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Thursday, January 23, 2020

All The Baby Laing Taliskers, including this Talisker 6 year old 2009 Old Malt Cask for K&L

Independent Talisker releases by vintage:

2012 - 0
2011 - 7 (all by Laing companies, all 5 to 7 years old)
2010 - 11 (all by Laing companies, all 6 to 8 years old)
2009 - 16 (all by Laing companies, all 5 to 8 years old)
2008 - 31 (mostly or all by Laing companies, one was 9 years old, the rest were 5 to 8 years)
2007 - 0

At some point, the Laing family of independent companies obtained a sizable collection of Talisker casks that had been barreled between 2008 and 2011. And they've released 99% of them at 8 years of age or younger. If 10 or 11 year old Laing Talisker was going to make an appearance, 2019 would have been the year for it. But nothing yet.

Why is this happening?

(If anyone from the Douglas Laing side of things is reading this, please share!)

I've experienced four of these baby Taliskers (including today's), and owned one bottle. The first time a drinker tries one of these wee Talis it's kind of neat, in a raw mezcal sort of way. But no one with tastebuds in his face would say the whisky is anywhere within sight of Talisker at its best.

Meanwhile, on the financial side of things, imagine the whisky geek excitement of 11+ year old indie Talisker. Imagine the prices! Can be I an optimist and hope there are 200 more Talisker casks sitting in a non-Diageo warehouse, destined to provide the whisky world with a journey of Talisker through the ages?

I can understand why a retailer would scoop up one of these casks. It's Talisker, a known name, something that will sell faster than a six year old Tullibardine. And maybe that's the engine behind it all.

In any case, today's whisky doesn't appear to be among one of the above listed 65, so we can call it the 66th baby Laing Talisker. It's a single cask exclusive to US retailer K&L Wine Merchants, and the sample comes from My Annoying Opinions. How those two must love sharing space in the same sentence!

Distillery: Talisker
Independent Bottler: Douglas Laing
Range: Old Malt Cask
Age: 6 years
Distillation year: 2009
Maturation: refill sherry hogshead
Alcohol by Volume: 50%
Exclusive to: K&L Wine Merchants
Chillfiltered: No
Colored: No

The nose starts out farmy, yeasty and raw. Slightly briny. Lots of cinnamon syrup, a few Glenfiddich-like pears. It gets cheesier with time, and very sugary. The palate is hot and acidic, vaguely grainy and peaty on the first two sips. Then comes the yeast and cheese. Then a grape candy sweetness that nearly takes over. Some dusty smoke lingers in the background. It has a drying, yeasty, cheesy finish with bursts of refined sugar and smoky mezcal.

DILUTED TO ~43%abv, or 1 tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose has shifted to peated simple syrup, sharp cheddar and limes. The palate and finish are both very sweet and very yeasty.

I think disliked this less than MAO. We both found the yeast and mezcal bits. He experienced lots of plastic while I tasted lots of sugar. But we came to similar conclusions as you may see in the score below.

Farmy and yeasty notes aren't dealbreakers for me, in fact Tobermory often finds a way to weave them right. But they don't work well here as they crash into the piles of cheese(!) and sugar. I have to think doubling the maturation time would have helped it all out.

Is this (and Macallan M) the future of single malts? Or are 5-6 year old whiskies an aberration, something we will have forgotten about in 5-6 years? If not, that'll keep my spending down.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - $40
Rating - 74