The Talisker 10 is an all-time classic and one of my favourite whiskies…except I don’t think I’ve had it in more than a couple of years (as per my spreadsheet, not since October 2010 but that seems unlikely). Word on the street is that its quality may have slipped. As always with Diageo, it is hard to separate dislike of the giant global conglomerate and its practices from one’s feelings about individual products. At any rate, I can’t judge potential decline here as this (recently opened) bottle is from 2009 which is probably from before the narrative of decline kicks in.
Talisker 10 (45.8%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Hot tarmac and then a sweet, slightly rubbery note transitioning to minerally peat. Quite a bit of salt too after a minute and some fruit lurking below (dried orange peel, a bit of apricot). And shiver my timbers if I’m not also getting some of those floral, quasi-mezcal’ish notes I got on the nose of the Speakeasy. Those notes go away with time though. Water softens the nose a bit, pushing the salt back and pulling out some vanilla. With more time there’s some gunpowder/rock salt too.
Palate: Leads with the minerally peat followed by some dry smoke and a truck load of salt. Some sweetness in there too but it doesn’t register very well on the first sip. On the second sip the sweetness is stony/minerally and mixed in with the smoke and a touch of gunpowder. And here’s the trademark pepper (not so much red chilli as Sichuan peppercorn). Some citrus emerges with time. Let’s see if water pulls out more. Yes, it does (lemon) along with more smoke and, as on the nose, it also pushes back the salt. Gets smokier as it goes.
Finish: Long. The peat and the salt are the main players, with the peat and some coal smoke lingering after the salt calms down. Still quite salty here with water, but there’s less peat now than pepper. Still, there’s quite a bit of smoke on the sides of tongue well after the swallow.
Comments: Just as good as I remember it being. Also, saltier than I remember it being. Massive bite at 45.8%–at cask strength this would be a true monster. I liked it better with water.
Rating: 87 points.