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Talisker Dark Storm

Average score from 5 reviews and 8 ratings 85

Talisker Dark Storm

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@OdysseusUnbound
Talisker Dark Storm

Shameless plug alert This is a preview of an upcoming blog post

I wrote these tasting notes without knowing exactly what I was drinking but I inferred whence came the aforementioned sample from the 45.8% ABV written on the label. That oddly specific number is a dead giveaway of the malt's provenance: Talisker. So while this wasn't a total blind tasting, I didn't know which Talisker expression it was. I was fairly certain I'd enjoy it, because I've never met a Talisker I didn't appreciate.

Tasting notes

  • Nose (undiluted): the Talisker peat and smoke are there, but it is not the lead player in this orchestra. Lots of fruitiness right up front. Plums, cherries, red licorice, balsamic vinegar, and a very slight menthol note.
  • Palate (undiluted): very soft arrival, more red fruit, developing to dry peat smoke (think burning leaves), and a little minerality.
  • Finish: medium length, dry smoke at first, with a cherry Halls (cough lozenge) flavour lingering. It's more enjoyable than it sounds.

With water added, there's a floral or herbal note that pops up, fresh thyme maybe. A bit of honey. The peat smoke is still there with water, but the fruitiness changes. It tastes more like pears, and maybe a touch of orange. With water, the chalky minerality that defines Talisker for me is more evident. I prefer this with water. I have to admit, the 10 Year Old Talisker is more my style. Perhaps I'm curmudgeonly, but I prefer my Talisker with less fruitiness and more pepper, brine, smoke, and wet slate.

The fruitiness of the nose and taste lead me to guess this was a wine-finished Talisker; Distillers Edition or maybe Port Ruighe. My friend informed me I was wrong on both counts. The sample was from a bottle only available, insofar as I know, in Duty Free shops. So what did I expect from a whisky called "Dark Storm"? Well, I would have thought Dark Storm implied Cask Strength whisky, deep fruit notes throughout, a crescendo of brine, a backhanded slap of peat smoke, a real whirlwind of flavours fighting for dominance. But herein lies the rub: I found this whisky milder and tamer than the standard Talisker 10 Year Old. Don't get me wrong: Dark Storm is a pleasurable sipper but I would not have named it "Dark Storm". It's more akin to an ocean-side sunset. I guess that name doesn't sell as bold a tale.

The name Dark Storm projects an image of Jack Sparrow drinking his fill (since the rum is always gone), possibly using some of the whisky as a disinfectant in a pinch (if it were bottled at Cask Strength), all while sailing the Black Pearl through a hurricane. The flavour profile delivers a different, albeit satisfying, experience. Nevertheless, I'd advise you to try before you buy.

I believe my friend paid $90 for a 1 litre bottle. I'd probably pull the trigger at that price.

@OdysseusUnbound - Thanks for the review. Not a Talisker I've ever been desperate to try and your review pretty much confirms suspicions. As ever though, I'd be more than happy to try a sample . . . just to be sure.

A fair summary. From the sample I tried from a friends bottle I too prefer the standard 10. Give me the pepper and brine any day, I found this too subdued for my liking considering it's supposed to be aged in heavily charred casks. Interesting how much fruit you picked up in this too - the bottle I sampled just seemed a little flat and lacking.

@Victor

Talisker Dark Storm is matured in "heavily charred casks", possesses no age statement, and is sold in Travel Retail/Duty Free stores. The reviewed bottle is owned by @Maddie. Thank you @Maddie for this sample and many others. It was tasted when freshly opened and then again 3 weeks later

Nose: a delightful nose of moderate peat, a little smoke, some Talisker brine, and maybe a little wine included. Also wonderful with water added. Score: 23.5/25 with and without water added

Taste: all of the flavours are more sharp-edged in the mouth than in the nose; otherwise a good translation of the wonderful nose flavours. If there is some sherry here it is not immaculate, but is of acceptable quality. Water added bundled the flavours. Score: 22/25 with and and without water

Finish: long slow fade-out, with too much bitterness arriving late.This bitterness could be coming from any combination of peat, wood, or sherry. Water added lessened the bitterness. Score: 20/25 neat; 21.5/25 with water added

Balance: very good in the nose; good on the delivery; only fair on the finish; 21.5/25 neat; 22/25 with water added; 22.5 out of a brandy snifter rather than a glencairn

Total Sequential Score: 89 points

................

