Talisker is an iconic Scottish whisky distillery on the isle of Skye. The island lies off the north west Highland coast and forms part of the Hebrides. The distillery is the only one on the island and is located close to the village of Carbost, in the shadow of the imposing Cuillin hills. Despite its remote location, the distillery is one of the most visited in Scotland. Talisker was founded in 1830 by two local brothers, Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, and has a current annual production capacity of 1.9 million litres. The distillery is currently owned by drinks giant Diageo and its sales are increasing rapidly, thanks mostly to the ever popular Talisker 10 years old.
To read more history and information about the Talisker distillery then visit the Talisker distillery profile page on our website whiskyforeveryone.com.
This 12 years old was released in November 2007 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Friends of the Classic Malts - the Classic Malts are a range of whiskies from within Diageo's portfolio of 28 Scottish distilleries (you can join the Friends by going to Diageo's single malt website at www.malts.com). It was a limited release (if you can call 21,500 bottles 'limited'!) and has an alcoholic strength of 45.8% ABV. The original price was around the £45 mark - it appears that a few bottles are still floating about three years later and we found some for sale online at approximately £70. The release compliments a strong core range that includes a 10 and 18 year olds, the Distiller's Edition matured in ex-Amoroso sherry casks and the 57° North at 57% ABV. These are supplemented by annual releases at 25 and 30 years of age, plus other occasional limited bottlings.
Our tasting notes
The colour is golden amber and the nose is vibrant and very pleasant. There are lovely toffee and caramel aromas to begin with and these are quickly joined by some rich, sweet peat smoke, some malty cereals (think of oatcakes) and understated fruitiness - this combines subtle aromas of stewed apple and dried fruit, especially sultana. Underneath are notes of honey plus damp earth and leaves/foliage. On the palate, this whisky feels warm, sweet and syrupy with plenty of the malty cereals kicking things off. The cereal notes are quickly softened by delicious sweeter flavours of honey, caramel, toffee, stewed fruits (that apple again, plus some pear) and dried fruits (especially juicy sultanas). All of these sweeter notes are balanced by a lovely, gentle peat smoke that is reminiscent of a leafy bonfire and cigar tobacco smoke, some wood spices (imagine cinnamon and nutmeg) and a hint of salty brine. The finish is long and has a bittersweet quality - it begins sweetly before becoming drier with plenty of warming spicy notes, especially cinnamon and white pepper. The finish is spicier than the nose or palate suggest.
What's the verdict?
This Talisker 12 years old is a very good and well crafted whisky. It offers something different from the popular 10 years old, as the additional time spent maturing in an ex-sherry cask has given a good level of sweetness and fruitiness that seems to absorb some of the signature Talisker pepper/chilli-like spiciness. It is a shame that there are only a few overpriced bottles left and we hope that Diageo are planning a new release of something similar soon. We would like to thank Colin Dunn of Diageo for allowing us the chance to try this lovely whisky.