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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Talisker 27 year old 1985 'Maritime Edition' Special Release (2013)

As part of its 2012 special releases, Diageo released a 35 year old Talisker, which was curiously more expensive than the 35 year old Brora. Rather than following that up with something older or sherried in 2013, they instead released this a 27 year old from 1985. They called it the 'Maritime Edition' for reasons unknown to me. And, frankly, the Internet hasn't helped much on that account.

For those keeping track, 2013 was the year that Diageo decided to try to beat the secondary market (or just act like dicks) (or both) by greatly increasing the prices on their special editions. For instance, this 27yo Talisker was priced nearly the same as the 35, the Brora nearly doubled in price from the year before, the Port Ellen went up 150% and the market found itself its first £600 Convalmore. These price increases have continued ever since, which is interesting since most of these "Special Releases" (not named Port Ellen or Brora) remain on the shelves for years before selling through. For instance, this Talisker can easily be had in 2017 (if you have that sort of dough lying around). As I mentioned in my reviews of the still-available Oban and Convalmore releases, the wisdom of ultra-luxury pricing proves not to be airtight with these annual releases, and I wonder how long retailers will keep picking these up as they crowd the shelf with the old ones.

Back to the subject at hand. The Talisker.

Distillery: Talisker
Ownership: Diageo
Region: Isle of Skye
Age: at least 27 years old (1985-2013)
Maturation: refill bourbon casks
Bottle: 0790 of 3,000
Alcohol by Volume: 56.1%
Chill-filtration? No
Caramel colored? Not much, if any
(Many thanks to Brett for this sample!)

The color is a regular gold, as opposed to the expected DiageoGold™. The nose is, quite accurately, maritime. Malt, salt, hay, burnt plastic, smoked fish and seaweed. Whole wheat crackers, shredded wheat and smoky cocoa powder. With time, it picks up lime, bacon and more cocoa. The palate is Assertive and Austere (I've reached my monthly 'austere' quota of one). Salty and malty, strung together with seaweed, eucalyptus, wood smoke and chili oil. It gradually develops a toffee sweetness, along with some milk chocolate and lime. Its fat finish mirrors the palate with malt, salt, seaweed, chili oil, wood smoke, toffee and tart limes.

Be delicate with the water because this monster has some age to it.

WITH WATER (~50%abv)
The nose picks up a new sticky honey note. Still has the smoked fish and bacon. Barley, seaweed and salt. Cracked black peppercorns. The palate blooms with water. Brown sugar, mint leaves and honey. Chocolate malt, limes, eucalyptus and a musty dunnage note. Again, the finish mimics the palate. Honey, salt, pepper and limes.

At times severe, at times lovely, this isn't just one of the better Taliskers I've ever had, it's probably my favorite single malt since my Japan trip two years ago. It likely places in my all time Top 20 whiskies. Its ability to show off brute force and grace in equal measures is reminiscent of the Laphroaig 25yos back when they were actually bottled at cask strength. I don't know what else to write about this maritime 'Maritime Edition'. It's expensive. It's a gem.

Availability - a few dozen specialty retailers in the US and Europe
Pricing - $550 to $750 worldwide
Rating - 93