This whisky may be chill filtered and reinforced with a ‘lil fake coloring, but its damn good. Talisker will always have a spot on my shelf, and deserves a spot on your too.
At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:
1-49: Varying degrees of bad
60-69: Better than average
90+: Truly Exceptional
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