...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Single Malt Report: Lagavulin 1998 Distillers Edition (2014)

Ah the Distillers Edition, without an apostrophe.  So it's not the Distiller's Edition or the Distillers' Edition, but the Distillers Edition.  Is that The Queen's Punctuation?  Why should we want to take possession of this whisky if the distillers don't?  Have I made this joke before?  Yes, yes I have.

That's really all there is for the introduction today.  Okay, well, just a little more perhaps.  This is the second of the three regular/annual Lagavulin releases for 2014 that I'm reviewing this week (two years after their release).  The Lagavulin Distillers Edition (LDE) takes the 16 year old's base and gives it an additional short (6 month?) finish in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks.  Peat + sugary sherry.  Though that combo often doesn't work, the some folks think the LDEs always do.

My sample comes from this bottle which was part of
the OCSC July 2015 event

Distillery: Lagavulin
Owner: Diageo
Type: Single Malt
Region: Islay
Maturation & Age: approximately 16 years in ex-bourbon casks, then a short period of time in former Pedro Ximenez sherry casks
Chill-filtration? Yes
Caramel coloring? Likely so
Alcohol by Volume: 43%

NEAT
Its color is DiageoDoublePlusGold™.

The nose is a mix of the pretty and gritty.  The former is represented by loads of baked dried fruits, grape jam, fresh blueberries and plums, and floral honey.  The latter fills in the edges with rocks, sand, seaweed, and rubber bands.

The palate has a Caol-Ila-level of peat action which runs straight through the center of chocolate covered jelly rings.  There are also gumdrops, mint extract, and cinnamon-sugar cookies.  At first it feels very light on alcohol content, but it does develop some heat and a sharper mineral bite after some time in the glass.  It also picks up something I can only describe as peated watermelon Jolly Ranchers.

It finishes with berry fruit leather, mint candy, wood spice, seaweed, peat smoke residue, and a rumbling chili pepper heat.

WITH WATER (~30%abv)
The nose becomes more chocolatey, pruney, and floral.  New metal surface and cap gun caps rest in the back.  A sandy/ocean note sits in the midground.

Again the peat reads louder in the palate, where it's now ashy.  Smaller notes of mint, chili peppers, cinnamon candy, anise, and fertilizer rotate throughout.

The finish still has some weight as if the abv was higher than 30.  Things get pretty sweet here with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Maybe some black pepper.  The peat is nearly absent.

COMMENTS:
Curious stuff going on in this one.  The nose shows very little peat, mostly running on PX sticky fruitiness, but the palate frees the peat and drops the fruit.  Also, this is the rare whisky where I've found the palate to be more complex than the nose.  The whole thing takes to water pretty well, but there it also plays hide and seek with the spirit character.  Overall nothing really wows here, but neither does it demonstrate any weaknesses.

A lot of folks really like the Lagavulin Distillers Editions.  It's not that I don't like them, but I've never found any reason to be too enthusiastic about the quality.  The problems are exacerbated by the fact that I can get the regular 16yo (which I always enjoy more) for $57 at my local Costco, meanwhile the local specialty retailers (with only a couple exceptions) are selling the LDE for $120+.  But even if I were to ignore pricing, I'd take the 16 over the LDE any day.  And if I were to pay $100+, that money would go to the other annual Limited Edition Lagavulin, which I'll review tomorrow.

Availability - Many specialty liquor retailers
Pricing - $75-$100 on the East Coast, $100-$140 on the West Coast
Rating - 84

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Life of a Whisky Bottle: Lagavulin 16 year old (2014)

Yes, I've reviewed Lagavulin 16 before, but I'm doing this again for two reasons.  Firstly, this is from my own bottle.  Secondly, and thematically, this I'm reviewing all three regular range Lagavulins from 2014 this week.

