After yesterday’s somewhat disappointing Talisker 25 from the 2012 release here is a very different beast altogether. Released in 2004 this is at 57.8% and is not very tame indeed. It was the star of our local group’s tasting of older whiskies this past February and I’ve been drinking the rest of the bottle down at a steady clip. Time to review it before it’s all gone. And speaking of “all gone”, until recently it was possible to find this in the US for less than $200–those days are probably also all gone.
The label says this was a release of 21,000 bottles filled from refill casks. What kind of refill casks is not specified, but from past experience I’d wager there’s a fair bit of refill sherry in here.
Talisker 25, 2004 Release (57.8%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Brine and dry smoke and the characteristic Talisker pepper make the first impression. There’s a touch of gunpowder as well, savoury and sweet, and below that some citrus begins to uncoil: salted limes and also some apricot. Gets saltier as it sits. And as it sits the smoke turns sweeter (vanilla) and more minerally as well. With water the citrus and salt become much stronger and the smoke and pepper recede.
Palate: Starts out sweet but then the pepper and peat arrive with a bang and get quite intense. There’s a bit of rubber too–wait, make that leather. Much more salt on subsequent sips and that leathery note expands, slightly tannic, slightly bitter. With time the lime from the nose shows up and it’s lime peel here, bitter and oily and intense. With more time there’s a bit of orange peel in there too. Okay, time to add water. Water brings out more sweetness and ties everything together quite nicely.
Finish: Long. The leathery, peppery sweetness hangs around for a long, long time. Gets fairly sooty as it goes. With time the citrus peel leaves its traces as well. With water there’s more orange in the finish.
Comments: This kicks the 2012 release’s ass up and down the street. And I think I like it just a little bit more than the 2009 release as well. It starts out brash but then develops complexity bordering on refinement (but with the brashness always visible out of the corner of the eye). This is the 25 yo profile that fans of Talisker expect–please may it return some day, and not at a prohibitive price (a man can dream).
Rating: 90 points.