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Talisker ‘Dark Storm’

Bought: World of Whisky (Heathrow Airport), 10th September 2016

Ratings:
92/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
83.85/100 – Whiskybase (average from 309 member votes)

The Talisker ‘Dark Storm’ first appeared in 2013, the very year I got into drinking, collecting and investing in whisky. Even though I love Talisker it’s taken me 3 years to get the Dark Storm because of the NAS (non-age statement) war that was raging in 2013. The younger Macallan age statements (10yo, 12yo & 15yo) were being replaced by NAS and most new NAS bottles were greeted with scepticism and sneers. As I searched for advice online I got unfairly tainted by the NAS jibes, often by people who hadn’t even tasted the whisky they were insulting. Not that the Dark Storm was easy to acquire being a Travel Retail exclusive (airport Duty Free) but it also took me a while to get the ‘Storm’. Of course ‘exclusive’ means the Dark Storm is available in numerous shops in Germany and Holland, as well as £62.90 from Amazon UK (£44.99 at airports).

The Whisky Bible’s score of 92/100 relates to the 2013 edition of the Dark Storm but I have the 2014 version. Not that there’s much difference between the two. If anything the 2014 is slightly better as it scores 83.85/100 on Whiskybase with the 2013 release scoring 83.77/100 (from 344 votes). Both are fantastic scores. Comments for my bottle include “not your typical Talisker, but still very serious and complex”, “a very round and delicate malt” and “damn good release from Talisker”.

As Horst Luening says during his review on You Tube (here) there’s probably colour added but neither he nor any review I’ve read say this affects the taste. He suspects the Dark Storm is a young spirit but the heavily charred wood has been used brilliantly in smoothing and shaping the flavour. There are several other You Tube reviews, all very complimentary (Jo of Whisky Wednesday loves it and scores it 9/10) but I’ve added the following review from Scotch 4 Dummies because they give us four different opinions (April 2016 – 15 minutes):

talisker-dark-storm-nas-100cl

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Talisker ‘Port Ruighe’

Bought: Whiskysite, Holland, 23th May 2015

Ratings:
88/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
83.41/100 – Whiskybase (average from 295 member votes)

I’m still not convinced about the use of port casks and whisky. Not that I have a huge amount of experience of the combination, yet. But it’s important to keep an open mind and not judge something based on the cover. I’ve liked the Glenmorangie 10yo for many years but I wasn’t too sure when I tried the Quinta Ruban. It seemed more of a novelty experiment than a drink to take seriously.

The Whisky Bible’s score of 88/100 consists of 22 for the nose, 22 for the taste, 22 for the finish, and 22 for overall impression, so the author feels you get a very consistent experience throughout. The summary about the taste says “the delivery offers that thick, airless delivery which peat and wine uniquely conjure up; the sugars are pretty profound, and very dark.”

Comments on Whiskybase are mixed including “a very decent dram but not a winner”, “either much too young or way out of balance” and “some will find it interesting, others will find it disjointed”. Whatever your opinion, I’m glad Talisker are trying new things, just so long as they keep doing their core range to the standard we’ve become accustomed to.

Here’s Horst Luening of Whisky.com with his thoughts on YouTube (Nov 2014):

Talisker Port Ruighe NAS 70cl

Talisker ‘Skye’

Bought: ASDA, 6th April 2015

Ratings:
85/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
80.44/100 – Whiskybase (average from 29 member votes)

In recent years the whisky industry has been going through a boom period. More and more whiskies are appearing on supermarket shelves. Imagine you run a whisky distillery famous for a 10-year-old single malt. Back in 2005 there was no way of telling what the demand would be for your 10yo in 2015. You have 2,000 barrels of 10yo spirit ready to be bottled but your sellers want more. What do you do? You have 1000s of barrels containing younger whisky but it has a while before it reaches 10 years. You decide to mix 200 barrels of younger spirit with 1,000 barrels of 10yo and create a new NAS (non age statement) release. Eventually you’ll phase out the 10yo in favour of this new bottling, which is easier for you to produce because you’re no longer tied to a minimum age of 10yo whisky.

