This is a distillery single cask release that was matured in ex-sherry cask. It’s bottled at 58.6% ABV.
Nose: Beautiful, rich sherry notes with that salty/briny Talisker malt pouring through – wormwood with minimal peat, bees wax, and chocolaty on the tail end.
Palate: Sherry leads with mulled spices and stewed fruits, vanilla, grape jam, just a bit of brine from the malt.
Finish: Grapes and sherry seasoned oak – butterscotchy with vanilla and gingerbread.
Rating: 93/100 – One of the best Taliskers I’ve had – the sherry maturation blends so well with their malt in this case.
Value for the money: These can be found online for £320 currently (excluding VAT), and I’d say that’s a pretty fair price for this bottling based on the quality.
This is a 30 year Talisker that’s bottled at 45.8% ABV.
Nose: Heavy, heavy brine/capers up front followed by sweet raisins, delicate berries, bananas, and freshly cracked black peppercorns.
Palate: Salty and super briny on entry with sweet bananas, musty oak, bacon, and apple peals.
Finish: Smoked meats, brine, sweet barbecue, and a slight plastic type note linger.
Rating: 91/100 – Very, very good Talisker – very heavy on the salty side, but balanced nicely by the subtle fruit influences.
Value for the money: This one seems to vary wildly, but it looks like currently it’s on TWE for $287 which seems like a steal to me.
This is a 27 year Talisker released as part of the Diageo Special Releases in 2013. It was matured in ex-bourbon casks and bottled at 56.1% ABV.
Nose: Bold, briny malt with loads of clementines and tangerines. A healthy dose of smoke taking on a slightly acrid/burnt rubber note along with some crushed, chalky candies (Smarties come to mind – and not the weird Canadian Smarties).
Palate: Very salty up front with vinegar-heavy bbq sauce (Carolina style), mossy, damp oak along with bold pepper and allspice, wildflower honey, and Smarties notes again.
Finish: Burning leaves and spiced oak linger with heavy farm notes and sunflower seeds.
Rating: 95/100 – Very complex, expertly balanced, and an all around enjoyable dram.
Value for the money: These retailed for around $600 I believe, and for it’s quality I think that’s not too outrageous of a price in the premium malt world.
This is a NAS expression from Talisker that was bottled at 57%.
Nose: Very briny with a smoldering pile of leaves, raw carrots, tobacco, and cereal notes. Smoke note is very strong throughout.
Palate: Surprisingly bitter with some funky oak – I was expecting more of that salty/briny quality from the nose, but it’s oddly lacking. Heavy smoke and vegetal notes.
Finish: Vegetal notes and rotting oak persist – reminiscent of a manzanilla sherry for me.
Rating: 80/100 – The nose was fairly interesting, but the rest didn’t come together for me. A little too heavy on the vegetal notes for my preference.
Value for the money: These appear to retail around $75-$100 which is an easy pass in my book. Spend a bit more and get a Talisker 18 instead.
Talisker 18 is part of the core expressions from the Talisker distillery, although it is not as widely available as it’s younger brother Talisker 10. I’ve always enjoyed Talisker along with other Island malts due to their interesting blend of Highland/Islay notes due to the lower levels of peat.
Nose: Subtle peat draped with heavy smoke and brine with underlying strawberries, melon, and ginger. I found it difficult to separate smoke/peat notes for a long time, but once that distinction is learned it become very readily apparent in certain distilleries e.g. Talisker, Highland Park, etc.
Palate: Loads of sweet, ripe fruits up front with brine and smoke retreating. Very little peat presence overall.
Finish: Honey, barley and oak which remained hidden until now as the smoke continues to fade rapidly.
Rating: 91/100 – One of my favorite Talisker expressions and a very easy drinker.
Value for the money: These have been creeping up over the past year (along with pretty much every other whisky), and now are hovering between $130-$150 retail. I believe I got this closer to $100 which I think is a much fairer price – $130 is beginning to push it.