Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Talisker 10 is the coopered spirit of a wild and barren maritime land

Talisker is my favorite of Diageo's excellent "Classic Malts" series. It comes from the desolate craggy island at the end of Earth known as Skye. Geographically half way between the dense oceanic peaty malts of Islay and the ethereal heather and wood glow of Highland Park, Talisker manages to split the difference from a flavor and style perspective as well. More easy going that the big Islay malts it still manages to have an unmistakable character that is classically of the maritime West and yet has some of the heather and delicacy of the extreme North.

In the glass Talisker 10 is rich old gold (dark yellow with amber and orange glints).

The nose is the smell of the sea coopered in an old dry box. Brine, iodine, mineral and faint seaweed notes combine with old dry oak or even basswood aromas. There's a tiny whiff of band-aids here too. With added time sweet notes come from below: butterscotch, caramel, and a hint of mint. It's a superb and complex aroma that is instantly recognizable as Talisker once you've tried it.

Entry is sweet but complicated by the sudden appearance of sea flavors of brine and sea moss. Midpalate begins with a peppery tingle and broadens into oak tannins, honey, floral essence, a kiss of mint, turkish delight candy flavors and a peculiar mineral (rock) aspect. Finish is long with old wood and a bitter citrus rind. It's a complex and delicious clinic on "terroir" - sense of place. It smells just like what the barren rocky promontory by the sea where Talisker is made and barrel aged for a forlorn and windswept decade.

Talisker is closest to Oban of all the malts but ultimately it is something unique and wonderful all its own. The ten is a brilliant achievement and a fine selection. Compared to the two other Talisker expressions (the 18 and Distiller's Edition) - the 10 equals the 18 in my opinion and is edged by the distiller's edition but not by much. The 10 stands very well on it's own and is a lovely and distinctive experience each time I drink it.


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