Tag Archives: Talisker

Johnnie Walker Green Label (2015 -)

Bought: World Duty Free, 22nd March 2016

Ratings:
82.67/100 – Whiskybase (average from 8 member votes) for 100cl version
84/100 – Ralfy (of www.ralfy.com)

The Johnnie Walker ‘Green Label’ first appeared in 2005 but by 2013 it was discontinued everywhere other than in Asia. In 2015 it returned (hurray!) with a limited edition to mark its 10-year anniversary. But rather than disappear again it has remained due to popular demand, and by having enough stock of the whisky that go into this blended malt. As it states on the box this is a vatting together of Talisker, Linkwood, Cragganmore and Caol Ila, which all have to be a minimum of 15 years old. And with no grain whisky to interfere with the mix you get to play a guessing game as to which of these 4 classic single malts you can spot in the taste.

Even though it’s been 2 years since the Green Label (GL) returned I see that Jim Murray’s ‘Whisky Bible’ book still contains his review from many years ago (95/100) so I haven’t included that. 82.6/100 on Whiskybase is for my 100cl version but the 70cl scores higher with 83.4/100 from 76 votes (it’s the same stuff in both bottles). That’s a pretty good score. Comments include “no big challenge, no need of too much attention. Simple but decent”, “what it lacks is a bit of power, but then again, the balance between subtle smoke and sweetness is well-done” and “initial taste is very good and promising, but the body never delivers. And it’s just downhill from there, with an almost non existing finish.”

Although ratings appear to be good the new GL clearly has its faults, especially to those who tried the previous incarnation. When Ralfy did his first YouTube review of the GL in 2010 he scored it a fantastic 89/100 but in his re-review in 2016 (below) he’s downgraded it to 84/100. He felt it had been slightly sanitised since his last review. ‘Malts of Montreal’ says in his YouTube review of September 2015 (here) that the old version was more smoky and peaty whereas the new GL is sweeter. This could well upset the Coal Ila and Talisker fans and I certainly didn’t taste as much Talisker as I was hoping when I tried it. But overall, without comparison to the previous version, the Johnnie Walker Green Label is a good blended malt and an enjoyable experience on the palate.

Ralfy’s thoughts on YouTube (April 2016):

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Poit Dhubh 12-year-old (46% version)

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 10th January 2017

Ratings:
88/100 – Whisky Bible 2006
81/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)
81/100 – Serge Valentin of Whiskyfun.com

You wouldn’t look at “Poit Dhubh” and think it was pronounced “Potch Ghoo” but it is. That’s the wonders of the Gaelic language for you. As it proudly states on the back of the 70cl bottle “malt whisky specially produced for the Gaelic speaking islands of the Scottish Hebrides and for connoisseurs throughout the world”. It goes on to say that Poit Dhubh (meaning ‘black pot’, a term for an illicit still) is not chill-filtered to ensure the “oils contribute to its rare and soft, distinguishing flavour”. Marketing also states that its entirely natural so no added caramel either. And at 46% this whisky is looking worthy of 88/100 in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2006, which classifies the Poit Dhubh as “very good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying”.

The Poit Dhubh 12yo is still produced today by Pràban na Linne Limited (The Gaelic Whisky Company) along with an 8yo and 21yo. They also do the blends ‘Té Bheag’ and ‘Mac Na Mara’. The current Poit Dhubh is still natural but 43% compared to my older 46% version. Quite when the 46% bottle dates from is unclear (2005?) but there are 10 different versions of the Poit Dhubh 12yo listed on Whiskybase. Strangely Whiskybase categorise my bottle as ‘single malt’ but elsewhere it’s described as vatted or blended malt (as is the current 43% version). Scotch Whisky Auctions sold a bottle of Poit Dhubh 12yo, 46%, in July 2014, which they summarised as “vatted malt (technically a combination of several single malts). Talisker comprises the majority of the malt, reflecting the provenance of its parent company, which is based on the Isle of Skye. The remainder of the blend is composed of various Speyside malts.”

Serge Valentin of Whiskyfun.com gives the Poit Dhubh 12yo 46% a very good 81/100 and remarks, “I think it’s the best Poit Dhubh I ever had, but I think I only had three or four before. Good stuff but at the same price, why not buy the genuine single malt from that island?” [Talisker]. His tasting notes consist of:

Nose: Dry whisky. Notes of wet chalk, very faint smoke, paper, lager beer and lemon-sprinkled porridge, then sea air. More smoke but also more notes of old wood (barrel) after a moment.
Taste: I don’t know if it’s my mind playing tricks to me but it does taste like Talisker (Pràban na Linne are on Skye.) ‘Smoked oranges’, pepper, salt, lime and kippers.
Finish: Rather long, more on lemon.

Here’s Ralfy with his review of the more modern 43% version of the Poit Dhubh 12yo, which he scores a fantastic 89/100 (May 2010):

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

Talisker ‘Friends of the Classic Malts’ NAS

Bought: Master of Malt, 3rd August 2016

Ratings:
87.08/100 – Whiskybase (average from 81 member votes)

As a fan of Talisker I’ve wanted the ‘Friends of the Classic Malts’ (FotCM) for a while but I felt the cost was too high for yet another NAS (non-age statement). Thankfully ‘Master of Malt’ do a 3ml sample, which is good enough for a small taster. To Talisker’s credit this version of FotCM, released in 2013, is 48%, which is a bit stronger than their standard 45.8%. The previous version of the FotCM, releases in 2007, was a 12yo but it too was 45.8%. Age or NAS? Whiskybase members rate the 12yo 85/100 and my more potent NAS two points more at 87/100.

