Some while ago Diageo kindly sent me a tasting sample of their new Talisker Storm. Much more recently a sample of Talisker Dark Storm arrived and a trade colleague was kind enough last weekend to give me a sample of Talisker Port Ruighe. They have all appeared since spring this year, so what do they taste like? Each different, one from the other, but obviously from the same family. I show my own tasting notes here as some of you will know I prefer to do my own independent notes.
Talisker Storm (45.8%)
Appearance – Dark, old gold with amber highlights. Slow, fat tears which then speed up.
Nose – Tablet or fudge sweetness, mild vanilla, a fleeting waft of Turkish delight. Smoke. Still some spirit on the nose. With water there is cream cheese and green pepper. A smoked fish box plus leather and saddle soap - a bit waxy. Loads to nose!
Palate – Slightly unctuous and oily; smoky wood and peat. Peppery and spicy with some oak and bitters at the back. A touch of mint and some salt along the sides of the tongue.
Finish – Long, smoky with tar, wood vanilla and hot pepper. It zings across the tongue. Very dry.
N.B. For those who aren’t Scottish, tablet is a bit like fudge but harder. We eat it like sweets (candy) or have a piece after a formal dinner i.e. at an event or in a restaurant, with the coffee or tea.
This expression has been available since the spring in European markets. It comes from rejuvenated and refill casks all at different ages and has no age statement. Master Blender Dr. Jim Beveridge explains the reasons for its creation and character:
“We wanted to focus on distillery character - the bedrock of Talisker Storm. So we sought out some great mature Talisker, enriched and mellowed by time spent in carefully rejuvenated casks, and brought that together with some very fresh distillery character preserved by maturation in refill casks. The result is Talisker’s unique distillery character delivered by aged, mature whiskies, integrated in one vibrant dram.”
Talisker Dark Storm (45.8%)
The difference here is that the whisky has spent time in deeply charred casks which certainly makes a difference to colour and adds more sweetness to the flavour. It is available in travel retail outlets only in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Therefore, go on a plane trip or get a good friend to bring you some from their travels.
Appearance – Medium amber with copper tints. Darker than Storm - obviously.
Nose – Caramel sweetness at first and more than Storm; fresh sea air and soft sugar candy. More pronounced vanilla than Storm as you might expect from the charred wood. Waxy notes.
With water, more vanilla and tablet sweetness; plenty of smokiness. Dark chocolate raisin and nuttiness. I left them all out a while with a cover over the glasses and this developed more toffee and chocolate notes and even a hint of peach.
Palate – Smooth, mellower than Storm, some oak and rich smoke, marzipan and plenty of pepper. Nuts (brazils) and salt.
Finish – Long, smoky, peppery and dry.
Talisker Port Ruighe (45.8%)
The name is pronounced Portree after the town of that name on Skye though the distillery is quite some miles away from there. This one has been double matured in port casks. Double matured? Master Blender Maureen Robinson explained:
“Talisker Port Ruighe is a combination of spirit that has been matured in American Oak and European Oak refill casks in the traditional manner along with spirit that has been filled into specially conditioned deeply charred casks. The spirit is then finished in casks that have previously held Port Wine which endows it with spicy fruit notes. These bond elegantly with that clean, fresh smokiness that signals its essential Talisker character.”
My notes are:
Appearance – The darkest of the three - rich, medium amber with copper and gold lights. Tears are slow and wide.
Nose – Definitely brine, some smoke and sweetness. A bit closed at first, with water this opened out to more creaminess, red fruits and soft caramel / toffee with a hint of vanilla. More soft toffee than Dark Storm.
Palate – Slightly oily and mouth coating. Peppery, zesty (like bitter citrus peel), smoky with touches of tar, peat and salt.
Finish – Smoky and dry but, for me, a little shorter than the other two.
This last one has been around since April but I wasn’t able to taste it till now and it’s available from whisky specialists in western European markets only so the rest of you will have to travel to seek it out. It has no age statement and is normally priced at a premium of 20 – 25% over Talisker 10 Year Old.
If you can get all three of them together with the standard 10 year old and, maybe, one or two of the older expressions, this would be a fun tasting to try with a group of fellow enthusiasts. Forget age statement snobbery and just try taste and character. Maureen Robinson commented in an interview with me (to be published in Whisky Advocate) that not being tied to a specific age just gives the blenders so much more freedom to create interesting expressions. That’s proven here.
© Caroline Dewar 2013