Talisker 25 years old, 2004 bottling, 57.8%

Another rather awesome sample from a recent sample swap. It’s been at least a couple of years since I tried any 25 year old Talisker, and even longer since it was one of the older cask strength versions.

A couple of years ago (2011 to be exact) saw the watering down of Talisker 25. According to Whiskybase there was no release in 2010 and all that came before were at cask strength. The strange thing is that with the new 45.8% Talisker 25 it also saw a massive price hike. Where it used to be below 100 euros before 2010, after 2011 it saw over € 200.

Even our tour and tasting guide at the distillery in 2013 said he’d rather buy three bottles of the 18 for the same money as one bottle of the new 25 year old. If I remember correctly he amassed quite some bottles of the old 25 when they were still for sale side by side at the distillery.

I once read that Diageo realizes it’s running out of Port Ellen and Brora, and because of that they’re positioning Caol Ila to take Port Ellen’s place (last year’s 30 year old saw a Port Ellen-like price hike) and Talisker and Clynelish to compensate for the loss of Brora.

Of course, this is speculation, but with where things are going from a price perspective, and the complete lack of independent bottlings of Port Ellen (2014 saw 8, 2015 has none yet) and Brora (one indie in 2014, and that was the ‘cask end and bottle end’ series of Master of Malt, That Boutique-y Whisky Company), it might hit the mark.

Image from Whiskybase

Image from Whiskybase

The nose hits you right away and is far from shy. Leather, spices, peat, salt. Quite different than Islay, though. Peppery, as you expect from Talisker, with oak, rope and a heavy grainlike flavor, like oats. Fruity too, tropical and sweet.

The palate is spicy with some heat, but on average, it’s quite gentle. Black pepper, oak, licorice root. Peat, smoke, salt, fruit. Combined and balanced awesomely.

The finish starts a tad spicy again but mellows quickly. Still peppery of course, and the oak and salt and smoke are present as well. Moss, tree bark (the rugged, mulchy kind), tropical fruits like mango.

As you might have guessed from the ‘balanced awesomely’ bit earlier, I kind of like this one. And that’s a massive understatement.

It’s quite remarkable what they’ve done with this. There is single flavor that dominates above the others. The fruit, pepper, oak, peat are all balanced perfectly to a savory and sweet mixture of awesomeness.

I like that the peat flavors are so different from the regular Islay whiskies, which are far more medicinal, salty and have a certain resemblance of the plants you see on Islay. While Talisker is also a coastal whisky, the island is vastly different. And so is the whisky.

Kudos to Diageo for making this. Less so for changing the regimen to no longer being cask strength.

Talisker 25 years old, 2004 bottling, 57.8%. Currently available for € 285 at Jurgen’s Whiskyhuis

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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