So what do people think of this Talisker? Serge Valentin of Whiskyfun.com thinks it tastes like aged gin and prefers the Talisker Storms. Nevertheless he scores it a respectable 80/100. Whiskybase comments include “a truly unusual whisky! Spicy wood, that indefinable acidic flavour and an unusual freshness in taste make this interesting drops into something special. A thoroughly delicious whisky and a new experience for me.” But also “it’s almost a liqueur. If you like utterly sweet drams, than you may want to purchase this. I find it somewhat uninteresting.”

The main reason I didn’t track down a full bottle for £80 is because, as someone says on Whiskybase, “compared to the Ten: Stick with the Ten.” I love the Talisker 10yo so much there’s a good chance I’d be disappointed. I certainly was when I tried the 18yo and found I preferred the 10yo. Perhaps the 10yo is my perfect Talisker? A side-by-side comparison with this latest FotCM is on the cards!

Talisker Friends of the Classic Malts NAS 3cl

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 5-year-old

Bought: The Whisky Shop, 11th May 2015

Ratings:
87/100 – Whiskybase (based on 1 member vote)

To a collector, this bottle has several plus points. It’s from a good distillery, it’s from a limited release of 437 bottles, and it has the year of distillation on it (2008). Unfortunately, it’s only 5 years old. Recently I was looking at a bottle of Glen Grant 5yo, distilled in 1970, selling for £180. That’s 38 years older than my Talisker, which cost about £60. If I have to wait 38 years to sell it at auction for a £120 profit, pass me a straw and I’ll drink it now! You could argue that the Glen Grant 5yo wasn’t a limited release but it’s bottled by the distillery. My Talisker is by an independent bottler, which generally makes less money at auction than a distillery bottling.

Thankfully I’m a big fan of the Talisker taste, so this bottle is destined for consumption. I’ve often heard it said of Islay whiskies that they taste good at a young age (and they do) because of their robust and flavoursome nature. This got me wondering if it would be the same or similar with Talisker, which has a very rounded and distinctive taste. Although not as powerful as some of the pungent Islays, I’m sure 5 years of maturing will bring out some of the early qualities of Talisker.

With a mere 437 bottles in existence, I’m not surprised there is only one review on Whiskybase but 87/100 is an excellent score. I hope I agree when I finally get a chance to taste it. I feel a comparison with the 10yo coming on!

Talisker 5yo 70cl

Talisker 2008 6-year-old Hepburn’s Choice

Bought: Whisky Barrel, 6th May 2015

Ratings:
92.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
84/100 – Whiskybase (average from 5 member votes)

The Hepburn’s Choice range of whiskies are by the independent bottler ‘Langside Distillers’ (also known as ‘Douglas of Drumlanrig”). They’ve produced three versions of this Talisker 6yo and one of a 5yo. Only one 6yo is mentioned in the Whisky Bible 2015, which I’m pleased to say is the bottle I have. A limited release of 410, distilled in 2008 and bottled in 2014.

The Whisky Bible’s author, Jim Murray, rates this dram 92.5/100, which classifies it as “brilliant”. He says of the taste “malty, juicily so, with a lovely muscovado sugar backdrop.” And summaries with “a very classy act”.

At 46%, non-chill-filtered, no added colouring and from a single cask, there’s a lot of good qualities about this Talisker. It might be young but this doesn’t count against it. As a fan of Talisker, it makes a nice addition to my collection. I wonder how it will compare against the Talisker 18yo and 25yo?

Talisker 6yo 70cl

Talisker 25-year-old 1979/2004

Bought: Best of Whisky (Holland), 1st May 2015

Ratings:
94/100 – Whisky Bible 2006
91/100 – Whiskybase (average from 120 member votes)

Every collection will have its stars, and for me this Talisker 25yo is one of mine. Bottled in 2004, I was quite surprised to find it being sold as ‘new’ in 2015, 11 years later. But, who knows where it’s been. A lot of the whisky shops buy bottles from auction and sell them for a profit through their online stores. As a ‘limited’ edition of 21,000, it probably sold out within a year or two of its initial release. I doubt my source got it directly from Talisker this year.

I had to go back to the Whisky Bible 2006 to find Jim Murray’s review of this Talisker 25yo. According to him, only the 2006 release of the 25yo is better, which he scores 95/100. But 94/100 still classifies this dram as a “superstar whisky that gives us all a reason to live.” In his review he finds the nose rather unconvincing but says of the taste “sweet malt with more than a hint of exotic fruit, and then the most wonderful multiplying of smoke towards the middle, starting off as a suggestion and ending as a statement; oak also arrives in the first nanosecond but is controlled and adds structure.” The finish scores a perfect 25/25 with “fizzing, buzzing spices on a bed of Old Jamaica fruit chocolate. Soft oils help ensure this is the most faultless of finales.” He concludes with “Magical and enchanting”.

91/100 on Whiskybase from 119 member votes is one of the highest marks I’ve seen on that site for one of the bottles in my collection. The 2006 edition Jim Murray thinks is better scores half a point less with 90.5/100 from 123 member votes on Whiskybase, so it’s too close to say which is best.

I have a price list from a bar in Aberdeen called ‘The Grill’ and they are selling a measure of the Talisker 2009 25yo for £22.50. This scores 88.5/100 in the Whisky Bible 2015. Not quite as prestigious as the 2004 edition, but at a price that makes me want to go pee-pee! Saying that, The Whisky Exchange are selling my 2004 bottle right now for £350, so you’d expect a measure to be quite expensive.

Talisker 2004 25yo 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