Talisker is one of those distilleries that is not exactly easy to find from indie bottlers. Not as impossible as Oban, but not exactly easy. The exception to the rule has been sub 10 year old single casks, which have been trickling out over the last handful of years. Does Diageo require any bottlers who get ahold of their casks to put it on the market it before it becomes competition for their own 10 Year? Or is it just an attempt to cater to the market for youthful, fiery peated malts?
This whisky was distilled in November 2009, filled into a sherry hogshead, then bottled in November 2016 at 50% without coloring or chill filtration for K&L Wines.
Thanks to Florin for splitting this bottle with me.
Old Malt Cask Talisker 6 Year 2009/2016 Cask HL 12934 for K&L
Nose: thick savory sherry, dry peat smoke, herbal, vanilla, balsamic vinegar, pineapple, clean malt in the background. After adding a few drops of water it takes on a more youthful cast with the herbal/grassy elements amplified, the sherry pushed into the background, and the peat taking on a fresher/less smoky mode.
Taste: youthful sharpness up front, unfolding into moderately sweet sherry, some heat around the middle, then fading into malt and savory peat with oak in the background at the back. After dilution the sherry becomes more balanced between sweetness and savoriness, the oak spreads out and gives it a bittersweet profile overall,
Finish: savory, dry peat smoke, sherry residue, clean malt, moderate oak - rounded but not particularly sweet
While I've been confused by all these young Taliskers hitting the market over the last few years, but I have to admit that this one works. The cask is active enough to round off some of the edges, without completely demolishing the spirit and turning it into just another sherry bomb. Reducing this cask to 50% was a good choice as it gives enough intensity to be interesting without the heat being overwhelming.
At the same time, I can imagine putting this together with a bourbon cask or two after another couple of years and coming out with something even better when they've had some more time to develop. Will we see any of those in future? I suspect not given the current trends, but we can hope.
For a very different take on this whisky, see MAO's less than positive review.
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