This was a strange bottle.  It was opened in October 2014 and.......I didn't like it very much.  It was oddly bland, bleh, and watery.  So that December, I put the bottle away half full.  I brought it back out five months later, planning to do some blending with it, but when I poured a glass the whisky had improved significantly.  I immediately set aside a sample of this good part of the bottle.  That little bottle joined another little bottle of the sample I'd taken from the unimpressive top half.  I tasted the samples side-by-side this past Sunday night!

Distillery: Lagavulin
Owner: Diageo
Type: Single Malt
Region: Islay
Maturation: probably a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks
Age: minimum 16 years
Chill-filtration? Yes
Caramel coloring? Yes
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Bottle code: L4219CM000
(Bottle was gifted to me after I led a private group tasting event)

This bottle's usage:
25% - Swaps and shares
15% - Whisky experiments
15% - Graded tastings
45% - Casual drinking



FROM THE TOP HALF OF BOTTLE:

NEAT
Its color is, of course, DiageoGold™.

The nose begins with ocean-soaked peat that feels more toasted than smoked.  At first.  Then comes the next-day cigar butt note, which is soon met by anise and peach skin.  Wasabi (which, admittedly, I had the night I did the tasting) and hot oregano notes float throughout.  Brief notes of manure and dried cherries arrive later.

A nice even bitterness runs throughout the palate, joined by rolling smoke clouds, a vanilla cookie sweetness underneath.  After 10-15 minutes a big green mossy note rises up.  Then there's a little bit of ash, salt, and sand.  A note I used to think was fish, is actually seaweed.  After 25 minutes a buttery caramel notes starts to take over.  Despite all these notes, the mouthfeel is quite thin.

There's a good length to the finish considering the thinness of the mouthfeel and abv.  Tart citrus, moss, sand, seaweed, and nice bitter smoke.  A happy lack of sweetness.

WITH WATER (~30%abv)
The nose becomes more floral and less smoky.  There's some confectioner's sugar, orange candy, and a hint of band-aids.

The palate is earthy and rooty, mixed with a slight sweetness.  Sort of like burnt sugar cookies.  Hint of herbal bitterness.

The finish is now more sweet than bitter.  Vanilla and dried seaweed.

COMMENTS:
There is something very comforting about Lagavulin 16's nose.  The ocean and peat and subtle fruitiness are an easy combo to ease into.  The ocean note is particularly fascinating since most of the current production is shipped to the mainland and not aged in seaside warehouses.  Unfortunately the palate feels quite thin and watery.  It's missing body and oompf.  Also it's almost totally bereft of sherry cask character.  Perhaps this is due to the wood reconditioning referenced in this David OG post about Lagavulin.  I'd take Caol Ila 12yo over this.



FROM THE BOTTLE HALF OF THE BOTTLE:

NEAT
The nose is huge, rich with dried fruits (like cherries, cranberries, and apricots) and a cinnamon syrup.  The peat has gone floral, like some teenage Longrows.  Roses and more roses.  Very pretty.  There's also barbecue pork, raw cocoa, and spicy honey.  There's hint of raspberry jam hiding behind a short mossy wall.

The palate is much denser and dirtier now.  Big char and ash (reminiscent of recent Ardbeg Ten), dark chocolate, chili oil, and charred limes.  This balanced out by an orangey sweetness, black grapes, and a hint of that cinnamon syrup.

The sweets vanish from the palate leaving an orange peel essence.  Very dark chocolate, salt, ash, softer peat, and more of that chili oil note follow.

WITH WATER (~30%abv)
More citrus in the nose now.  The floral note backs into the midground.  Horse stable, beach sand, and a hint of peaches.

The palate is more candied, tangy.  The ash has washed away.  More peppercorns than chili oil.  A squirt of clover honey.

The finish is peppery and lightly sweet, with moderate smoke and pencil shavings.

COMMENTS:
Damn.  This is fab.  It might be the best Lagavulin 16yo I've had.  (And, no, I've never had any of the White Horse bottlings.)  The nose and palate are immense and full considering the low ABV.  Some good age shows in the nose, with the lovely peat and dense rich fruit, but there's still plenty of crisp youth existing alongside, especially in the palate.



