Thursday, May 16, 2013

New release - Talisker Port Ruighe

The popular Talisker distillery has released its second new expression of 2013 - Talisker Port Ruighe (pronounced port-ree). This whisky is named after the town and port on the isle of Skye, where the distillery is located.  It has been matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, before then being finished in ex-Port wine casks. The Port Ruighe is to become part of the regular core range and is bottled at 45.8% ABV.  It is available now from specialist whisky retailers for £55-60 a bottle.

Talisker was founded in 1830 by two local brothers, Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, and has a current annual production capacity of 2.6 million litres. Talisker is currently owned by Diageo and they have given the brand plenty of promotion over the last two or three years. The result is that worldwide sales have risen by over 100% in the last five years and it is now Diageo's best selling single malt behind the Singleton range (which includes the Dufftown, Glendullan and Glen Ord distilleries) and Cardhu.

As mentioned, Talisker is found on the isle of Skye, the largest and most northerly island of the Inner Hebrides. It is the only distillery on the island and is located close to the village of Carbost, in the shadow of the imposing Cuillin hills. Despite its remote location it is one of the most visited distilleries in Scotland with over 60,000 visitors per year, and this has led to a newly revamped visitor centre being built at the cost of £1 million.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow with a reddish amber tint and the nose is immediately fresh, vibrant and bracing.  The most obvious aroma is savoury peat smoke (this has a whiff of surgical bandage to it) and this catches in the nostrils.  This softens with time and allows other aromas through to create balance.  These include toasted nuts, salted caramel, raisins, prunes, dried cranberries and a hint of milk chocolate. 

On the palate, this is again fresh, clean and vibrant.  This time it is the other notes that seem to come first, which are then followed by the peaty smokiness.  The first note to hit is that of toffee, which is followed by a lovely mix of honey and dried fruits - think of raisins, prunes and figs.  It seems to become even fruitier and sweeter, before some cinnamon spice and red wine tannins appear to add depth and balance.  The smoke is never far away but comes through particularly towards the end - this has a damp, slightly musty feel and is reminiscent of surgical bandages and wet earth.  A final pinch of salt and pepper finishes things off.

The finish is very long and pleasant.  The fruity and sweet elements are prominent to begin with, especially the toffee and raisin notes, before they fade to leave the robust smokiness.  This has a slightly hot edge to it, along with a musty damp earth note, which made us think of ginger or ginseng root when combined.

What's the verdict?
This is a whisky that improves the longer that you spend with it.  This is true on two counts - 1) on the journey of each sip through the nose, palate and finish and 2) as it sits in the glass.  The whisky evolves well and ends up being a lovely new expression that shows good sweetness, fruitiness and smokiness.

Talisker have been criticised in some quarters for releasing another 'no age statement' whisky so shortly after Storm.  However, both offer something different to the existing core range of Talisker and both are of good quality and enjoyable to drink.  As long as that remains the case, they can release as many 'no age statement' whiskies as they like ...

1 comment:

Scotch Cyclist said...

Another comprehensive and highly readble review.

I'm very keen to give this whisky a go, especially to compare it against the last single malt I tried with an identical spec, and which blew me away: the BenRiach Solstice 17yo. At a very similar price you get creater strength (50% abv) and age together with the heavy peat and Port.

I'm visiting Talisker in August, so will beg a taste then.