So back in May, the first four Game of Thrones malts showed up at the LCBO (Cardhu, Lagavulin, Dalwhinnie and Glendullan) in fair enough quantities that I was able to pick up two of each without too much effort. For the remaining four malts, we waited...and waited...and waited... Now maybe I just got lazy, but they seemed to have vanished before they barely arrived. Checking periodically, it seemed that some would come...and go...and come...and go again. Luckily, I happened to grab the new Talisker, but at present time the other three have come and gone already. Frustrating.
This Talisker (Select Reserve) is a NAS aligned with the House Greyjoy, featuring a kraken on the label (not to be confused with the spiced rum!) I know nothing about Game of Thrones, so can't speak to what Greyjoy is like. Except maybe once in a while they scream "Release the Kraken!" (I love that line).
The colour is a pale gold. On the nose it's that unmistakeable sooty / peppery Talisker note, with cumquat, heather honey, soft caramel and a touch of cinnamon. Slightly metallic. Thick malt. Musty with wet bonfire. Water adds some smoke but otherwise mutes the rest. Quintessentially Talisker but there's nothing new here...yet.
On the palate we have some blood orange supporting delicate peat, cracked black pepper, thicker caramel and vanilla. Quite creamy mouthfeel. Caramelized sugar. Some lemon pith there, with time. Slightly herbal. Where water drowned the nose, here it lifts the palate with some heat and warm spices. Seems creamier than standard Talisker, which we'll find out soon when we compare....in any case, this is very nice.
The finish is fairly long with bigger oak, more pepper, beef stock and chilies. I've not yet met a Talisker I didn't like (wait, that's not true.... Dark Storm didn't work for me!) This one is spicy, creamy, peppery and smoky, all in very nice balance. Now, compared to the 10 Year Old? Visually, the 10 is a hair darker (remember, the Select Reserve is NAS). I find the 10 noses and tastes a bit fruitier, with more tropical fruits rather than just a focus on the orange, like the Select Reserve. And yes, the Select Reserve is definitely creamier. So for me overall, as nice as it is, it doesn't quite hit the level of the 10. Note that Gavin Smith scored this a 91 for Whisky Advocate.