We're looking at two cask strength releases from Talisker today, one Diageo special release and one older, discontinued bottling.
Talisker 8 Year Old (Special Release 2021)
This 2021 Talisker special release was matured for 8 years in heavily-peated refill casks.
There’s a massive hit of smoke up front, it’s got those meaty, BBQ beef aromas. There’s some damp, warehouse funk, salty sea air, parma violets and maybe even some corn sweetness too. The peat is a little overpowering, with any complexity that would have been there been hidden by the smoke.
Salty sea water, almost overly salted with some dirt and mud. Seaweed, a smoked mackerel fishiness and raw distillate powered by the high ABV. Its zingy, acidic but not zesty, it’s bitter lemon pith. Letting it rest reveals more burnt wood and white pepper. The finish is medium length but its young and raw, not the most pleasant of drams to be honest.
Nose (with water)
With water there’s more barley sugar appearing and the smoke recedes slightly, we’re also getting much more salty sea breeze now. Overall it seems a lot more balanced when reduced, a much more pleasant experience.
Palate (with water)
Initially you start getting a good bourbon sweetness, albeit more refined sugar, but the peppery alcohol is not far behind. There’s still a raw spirit character that feels really thin on the palate. The finish stays at a decent length but it’s a little acrid and not very pleasant.
For us this is a bit of a miss. We were excited at the prospect of another cask strength Talisker but this is harsh, overly peaty without much character or body. We’ve seen mixed reviews on this from others, it's possibly a love/hate dram and we can appreciate someone who likes young, raw distillate but we still feel that the peat ruins some of that. It’s also bloody expensive.
Talisker 57 Degrees North
Price: £90 (Auction price)
A now discontinued cask strength bottling that was named after the latitudinal position of the distillery. The whisky was matured 100% American oak refill casks.
This opens with salty briney coastal sea air and youthful peat. This reminds us of a rainy day. There’s also iodine, Chinese 5 spice, and a little butter. We’re also getting some new make spirit in the background.
On first sip the palate has some sweet oak, sandy coastal notes, and tar. Going back to it we’re also getting salted caramel and cured ham. There’s also some tart fruit in the mix as well.
Nose (with water)
With water we’re getting wet leather, smoked vanilla custard, and dust. There’s also a note her that reminds us of a just struck match.
Palate (with water)
Reduced palate is a bit flat and shows more evidence this is young spirit. Theres now more of the coastal sea flavours, along with cream and a touch of pepper. Finally we’re getting some grassy forest notes here too.
We think if you’re a Talisker fan you’ll love this, But at its RRP of around £70 it was a touch expensive. At current secondary market prices, you can find something with more complexity and depth, but it probably won’t be a Talisker.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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