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Friday, 20 June 2014

Talisker Distiller's Edition 1999 Whisky Review

Considered to be an 'entry level' peated whisky, Talisker is a very popular and well-known distillery, and is probably the easiest single-malt Scotch to find in a bar or pub, in Australia at least. It is also a controversial distillery, in that most of their expression's are chill filtered and have colouring added, Talisker is very approachable and easily enjoyed by the less experienced whisky drinker. But, their whisky is still enjoyable for the enthusiast, particularly the 18 year (and older if you're pockets are deep enough), '57 degrees north' (which is bottled at 57% abv), and the distiller's edition bottlings.

While it is the only distillery on the Isle of Skye (a rugged island off the west coast of Scotland, north of Islay), a fact they are rightly very proud of, their whisky is aged / matured off-site, on the Scottish mainland. They are also, perhaps unfortunately, starting to incorporate a few No Age Statement (NAS) bottlings into their line-up without corresponding price decreases, but they're hardly alone there. And as per owner Diageo's status quo, they use E150 caramel artificial colouring, and they chill filter their whiskies before bottling. Personally though, I find Talisker to be of good quality, and very consistent, although the newer bottlings are vastly different to the older.

Talisker Distiller's Edition, 45.8%, distilled 1999, bottled 2010, Isle of Skye. 
'Double matured' (finished) in Jerez (pronounced h'reth) Amoroso sherry casks, after the standard ageing process for the 10 year old bottling. Chill filtered, and caramel colouring added.

(tasted neat)
Colour: Dark bronze, almost brown (definitely artificial).

Texture: Clean and light, but with nice legs.

Nose: Initially quite closed, but still not overly complex once it's opened up. Drying sherry notes of booze-soaked raisins, juicy stone fruit, and distant mild sea spray with a hint of earthy, dry peat.

Taste: Juicy, sweet stone fruit, raisins and newly-ripe banana, drying with mild earthy peat and bitter-sweet dark chocolate. Some very distant salt with caramel, and a burst of pepper.

Finish: Relatively short, clean, still some stone fruit and pepper, drying.

Score: 3 out of 5.

Comments: Really held back by the chill filtration, in my opinion, particularly in the mouth feel and the finish. The sherry finish has overpowered the trademark Talisker sea spray and pepper, it is still there but subdued, deep in the shadows. Still interesting and rewarding in this expression, but vastly different from the standard bottlings which Talisker is known for.

Having also tried the earlier 1996 distiller's edition bottling (bottled in 2008), I do prefer the older bottling. Having also tried their 'storm' and 'dark storm' NAS bottlings, I would like to see one of those finished in a sherry cask (and preferably with an age statement!), I think it would be very interesting.

 If you are a big fan of big, fruity whiskies this is a fresh take and is well worth trying, although the earlier bottlings are getting hard to find. Have a look here for a more recent version at SM Whisky Australia. They also have a fantastic Talisker 'gift set', which includes 3 x 200ml bottles, the standard 10yo, the distiller's edition, and the excellent 18yo. Also great value at only slightly more than a 700ml bottle of the 10 year old, it'd be a good tasting / comparison experience for Talisker amateurs and enthusiasts alike. Tell them peated perfection sent you! Cheers 'til next time.