November 2019: Talisker Single Malt Whisky

This month features a range of Talisker Single Malt Whisky.

This past summer, Chris Crow and I joined Lee Bullock to celebrate his birthday in Scotland.  Of course, our trip focused heavily on Scotch Whisky.  Nearly all that time was spent on the island of Islay, enjoying the immense peat that this style of whisky is famous for.  I wanted to bring that experience back to Flight Club, but truth be told, the intense peatiness of much of the Islay Scotch is not for all.  Or more likely (I theorize), that style of Scotch takes some getting used to.  Someone new to peat may taste nothing but smoke and ash, but those used to it can see beyond those intense flavors to the other exciting nuances of the whiskies.

So instead of staying with Islay whiskies, I decided to take my tasting north to the island of Skye and the whiskies of Talisker.  While Talisker is known primarily for their “sea air” qualities (more in a moment), Talisker is a peated scotch, and for me, a great introduction to peat.  It isn’t an overpowering peat. It doesn’t have characteristics like band-aid, bike tire, asphalt, or ash tray.  To me, Talisker peat adds a light smokiness, almost like your clothes smell a day after sitting by a campfire.  Talisker is purportedly peated to around the 16-22 ppm level.  It is then aged in primarily ex-bourbon barrels but some expression utilize ex-sherry barrels.  The production process, peat levels, and aging result in a more approachable level of peat.

Talisker is most known as the “Made by the Sea” whisky.  It is located on the west coast of the island, at the northwest end of Scotland.  Whiskies from Talisker take on the coastal or sea character of the region, and are often described as briny or salty, or even possessing characters of seaweed and minerality.  While I didn’t travel there myself, given the more inland air of Islay, I can certainly see where the characteristics originate.

I thoroughly enjoy the sea character that Talisker brings, which marries beautifully with the peaty qualities.

Cocktail: The Seaweed Scotch Cocktail (adapted from https://www.winemag.com/recipe/sea-influenced-scotch-cocktail/)

Ingredients:  1.5 oz nori infused 1970’s era Gilby’s Gin (for nori infusion, take two 2”x6” strips of nori and place with 16oz gin in nitrogen whipper and shake for 2 minutes; strain); .75 oz white port; .25 oz honey syrup; smoked salt tincture; spray of Talisker Distiller’s Edition Single Malt Whisky

Recipe:  Stir infused gin, white port, honey syrup and 3 drops smoked salt tincture over ice and strain into lowball with ice ball; spritz glass with Talisker Distiller’s Edition Single Malt; garnish with nori strip laid over glass.

Talisker Single Malt Whisky

Bottle used in Cocktail: Talisker 12 Year Distillers Edition 2007 (Amoroso Sherry Cask) 

Age: 12 years

Proof: 45.8%/91.6 Proof

Price: $80

Purchase location: Ace Spirits

Talisker Single Malt Whisky

Bottle 1: Talisker Storm Single Malt

Age:  NAS

Proof: 45.8%/91.6 Proof

Price:  $35

Purchase location: local

Tasting Notes:

Nose:  Sweet malt; seashell; honey, lemon, light campfire; red berry.

Palate: Brine, citrus, honey, smoke, iodine, red berry, apple.

Finish:  Berry, honey, sea air, earth, lingering smoke; light pepper.

Why this bottle is featured:   When introduced, this had a price point above the Talisker 10. It did not sell well in this region, until the priced dropped below $40.  It is plentiful on shelves today at the $35-$40 range, and I think a nice introductory single malt whisky that won’t break the bank.

Talisker Single Malt Whisky

Bottle 2:  Talisker 10 Year Single Malt

Proof: 45.8%/91.6 Proof

Price:  $55

Purchase location: local

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Sweet vanilla custard; honey, lemon; tropical fruit; faint sea air; blackberry; black cherry; seaweed

Palate:  Smoke, iodine, berry, sweet vanilla.

Finish:  Smoke, earth, sea salt, tropical fruit.

Why this bottle is featured:  This is the standard Talisker expression.  While both younger and older Talisker whiskies offer less or more refinement, the general profile can be judged against this 10 year.  It is affordable and a delicious addition to your Scotch whisky bar.

Talisker Single Malt Whisky

Bottle 3: Talisker 18 Year Single Malt

Proof: 45.8%/91.6 Proof

Price: $175

Purchase location: Ace Spirits

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Rich dark fruit; ripe stone fruit; creme brûlée, salted caramel, leather, oak, sea salt, light iodine, peat.

Palate: Stone fruit, honey, malt, sea salt, red berry, cantaloupe, vanilla, orange peel, smoke, light chocolate.

Finish:  Lingering rich fruit, honey, raisins, fruit leather, brine, smoke.

Why this bottle is featured:   This is an impressive whisky that comes at reasonable price.  While the proof is lower than some might hope, the rich, while still delicate, flavors are quite enjoyable.

Talisker Single Malt Whisky

Bottle 4: Talisker 25 Year Single Malt

Proof: 45.8%/91.6 Proof

Price: $250

Purchase location: Ace Spirits

Tasting Notes:

Nose: Apricot/peach/pineapple/plum, honey, brine, fruit leather, polished pine furniture, peat, honey,

Palate: Brine, vanilla, burnt sugar, honeycomb, tropical fruit; light pepper.

Finish:  Smoke, wet oak, honey, overripe fruit, plum, saline.

Why this bottle is featured:  A 25 year whisky for $250?  This is a good buy if the quality is here.  Fortunately, it is.  Peat at this age takes on a very different character.  While some of the notes from the 10 year are present, the fruits and leathers come to the forefront.

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