Strength: very strong in all phases (from a brandy snifter). Score: 23/25

Quality: very good malt, peat, and smoke; flawed sherry. Score: 22/25

Variety: lots of variety throughout. Score: 23/25

Harmony: works even with imperfect sherry; I liked it much better in a brandy snifter than in a Glencairn glass. Score: 21.5/25

Total Non-Sequential Score: 89.5 points

.............

Comment: Wow! My two tastings of this whisky were quite a trip. I have experienced EXTREME variations before in tasting Talisker 57 North from different glass designs, but I was still unprepared for the experience of tasting this whisky twice 3 weeks apart in duration, from different glasses. When the bottle was freshly opened I drank it from a brandy snifter, and loved it much above typical review scores for this particular whisky. My initial score was 92 points. Three weeks later I tasted it again and many things had gone wrong. Was this merely the product of 3 weeks of air time? Then I thought about changing glasses, and I once again liked Dark Storm much more than I did out of a Glencairn glass. Drinking it again a second time out of a medium-sized brandy snifter I like Dark Storm almost as much as I had at first. So, reader be advised: this is an 89 point whisky to me out of a brandy snifter, but only an 85 point whisky for me out of a Glencairn! I will drink all future samples of Talisker Dark Storm from a snifter

And yes, I do prefer Talisker Dark Storm to Talisker Storm, though Storm is perfectly OK too

Thanks for your thoughtful review and intriguing too the significant difference between glass types. I tried this for the first time last week, although I seem less impressed than you were. I found it lacking the punch of flavours that I had come to love in the standard 10 bottling. Maybe I should revisit it with a brandy snifter.

@Hewie, thank you for joining in. Actually I think that 85 points for my tasting of Dark Storm out of a Glencairn glass might have been a little generous, influenced by how much I liked Dark Storm when tasted in the snifters.

The difference in experience of both nose and palate for whiskies out of different types of tasting glasses is something that has to be experienced to be fully believed. I would most certainly not in advance have believed the experiences which I have had tasting the same whiskies side by side in different glassware. In some cases, like complex high ABV whiskies and high power Taliskers, large differences can be found between a Glencairn and a snifter. Some glasses, such as the NEAT glass and the Norlan glass, are quite out of the normal perceptual range for almost any tasting purpose, i.e. they narrow the range and lessen the intensity of flavours available to be perceived. The new fad glasses are usually designed to cut down alcohol in the nose and in so doing cut down everything else along with it.

@talexander

I'm working from home on a Friday afternoon, so thought I'd take a break for a little review. I'm on the last heel of a 1L bottle of Talisker Dark Storm, purchased at auction some months ago but otherwise only available at duty free. I presume that this is basically Talisker Storm (both are NAS) matured in heavily charred casks. I have a bottle of Talisker 10 Year Old as well, so let's try them side-by-side.

The colour is a medium amber. On the nose, it's like standard Talisker but upped a few notches: big oak, black liquorice, freshly ground black pepper, prunes, mint, cayenne and dark chocolate. Cumin, brine and pretty intense peat smoke - seems smokier than other Taliskers I've had. Lemon curd. Maltier and spicier with water. Not subtle, but then again what would you expect from a Talisker called Dark Storm?

Creamy on the palate, with hot spices, chunky oak and lots of peat. Baked apples with cinnamon (and more cumin). Woody hickory. Very salty of course, with more of that classic liquorice note. Here you also notice more of the vanilla/caramel from the bourbon casks. Water makes the malt oilier and brings out the char - is this from Tennessee??