IN CONCLUSION:
This bottle went from the weakest Lag 16 to the strongest Lag 16 I've ever had.  The thinness became fatness, if you will.  Something excellent happened as oxygen commingled with the whisky in the dark for five months in a half full bottle.  And it taught me not to give up on a bottle.  Of course, not all bottles recover like this, in fact I can't think of too many more that have transformed as such, but I may just experiment with oxidation more often in the future.

Availability - Almost all specialty liquor stores
Pricing - $65 to $115(!), also California Costcos often sell it for $56.99
Rating - 89 (bottom half only, the top half was 10+ points lower)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Single Malt Report: Auchentoshan 23 year old 1990 Archives #6850

On Wednesday and Thursday I reviewed Auchentoshan whiskies and today I will again review an Auchentoshan whisky.  And then that's it for Auchentoshan here, for the foreseeable future.  There ain't no samples of it left in my stash.

Today's Lowland single malt is the oldest of this week's three, but also has the lowest alcohol-by-volume.  The good folks at Archives, who are also the proprietors of the Whiskybase shop, selected a hogshead which may have been losing more to the angels (or devils or thieves or rats) than the cask owner may have desired.  Archives and Whisky-Fässle split the cask which was weighing in at a total of 47.7%abv and had an outturn of only 142, which means it had a loss of around 60% of its contents.  That's a lot of empty cask space.  These sorts of casks can be pretty fun, though they can also be pretty gross.  Having enjoyed a number of Archives's whiskies, I'm betting on the former.


Distillery: Auchentoshan
Independent Bottler: Archives
Range: The Indian ducks and their allies
Age: 23 years old (11/11/1990 to 9/2014)
Maturation: Hogshead
Cask #: 6850
Limited bottling: 71
Region: Lowlands
Alcohol by Volume: 47.7%

NEAT
The color is the lightest of the three whiskies, a nice straw color.

That straw comes through on the nose.  Oats, barley, rice cakes.  Lightly earthy.  Soon it develops a nice cookie dough note that lingers throughout.  That's followed up cherry Jolly Ranchers, fresh raspberries, and sesame seeds.

The softly layered palate has some earth, honeyed sweetness, something savory (beef stock?), white fruits, lemons, and limes.  A nice barley delivery.

The lightly sweet finish shows honey, lemons, and toasted oak spices.  Despite the fragility of notes, it lasts for a long time.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The fruit gets louder in the nose, with stone fruits joining the berries.  Black licorice.  Still lots of cereal grains.

The palate becomes surprisingly complex.  Moss, barley, fresh herbs, something metallic (copper?), and a nice compact white fruit and honey concoction.  Yet the sweetness is kept mild and steady.

The finish has the fresh herbs and moss.  Mild honey sweetness again, now encased in a menthol glow.

COMMENTS:
It was Jordan of Chemistry of the Cocktail who convinced me to try this.  And the really weird thing about this whisky -- considering my experience with indie Auchentoshans and this cask's strange outturn -- is that it's not at all weird.  Between the hay, earth, grains, berries, and green herbs it proves to be a very rustic whisky.  Something nice and light for a country spring evening.

What is unusual about it is its youth and the prominence of the barley spirit.  I'm going to guess that may have something to do with the mostly empty cask.  Time has softened the rougher parts of the new make, but left its heart.  CJ and Menno and whomever else has the good nose over there, have done it again.

Availability - Only through Whiskybase Shop
Pricing - €135 pre-shipping
Rating - 89

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Single Malt Report: Auchentoshan 15 year old 1997 Old Malt Cask #HL9807

This is the second of three indie Auchentoshan reviews this week.  As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I enjoy independently bottled Auchentoshan better than the official ones because the indie Auchs are consistently odd, in a good way.  This whisky, whose sample was provided by Florin (a prince) is from the Laing family's Old Malt Cask range.


