Sunday, March 15, 2015

Review - Talisker Skye

Talisker Skye Scotch whisky
Talisker Skye is the latest whisky in the core range from the popular single malt distillery from the Scottish Isle of Skye. The whisky is created in homage to the rugged landscape and wild seas that surround the island distillery with tastes of fresh citrus, sweet smokiness and the maritime influence which is a signature of Talisker whiskies. This expression is constructed using toasted and refill American oak casks that are hand selected by Diageo's Master Blenders. It sits within the range consisting of Storm and Port Ruighe as the lighter, fresher and most citrusy of the series, but with an extra edge of sweetness compared the 10 year old thanks to the selection of a slightly higher proportion of toasted casks. Skye is bottled at 45.8% ABV and will be available in Spring 2015. The anticipated recommended retail cost will be £33.

Talisker is the only distillery on the Isle of Skye, the largest and most northerly island of the Inner Hebrides. It was founded in 1830 by two local brothers, Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, after they decided to move to Skye from the Isle of Eigg and convert Talisker House and its surrounding buildings in to a legal distillery. The distillery is currently owned by Diageo.

Talisker is located on the shores of Loch Harport, close to the village of Carbost, in the shadow of the imposing Cuillin Hills. Despite its remote location, Talisker is Diageo’s most visited distillery and one of the most visited distilleries in Scotland with over 60,000 visitors per year. It has a current annual production capacity of 3 million litres through five copper pot stills and rare traditional worm tubs which add to the distillery’s charm.

Our tasting notes
This whisky is designed to show a balance of distillery character and the influence of wood. The Talisker spirit is peated to around 20PPM and shows lots of fresh grassy and peppery notes plus a characteristic saltiness. The use of ex-bourbon casks that have freshly charred shells and heavily charred ends lends sweet honey vanilla notes.

The spirit is a bright autumnal gold and, on the nose, the sweet honey and vanilla characters from the casks are upfront and unapologetic. Further nosing reveals depths of perfumery florals and chilli pepper plus only the slightest hint of smoke. The palate quite nicely matches the nose with similar characters but here the smoke is more than just a hint. The finish is moderate but moreish being both  sweet and drying with lots of vanilla and a linger of smokiness.

What's the verdict?
This is a spirit that could act as a great entry level smoky whisky for those who like sweeter whiskies and possible even bourbons. It is not overpoweringly smoky nor overwhelmingly complex, but does offer enough to make it assertive for the first timer. It also is suitably priced not to daunt the first timer either. It is not a whisky for the peat-heads out there but nor does it claim to be.

We would hope this could be a whisky to introduce a new generation of drinkers to Scottish island smokiness. This whisky rightfully sits next to its brothers, Storm and Port Ruighe, by showing a fruitier and fresher side of Talisker distillery yet maintaining that family characteristic that makes Talisker individual.

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