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Friday, March 7, 2014

Taliskravaganza! Day 3: Talisker 1993 Distillers Edition

Day 1: Talisker 10 year old
Day 2: Talisker 57º North
Day 3: Talisker 1993 Distillers Edition

As they do for the rest of the original "Classic Malts", Diageo releases a Distillers Edition (again, where the hell is the apostrophe, people?) almost annually for Talisker's single malt.  The "DE" designation is just fancy talk for finished whisky.  In Talisker's case, they take ex-bourbon cask whisky and finish it in ex-Amoroso sherry casks for a brief but unspecified period of time.  Amoroso is a sweetened oloroso, the sweetening usually coming from mixing in a little Pedro Ximenez (I think...sherry fans correct me if I'm wrong).

Like the Lagavulin 1991 DE, which was released at the same time as this one, there were two bottlings of Talisker 1993 DE, one in 2006 and one in 2007.  I'm going to guess that this one was from the later bottling being that it was still sitting on Master of Malts shelves in January 2012.  But either way, I thought I'd just note that 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.  Also, there doesn't appear to be a Talisker Distillers Edition from the 1994 or 1995 vintages, though again someone please let me know if I'm wrong about that.

I wasn't sold on Lagavulin's DE as much as other people have been, and I'm usually not a fan of briefly finished whiskies, so my expectations for this Talisker were muted.  Now I shall drink the whisky.

Distillery: Talisker
Ownership: Diageo
Region: Isle of Skye
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Maturation: refill ex-bourbon casks for 13-ish years, then a brief finish in ex-Amoroso sherry casks
Age: 13+ years
Alcohol by Volume: 45.8%

The color is a rosy gold, though still lighter than the current 10yo.  The nose leads with sugary sherry, sugar-coated raisins (think Raisin Bran), hazelnuts, and brazil nuts.  There's some boston creme filling, Heath bar, raspberry syrup, and orange peel.  Surrounding it all are notes of peat-infused prunes and a caramel syrup tanker spill on a beach.  There's more smoke on the palate, along with a little bit of tar.  It has a nice thick texture and a musical tart-bitter-sweet-tart-bitter-sweet-repeat development.  After a few minutes: a floral note meets passion fruit candy, then a dark-chocolate-and-caramel-type of sherry.  Coffee grounds and simple syrup in the finish.  Caramel sauce, cherry cola, mocha, and sea salt.  Only now does some black pepper inch in.

The nose remains big, maybe even bigger.  More sherry, now with dried berries.  Toffee and a moment of butterscotch.  Slightly briny, floral, and then the carmel syrup spill again.  Silky salty chocolate in the palate.  Malt and sherry play well together (why can't Glenmorangie get this part right?).  Raisinets, a mossier peat, and pipe tobacco.  The finish is sweeter, though the sherry note itself is subtler.  Cracked white peppercorns floating in cherry syrup and caramel sauce.

I can't believe I'm typing the following: This is better than the 10 year old.  Um......*looking for pop music reference to stay consistent with the two previous posts*......she's like the wind......I think I've had a *cough* total eclipse of the heart (mullet with headlights version).

The sherry isn't too overpowering, nor does it make the total package too sweet.  While it's not an Uigeadail beater, if Talisker released a 57ºNorth-strength version of this DE it would definitely give Oogy a chase.  While the individual parts can be a bit simple, what is there is good.  And it has the best mouthfeel of the three so far.

Remember though, this review is just for the 1993 vintage of the Distillers Edition.  The new versions are younger and (from what I've read in whiskybase and Serge's reviews) different.  But folks still seem  mostly enthusiastic about the recent editions.  On the East coast, the newest version is selling as low as $70, meanwhile it's mostly around $90 here in California.  Obviously the former price is much more appetizing than the latter.

Availability - (current edition) Many specialty liquor retailers
Pricing - (current edition) $70-$90
Rating - (this edition)  88

The Taliskravaganza picks up again next week, following a somewhat different path...