This was the first release of Talisker 25 that was not at cask strength. Of the cask strength versions I have previously reviewed the 2004 and 2009 editions and of the non-cask strength versions I have reviewed the 2012 edition. The 2012, I was sorry to say, did not match up at all to its cask strength predecessors. The complexity and depth and development of those whiskies was absent and nor was there much to separate it clearly from its younger siblings in the regular Talisker lineup. This, I am hoping and expecting, will be a different story. Hoping, because I purchased a full bottle; expecting, because Serge V. gave this a very high score when it came out and it did really well at my local group’s last tasting (I did not drink at that tasting myself as my nose and palate were completely knocked out at the time). Anyway, let’s be done with the suspense and get right to it.
Talisker 25, 2011 Release (45.8%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Damp sackcloth, minerally peat and pepper off the top; dried orange peel below all of that. Gets a little sweeter as it sits (almond oil, a bit of vanilla). With more time there’s some brine and some lemon. Water emphasizes the lemon and the salt and the minerally peat becomes more leathery.
Palate: Starts out much smokier (damp coals) with pepper and salt crystals. As on the palate gets a bit sweeter with each sip and then the salt really expands (some green olive brine and oyster liquor in there too). Doesn’t taste underpowered and the mouthfeel is nice too. With more time the orange peel shows up here as well. More acidic with water and more integrated but also less interesting.
Finish: Long, Nothing new here: the coal smoke, pepper and brine ease out together. Sharper here too with water.
Comments: This is really very nice and quite a bit better than the 2012 edition. If newer editions have returned to this level that will be a good thing. That said, it too lacks the complexity of its earlier cask strength incarnations. For less than $200 this would be a good deal but good luck finding the current 25 yo for that price in the US.
Rating: 88 points.