Thursday, January 30, 2014

New release - Talisker Triple Matured Edition

This whisky is one of the first of a new Triple Matured series released by Diageo. There will be five single malts in the series and they will be exclusively available to members of their Friends Of The Classic Malts group. Two are being released now - this from Talisker on the isle of Skye and one from Royal Lochnagar in the east Highlands, which we reviewed a couple of days ago (click here to read that) - and the other three will be announced and released in stages over the next six months or so.

Talisker was founded in 1830 by brothers Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill and is located on the isle of Skye, the largest island in the Hebrides, close to the village of Carbost. It is the only distillery on the island and despite its remote location it is one of the most visited in all of Scotland.  Last year saw a new £1 million visitor centre open and over 80,000 people visit.  It has a current annual production capacity of 2.6 million litres. Diageo have given Talisker plenty of promotion over recent 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 only the Singleton range and Cardhu.

The name of the Triple Matured range relates to the fact that each whisky has been aged in three different types of cask. Initial maturation has been in refill casks, then in charred American oak hogsheads and finally in refill European oak casks. All of the whiskies will be released at 48% ABV and there are only a few thousand bottles of each. These will be available through the Friends Of The Classic Malts website and at each participating distillery. Membership is free and you can join on the same website. Each bottling costs £80 and is limited of two per member.

Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow with a hint of amber and the nose has an immediately savoury feel.  There is an initial earthy leafy compost-like aroma that is prominent and this is backed up by burnt caramel and heavy malted barley.  Underneath are sweeter aromas - think of toffee, sultanas and honey - plus hints of cocoa, candied orange peel and liquorice.

On the palate this whisky feels very thick and viscous, coating the mouth and tongue.  Now it is the sweeter notes that strike first with some distinct toffee, brown sugar and sultanas to the fore.  Behind these are further sweeter notes reminiscent of honey, butterscotch and salted caramel. However it is not long before those pungent savoury notes begin to make their presence felt - this again has a lovely earthy and slightly musty feel.  There are also notes of bittersweet malted cereals, bitter dried orange peel and toasted wood spices.  These build with time and include elements of cinnamon, nutmeg and cracked black pepper.

The finish is long and quite spicy, especially once the sweeter notes fade.  This leaves the earthy, savoury smokiness, the wood spices and the peppery notes to fight it out.  The result is an increasing dryness that is complimented by a very late hint of dried orange.

What's the verdict?
This is one of the most savoury and viscous whiskies that we have sampled for a long time, and it is enjoyable to drink as a result.  The pockets of sweetness that are present only add to this enjoyment and create balance and depth.  The addition of water also gives an interesting response in that it dampens the savoury and smoky notes, while bringing the sweet toffee elements through and a previously undetected green apple note.

Both this and the previously reviewed Royal Lochnagar expression are good and we look forward to seeing what the other three whiskies will add to this Triple Matured series.  If we had to pick one of the two then it would probably be the Royal Lochnagar, especially with a few drops of water.

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