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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!)

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.

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