The bottle alone is something to gaze at. Be warned, it doesn’t pour that well and takes a practiced hand. You’ll get plenty of practice though, because for a young whisky it exudes character beyond its years. Not surprisingly, because this is a Talisker and I believe whisky is indelibly marked by the people who make it and the place comes into being from.
Talisker is the only distillery on the Isle of Skye; the magical large island in the Inner Northern Hebrides. The Cuillins mountain range rises in the middle of the island’s peninsulas in iconic scenery. Home to the Fairy Falls and embroiled in some of the most tempestuous parts of Scottish history, from marauding Nordic invaders to the Jacobite uprisings and end of the clans, Skye has remained both stormy and strangely peaceful. Written of in poems and songs, you’ll see eagles soar over craggy outcrops and eat delicious Atlantic salmon.
But for all that wonder, there is just one distillery on Skye – Talisker, sitting pretty beside the harbour in Carbost on the west coast of the Isle. The majority of their whisky sits at 18 – 22ppm, so moderately peated. It’s the water that feeds the distillery flows over peat beds that brings additional complexity to the malt. Perhaps a clue as to the deliciousness in this young dram?
Talisker is resilient, her 5 stills rebuilt in 1960 after a significant stillhouse fire destroyed it all. They were rebuilt in exact replica to preserve Talisker’s flavour profile. An island distillery through and through, her classic flavours are salt, smoke, sweetness of grain and malt. Talisker is considered an iconic malt regardless, but being owned by Diageo now means she also has a place in the Classic Malts lineup.
This is an independent bottling, but it manages to maintain all the classic Talisker profile while introducing something complex for a barrel so youthful. A single barrel 6 year old Talisker bottled at 46% with no chill-filtration or artificial colouring. Distilled in December 2008 on the Isle of Skye and bottled by Douglas Laing in August 2015, there are only 324 of these decanters.
Colour: Palest gold.
Nose: Salty like the sea, with hints of seaweed and barley. Lemony.
Palate: Bursting sweetness with saline, seaweed, salt and smokehouse apples that give way to barley and oats. Hints of pepper.
Finish: Grainy, with hints of pepper and heat hanging around for a medium length finish.
Cover photo credit: Ian Riley.