Talisker and The RNLI – Another Tasting by the Sea

I hope everyone had an excellent start to February. Today, I want to write a review of a product that represents two things that I am passionate about: Scotch whisky and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Talisker, a whisky that is very proudly made by the sea, is supporting the RNLI by donating £1 for each purchase of this gift pack. Unlike others, including the multitude that appeared over the festive period, this one doesn’t mess about with glasses or chocolates; it consists of a 70cl bottle of Talisker 10 Year Old in a cardboard box displaying an atmospheric photograph of Skye and the knowledge that you’re contributing to a great charity.

This is a limited edition gift pack, so be sure to seek one out soon if you’re interested; we’ve seen a few recently in our local Waitrose for £27.15.

The RNLI, founded in 1824, provides lifeboats all day, every day around the coast of the UK and Ireland. As a charity, they rely upon volunteers and donations to buy and maintain their fleet of over 330 lifeboats, pay their staff and train their volunteers.

Talisker Outdoors
Inspired by the photograph on the box and some of the pictures and stories on the website, DBS & I decided to take some of the whisky on another trip to our local coastline to remind ourselves of how it tasted by the sea.

As you can see, it was more than a tad blustery and so I was extremely grateful for my hipflask. The strong sea breeze left a distinctive salty coating on my lips and the chill on my face was raw, but revitalising.

As I took a sip from my hipflask, the cold metal contrasted sharply with the warmth of the alcohol to give a really bright freshness to each sip, boosted by the characteristic Talisker black pepper kick. An almost- sweet warmth then crept up from my stomach, bringing with it smoke and a savoury finish, topped off with a wonderfully comforting, chilli-like warmth. Once again, I was impressed by how well the combination of these flavours and their profile – the very timing of them! – fit with being outdoors.

After a few more sips, DBS & I continued with our walk. Before we knew it, the sun had began to set and we turned back towards home.

Talisker at Home
By the time we got home, we were both tired, but refreshed, in that way that a good walk can make you. After some supper, I sat back with a drop of Talisker in a slightly different setting; as you can see, another little friend from the RNLI joined me for a sip or two!

In Conclusion
Talisker 10 Year Old is one of my favourite whiskies. I love how it’s both bold and interesting without being overpowering, and – especially – how good it tastes by the sea, in either a glass or a hipflask. It’s price means that it’s usually a bottle that I only occasionally treat myself to, but knowing that this pack is helping to support and advertise the work of the RNLI, I think that wonderful picture of Skye might be decorating my whisky shelf for a while yet!

If you like whisky and have never tried Talisker 10 Year Old before, this is a great time to try it.

– Mrs. B

Cocktails with Johnnie Walker

Cocktails with Johnnie Walker
Last Friday, DBS donned his finest three-piece and grey fedora, and I, my favourite, flowery frock and we set off for our very first trip to the Goodwood Revival. Despite my having seen various advertisements and heard discussions on this event by friends in the vintage community, I certainly wasn’t prepared for the sheer scale of this event. There were literally people everywhere and a vast majority were dressed in honour of the Golden Age, including children; at one point we spotted a school party, all dressed in grey and crimson vintage uniforms and caps. All in all, it was quite a sight, even for someone used to seeing people dressed in vintage, and so I was immensely grateful to be grounded by the focus of our day: Johnnie Walker whisky.

We found the Johnnie Walker Racing Bar by walking through a vintage style Tesco store, through the subway beneath the racing track, and past a vast array of beautiful and exceptionally well-cared for vintage cars. The bar was set up within a wooden shed that had been meticulously decorated to look like one that might have been used by Rob Walker, with racing car, tools, desk, books and a tea mug, complete with dregs.

The Rob Walker Workshop - Click to enlarge

The Rob Walker Workshop – (Click to enlarge)

On the opposite side of the garage was a bar, serving Johnnie Walker Red and Black Label whiskies, plus a selection of cocktails created especially for the occasions. Given my fondness for scotch, I was delighted to be able to try the Johnnie Walker selection with the wonderful Colin Dunn (who we met at the recent Talisker event at Cowes Week, which you can read about here), but today, I thought I would run through the cocktails to hopefully inspire some experimentation before our British summer disappears completely! I will write about the whiskies on their own shortly, in a separate post.

Red Rose

Red RoseIngredients:

25mls Johnnie Walker Red Label
Fentimans Rose Lemonade
2 strawberries
1 lemon wedge
Fill a tall glass with ice and pour in the Red Label. Top with the lemonade, drop in a strawberry and stir. Garnish with a pinch of chopped strawberry and a lemon wedge.

