Talisker 10 Year Old
We started with the 10 year old, which is bottled at 45.8%ABV (80 proof). I found the nose to be very light, with a sweetness like golden syrup that blended into honey, straw, a light peatiness, and – at the end – a faint hint of liquorice sticks. This all reminded me very much of nature and the outdoors.
As the Talisker was initially smooth on the tongue, I was slightly disarmed by a black-peppery, chili-like kick, which was followed by a burnt-wood, savoury flavour that faded into a warmth, again like chilis or hot pepper. I immediately thought that this would be very much at home in a hipflask (and was glad that I had brought mine, pre-filled especially for the occasion, with me for later on when the sun had gone in!).
Talisker Distiller’s Edition
Our second tipple was their Distiller’s Edition, which I thought had a much heavier nose, with strong hints of raisins and cherry, reminding me of an Old Fashioned. Oddly, despite this seeming richer and more liqueur-like on the nose, I also got a hint of salty sea air – maybe this had more to do with my environment, though?
I thought that this tasted a lot smoother and softer than the 10 year old, with less warmth and less of a kick to it. It was more creamy, but mostly in texture, rather than taste; it still had the same slight peatiness and pepperiness, but they were more “polite”.
Talisker 57 North
With the 57 North, I was pleased to return to a lighter nose, much akin to the 10 year old; there weren’t any overpowering alcohol vapours, but in addition to the light smokiness and pepperiness, I got a little more charred wood.
Despite being cask strength (57.1% or traditional 100 proof), I thought this was quite smooth; the higher alcohol content mainly came through via a lovely warmth in my stomach a few seconds after sipping. Having said that, this may have been because I was distracted from any tingling by a powerful, chili peppery kick that had quickly engulfed my tongue. This made it DBS’s clear favourite.
The fourth space on our tasting boards was unlabelled and a mystery, until Colin brought out a bottle of Talisker 18 Year Old. In a second, excellent surprise, we were directed out of the tasting room – by now full with whisky fumes – and onto The Parade, where we looked out over the sea, raised a toast and lifted our glasses to the sky to catch a few well-timed drops of rain before enjoying our final taster. An absolutely wonderful way to enjoy an excellent whisky. And as if that wasn’t already treat enough, someone turned up with piping hot packets of fish ‘n’ chips (and forks borrowed from the Yacht Club) to complete our seaside experience.
DBS found the Talisker 18 “smooth yet full of flavour, with some light jamminess and a pleasant pepper and smoke aspect” he also got some burnt sugar (a term he seems to enjoy using).
After we’d polished off both whisky and supper, our hosts led us to our location for the evening’s entertainment: aboard the Talisker catamaran. Following a short, enthusiastic detour down the wrong jetty, we found ourselves safely aboard the right boat and heading out towards the spot where we would settle down to take part in the world’s very first “sail-in cinema”. Yes, like a drive-in cinema, but with boats. As we all took our seats a top the catamaran and turned on our radio earpieces to watch Master and Commander, we enjoyed the first Talisker cocktail of the evening.
In addition to the entertainment provided by the film, at this point I found myself amused by the common problem of latecomers sneaking into the cinema after the film has started; whilst this is merely annoying in a normal cinema, it is more entertaining when you’re on water and seeing people attempting to slowly “sneak in” in small yachts. We all quietly (and not so quietly) willed every passing yacht’s mast to carry on sailing past our view of the screen.
The sun had well and truly set towards the end of the film and there was a noticeable chill in the air. People went to get a combination of coats and glasses of whisky to keep themselves warm, and just as I started to feel uncomfortably chilly, our hosts appeared with lovely, soft Talisker scarves – excellent and very thoughtful planning!
Once the credits had rolled, their planning was again proven to be top notch, when everyone got a hot toddy to hug whilst we waited for the fireworks.
Despite the wonderful experiments with chocolate and marvellous scenery of our last tasting, I have to admit that the 10 Year Old was my favourite of the four whiskies that we tried: I liked it’s boldness and raw, natural flavours, all tucked away beneath a light, sweet, and then peppery, nose. For me, it had the best balance of kick and slower, developing flavours, and it will definitely be refreshing my hipflask for a while yet.
As for our field trip, it was absolutely marvellous and my thanks go out to everyone involved in the planning and executing of it, in addition to the fellow whisky fans with whom we enjoyed it all. It’s not every day that you get to visit a new island, eat fish & chips with the sea breeze in your hair, go to a sail-in cinema and watch a fantastic fireworks display, let alone do it all whilst savouring excellent whiskies that are perfectly matched for the occasion. Marvellous.
– Mrs. B