This week of reviews of official Taliskers began on Monday with a 9 yo hand-fill cask that was available at the distillery in 2022. It was matured in “rejuvenated” red wine casks. I did not like that one at all. It continued yesterday with the 2021 release of the classic 10 yo. I liked that quite a bit more than the 9 yo, though not as much as I had earlier releases. Today I have for you a review of an 11 yo that was also released in 2022, albeit in much wider release than the distillery hand-fill. This was part of Diageo’s Special Release slate for 2022. All their Special Release bottles now seem to have some sort of animal imagery on their labels and this Talisker is no different. It sports a psychedelic cephalopod on the front and a fair bit of marketing malarkey on the back. The important things to know are that this was put together from first-fill bourbon casks and was bottled at 55.1%. In the US the average price being asked for this—as per WineSearcher—is $144. Not surprisingly, there’s still a fair bit of it about. And not just in the US. The Incheon airport duty free stores had lots of it a couple of weeks ago (along with lots of most of the rest of the 2022 Special Release). I can only hope Diageo is having a tough time flogging these overpriced whiskies. That’s not to say that the whisky itself is not good. I opened this bottle right after buying it (for quite a bit less than $144) and liked it very much from the get-go. Here now are my notes.
Talisker 11, Special Release 2022 (55.1%; first-fill bourbon casks; from my own bottle)
Nose: A very Longrow’ish mix of peppery, sooty peat, lemon, pepper, brine and almond oil. As it sits, a bit of vanilla emerges—but just a bit. With time the vanilla turns to cream and there’s a light berry sweetness as well. With a few drops of water there’s a fair bit of malt and cream, with smoke running through it all.
Palate: Comes in as indicated by the nose but with the almond oil emphasized. Quite approachable at full strength, with mouth-coating texture. The lemon expands as it sits but the almond oil is right there with it. Some mineral tartness with time (disprin, limestone). Okay, let’s see what water does for it. Ah yes, it melds the lemon and the smoke and the salt together very nicely.
Finish: Long. Gets more peppery (think a phenolic olive oil) as it goes. With time there’s quite a bit of salt (crystals). As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is very nice and very much in a Longrow-Kilkerran vein of mild peat integrated with lemon and more austere notes. Considering the price asked for Monday’s distillery hand-fill disaster, this almost begins to appear a good value. Ah well, at least it makes clear that there’s still very good whisky being made at Talisker. If only they’d release more of it in this vein and at a more reasonable price.
Rating: 88 points.
I liked this too, particularly at the price I paid for a 20cl bottle while visiting the UK. More costly per cl but enough for my needs and some money to spare for the same sized Laguvulin in the series. I hope Diageo brings those small bottles to the US.
Based on my limited observations, these Special Release bottles are not flying off the shelves. As I say, Incheon’s duty free had lots of this and also of most of the others. At the prices being asked, that’s not a surprise. As per Winesearcher, the average price in the US for the Lagavulin 12 is now $188. To think that there was a time when Astor in NYC regularly sold it for $49!
I opted for a bottle of the Oban SR over this one…haven’t cracked it yet, but regretting I didn’t get this instead. I generally like Oban 14, so I’m optimistic…but. I have this weird aversion to buying more than one SR a year, as a small personal boycott of the price increases. Silly, I know…as I still buy one.
Just purchased a bottle. Looking forward to trying it. Thanks for the review!