Talisker 10, 2009 Release

Talisker 10
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. Continue reading

Talisker 25, 2004 Release

Talisker 25, 2004 ReleaseAfter yesterday’s somewhat disappointing Talisker 25 from the 2012 release here is a very different beast altogether. Released in 2004 this is at 57.8% and is not very tame indeed. It was the star of our local group’s tasting of older whiskies this past February and I’ve been drinking the rest of the bottle down at a steady clip. Time to review it before it’s all gone. And speaking of “all gone”, until recently it was possible to find this in the US for less than $200–those days are probably also all gone.

The label says this was a release of 21,000 bottles filled from refill casks. What kind of refill casks is not specified, but from past experience I’d wager there’s a fair bit of refill sherry in here.

Talisker 25, 2004 Release (57.8%; from my own bottle)

Nose: Brine and dry smoke and the characteristic Talisker pepper make the first impression. There’s a touch of gunpowder as well, savoury and sweet, and below that some citrus begins to uncoil: salted limes and also some apricot. Gets saltier as it sits. And as it sits the smoke turns sweeter (vanilla) and more minerally as well. With water the citrus and salt become much stronger and the smoke and pepper recede. Continue reading

Talisker 25, 2012 Release

Talisker 25, 2012 ReleaseA few years ago Diageo downgraded the respected Talisker 25 from cask strength to 45.8% (the standard Talisker strength). As you can imagine this was not a popular move among whisky geeks, especially as the price did not go down in the process. (The same thing happened to the Caol Ila 25.) As to whether this is a short/medium-term thing to address shortages of matured stock and to save enough casks to mature further for super-premium releases such as the recent Talisker 28, 1985 “Maritime Edition”, I don’t know.

There’s not much uncertainty, however, about the cask strength editions from 2004-2009. I’ve reviewed the 2009 edition here, and my review of the 2004 will be coming very soon. I have not tried the others yet–I have closed bottles of the 2007 and 2008 and a large sample of the 2006 in reserve–but these have all been very well received (all with average scores of 89 points or higher on Whiskybase). The 2001 release, which was the first, I think, is far above my pay grade but if you have a bottle and might be interested in a sample swap, please get in touch. As far as I know, no Talisker 25 was released in 2002 or 2003, and 2010 was skipped as well before the release of the first non-cs version in 2011. Continue reading

Talisker 5, 2008, “The Speakeasy” (Douglas Laing)

Talisker 5. The Speakeasy
This 5 yo Talisker is rather unusual. Both because it is very young and because it is almost as rare to see a Bengal tiger in the wild as it is to see an indie bottle of Talisker that is allowed to bear the distillery’s name. Dubbed “The Speakeasy” this is from the Laing warehouses and was bottled for K&L. I was unable to resist getting one for myself when they were announced. When I mentioned this on Twitter I was asked what on earth the appeal of this bottle could be and my response was that it was a combination of perverse curiosity and a desire to compare it with the Talisker 57 North, which is probably the youngest official Talisker. Frankly, I have no expectations of this whisky–I am a huge fan of Talisker and given how few opportunities we have to drink their malt the reasonable price on this made it hard for me to pass up.
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Talisker 25, 2009 Release

Talisker 25, 2009I have a sentimental connection to this edition of the Talisker 25, as a generous group of friends made a surprise 40th birthday gift of it to me a few years ago. It was the first older Talisker I’d ever had and the first older whisky from which I began to get an inkling of the effect of the variable of time on whisky made in more or less a similar manner at the same distillery. There is a very clear family resemblance between the Talisker 10, the Talisker 18 and the Talisker 25s (with the 18 usually containing the most sherry influence) and the Talisker 25 in many ways tastes like a much older version of the 10 yo. This may seem like a somewhat obvious thing to say, but distilleries don’t always present similar profiles between their entry-level and older expressions (see my recent review of the Laphroaig 25, 2009 ed., for example, or see the vast difference between the now discontinued Springbank 10 and the richly sherried Springbank 18). Another way to put this might be to say that if you are looking for a refined older statesman, this is not the 25 yo whisky to buy—it is certainly more elegant than the 10 yo but is still rough around the edges in the Talisker manner.
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Talisker 175

talisker175Having recently listed Talisker as one of my very favourite distilleries, I felt it was time to review one of their whiskies for the blog. And as I am all about untimely reviews, here is my take on this special vatting released to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the distillery in 2005.

I have to say that I do feel a little odd about listing Talisker as one of my five favourite distilleries (Laphroaig, Bowmore, Highland Park and Springbank are the others in my current top five). This because I’ve not really had very many Taliskers. There are almost no recent independent bottlings of Talisker around, and once you get out of the regular official rotation Talisker gets pretty expensive pretty fast. I’ve had a number of the 10 yo and 18 yo releases (though I can’t say I’ve noticed much variation over time), a couple of the Distiller’s Editions (which I am not crazy about), the cask strength 57 North, a few of the 25 yo’s and that’s pretty much it. (I have a 30 yo in reserve for a special occasion and a sample of the Manager’s Choice that I received in a swap.)
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