OK, so that’s a very simplistic view of the whisky industry but it’s a dilemma that a lot of the distilleries are now facing. Macallan have discontinued their 10yo, 12yo and 15yo bottles in favour of NAS, likewise Glenlivet are phasing out their 12yo for a new ‘Founder’s Reserve’ NAS. Talisker have introduced the ‘Skye’ at a similar price to the famous 10yo, so you have to wonder how long before the 10yo is officially replaced.

The Whiskybase rating for the 10yo is 85.68/100 from 335 member votes compared to 80.44/100 for the ‘Skye’ from 29 member votes. It’s still early days but any new Talisker was always going to struggle to replace the famous 10yo. I just hope that what made Talisker unique to so many of us in the affordable 10yo isn’t lost: drowned by younger spirit to try and keep up with demand.

Here’s Horst Luening with his thoughts about the Talisker Skye on You Tube (April 2015):

Talisker Skye NAS 70cl

Talisker Distiller’s Edition 2001/2012

Bought: Waitrose, 20th December 2014

Ratings:
88/100 – Whiskybase (average from 98 member votes)
90/100 – RalfyHis YouTube Review (1998/2009 edition – June 2010)

If Talisker did as many releases as Highland Park, I’d be at the front of the queue wanting to try them. One review on Whiskybase mentions the clear presence of sherry and peat in this Distiller’s Edition, which might suggest a mix of Speyside and Islay flavours. But Talisker doesn’t exactly sit on the fence between two great whisky regions. There’s no confusion about the Talisker taste. It’s unique in its own right. A perfect harmony of some of the finest elements of the Scotch whisky craft.

Although Ralfy’s review is for a previous version of the Distiller’s Edition, I’ve added it for the insight he gives. The Whiskybase rating of 88/100 is one of the highest I’ve seen on the site. The Talisker 10yo scores 85.85/100, so clearly the Distiller’s Edition is well favoured.

Talisker Distiller's Edition 2001-2012 70cl

Talisker 18-year-old

Bought: Whisky Galore 5th August, 2014

Ratings:
94/100 – Whisky Bible 2009
94/100 – Whisky Bitch – her view on YouTube (November 2013)
91/100 – Ralfyhis review on YouTube (November 2014)

If you want a visual impression of what this dram tastes like I recommend watching the video by the Whisky Bitch. Her expressions tell you that this Talisker is an orgasm in a glass! And if you ever get it as a present from someone, they clearly really, REALLY like you!

It seems this bottling doesn’t always get released each year as it’s missing from the Whisky Bible 2013 and 2014. I had to go back to my 2009 version (I must get the years in between!) to get a rating. Jim Murray (Whisky Bible author) says of this malt “wonderful, almost unbelievable softness to the arrival” and “what happens on the palate is a masterful telling of the Talisker tale: all what should be is there and in perfect proportions. Exceptional.” He scores the overall balance and complexity a perfect 25/25.

For any lover of the Talisker 10yo who hasn’t tried any older versions from the Skye distillery, the 18yo is the step-up of dreams. It’s a reasonable price for its age, and reviews suggest that the 25yo and 30yo Taliskers are no better (it would be hard to beat!). Although Jim Murray says about the 20yo “I’ve been tasting Talisker for 28 years. This is the best bottle ever!” It scores the same mark (95/100) as the 57 Degrees North but costs £400, if you can track it down. As I write this the 18yo is £64 and the 57 Degrees North is £57.

