Talisker is one of those unusual distilleries that possesses an odd number of stills – two wash and three spirit. Diageo’s whisky historians believe this may have derived from the use of triple distillation which operated at the distillery until 1928. Talisker is also one of only a handful of Scottish distilleries which still utilise worm tubs – a coiled pipe submerged in a bath of cool water – as a method of condensing the distilled spirit back into liquid form. The distillation process does not include a high degree of copper contact which many attribute to the highly peppery character of Talisker’s whiskies.
Talisker 10 year old has not existed for as long as many people assume it has. It was originally bottled as an 8 year old until 1988 when the brand was included in the ‘Classic Malts’ selection, and it’s age was upped by two additional years. Since then it has firmly established itself as an archetypal whisky and one of parent company Diageo’s most well-known and important single malt brands. It’s bottled at a very healthy 45.8% and costs around £35 for a 70cl bottle.
Nose: Pronounced and 100% coastal. Sweet briny smoke comes alive with the addition of fresh orchard fruits – apples and pears – and sharp tangy limes. Honey and butterscotch impart a lovely deep sweetness which pairs wonderfully with some ginger spicing and nuttier elements. But, the order of the day here is very much the sea, with iodine, seaweed and salinity delivering a truly maritime experience.
Taste:An oily and full arrival which mixes up sweetness, spice and smoke. There’s a rich malty core at the heart of this dram with licks of vanilla, honey and wood char, but outside of this, there the nuances are mainly coastal in their nature. Sharp, peppery spice and medicinal peat that is packed full of notes of bandages and tinctures and a stiff salty coastal breeze.
Finish: Medium to long, bringing cask influence to bear with black pepper and clove.
Talisker 10 year old is a classic for a reason – it’s a wonderful partnership of sweet earthy peat, sharp and awakening citrus and big spicy cask notes. Inherently coastal and inherently wonderful. One of the very best entry-level whiskies out there. Period.