In 2007, the World Whiskies Awards named Talisker 18 Year Old the “Best Single Malt Whisky in the World,” and 12 years later, I agree with that distinction. According to Diageo’s website dedicated to their single malt scotch brands, malts.com, Talisker 18 also won Gold in the International Spirits Challenge (2007-2008, 2011), Gold in the International Wine and Spirit Competition (2007-2008). At the San Francisco World Spirits Competition it won Silver (2005), Double Gold (2006), and Gold (2007-2008). Whatever your opinion on the validity of these competitions, it must be acknowledged that Talisker 18 year has quite the historical pedigree.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any official information on chill-filtering, coloring, or that much detail on the casks used beyond the label calling them “oak casks.” I love this whisky, and none of these details take away from my enjoyment of the flavor. However, it would be great if Diageo was a bit more transparent on their products.
Chill-filtered or not, this whisky is delicious. While I’m a big fan of Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition, Highland Park 18, and some other heavy hitting well matured peated scotches, nothing has been able to surpass Talisker 18 for me and my palate. The perfect balance of smoke, citrus, sweetness, pepper, and texture is remarkable every time I sip it.
I bought this bottle a little over a year ago for a special occasion and pretty much only open it around such occasions, though now it’s low enough that I need to finish it relatively soon. Instead of champagne on New Year’s, I poured Talisker 18, and that sip was every bit as mysterious, warming, and delightful as when I first opened the bottle.
Notes on Talisker 18 Year
- Distilled and matured at the Talisker Distillery on the island of Skye
- Cask type: unclear (likely a vatting of ex-sherry and ex-bourbon)
- Age: at least 18 years
- ABV: 45.8%
- Chill filtered? Yes. Coloring added? Probably.
Nose: Gentle but very nuanced. It has a welcoming honey sweetness paired with bright citrus – a mix of orange, lemon, and grapefruit influence. There’s a touch of sea salt, like the scent of breathing in a fresh sea breeze. A warm, soft smoke lingers in the background-reminiscent of pleasant pipe tobacco and campfire smoke. There’s also a sweet character which reminds me of sherry cask influence.
Palate: Amber colored and medium bodied, this whisky has a mouthfeel like melting chocolate – smooth, full, and silky. Honey sweetness and orange citrus pop at the front. The whisky warms up gently as sea salt flavors emerge and the characteristic black pepper shows up. A whiff of smoke drifts along throughout the experience, never overwhelming the other flavors, but ever present in the background.
Finish: The finish is long, lingering, and it demands another sip – leaving behind honey-citrus sweetness with billows of mellow pipe smoke finally appearing at the end. This one stays with you for a while and invites you to explore its depths afresh.
Buying Recommendation: Buy it now! This is about as close to perfect as a whisky gets. Everything the 10 year old does well is elevated and refined with the extra 8 years of age. It’s no secret that my tastes are partial to Talisker’s typical flavor profile, and this 18 year perfects that profile. This is my all time favorite whisky, and I’d be hard pressed to think of a runner up that even comes within a few points of it. My editor said perfect 100/100 scores don’t actually exist, so I’m putting it as close as possible!