Thursday, February 9, 2012

Talisker 18 - a darker, more serious expression of Skye.

Talisker 18, 45.8% abv,  is the older sibling of the wildly popular Talisker 10 expression - which has serious "terroir" fidelity to the rugged forlorn isle of Skye with it's maritime location and barren rocky mountainous terrain.  Color - old gold (deep amber yellow with orange glints).  Similar to the 10 but slightly deeper.  Nose: sweeter and more fruited than the 10, everything from the 10 is still there: salt, iodine, mineral, band-aids and toffee malt.  But now the sweetness isn't shy and lurking.  Butterscotch and black fruit notes (fig and prune) are right up front. As a result the maritime airs have receded towards the rear.Entry is sweet.  The quick complication of sea salt and dry hatbox wood quickly arrives - but there's more salt. There's a white pepper buzz at the turn of midpalate.  Then turkish delight, oak vanilla, and floral notes fill the mouth at midpalate too.  Oak tannins bring a citrus rind bitterness at the finish.  This is a very similar flavor profile to the 10 - so I'll focus on the differences: less honeyed and less floral up front compensated by a greater density of flavors - in particular more citrus through the end of the midpalate and more bitterness at the finish.  The finish is a bit longer too.  Excellent stuff.  The flavor profile is extraordinary.  It's saltier, darker, and more wooded than the 10, as you'd expect. Something is lost and something is gained.  All in all I prefer the 10 to the 18, however - extremely close though it is. The clearer sense of peat, mineral, and maritime scents and flavors combined with the lighter honeyed sweetness and more floral qualities with the 10 are a bit more pleasing.  I prefer the distiller's edition to both the 10 and the 18, however - but that's another story.

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