“Yeah, I’m a peat head. Islay’s are great!”
That’s probably something I would have said back in the day when I was ignorant of where whiskies come from and the fact that anyone could use peat regardless of where they live didn’t cross my mind. However here we are, weeks past that point, and I know of other places using peat regardless of what islay they are on… ahem, island they are on.
Take the Isle of Skye, for instance. It’s beautiful, based on what people I’ve talked to have told me and showed me in pictures. It’s also home, they are quick to tell me, of a distillery (more than one now, with Isle of Skye and Torabhaig being there but this is a few years ago and they are excited to tell me so I try not to be a dick in correcting anyone).
Also is Isle of Skye a distiller or no? I feel like I’ve been corrected on that but can’t remember.
Enter Talisker, a briny distillery also known for their smoky whiskies. I don’t have that many Taliskers, as they don’t make their way out into the independent bottlers too often. And that makes them a bit of a rarity to me. A fun, sometimes dram if you will.
So today is special because I was able to review not 1, but three different Taliskers, each one showing a different side to the distillery. Will I get hung up on the novelty o something I don’t normally have? Let’s see, shall we?
Talisker Breath of the Isles 11 2007 is an 11-year-old whisky from an undisclosed distillery. That said, it’s been rumoured it’s from Talisker. And the idea that this is the first IB Talisker I’ve ever bought (well, split) makes me excited, so I included it here.
Price: €85.90 in Germany
Cask type: Refill Sherry Butt
Number of bottles: 662
Colour: 5Y 7/8
Nose: Pineapple, nori, grassy, apple, cloves
Tart and tropical on the nose. Some well-developed brine. I can see where the rumours are coming from. Granted I was also the target of rumours in high school and only half of those were correct.
Water opens up some spice and apple, bit of grassy notes to round it all out.
Taste: Cocoa, butter, pineapple, brown butter, lemon, apple, banana
Fruity, buttery, and acidic… I mean, I’m thinking pie, and not just because I love pie and typically love pie. No here it’s coming together as a baked good. The banana and cocoa are a bit odd, but pie is like being in an orgy: Don’t be picky.
Finish: Brine, peach, cocoa, smoke, cinnamon, apple
And we finish with similar, if simpler/less complex components of an apple pie, as before. Think McDonald’s now instead of Grandma.
Conclusion: A good apple pie dram. Spices, good mealy/acidity, grows beyond that but I keep coming back to apple pie, given the buttery notes mixed with the fruit.
Weakside is the finish, overall this is an easy whisky to pick up. Packs a good punch, grows beyond its age, and has a lovely acidity to even it all out.
Now to add chocolate to an apple pie. For science.
Thanks to /u/smoked_herring for this dram.
Talisker 8 Special Release 2018
Price: $110 CAD at the SAQ
Cask Type: First Fill Ex-Bourbon Hogsheads
Number of bottles: 4680
Colour: 5Y 8/10
Nose: Brine, butter, rich pear syrup… then with water, there’s tahini and pineapple
Pretty standard, if strong as heck Talisker. Really takes to water well though, giving you a fruity/seed note going on. Good mixture of savoury and sweet here… as long as you added water.
Taste: Brine, marzipan, sunflower… then with water, floral funk and caramel
Some nuttiness, and some salt. Young. Bit of complexity with a rich almond note.
And then with water, you get more floral funky elements and some simpler caramel aspects. Quite nice, better with water.
Finish: Brine, asparagus, bitter apple… then with water, grass, rich cherry, buttery
Salt, vegetal/acidic/nutty, and some strong bitter/mealy notes.
Not to sound like a broken record, however, after water you get rich red fruits, butter/fat, and a grassiness.
Conclusion: Have you not been reading? This soars with water. It needs water. It’s a lot better with water. I’m not saying that cask strength is BS and all, however, there are some whiskies that need water. And this is one of them. With water, it punches above the age statement.
This is a pretty solid whisky. It’s too bad it went nuts on the secondary, as I think it’s up there with Lagavulin 8. Show me some more high strength young peated whiskies and don’t let the tatters buy them all up next time.
Thanks to /u/raunchyjowls for the dram.
Price: € 45
Colour: 10YR 5/8
Nose: Butter, brine, canned pears, roast beef
Lighter. Granted the last two Taliskers before this were full-on cask strength and this is the entry-level, made-for-people-who-alcohol-hurts version so perhaps that’s not fair.
Salt, some sugary pears, and some meatiness. Not bad on the nose, though you really gotta get in there.
Taste: Brine, caramel, pear, lemon candy, smoke
Lighter, less developed smoke. Really smoke is the last thing here, it’s mostly salty. Simple too. Salt is what’s making it different, otherwise, it’s a very standard Scotch.
Finish: Caramel, brine, pear, roast cauliflower, grass
The finish has more of the same. Even less smoke, more vegetal/grass/earth going on but leaves pretty quickly. Kinda like all those people who were in the park when I had that coughing fit.
Conclusion: Caramel, salt, pretty light and earthy. It’s the entry vatting and it shows. You don’t really get the main idea of Talisker from it too well. If you’re looking for peat, it’s hard to find.
Which is too bad. This should be the less expensive option for Talisker 10. Instead, it’s a weaker version that I don’t think matches up as well. This is not the Quarter Cask or Double Cask option, it’s too big of a step down and too simple.
Scotch reviews #1216-8, Island reviews #139-141, Whisky Network reviews #1864-6