Distillery: Auchentoshan
Independent Bottler: Hunter Laing
Range: Old Malt Cask
Age: 15 years old (12/1997 to 5/2013)
Maturation: refill hogshead
Cask #: HL9807
Limited bottling: 211
Region: Lowlands
Alcohol by Volume: 50%

NEAT
Though older than yesterday's 13yo, its color is noticeably lighter.

Once again, the nose fires all sorts of notes out at once.  Peach nectar, anise, menthol, whipped butter, strawberry candy, and cookie dough.  Giving it some time in the glass......it gets rosier, picks up some lemon candy, and something moss-like without actually being peat.

The palate starts out with a pleasantly dirty earthy note.  A bit of a pepper sting up front.  Ginger beer.  The third sip suddenly produces a massive floral note.  Violets, perhaps?  And then the curious mossy note from the nose.

The finish is long and citrusy, growing more sweeter with time.  Smaller notes of caramel and green herbs appear here and there.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
Now there are band-aids in the nose.  Dirty hay, too.  Then berry jam and a solid malt note.

The farmy note shows up in the palate too.  But it's also sweet and lemony with some baking spice around the edges.

The finish is sweet, spicy, citrusy, and farmy.

COMMENTS:
Again, an indie Auchentoshan that keeps cranking out simultaneous dissimilar notes, and then changes course, and then does it from a different angle.  I don't know what to say other than, it usually works.  If you're looking for a well sculpted consistent whisky, then this won't do it for you.  Though I like it, I wouldn't actually go out and buy a bottle of the stuff because I can imagine it gets exhausting pretty quickly.

Availability - Perhaps some specialty European retailers
Pricing - $60-$80 (without shipping)
Rating - 82

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Single Malt Report: Auchentoshan 13 year old 2000 Exclusive Casks

Going from triple-distilled Irish whiskey to its mate a triple-distilled Scotch Whisky 150 miles away by air.  I'm not the biggest fan of Auchentoshan's regular official range, yet I've always enjoyed independent releases of its whisky.  And I have to ask, am I the only one who finds every single indie Auchentoshan odd?  Will this week's three bottlings continue the weird streak?

First up is the youngest and strongest of the three, a 13 year old from The Creative Whisky Company's Exclusive Casks line.  My last post about one of their whiskies caused some hubbub.  Let's see if this one will do the same.

I actually wrote about this whisky a year and a half ago while doing an eight-whisky tasting.  The whisky was weird (as usual, as mentioned), but not my brand of weird.  I was promptly told privately, by two people whose palates I respect, that I was out of my Vulcan mind.  Try it again, they said, it must have been the sample!  Okay then somebody give me a new sample, I said.  Nothing.  So I went out and got the sample myself, grabbing THE LAST bottle of it anywhere (according to Total Wine's website) for March's OCSC event.  And, indeed, the whisky elicited some "That's interesting" comments from club members.  I tried a half ounce and found it most......drinkable.  Here's a review of a larger sample, nosed in the dark confines of my whisky cave.


Distillery: Auchentoshan
Independent Bottler: The Creative Whisky Co.
Exclusive to: Total Wine & More
Age: 13 years old (2000 - ???)
Maturation: likely (2) refill American oak casks
Limited bottling: 488
Region: Lowlands
Alcohol by Volume: 53.6%

NEAT
Its color is light yellow.

Its nose begins with a pleasant mix of barley, lemon zest, and spearmint.  And then a blast of white rye spirit slams through.  Giving it a few minutes......now there's papaya and cloves.  Black cherry soda.  Big League Chew (bubblegum).  Okay then.

The palate is barley spirit-forward as well, though never too sweet.  Some Ceylon cinnamon and clover honey.  Suddenly it develops a rooty earthy note.  Some mushrooms too.  And here's the bubblegum.

The finish gets sweeter than the palate.  Some sugar in with the cinnamon.  It's bold and fizzy.  Fudgey at times.  Rich and sticky.  And the bubblegum.

Dear god, what'll happen if I add water...

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
Oooh, the nose gets super fruity and totally nails the candy shop thing better than Glenmorangie Milsean (and without the wine cask futzing, mind you).  Bubblegum, gummy bears, Big Red chewing gum.

