I stopped at my favorite semi-local Scotch source, the Party Source in Newport, KY, this week. It’s about a 50 minute drive, but it’s really worth it. Most of the prices are pretty good overall, and they have one of the best selections of any liquor store within a decent drive.
So my latest trip was to scout out some of the higher end things for the barbecue group to be choosing from, as we do our first blind taste test next weekend. I wanted to see if I could find a Bruichladdich, the Laddie Ten, and I noticed that they also had Talisker 18-year-old for $59.99, while the 10-year-old was $57.99. 8 years older for just $2… That’s just 25 cents a year! So I had to get a bottle.
The first I ever heard of Talisker was about 20 years ago, in a really odd way. I met a couple that got a Labrador Retriever from the same breeder where I had just gotten my lab puppy, Woody.
The couple got a yellow lab (the above is Woody as a pup) and named him Tally, after Talisker whisky. Back then, I knew almost nothing about whisky (not that I’m an expert now, either), but I remember trying Talisker and thinking it was a little rough. However, just a few weeks ago found me sitting at one of my favorite restaurants with a glass of Talisker 10-year-old sitting in front of me, and then me really enjoying it.
So fast forward to last night, after my drive to Kentucky. I opened the 18-year-old Talisker into a Glencairn glass, added just a drop or two of filtered water, then let it sit for about 15 minutes to open up a bit…
Age: 18 years old
Appearance: It looks like whisky. It’s a good, strong amber, without sherry ruddiness, and dark enough to guess that it may have been in a barrel for a while, but it’s likely that Talisker used e150 (caramel color), which is why appearance isn’t that big of a deal.
Nose: Smoke, sweet, cocoa, salted caramel, gravel, campfire, grown-up Swisher Sweets tobacco, faint
citrus. The campfire and smoke had some peat in the background, but kind of behind everything else. The whisky, for a non-Islay malt, just smelled masculine. Unlike sherried whiskies like the Macallan, the scent of this whisky made no bones about its gender. Have you ever smelled the male and female versions of a cologne with the same name? They’re similar, but one is more masculine, one more feminine? In the world of whisky, this whisky took that masculine and called it a sissy.
Taste: Very malty up front, not too sharp, white pepper and honey, plenty of smoke and wood, charcoal and blue smoke from a barbecue pit. The mouthfeel is thick, but not syrupy. There’s a bit of toffee and cocoa in there, too. This whisky is nicely balanced, still firmly on the side of testosterone. There’s a nice amount of sweetness to this, but it’s not over the top. The smoke/peat comes through after it to balance it well.
Finish: The finish is medium long. Meringue baked on a Big Green Egg, eaten by the campfire.
Overall: This brings to my mind some of my BBQ friends making up desserts on their smokers, up all night seeing who comes up with the best of the bunch, and the while sharing drams of whisky. BBQ use: grilled pork chops served with apples stewed in cinnamon and Talisker.
If you haven’t guessed what I think… Get some of this stuff!