The finish is surprisingly gentle - too gentle, with a bit of oak, pepper and liquorice, and not much else. If Talisker 10 got picked up at a bar by Jack Daniel's, whisked away to Islay and got knocked up on the malting floor at Lagavulin, the bastard baby would be this: Oaky, smoky and oily with liquorice, malt and big fat bourbon notes. I like this a lot - but still, it's no Talisker 10. Speaking of which, how do they compare? Side by side, the Dark Storm has more power and wood, but I prefer the 10's (relative) subtlety and fruitier notes. Regardless, if you are a Talisker fan, this is worth picking up and giving it a try (and it's much better than the standard Storm).

Between the 10 getting knocked up and the Dark Storm having "more power and wood," I rate this review PG-13.

Nice review. I've not tried any of the Talisker NAS offerings yet but I've wondered how they stack up alongside the original 10. General consensus appears to be that they're ok but that it's hard to beat the standard 10. Good for a change up aye.

@Rummidgie

I was lucky enough to win 2 bottles of Dark Storm on a recent auction site which is great because it was only available as a travel retail bottling and I don't fly that much. This whisky is matured in heavily charred casks and that has produced a very unique Talisker to my mind. The nose has loads of smoke along with the signature salty Talisker characteristics. Although this is a NAS I would suggest that it is quite well aged. On the palette is very creamy with the characteristic spice and vanilla we have grown to love. It is the finish which really distinguishes this whisky. It is sooty and drying with a great length. In some ways this reminds me of Lagavulin 16. All in all a fab whisky and one that any Talisker lover needs to seek out and try.

I agree with you, it tastes like a younger Lagavulin. An excellent whisky, far better than the "standard" Storm.

@Pierre_W

Talisker distillery is the only distillery on the Isle of Skye and was founded in 1830 by Hugh and Kenneth MacAskill, sons of the local doctor. It was rebuilt between 1880 and 1887, and was extended in 1900. In 1925 the distillery was acquired by the Distillers Company Ltd and today is part of Diageo. In 1972 the stills were converted to steam heating and the maltings floor was demolished. Talisker distillery is famous for its stills’ swan neck lye pipes: A loop in the pipes takes the vapour from the stills to the worm tubs, so that some of the alcohol condenses before it even reaches the cooler; it then runs back into the stills and is distilled again. Dark Storm was released in 2013 as a non-age statement expression exclusively for travel retail. Diageo described it as the smokiest Talisker to date as heavily charred casks were used during the maturation process.

The nose is bold and smoky. Smoked ham is rather prominent, together with lemons and banana. Later on, hints of liquorice and menthol appear.

The palate is medium-bodied, creamy, and lightly spicy. Vanilla flavours come to the fore, followed by caramel and apples. At the end there is a little bit of the ubiquitous chili kick, but just faintly so.

The finish is of medium length, smoky and just a little spicy. Vanilla and caramel are back, together with black pepper and brine.

There is no doubt that the heavily charred casks have contributed significantly to the flavours of this Talisker expression. While this certainly is a heavily peated whisky, it is also unexpectedly creamy and fruity and much less complex than the expressions from the core range. This was nice to try but personally I prefer the more austere versions such as the 18-year old.

A month would normally be plenty of time to take the measure of a whisky...but in the case of a whisky which doesn't impress you very much, you may often find that further air will lead it to change in ways which you prefer. Sometimes whiskies will show a better face 6, 12, even 18 months later. If I had one that seemed unimpressive to me like this one does to you, I would check in on it maybe once a month or so to see if its flavours move in a good direction. With a long-opened bottle I will frequently decant it to a small air column container once it hits a taste quality which I like.

Interesting comment, Pandemonium. The 10yo has never disappointed so far, but then there might be bad batches out there - there always are. I had a 10yo Bowmore from the core range lately: utterly disappointing, whereas I had loved a bottle of the same two years ago. My palate has not changed that much, so it must have been the malt. Hope you'll enjoy your Clynelish.

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