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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Talisker 175th Anniversary Single Malt

Talisker distillery was founded in 1830 by the MacAskills, a pair of successful tenant farmers. Needless to say, the distillery was not owned by tenant farmers on its 175th anniversary, which was when this edition of its single malt was released.

I've seen various statements online saying there's 20-something year old whisky in the mix, while others say there's whisky up to 35 years old in there. The most thorough description I've found is this marketing blurb that appears a few sites:
To commemorate Talisker distillery's 175th anniversary in 2005 a special, limited edition expression of the Skye single malt was issued by Diageo. Talisker 175 carries no age statement and consists of a release of 60,000 bottles worldwide. It is largely the work of Diageo's Maureen Robinson, who says that some of the oldest component malts date back to the mid 1970s, while the youngest are at least ten years old. According to Talisker distillery manager Charlie Smith, 'It has all the elements of Talisker but in slightly different proportions to those in the ten or the 25-year-old. It's unmistakably Talisker, and one of the easiest drinking Taliskers I've tasted.'
So it's a 10-year-old.

I almost bought this whisky couple years ago when I found it on the shelf for something near its original price. As usual, my hesitation led to someone else scooping up the bottle a couple weeks later—after it had been on the shelf for nine years. Curiously, at a whisky event soon after, I met the very man who bought that bottle.

Cool story, bro.

Distillery: Talisker
Ownership: Diageo
Type: Single Malt
Region: Isle of Skye
Age: "at least 10 years old"
Maturation: ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks
Bottling date: 2005
Alcohol by Volume: 45.8%
Chill-filtration? Probably
Caramel colored? Yes

It noses like a vatting of Laphroaig 18 and Talisker 18, lightly medicinal and full of fruit (specifically nectarines). There's some old musty sherry cask funk in the mix. Then roses, citronella, dusty pepper, pound cake and dark chocolate. The sherry funk rolls right into the palate. Horseradish and a slight jalapeño sting. Chocolate malt and a little bit of vanilla. Some very dry red wine. A slight fizziness. There's oak to it, but a much different oak than what's in current Talisker, more delicate, less "rich" and gooey, never sweet. The foremost finish notes include black pepper, cocoa, and malt. There are smaller notes of brown sugar, menthol, anise and smoke.

This was much better than I'd expected. The nose is downright awesome. Its subtlety and grace might even appeal to peat-o-phobes. There are certainly some older casks in the whisky. Whether or not they were underproof casks that needed a home, they were well applied. Had the palate's quality/structure matched the sophisticated nose, I'd be talking about a near masterpiece here. The palate is good—thanks to the funk, malt and restrained oak—but it never ascends to "very good", let alone the excellence of the nose. I like the finish's simplicity but it fades a little too quickly. Still, if you can find the 175th selling at its old sub-$100 price, it's a nice thing to have.

Also see Serge's super happy review; Oliver and MAO's positive reviews; and LAWS's moderate reviews.

Availability - It's around, kinda
Pricing - $100-$250
Rating - 88 (dat nose tho)