I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve not generally been a fan of Diageo’s “Distiller’s Edition” series which sees the standard expressions of their so-called “classic malts” finished for a period of a few months in some kind of wine cask or the other. Most of these are sherry finishes, but there are some exceptions (the Caol Ila 12 gets a moscatel finish and the Cragganmore 12 gets a port finish). The only one I’ve consistently liked a lot is the Lagavulin D.E, which is finished in sticky PX casks which play surprisingly well with the classic Lagavulin 16 notes. The Talisker D.E—finished in Amoroso sherry casks—I’ve been up and down on. I’ve liked some but with most have found the finish to cause the quintessential distillery character to regress to a sherried mean (which has also been my complaint with most of the others in the series).
At least that’s what I though it in my “younger” days as a whisky geek, when I was more inclined to religious positions in these matters. Let’s see what I make of it now (I haven’t had one of these in a while).
Talisker, Distiller’s Edition, 2000-2011 (45.8%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Raisins, salt, minerally peat and a bit of that characteristic prickly Talisker pepper. After a bit there’s some vanilla and some toffee and a bit of dried tangerine peel. With more time the sweeter notes mute the peat and pepper. With a couple of drops of water the vanilla and toffee (closer to shortbread now) become even more ascendant.
Palate: Pretty much as on the nose to begin. Starts out with the peat and then it gets sanded down by the sherry, though not as much as on the nose. More salt on the palate. With more time the peat picks up again and now here’s the pepper too (more black pepper than chilli pepper). The mouthfeel is rather thin. As sometimes happens, water improves the mouthfeel; it also brings out more of the pepper and peat: it’s more “Talisker” now.
Finish: Medium. The peat and pepper are the most pronounced here; gets even saltier as it goes. With water the peat expands further and there’s a mildly medicinal note to it now and also a bit of tar.
Comments: Pleasant, but neither fish nor fowl. The sherry doesn’t separate and everything is integrated well but it just doesn’t add up to anything terribly interesting. The sherry doesn’t really bring out any nuance. I liked it better with water.
Rating: 83 points.
Thanks to Jordan for the sample!