‘Select’ *and* ‘Reserve’ in a single bottle title? The Diageo marketing team clearly took a long lunch that day. However, despite the uninspiring name, this is a new composition from the series and not drawn from Talisker’s existing line-up of bottlings. The pairing of the distillery with the worshippers of the Drowned God feels quite a natural match, but there’s been a few standout OB Talisker’s (especially last year’s 8 year old Special Edition), so this’ll be going some in my book to stand out.
Clocking in at the standard 45.8% ABV bottling strength, this expression will set you back a shy under £50 from Master of Malt, which is broadly in line with several of the Talisker non age-statement range releases (Port Ruighe, Distillery’s Edition), but about 25% more than Skye or Storm.
Nose: Smoked paprika is immediate – sweet and savoury and joined by plenty of brine and pepper. There’s a meatiness underlying – burnt ends and Italian sausage (fennel and basil) alongside beef joint and reduced gravy. Smoke is part tarry, part ashy with additional sweetness from stewed hedgerow berries. The addition of water adds some burnt toffee, gentle rubberiness and further wafting ash. A rather hospitable and inviting nose.
Taste: Somewhat middle of the road, without either raw power or the sweet welcomeness of the nose – but, oily none the less. Orange peels and charred cask ends sit with brine, pepper and burnt meats. Ashiness, iodine and a good dollop of liquid liquorice are joined by fresh leather and undefined red berry sweetness. Dilution is ill advised, this thins instantly, offering washed out flavours with little definition – 45.8% is where it’s at.
Finish: Medium to long with burnt wood and pan sugars reinforced by salinity and pepperiness.
Talisker Select Reserve House Greyjoy possesses a rather agreeable and nose and has plenty of distillery character pepper. But the delivery doesn’t offer the same level of power and finesse as the (cheaper) 10 year old expression. Sure, it’s a different take – but to my mind, it’s rather Talisker-lite. There’s nothing wrong here, it’s a perfectly drinkable malt, but when looking at the price vs. quality (and considering other commonly available Talisker alternatives), this feels like it’s for completists only.