...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Single Malt Report: Talisker 25 year old 1975 (2001 bottling)

Thirteen years ago, Diageo released the first annual(-ish) 25 year old Talisker.  It came with a listed vintage year, something not done for the following Talisker 25s, and was bottled at an ABV of 59.9%, a potency unmatched by the future releases.

I'm very pleased to say that, thanks to reader Cobo, I had a sample of this first T25.  I'm even happier to say I have now consumed it.

In order to help gauge its quality and characteristics, I matched it up with another Talisker that will be reviewed tomorrow.

Today's is the darker one on the left.  Tomorrow's is the one on the right.

Distillery: Talisker
Ownership: Diageo
Region: Isle of Skye
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Maturation: Likely a combination of ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks, probably a mix of European and American oak as well.
Distilled: 1975
Bottled: 2001
Age: 25 years
Alcohol by Volume: 59.9%
Limited bottling: 6000

The color is an slightly orange dark amber.  The nose contains multitudes. To begin, there's the magical moldy sherry funk that I only seem to find in older sherried whiskys of the paxarette era. It's not just a pruny fudge, but old sweaty sherry casks stored in damp caves or warehouses of stone.  There's manure-y soil, anise, mint, and spicy basil leaves.  Bright fresh seemingly-young peat scents emerge here and there.  There are young green leafy notes, balloon rubber, and un-burnt hops.  Lemon custard and key lime pie.  After an hour in the glass, it's a syrup made of cocoa, anise, molasses, and peat moss.  The palate has a dense mouthfeel and is very earthy (manure!) and salty.  Then come the notes of candied orange peel, toffee, tobacco, coffee grounds, and peat moss with the constant roll of the moldy sherry funk behind it all.  It finishes with a thick nutty custard, lightly peat smoked.  Mint leaves, coffee, salt, and earthy molasses.  It lasts and lasts and lasts.

In 1954, Nat King Cole covered Charlie Chaplin's 'Smile'.  The song has often been part of my whisky tasting music, but it wasn't until this Talisker tasting that it all clicked.  The whisky is Cole's voice in a glass.

Talisker 25yo 2001 feels both very old and very youthful at once.  There are definite hints of the baby Talisker spirit I found in "The Speakeasy" existing comfortably with old dirty dusty European oak rumbles.  Rocks and soil and green leaves cohabiting with dense creamy citrus-laced desserts.

I'm going to spoil a bit of tomorrow's review by saying that though that whisky is related this whisky, it is in name only.  And it's not even fair competition.  This first Talisker 25 is stratospheric.  I'd trade half of my (sh*tty) collection for a bottle of it.  This is not just Talisker's A-game, it's Scotch Whisky's A-game.

Thank you, Cobo, for providing me with the opportunity to try it.

Availability - Happy Hunting :(
Pricing - originally less than $200, but now this edition is usually in the $600-$800 range
Rating - 95


  1. I'm getting more and more tempted to break into my 2005 Talisker 25, just to see what it's like. Might wait until it cools down again this fall, though.

    1. I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that it'll be better than the 2012...

      Actually the 2012 is fine, B grade stuff. But these earlier editions, holy s***.

  2. What a nice review of this renown Tali. I'm glad you liked it so much and that you had the chance to compare it to the water down version of 2012.

    To be honest I have to admit that I really like the 2001 Release, but it's not my favorite one. Thats maybe because I prefer the Bourbon matured Talis instead of the sherried ones. Same goes for me for the 20yo. The 1981 release of which Jim Murrays gave his famous "try this once in your life" statement is a classy malt for sure, but then again i prefer the 1982 version which comes out of a bourbon barrel.

    If I would have known... I would have added some other 25yo Talis for you to taste as well. I really dig the 2006 and the 2004.

    Slainte Mhath my friend - may many old Taliskers cross your way ;)

    1. Hey Cobo. This one was especially fun because 9 times out of 10 I prefer ex-bourbon barrel maturation over ex-sherries. There's something about the older whisky matured in old funky sherry butts (paxarette? better European oak? better sherry?) that appeals to me so much more than the current sherried malts. And then this Talisker brought the unbowed peat and power. Thanks again! I'm sure there will be more Talisker reviews here in the future. :) Slainte!