This whisky is the latest release from the famous Talisker distillery from the isle of Skye. It is their oldest ever single malt to date. The Talisker 44 years old : Forests of the Deep is a partnership with ocean conservation charity Parley For The Oceans. The collaboration saw wooden staves from Talisker whisky barrels taken on a research trip to kelp forests located off the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
The staves were then returned to Talisker and casks reconstructed before being 'marine charred'. This involved toasting the inside of the barrels with dried seaweed smoke. The whisky, which had previously been maturing for over four decades in ex-bourbon casks, was then finished for a few months in these special maritime barrels. For further information on the work Parley For The Oceans do or to donate - click here.
Talisker was founded in 1830 by two local brothers, Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, and is located in the hamlet of Carbost on the western coast of Skye. Talisker is owned by Diageo and has an annual production capacity of 3.3 million litres. Worldwide sales have risen by over 140% in the last decade and it is now safely within the Top 10 for worldwide Scotch single malt sales. Despite its remote location it is also one of the most visited distilleries in Scotland with over 60,000 visitors per year. A new visitor centre is due to open shortly in the Summer.
The Talisker 44 years old : Forests of the Deep has been bottled at the natural cask strength of 49.1% ABV. There are just 1,997 bottles and these will be available in specialist whisky and luxury retailers worldwide. Each bottle will cost £3,800/ $4,740 US. The whisky was launched on June 8 - World Ocean Day.
Our tasting notes
The colour is deep golden yellow and the nose has a savoury and spicy edge to it. A whiff of salty brine and distant peppery peat smoke are supported by ashy bonfire embers and umami seaweed-like aromas. Sweetness comes through in the form of caramel, milk chocolate and sugary coffee. There is also a delicious tropical fruit note sitting in the background.
On the palate this whisky has a fabulous oily texture. It is surprisingly vibrant considering its age. Savoury peat smoke, a pinch of white pepper and a distinct salinity are the first notes to hit the tastebuds. Sweet caramel and juicy luscious tropical fruit notes begin to develop (think of pineapple, mango and apricot especially) and are joined by vanilla custard, milk chocolate and a hint of gingerbread. The peat smoke and salinity seem to never be far away and wrap themselves around the other notes. A late hint of slightly burnt green chilli adds to the savoury nature, as does a lovely hit of baking spice. Cinnamon and all-spice come through nicely.
The finish is wonderfully long with the oily characteristic helping to drag it out. The peppery nature catches in the mouth and adds to the drying spices and ash-like feel. The sweeter notes fade to leave the savoury ones to fight it out. This also helps to elongate the finish.
What's the verdict?
It felt like a true privilege to sample the oldest ever expression of Talisker and attend the launch. Not only is the whisky exquisite, multi-layered and classy but it is helping to raise awareness of the plight facing our oceans. The work that Parley For The Oceans are doing is vital and this collaboration with Talisker, which is famously 'made by the sea', feels natural. Of course it is expensive but would you expect otherwise? Even in our role we do not get to sample whiskies from the late-1970s very often. This one from Talisker is superb.