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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Taliskravaganza! Day 5: Talisker 18 year old 1986 MacLeod's Vintage

Day 1: Talisker 10 year old
Day 2: Talisker 57º North
Day 3: Talisker 1993 Distillers Edition
Day 4: Talisker 23 year old 1982 MacLeod's Vintage
Day 5: Talisker 18 year old 1986 MacLeod's Vintage

Independent single malts from many of Diageo's well-known distilleries (think Talisker, Lagavulin, Oban, Glenkinchie, Dalwhinnie) can be difficult to find.  And when they are released, the bottler often does not have permission to use the distillery's name on their own label.  That's why you'll see names like Lagarubin, Lagamill, or Springnavulin for Lagavulin; and Talimburg, Tactical, and Talistill for Talisker.

As I mentioned yesterday, indie bottler Ian MacLeod Distillers were once able to get their hands on several casks of Talisker.  Though unable to use the word "Talisker" on their labels, they were able to utilize a bit of family pride to market the whisky.  The MacLeod clan was from the Isle of Skye (also Talisker's home) and big picture of the Dunvegan Castle, home of the MacLeod chieftains, sits it in the center of the whisky's front label.  (Click here for whiskybase's bottle shot.)

Today, I'm taking a taste of another bottling in MacLeod's Vintage range.  Like yesterday's whisky, it was taken from an ex-bourbon cask and reduced to a lower ABV.  Yet, despite their technical similarities (spirit origin, cask, and possible warehouse), these turned out to be very different whiskies.  Fun with single casks!

Distillery: Talisker
Independent Bottler: Ian MacLeod
Series: MacLeod's Vintage
Age: May 1986 - June 2004 (18 years)
Maturation: ex-bourbon cask
Cask number1483
Bottles: 264
Region: Isle of Skye, Scotland
Alcohol by Volume: 44%

Sampled neatly in a Glencairn glass, sample purchased from Whiskysamples.eu

The color is amber, a little lighter than the 23yo.  The nose is fresher, with apricots and tangerines. Quite a bit of vanilla coming from the oak, mixing with mossy peat.  A hint of plaster and generic hand lotion. Whole grain bread, walnuts, and Frangelico.  Definitely Frangelico, regular hazelnuts too. The palate is actually peatier than the nose, but it still remains the background.  Vanilla and caramel from the oak.  Lots of lime juice swirls around a malty sweetness.  Tart-sweet-tart-sweet.  A little milk chocolate.  Almost no salt.  The finish is a little nutty (as in hazels not crazies).  Brown sugar and peat moss.  Some toasted seaweed and salt.  Lemon candy, occasional puffs of smoke.  Restrained overall.

Yesterday's MacLeod's spoke with a lean, mean, classic Talisker voice.  But aside from the finish, I wouldn't have known today's whisky was from the same distillery.  In fact, the generous burp that followed this tasting hinted more towards Talisker than the whisky itself.

It's simple stuff, seeming neither old nor young.  But it's still good, the palate being the highlight.  Once I found the Frangelico in the nose that's all I could smell, which is a good thing because the plaster/lotion/walnuts/tangerines combination was not terribly enticing.  I would have liked to have known what this was like at barrel strength and why 44% was chosen as the ABV.  Maybe the off notes were stronger right out of the cask?  Or maybe MacLeod wanted more bottles to sell.

According to whiskybase's page, this was priced around 53euros at its release.  I'm pretty certain you won't be able to find it now for less than three times that price, if you can find it at all.  But it does represent one of the rare independently bottled Taliskers, and one that veers slightly away from the distillery's style.

Availability - None?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 82

23 years old to 18 years old to.........?  For Day 6, we'll go a little younger.

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