I’m slowly working my way to buying a Lagavulin DE. It’s expensive, and I’ve yet to pull the trigger on the increasingly ridiculous price tag. In the mean time I was happy to grab a bottle of Talisker DE for a much more reasonable price. I was intrigued by the concept of a sherried Tally. I’m a fan of their house style, but it was hard to imagine how it would taste as a sherried dram. This 11 year old was distilled in 1999 and treated in Amoroso casks.
Nose: This one needs time to open up. Very bright sherry fruits with that earthy, mineral-rich Talisker peat. Strawberry licorice, Grand Marnier, pine, seaweed, dark chocolate, almond extract, and a gentle oakiness.
Palate: Very nice arrival, with peat coming on first. Toffee, earth, peat, almond, cherry, charred meat, mesquite barbecue sauce.
Finish: This is where it becomes unquestionably Talisker. As soon as those mineral notes kick in, one can’t help but make the obvious comparison to the 10. Sautéed mushrooms in soy sauce, limestone, vanilla, earthy peat, honey and metal. However unlike the 10 this also has cherries, cinnamon, dark chocolate, bitter orange rind, and cocktail bitters. Medium long.
This is good, but it’s not great. While it’s well-made and dangerously drinkable, it’s just a bit too… predictable. Great whiskies surprise you and take you in new directions. This has some lovely peat and sherry flavours, but they don’t come together in any kind of unexpected way. It tastes a bit TOO much like I expected it to. It tastes like Talisker + sherry, without any of the quirks, twists, or eccentricities that make great whiskies so delicious and unique.
Personally speaking, I’m not sure Talisker makes a great candidate for a wine-finished whisky. For me its core flavour might be difficult to pair with anything too fruity. Or course I could be wrong. After all, this is the first wine-finished Talisker I’ve had. But when I drink this, all I can think about is how much more I love the 10. The 10 is cheaper, better, and more confident. That being said; you could do a lot worse than this. Recommended for fans of peat and sherry.
@WhiskyBee: Mine’s not that old yet, but it’s quite easy for me to imagine that happening. In my experience the peat and sherry combo is extremely volatile. As the peat dissipates the sherry can often take on a sweetie quality that I don’t care for. Shame that this whisky is part of that group.
@Taco: I can appreciate your perspective. This lost points because I’m a fan of the 10 and I’m constantly comparing it to a whisky I prefer. But I have to admit this is good stuff, and if I wasn’t thinking about the 10, I’d probably have given it a much higher score.
@tjb: Good call on buying those early. The Laga in particular keeps going up and up.
@rigmorole: Yup, I’m with you. Just didn’t take to it. Vatting might take it somewhere interesting though.
This is a whisky for which bottle time is most unkind. I loved my Talisker DE '99 for the first several drams, then put it aside for at least eight months. Once the peat dissipates, it's reduced to sweet "baby sick," I'm afraid. Probably my own fault for not decanting or gassing it. Thanks for another eloquent and perceptive review.