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Friday, 20 February 2015

Talisker 25yo Whisky Review!

For most of us, it is not very often that we get the chance to taste a whisky which is almost as old as we are. When this whisky in front of me was distilled, it was 1986. I was a toddler. Bob Hawke was the Australian Prime Minister, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred, and Top Gun was released in cinemas. Two of those things are still with us today, and so is this whisky. While age statements aren't the be-all and end-all of good whisky, and neither is age, there's no denying that this is pretty cool.

Slightly less cool however is the price, with Talisker 25yo 2011 release retailing for around $500 here in Australia, and only bottled at 45.8%, not at cask strength (there are older cask strength releases ). I confess I'm only reviewing a sample, which I purchased here, as a bottle of this 25yo is out of my price range. Another reason why samples are awesome! The Talisker 18yo is excellent as well, and is good value comparatively at around $150 locally.  

Being matured for a quarter of a century, you would expect the 'standard' talisker flavour profile to become more subdued, and you would expect there to be more wood influence from all those years spent in casks. The label refers to refill casks being used for the maturation, also known as second-fill, meaning the casks have already been used for whisky maturation once since they held sherry/bourbon/etc. Many older whiskies are matured in this way, because 25 years in a first-fill cask is likely to have a massive influence on the finished product, which may not be desirable. Anyway, let's get into it!

Talisker 25yo, 45.8%, distilled 1986, bottled 2011. Isle of Skye.
Matured in unspecified refill casks, chill filtered, added caramel (assumed, standard practice for Talisker). 

(tasted neat)
Nose: Salt & white pepper, surprisingly fruity though. Stone fruit, paw paw (papaya), maple syrup, hints of smoke and dry sherry. Light and slightly dust peat. Reminds me a little of a lighter Talisker 57 north. Complex & dynamic nose, very nice! 

Texture: Buttery and syrupy. 

Taste: A little sherry, nice sea salt. Quite dry, with some peat, ashy smoke and chilli. Stone fruit and white pepper, and a surprising amount of heat for a whisky of this age. The Talisker profile is there, but it's a little rough around the edges. 

Finish: Medium length, dry spices, mouth-watering. Alternating between chilli, pepper and earthy peat.

Score: 3 out of 5 (adjusted for pricing, 3.5 without)

Notes: Not blown away, unfortunately. I wanted to love this whisky, but it's just not pushing my buttons. I'm sure other releases are better, and the nose on this one was excellent, likewise the texture, but the taste and finish left me disappointed. It's not unpleasant or 'bad' mind you, it's a very decent malt, but it just didn't live up to the hype and anticipation for me.

I don't see how this release could be worth more than 3 bottles of Talisker 18yo or 57 North, both of which I prefer to this 25yo. I found myself reaching for my bottle of '99 Distiller's Edition afterwards, and can't help but think I would choose it over the 25 as well, in a blind tasting. 

I can't help but draw comparison to Laphroaig 25yo, which despite being a little more expensive, is far & away superior to this Talisker bottling. I'd recommend trying the Talisker to satisfy your curiosity, you may be more impressed than I was, but try and taste it before investing in a bottle.