The palate remains rich at this strength.  Big Red gum, honey, fresh ginger, and rock candy.  Still has that slight earthy thing underneath.

It finishes sticky sweet.  Bubblegum, oranges, and a fragrant floral tea.

COMMENTS:
It's a cracker.  And damn it, Andy, I found the Big League Chew note too.

It's the nose that wins here, with or without water.  It's all a bit schizo, especially the neat palate, but it usually works.  It may even work best *glup* with water, which pulls things together as best as possible.  But trying to corralling its separate parts is like herding two-year olds, yet slightly less stressful.

So what about that original mini-review?  I caught all the candy and barley notes in both instances, but I didn't get the fetid cheesy notes this time, which definitely helped it out.  Perhaps six months in a half empty sample bottle did the whisky no favors the first time.  I still say this is some weird whisky, but this time I can see what the fuss was about.

Availability - Gone
Pricing - $80
Rating - 86

Monday, April 25, 2016

A tale of two Bushmills White Labels: Diageo era (2015) and Irish Distillers era (1980s)

I've always had issues with Bushmills White Label blended whiskey.  Even when I was not so choosy about my Irish whiskies, it was the last one I'd go for.  Sometimes I'd wondered if this was Diageo's fault.  (Of course he'd wonder that, you're thinking.)  It was as if they'd taken the Johnnie Walker Red Approach to this blend.  Bushmills's Ulster malt whiskey is perfectly serviceable stuff, sometimes quite good, so was Diageo taking potentially salvageable malt and drowning it in the cheapest grain whiskey they could find?  From an accountant's perspective the answer is, of course they are.  It's their cheapest product, it had better have the cheapest ingredients.  Yet, this Irish fan knows that all of the Republic of Ireland's Midleton Distillery's blends, priced the same or less than Bushmills White, are of higher quality.  And Bushmills even uses Midleton's grain whiskey.  It's not like the Catholics know something the Protestants don't know.  About whiskey, I mean.  So......I start to blame the producers for giving up on quality control.

Segue!

When dusty hunting in Southern California, one is lucky if one finds something cool in 1 out of 10 stores.  During a particularly fruitless dusty hunt, I found myself going 0-for-11.  Store 12 proved to be uninspiring too, so when I spotted an old 200mL of Bushmills for $5 I bought it, figuring it would be my lone thing to show for the day, like the little gold painted plastic trophies with sharp edges given out to Little Leaguers at the end of the season because their parents paid the league entry fee at the start of the season.  I filed this trophy next to another, an '80s Early Times bourbon.


When I bought it, I thought the whiskey was from the 1990s, but upon unearthing it recently, I saw that it was actually from the '80s.  A bonus trophy!  Like for the kid who draws the most walks on his team.  It's not that he's a good baseball player; he doesn't swing because he doesn't actually know the strike zone because he probably needs glasses but he hasn't told his parents yet because his dad just got laid off from the paint factory for drinking BUSHMILLS on the job and the boy has heard that glasses cost a lot of money.  Whew, I didn't know where I was going with that but I saved it right there.  The bottle is post-1980 because it measures in metric and pre-1989 because it doesn't have the government warning.


I also had a mini of the current version of Bushmills White because I'm a masochist.  That bottle has an early 2015 bottle code and a Diageo reference on the back, thus it was made during Diageo's ownership period.  But since Diageo didn't buy Bushmills until 2005, who made my bottle of the old stuff?  Irish Distillers owned Bushmills from 1972 to 1987, when it was then sold to Pernod Ricard.  I believe my bottle is genuine Irish Distillers stuff because Brown Forman was the bottle's importer and Brown Forman was under contract with Irish Distillers to import Bushmills to the US.


So if you've skipped down here because you're getting all TL;DR on me, see at least the above paragraph.

Taste Off!

