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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Single Malt Report: Talisker 1998 Distillers Edition (2009 bottling)

I'm starting off Taliskravaganza 2017 with a pair of Talisker DEs. Happily I was able to try the 2009 bottling alongside the current 2016 version and I'll be sharing my thoughts on them today and tomorrow.

Here's a quick recap for those unfamiliar with these whiskies: Diageo releases annual Distillers Editions for many of its Classic Malts, including Oban, Lagavulin, Talisker, Glenkinchie, Cragganmore, Dalwhinnie, Caol Ila and Royal Lochnagar. Each single malt has been finished in a specific type of fortified wine cask for an unspecified period of time. For instance, Lagavulin is finished in Pedro Ximenez casks, Caol Ila in Moscatel, Oban in Montilla Fino Sherry, and Talisker in Amoroso. Oh, and there's no apostrophe in "Distillers" for some reason.

To quote a post from Taliskravaganza 2014:
...the age of the Talisker Distillers Editions has lessened over the years.  From 2000 - 2007 (vintages 1987-1993), they were 13 years or older.  In 2008 (the 1996 vintage), it was 12 years old.  Then from 2009 until the current version, it's 11 years or younger.  I'm going to guess that age reduction is due to demand.  Or it's possibly due to a level of production efficiency; over the last four years they may just take the regular 10 year old casks and give them the sherry finish....
Indeed today's 2009 bottling is around 11 years old, while the 2016 edition (like the 2015) is at most 10 years old.

Distillery: Talisker
Ownership: Diageo
Type: Single Malt
Region: Isle of Skye
Age: between 10 and 11 years (1998-2009)
Maturation: refill ex-bourbon casks for 10-ish years, then a brief finish in ex-Amoroso casks
Alcohol by Volume: 45.8%
Chill-filtration? Yessiree
Caramel colored? Yes'm
(Review from purchased sample)

Its color is DiageoGold™. The nose starts out a little quirky, mixing tar, Dove soap and orange candy. After a few minutes it straightens out a bit, bringing smoke and butterscotch to the fore as the soap and tar fade back. It takes 20-30 minutes for it to really shine, at which point black raisins, dried cherries, plums and toffee take over. The palate is more savory than sweet, though it does start off with ginger ale, limes and toasted oak spice. Then almonds, salt and fresh ginger leap forward. It's a simple thing, though it does have a good mouthfeel, making one wonder how much better it would have been without chill filtration. The finish is quiet for the first few sips, gradually taking on the palate's almonds, salt and fresh ginger, along with a nice inky bitterness.

This one takes a long time to wake up. Once it airs out, the nose is the best part, showcasing the some of the better characteristics from the spirit and wine cask. The palate and finish are both fine. Nothing offends (except perhaps that early soap note), but there's little in the way of highlights. This is certainly a full step down in quality compared to the Talisker 10 that was being produced at the time.

Availability - (this edition) Happy Hunting!
Pricing - (current edition) $65-$95 in the US, $45-$80 in Europe
Rating - (this edition) 82