Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Scotch Whisky Review: Talisker 10
Talisker is not technically an Islay scotch; the distillery is on the Isle of Skye. However, it may as well be -- the style is quite similar to the Caol Ila and the Lagavulin. Grace and I tasted the ten-year-old bottling.
The color is a medium-pale amber. It coats the glass nicely, clinging in sheets and leaving a "high-water mark," and gradually forming thready legs. On the nose, I pick up a light smoke, a bit of iodine, a little spark of sour lemon candy, and a sweet something in the back of the throat -- maybe shortbread, and vanilla icing.
The first sip has a wonderfully smooth mouth feel, although not really oily like some of the oily and nutty malts. I get an initial impression of smoke, very warming and drying. On the second sip: nice butterscotch. Some of the less pleasant flavors are evident, too: there's a bit of lighter fluid and charcoal, but these are in the background. After the Caol Ila my tongue is hunting for more complex flavors, but not finding much else to report. I'm not getting much that is floral or fruity. The finish is a lingering driftwood fire, but not overpowering, with a little hint of leather and perhaps spearmint. The finish is quite long and this dram leaves your mouth dry; I might need a glass of water in a few minutes.
A little bit of water doesn't hurt the Talisker -- it smooths out the drink, reducing the burn and the dryness, but it doesn't seem to reveal anything new. Try it both ways and see what you think.
Grace didn't care for this scotch very much, noting rubbing alcohol, caramel, yeast, and toasted bread. She dislikes the extended burn of the Islay scotches, in particular criticizing the smoke and the iodine.
Grace rates this scotch a seven. I rate it a 7.5 -- I think it's quite approachable and pleasant and wouldn't pass up the opportunity to drink it again, but there are more appealing whiskies out there in the price range. If you are not brand new to Scotch but have never tasted the Islay malts, this would be a good introduction, followed by the Caol Ila and the Lagavulin (going in order of how "challenging" they are to the palate).