NEAT (40%abv)

Diageo 2015 bottling
Its color is quite light so there is, thankfully, a minimum of e150a colorant in the mix.  The nose is fruitier and more floral than I'd remembered, though often it smells like straight up grain whiskey.  There's some dried apricots and vanilla, though that fades quickly.  It gets very grassy after 30 minutes in the glass.  The palate is hot.  Big on notebook paper and a plain sugariness.  Some nondescript white fruitiness.  A hint of shortbread.  Bitter, sour berries.  Feels like a watery Jameson.  Here's the heart of the problem, it finishes rough and bitter.  It has the vague vanilla and shortbread notes, but it ends up reading as something between a cheap Canadian whiskey and vanilla vodka.

Irish Distillers 1980s bottling
Its color is similar to the current version, maybe a hint lighter.  The nose is very malty, and the fruit and flowers are well defined.  Fresh lemons, citronella, orange blossoms, and jasmine.  Gets more biscuity (or cookie-ish for us Americans) with time.  After 30 minutes, a rich vanilla bean note arrives and the citronella brightens.  A much thicker mouthfeel in the palate.  Malt and milk chocolate.  Mandarin oranges and toasted oak spices.  Simple but rich.  It finishes mildly with nice notes of vanilla cake and caramel sauce. Hints of citrus and baking spices linger underneath.

Comments: So far the Irish Distillers blend has the advantage, but part of that is due to the weakness in the Diageo version's palate and finish.  The '80s blend has a thickness and lusciousness that is missing from most current Irish (and Scottish) blends.  And I can only guess that's due to less grain and a better matured malt content.



Normally, I do a round on the rocks when reviewing cheaper blends.  But I just couldn't bring myself to add ice to this stuff because I just always drink Irish whiskey neat.  So I decided to add water and drop the ABV quite a bit, much like blenders (allegedly) do when assembling their products.

WITH WATER (~30%abv)

Diageo 2015 bottling
The nose is still there, a good sign.  Fizzy, like ginger ale and tonic water.  Orange candy, generic vanilla and caramel, and some plain woody notes.  A hint of malt and lime in the palate.  Tangy, woody.  Mostly watery vanilla.  Not much in the finish.  Tangy with a peppery bite and little bit of vanilla.

Irish Distillers 1980s bottling
Oh my goodness.  The nose is incredibly rich.  TONS of chocolate.  Egg creme soda.  Circling notes of caramel chews, toffee pudding, and butterscotch.  "Holy crap," says my notes.  Vanilla beans, orange blossoms, and fresh limes.  A gorgeous rose note.  A whole bowl of fresh citrus fruits.  The palate remains plenty thick.  Better vanilla notes.  A touch grassy, but also brightly peppery and fizzy.  A little bit of the rosy notes show up in the finish, along with vanilla beans and peppercorns.

Comments: Stunned. The '80s bottling's nose was one of the loveliest I've ever experienced, and it went on and on.  I've never found a blend to open up like this at such a low ABV.  I'm just going to enjoy the rest of this bottle at 30%abv.  The current version doesn't totally collapse, but it is breaking apart.  These are two very different whiskies at this point.



That was so much fun that I decided to add some more water for the final few milliliters just to see what would happen.

WITH WATER (~25%abv)

Diageo 2015 bottling
The nose is still perky, now all lemon juice and Belgian witbier.  The palate is bitter with moderate notes of vanilla and caramel.  Not much left of the finish, as it's mostly just bitter.

Irish Distillers 1980s bottling
That nose is still kickin', full of Balblair fruitiness.  Honeydew, mango, and lychee.  Maybe some ocean air.  The palate is very creamy.  Cream puffs, milk chocolate, and malt.  The fruit returns in the finish, with just a hint of tartness.

Comments: The current edition's nose is still pretty good, but the palate is done for.  Meanwhile, Mr. '80s still works very well.  Even the palate is keeps on clicking.



