Peat Week continues. On Monday I reviewed a 23 yo Ledaig bottled under the Old Malt Cask label for K&L in California. I quite liked that one—a mellower take on the usually brash Ledaig profile. Today I have a review of a whisky less than half the age of that one, distilled on another island in the Inner Hebrides, this time Skye. And it’s something you don’t see every day: an independent release of Talisker that bears the name of the distillery openly on the label. Or at least you didn’t used to see it openly back in the day—has Diageo loosened things up a bit now? This was distilled in 2009 and bottled in 2020 under the Old Particular label, which like OMC, is owned by one or the other of the Laing outfits. It is from a single refill hogshead and so it’s an opportunity to try a 10 yo Talisker that should be somewhat different from the distillery’s standard-bearer 10 yo, which has at least some sherry component. Let’s see what it’s like.
Talisker 10, 2009 (48.4%; Old Particular; refill hogshead DL 14410; from a sample from a friend)
Nose: More than a little rubbery off the top and there’s some roasted malt under that. Salt expands with each sniff and there’s a mineral oil sweetness as well. More char as it sits but the rubber never quite goes away. Water pushes the rubbery peat back and brings out more of the malt (milky cocoa in there now) and some citrus (citronella)
Palate: Comes in sweet and oily (both texture and flavour); the smoke is more restrained here and there’s none of the rubber, really. With time it begins to get a little bitter (a mix of soot and olive oil) and there’s a bit of lemon rind as well. Okay, let’s see what water does. It pushes back the bitter notes and pulls out some hot tarmac and wet stones to go with the soot.
Finish: Long. The oily, peppery, sooty notes continue. No new development. The bitterness shows up here too with time—a cheap olive oil quality to it. As on the palate with water; the citrus pops up again at the end and the soot expands too.
Comments: Well, this is fine; nothing special but fine—and I liked it better with some water added. Blind I would not have picked it as a Talisker—I don’t seem to get any of the characteristic chilli pepper. A good profile for people who like smoke but don’t like it to be too phenolic.
Rating: 85 points. (Pulled up by water.)
Thanks to Pat for the sample!