“The king o’ drinks, as I conceive it, Talisker, Isla, or Glenlivet.”
…so sayeth Robert Louis Stevenson. King? Perhaps not, but a princely dram to be sure.
I’m sure it is becoming abundantly clear, I like peat. It is highly possible that someone could run over my dog, date my sister and flirt with my wife…as long as their apology included a bottle of something smoky. (Don’t get any ideas, boys). Just as with my coffee (strong and black), my wine (fat and oaky) and my beer (skunky and Euro, please), I like my whisky to have distinction and character. That is what my extra dollars go towards.
In order to truly appreciate those big smoky, phenolic bastards though, one must have certain benchmarks against which to measure. I can appreciate most any well-made whisky, but I have a few favorites against which I measure others. Talisker 10 is just such a one. It is complex enough to please a discerning palate, yet not intimidating enough to bruise the sensitivities of a whisky noob. Smoke? A little, yeah.
Talisker 10 is a mildly/moderately peated whisky from the Isle of Skye. Heavier PPM (parts per million) than the average malt, but not in league with the bullies from Islay. The true beauty? It’s not so phenolic that one couldn’t be enticed to a daily dram. Often the big boys (Lagavulin, Laphroaig and Ardbeg) are occasional sippers and a little too beefy to be an everyday bottle (not to mention the beating they give your wallet). Talisker has crafted a beautiful profile that has that peaty goodness I crave, but also a tastefully tamed balance against the lighter notes.
This is no obscene beast of a peated whisky. Trust me when I say that it is much milder and approachable than the following notes would suggest.
Nose: Peat and pepper. Light sandalwood notes, and maybe a l’il vanilla. Faint bit of plum. Sharp lemon. Briny and expectedly coastal. Hay. Still rather sweet, though less so than previous vintages (and this one is a couple years old too!).
Palate: Gale force arrival. Like shutter doors slamming in an oceanic storm. Peat and a big peppery bite. Cereals. A mouthful of seawater and rocks. Keylime pie. Ginger. More citric bite. Second wave of pepper and spice at the back before it ebbs into cereal notes. Fairly drying.
Thoughts: A lesser malt than earlier incarnations, it’s true, but still a standby ’round here. Has taken a media-drubbing in recent years, and it has dropped off in terms of quality, but it’s still one of the best 10s on the market.
*Updated 3 August 2014
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt