Thursday, March 25, 2010
Scotch Whisky Review: Talisker Distiller's Edition 1998
This one has been kicking around the kitchen for a month or so -- I've tasted it a couple of times, but didn't get around to reviewing it. It's about time!
The Distiller's Edition is finished in an Amoroso Sherry cask. I previously reviewed a standard 10-year-old Talisker here. That Talisker I didn't review very highly -- I gave it only a 7.5. Let's see how it compares to this special (and considerably more expensive) Distiller's Edition. This one was distilled in 1998, and bottled in 2009, making it (roughly) an 11-year-old whisky.
In the glass this is a rich orange-straw in color, with a bit of that oily cling and short legs. The nose is big, robust, and complex: dried orange peel, potpourri, wood smoke, that Talisker iodine, a lot of vanilla-inflected oak, and some dried fruit notes, like dates.
In the mouth the texture is soft and very lush -- not oily but velvety, reminding me a bit of a red wine with soft tannins. The heat is thrilling but not overhwelming. On the tongue this whisky is spicy, with pepper, cloves, and nutmeg, and is, intriguingly, both dry and quite sweet simultaneously. The extra sweetness seems to have come from the sherry, and is reminiscent of maple or brown sugar. There are some wonderful rich cocoa notes, hazelnuts, and a hint of spearmint. The nutty elements remind me just a bit of Bunnahabhain, one of my favorites. The smoke and peat remain in the background, deepening the flavor, while the sweeter flavors are up front. It's a very appealing and rich combination. This is seriously good stuff!
With water, the cocoa comes forward a bit, and the sherry notes become slightly more prominent, reminding me of apricot jam on toasted bread. That fantastic tannic texture is still present. Personally I like it better neat; it's not meant to be drunk quickly. But if you find the heat and sweetness too strong, try it with a little water.
This is 9.0 material -- highly recommended. And it's "more-ish" -- this bottle will not last us long!