Talisker 18yo 70cl

Talisker ‘Storm’

Bought – Tesco, 19th May 2014

Ratings:
85.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
86/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 7 reviews)
90/100 – The Whisky Jug (his ‘last glass’ video below)

I finally caved in and bought a bottle of Talisker Storm. I know I said I wouldn’t because the 10yo gets better reviews and it’s cheaper but what can I say, I’m a Talisker addict! It exists, therefore I want it! Whose to say it doesn’t become my favourite whisky of all time?! Reviews can be interesting but nobody else has my taste buds, or matches my every like and dislike of flavours.

Jim Murray’s mark of 85.5/100 in his Whisky Bible classes the Storm as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying” so I did! Jim isn’t a fan of the nose, or the finish, but he says of the taste “showing malt to a higher degree than I have seen any Talisker before”. Comments from the Malt Maniacs include “almost Speyside sweetness” and “nice and easy to drink and finishes strongly with peat and smoke”. Sounds good to me!

Here’s The Whisky Jug’s video from You Tube, September 2014:

Talisker Storm NAS 70cl

Talisker Distiller’s Edition 2000-2011

Bought – Whisky Galore (Green Welly Stop), 11th March 2014

Ratings:
83/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 6 reviews)
90/100 – Ralfy, of www.ralfy.com
Review: – Ralfy – Talisker Distillers Edition – YouTube

It’s rare to see Ralfy give a malt 90 or more but, keep in mind that his review is from 2010 and whiskies change. Nevertheless, Talisker is one of the most dependable distilleries for keeping high standards year after year. I’m sure if Ralfy was to do a re-review of the latest version of the Distiller’s Edition he’d still give it a similar score.

Keith Wood, a reviewer for Malt Maniacs, finishes his remarks by saying “quite different from a Talisker but most enjoyable”. Sounds intriguing! I’m yet to taste mine but I’ll take Ralfy’s tip and have some bitter chocolate with it when I do.

What shocked me most about Ralfy’s review was the price he paid for this Talisker. Less than 4 years ago he paid under £34 for his bottle. The cheapest I can find it today is £15 more expensive. That’s a price rise of nearly 50% in a very short space of time. If the whisky bubble bursts the owners of the distilleries have only themselves and their greed to blame. Even if this Talisker is excellent it’s only really a variant of the standard 10yo but at nearly twice the price!

Talisker Distiller's Edition NAS 20cl

Talisker 10-year-old (2014)

Bought – Whisky Galore (Green Welly Stop), 11th March 2014

Ratings:
93/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
86/100 – Ralfy, of www.ralfy.com
Review: – Ralfy – Talisker 10yo re-reviewed – YouTube

And still I’m not tempted by the Talisker Storm. This new version of the 10yo came as part of a box set of three 20cl bottles including the 57 Degrees North and Distiller’s Edition. I’m glad to have a new 10yo so I can compare it with my old version from at least a decade ago.

I tend to think of the Storm as Talisker’s version of the Macallan Gold but at least Talisker have had the good sense to keep their original 10yo version. Macallan have ditched theirs in favour of the NAS (non-age statement) Gold. The new Storm makes it into the Whisky Bible 2014 and scores 85.5/100. When you think it’s about £10 more than a bottle of 10yo, which scores 93/100, why bother buying the Storm?!

Jim Murray says of this 10yo in his Whisky Bible “quite stupendous malt to be enjoyed at any time” and I couldn’t agree more! One of my all-time favourite whiskies.

Talisker 10yo 20cl new

Talisker 10-year-old

Gifts from many years ago. One bottle remains unopened but another is being gradually drained.

Ratings:
93/100 – Whisky Bible 2013
89/100 – Ralfy, of www.ralfy.com
Review: – Ralfy – Talisker 10yo – YouTube (first review)

I’ve included Ralfy’s first review of the Talisker 10yo done in 2009 because it’s closer to the age of the bottles I have. He reviews it again here in 2013 where he down-grades it to 86/100 proving that versions of whiskies do vary from release to release, year to year, like wine depending on how good the summer was for the grapes.

Talisker 10yo 70cl