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Talisker 10 Year Old

Bang For Your Buck

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@systemdownReview by @systemdown

3rd Oct 2012


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Talisker 10 @Day 2, 2012-01-12

This review is for a bottle from circa 2005, opened January 10th 2012. First Talisker experience (which shows how long of a whisky journey I have ahead of me). Don't ask why I've had this on a shelf for over 6 years without ever having tasted it - I guess I just never found the right opportunity!

Anyway I will provide notes for "fresh" tasting and then several weeks on to see if the character of the whisky changes, for better or worse (as others in the community have noticed differences over time with this whisky).

First impressions - the whisky is "sweaty". It leaves little droplets on the side of the glass; as if a film of water lies on top of the whisky. The glass was completely dry before adding whisky. I have not seen this before. Ambient temp today was 36C (or 97F) which might have something to do with it, not entirely sure though.

Nose: Weaker than expected - expected a stronger more intense delivery of peat and other notes but there's not much there, it's actually fairly subtle and restrained. Soft peat smoke, a little citrus, brine, soft malt, just a hint of honey, eucalyptus oil and a touch of "earthy" spices. Nose develops some caramel notes after tasting. With water: Smoke subsides as wet pebbles, leaves and peat moss arrive. Malt cereal emerges. Sweetens over time.

Taste: Peat, salt, pepper, citrus all coming to the party with a zesty punch, intense (but rather short-lived) inter-mingling of all the elements, delivered to near perfection. What the nose lacked in "oomph" is more than redeemed on the palate. Pleasant medium-bodied mouthfeel without any surprises. With water: Mellower all round, bitter citrus and oaky notes at the back. The initial zesty "kick" is gone. I like it better without water.

Finish: Peaty, dry, good length. Lip-smacking savoury, meaty, salty notes remain, like after a bowl of popcorn. Fantastic. Would go swimmingly with grilled salmon or pepper calamari. Why did that pop into my head? Curious. With water: Add slighly medicinal, enhanced peaty notes.

Balance: A quite superbly balanced dram. We have salty, sweet, citrusy and peaty notes combining brilliantly to provide a memorable experience. Best without water, I think.

Score: N21 T22 F23 B24 = 90

Talisker 10 @2 Months

Nose: Peat smoke, brine, cough drops, barley sugar, hint of fruit.

Taste: Intense peppery delivery, citrus, sweet malt, brine developing, peat, chili finish.

Finish: Pepper, peat smoke, citrus. Savoury finish.

Balance: No change from the first tasting, all the different notes are still holding together fantastically without unravelling.

Score: N22 T21 F20 B22 = 85

So there you have it. I think I liked it better at initial opening if you go by the score. At two months later though there's still not a lot of difference, even as the score goes down 5 points - it did seem a little "flatter" than the first tasting but it could be my mind playing tricks on me as I more or less knew what to expect; though I did the 2 month tasting completely blind without any references to the first tasting.

I'd be hard pressed to not have a bottle of this with me at all times, such is the quality (and price point) of this whisky. Would definitely suit a colder clime however, while a great drop, it’s a little too warming for summer.

Talisker 10 @6 Months

This sample from the bottle originally opened in January 2012 is from a full 20cl (200ml) bottle decanted one month after opening, so if you're an oxidation nut, it's the equivalent perhaps of a bottle opened twice or three times with a high fill level, sampled 6 months later.

Nose: Vague wisps of smoke and something sweet - vanilla perhaps, or confectionery sugar - but the malt comes through nicely, too. This isn't really a typical "Talisker" nose any more, bit it does remind me of English Whisky Co Chapter 6 for its clean malt sweetness (but the similarity ends there). After some further nosing there's burnt lime juice, tequilla (!) a little brine and wood dust. Overall, somewhat flat but not bad.

Taste: Bitter, salty, zesty citrus, but also sweet malt. White pepper, oak spices, a bit "spirity" - some rough edges appearing now? A little sharp on the front of the tongue - but dissipates quickly enough to leave a good mouthful of whisky to savour!

Finish: Peat first which is a welcome dimension, but a little astringent. Bitter citrus, dry malt. Warming but the finish isn't as long as I remember it to be, but still quite pleasant.

Balance: Bitter sharpness on the palate offset (rescued?) by the sweet nose and a soft peaty element in the finish. Not the exuberant, lively Talisker 10 of earlier drams from the bottle.

Score: N19 T18 F19 B18 = 74

I clearly noticed a degradation in this whisky after 6 months. In future I will be careful to minimise air contact with this one so I can maintain the early, lively character of this whisky as long as possible. Still fantastic value if you drink it within a couple of months! The final score can be a little misleading; while it's an average score, if you exclude the 6 month timepoint you're looking at about 87/100 so please take my final verdict with a grain of salt (.. or the lovely brine in this whisky ;-)

Final (Average) Score: N21 T20 F20 B22 = 83

Related Talisker reviews


Victor commented

Great review! Thanks, @systemdown, for the kind of four-dimensional bottle life-cycle detail which is really usefull.

I have found Talisker 10 to be very chameleon-like, not only changing within an open bottle, but very different bottle to bottle. The seven or so bottles from which I have sampled might just as well have been seven separate whiskies to me.

Also my experience with watching a full bottle was quite different from yours. My current bottle stayed tightly intense salt and pepper for about 7 months, then just blossomed with honey, becoming quite excellent. I found it hard to drink before that time. Later in the bottle life-cycle by a few months the flavours did degrade somewhat, adding sourness, which lessened the pleasure a lot. Next time I expect that I will be gassing the bottle at peak and trying to keep it there.

People love Talisker 10, but I never feel like I know what I am going to get if I try some of it. Most of my experiences with it have been "ok, but not great", a few great, and a few hard to take. I find Talisker 18 and 57 Degrees North to be much more consistent drams.

9 years ago 0

systemdown commented

Hey @Victor, good to know you're not the only one experiencing the "chameleon-like" nature of this one. I've been quite conscious of this being an older bottling, so am keen to pick up a current bottling to compare - based on what you say and what I've read in other reviews, I can already see that it'll be quite different.

I'm having a dram of this again right now, it's been almost 3 months since my 6 month review and (finally) posting this today piqued my interest.

I'm getting a LOT of peat now. Almost all the fruit is gone, the sweetness is still there, some brine and muted citrus on the palate, but the finish is pure Islay (think Ardbeg Ten) sans the smoke. It's very dry now too. I wonder if mine will develop the honey notes you mention form your experience, or given this bottling is 7 years old now, maybe they have changed the makeup of this whisky in that time.

I'm yet to try any other Talisker but the 57 North is top of my list.

9 years ago 0

FMichael commented

My nearly gone bottle of Talisker 10 yr was bottled in May of this year; the reason I start by saying this is that there's apparently questionable quality control over the past few years...

My bottle has a wave of olives/smoke/salt on the nose, and palate with a bit of "sweetness" on the finish...I'm not very good at deciphering individual flavors - however I consider myself to have a fair sense of what's going on.

I'm curious as to how this bottling compares to those from several years ago?

9 years ago 0

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