Thursday, May 2, 2013

New release - Talisker Storm

Talisker Storm is a new whisky in the core range of the popular single malt distillery from the isle of Skye. The new expression is designed to be a more intense, smoky version of Talisker with enhanced vibrant maritime notes working in conjunction with hot sweetness. The Storm is designed to sit in the price point between the regular 10 years old and the Distillers Edition in the range, and has been matured in 'rejuvenated casks'.

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.

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.

Talisker Storm is bottled at 45.8% ABV and is available now in the UK market and selected whisky specialists in Europe. A bottle should cost around the £40-45 mark.  The release is being backed by an innovative promotional campaign, which we reported on in Inbox a couple of weeks ago.  Storm is the first of a number of new Talisker expressions that will be appearing during 2013 and has recently been joined by Port Ruighe, which we will review shortly.

Our tasting notes
The colour is a dark golden yellow and the nose has an instant peppery hot kick to it.  This stings the nostrils and has a savoury earthy edge to it (it is not as unpleasant as it sounds, in fact it feels quite nice) - this mellows with time in the glass.  Sweeter aromas begin to penetrate the smoke, especially some malty cereals, rich butterscotch and toffee.  These are backed up by vanilla, honey, sultanas and dried apple.

On the palate, the whisky is initially tangy, smoky and feels hot - this manifests itself in a heady mix of notes including lemon zest, salty brine and red chili peppers.  Once this starts to soften and fade, other notes are allow to come through and the whisky begins to feel quite buttery and creamy in the mouth.  There is plenty of fudge and butterscotch, along with notes of slightly burnt brown sugar, vanilla and custard powder.  The dried green apple from the nose adds some late freshness and there are even later hints of raisin, sultana and cinnamon.  The smokiness is never far away and becomes more savoury and leather-like with time.

The finish is quite long and enjoyable.  the fruity notes fade first, then the sweeter toffee-like ones leaving the peppery hot smoke to linger on and on.  This again becomes less spicy and more savoury the longer time goes on.

What's the verdict?
The Talisker Storm is a pleasant whisky and comes across in a more smoky and spicy way than most other talisker's that we have sampled to date.  We have heard it described as "Talisker on steroids" and that description does not seem far off the mark.  It is quite basic, but we are not going to criticise it for that.  It is very enjoyable to drink and we like it.  However, the hot spicy smoke may not be to all tastes especially if you are not keen on peatier whiskies.

We have seen a number of reviews that have compared it to the popular 10 years old expression, which we suppose is a natural thing to do.  However we decided (rightly or wrongly) not to as it has been specifically designed to offer something different to the range and tap in to Talisker's current 'maritime' slant, rather than to compete against the 10 years old.  Put simply - enjoy Storm in its own right.  It's good and deserves your attention.

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