 This was, frankly, delicious. Delicate, but flavourful, the scotch hits your tongue first, with its sweeter, fruity notes highlighted, followed by a gradual increase in flavour that transformed into a strong, rose flavour, just like Turkish Delight. The finish was fruity and fresh, with the strawberries coming through and the lemon just rounding off the sweetness of everything else. Having recently tried Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade alongside some of its Floral Soda counterparts and knowing that it has a delicate flavour, I was amazed at how much of the rose came through in this drink. Lovely!
 Johnnie Walker Buck

Johnnie Walker BuckIngredients:
25mls Johnnie Walker Red Label
Top with ginger ale
2 lime wedges
Fill a tall glass with ice and pour in the Red Label. Top with ginger ale and a squeeze of lime, using the lime wedges as a garnish.

In contrast to the Red Rose, the J.W. Buck was incredibly savoury. I found the nose to be ever so slightly salty – reminding me of the Tequila Fruit Cup that DBS made – which was supported by the freshness and acidity of the lime. When I tasted it, I got the sense that this drink worked very well with the whisky, allowing the spicy, woody notes to come through without any sweetness to mask them. The savouriness of this drink made it easy to drink, but this is unlikely to be the favourite of someone who prefers sweeter cocktails.


Stirling Collins

Stirling CollinsIngredients:
25mls Johnnie Walker Black Label
25mls lemon juice
10mls gomme
25mls rhubarb and apple juice
1 lemon wedge
1 sprig of mint
Shake the Black Label, lemon juice and gomme with the rhubarb and apple juice and pour into a tall glass. Top with soda and garnish with a lemon wedge and mint sprig.

This was an interesting one. I had two during the day they tasted slightly different, although both had a spicy nose, followed by the distinctive smell of the rhubarb and a slight, lemony bitterness. On the tongue, I thought that it was well-rounded, despite evolving a lot in the mouth. The first one that I had tasted a lot more of rhubarb, whereas the second was surprisingly savoury – as with the Buck, bordering on salty – and refreshing, especially given the amount of fruit juice in it. The rhubarb flavour became stronger in both drinks, with a tartness that reminded me of old-fashioned rhubarb boiled sweets, followed by a decidedly savoury finish.

Cream of the Crop

Cream of the CropIngredients:
25mls Johnnie Walker Black Label
Cream soda
Fill a tall glass with ice and pour in the Black Label. Top with cream soda and garnish with an orange wedge. (Apple works too!)

Incredibly different to the last two! The cream soda is immediately evident as a very appropriate choice of mixer, given our vintage setting; the nose was strong, creamy and sweet, like milk bottle sweets. The taste was similarly sweet, with a smooth, creamy texture; the milky creaminess stayed at the top of my mouth. The Black Label came through afterwards, but it was faint and mainly served to add some weight with a slightly heavier, spicy, dark-toffee-like sweetness, highlighted by the orange. This would be good for those with a sweet tooth who don’t think that they could like a whisky cocktail.

.Stirling Collins and Johnny Walker Buck


In Conclusion…

Although I obviously liked some of these cocktails a lot more than the others, I thought that the selection overall was superb for that very reason: I have no doubt that most people would find a firm favourite amongst the list.

For those who like their whisky cocktails to taste predominantly of whisky, there was the Johnnie Walker Buck; for those who like heavier whisky notes, but something else going on as well, there’s the Red Rose; the Stirling Collins will satisfy those that like a more fruity expression of their whisky; and, finally, for those who would prefer less heavy whisky notes, want to try something new, or just have a sweet tooth, there’s the Cream of the Crop.

My personal favourite was the Red Rose, followed by the Johnnie Walker Buck, but I could happily drink any of these lovely concoctions, especially on such a glorious summer day as we had last Friday. I will be writing on the whiskies themselves shortly, no doubt by which point the autumn chill will definitely be in the air.

– Mrs. B.

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All at Sea! – The Talisker Sail-in Cinema

We have been absolutely spoiled with field trips this month, but I don’t think that anything could have prepared me for last Friday, when DBS & I set off for Southampton, where we would be joining many others in sailing over to the Isle of Wight for the Friday night of Cowes Week. This was my first trip to the Isle and so found myself feeling a little like I used to when we started off on our family holidays. The ferry crossing was swift and easy, and so it wasn’t long before I found myself drawn into the busy streets of Cowes, which reminded me enough of other seaside towns to feel familiar, whilst also being different enough to be exciting.We followed our hosts along the seafront to the Royal London Yacht Club where, as soon as we walked into our tasting room, I breathed in the sturdy scent of Scotch whisky and would have been instantly inspired, if I hadn’t been already, to get down to the Taliskertasting.

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.

Colin Dunn explains the finer points of the Talisker 18 year old on Cowes Seafront.

Colin Dunn explains the finer points of the Talisker 18 year old on Cowes Seafront.

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).

The World's First Sail-in Cinema

The World's First Sail-in Cinema

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.

Mrs B enjoys a cinematic snack

Mrs B enjoys a cinematic snack

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.


In Conclusion

A Perfect End to a Perfect Day!

A Perfect End to a Perfect Day!

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