FINAL COMMENTARY:
The 1980s bottling is the sturdiest 40%abv blend I've ever had.  And, in my experience, it has one of the best noses on any blend, period.  At 30%abv it's pure joy.  Bushmills White Label once had a very good recipe with exemplary ingredients, but I fear that was lost long ago.  The good news about the current version is that it's better than I'd remembered (faint praise!).  I thought I'd be giving this one a super low score, but the nose works moderately well for a $20 blend.  The palate is still problematic and the finish is worse.  Yet, it's better than most $20 scotch blends (even fainter praise!).  But if you're out treasure hunting around old liquor stores and you're in a rut, don't be so quick to pass up on an old Bushmills.  You may be in for a treat.

Diageo 2015 bottling
Availability - Everywhere
Pricing - $16-$28 for 750mL in the US
Rating - 71

Irish Distillers 1980s bottling
Availability - Happy hunting!
Pricing - my 200mL cost $5.19
Rating - 89 (add water!)

Friday, April 22, 2016

Single Malt Report: Talisker Port Ruighe

Each week, my reviews have some sort of theme that ties them together.  This week originally had no theme, since I was just trying to review some current stuff.  But now I realize that there is a line that connects all three reviews.  GlenDronach Peated, Highland Park Dark Origins, and Talisker Port Ruighe are all recent NAS products that venture into new territory for their well respected distilleries.

Talisker Port Ruighe (pronounced por-tree, I believe) entered the market right on the heels of Talisker Storm in 2013.  Those were released in April and May, then Talisker Dark Storm appeared in July, and soon after that Talisker Skye showed up.  Suddenly Talisker had a whole portfolio of NAS whiskies.  And I wondered, did any market ever really ask for this?

I've had Storm and Skye.  Storm was a mixed bag, though better than I'd expected and certainly had more punch than Skye.  I've grown to like port cask whisky more and more over the past few years, so I'm holding out a little bit of hope that Talisker can pull it off.  I mean, Amrut does a mean port finished whisky, can't Diageo pull off something of similar quality with so many more resources at their disposal?

Distillery: Talisker
Ownership: Diageo
Region: Isle of Skye
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: ???
Maturation: A combination of whisky aged in American oak casks, European oak casks, and "deeply charred" casks is then finished in ex-port wine casks.
Alcohol by Volume: 45.8%
Chillfiltered? Yes
Caramel Colored? Yes
(Thanks to Brett for the sample!)

NEAT
At first the nose is like The Speakeasy with a layer of sugary candy on top.  Lots of cinnamon, peat moss, and raspberry jam.  Then maybe some prunes, definitely a quantity of struck matches, and an old parmesan wedge.

The palate is smokey mezcal with grape candy and very strong acidic notes.  Red Hots candies, salt, a little bit of cayenne pepper, dried apricots, hay, and mild peat.

The very sweet finale has spoons of raspberry and strawberry jam and lots of fruit acid.  Swisher Sweets and applesauce with cinnamon.  Maybe a hint of peat.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose has a little bit of that Milsean candy shop thing, but here it reads like someone spilled a glass of port on a new carpet.  And some orange pixy stix.  And it's slightly cheesy.

The palate dissolves mostly into narrow sensations rather than notes.  Bitter, sweet, slightly farmy, very acidic.  Grapey port.

The finish is just like the palate, though quite long.

COMMENTARY:
If you were to tell me this was a complete failure of a whisky, I'd have a hard time disagreeing with you.  As if Talisker Port Ruighe were Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban's chain smoking dyslexic brother, absolutely nothing congeals in this whisky and all its parts fly off in separate directions.  It's as if someone in the warehouse dumped a bottle of cheap port into a 5 year old Talisker cask, stirred it once, and then said, "I got yer finish right here!"  So, yes, this doesn't come across as a professionally produced whisky.

But I kinda like it.

There's something about it.  It's like watching a video of a golden retriever releasing the parking brake, staring happily from the driver's seat window, and coasting a Plymouth Voyager down a steep hill.  It's dumb and a disaster in motion.  But it's funny.  Just like this whisky.

Availability - Europe and (maybe) travel retail
Pricing - $45-$85 - I'd buy if it were $30
Rating - 74 - this includes a 10 point bonus for being such a silly puppy