Talisker 18 Review

Talisker 18

45.8% abv

Score:  93/100


Oh boy.  This is it.  This is what Talisker is meant to be.  The 10 y.o is good.  The Distiller’s Edition, not bad.  The 30 y.o., brilliant, but out of most of our ranges.  But here, at 18 years, we have Talisker in its prime.  This is not just a great example of what Talisker can be, but a great example of what whisky can be.

I recently nabbed a couple bottles of this in San Francisco for a steal of a deal, but I think this bottle I’m reviewing now may be from an older batch.  I am desperately hoping there is not much batch variation, because this is a stunner.  If it just so happens to turn out that there are two bottles of this exact batch on my shelves downstairs…my mates and I are gonna be very happy lads in coming days.

Phenomenal complexity and composition here.  Beautiful mature peat runs headlong into an array of fruits already growing and coming forward as they tend to do with age.  Smoke and pepper, as you’d expect with Talisker, but with far less bite than the 10 y.o. most are familiar with.  There is a knowing waxy and latex maturity here, and a tightrope balance that would almost have me guessing this was a Port Ellen if I didn’t know better.  Mature beyond its years.  In a good way

The palate?  Again…Port Ellen-ish.  Waxy fruits, a bit of smoke and a quick twist of pepper.  45.8% abv is a perfect bottling strength for this one.  Flavors are rich and finish is long.

Outstanding.  I adore this whisky.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

18 thoughts on “Talisker 18 Review

  1. Jeff

    Nice review and a good point well made: this is a distillery at its prime, though surprisingly late for a whisky of this profile. Pound for pound, the best 18 I’ve tried (95), although Highland Park runs a close second (92), and for the same reason: power balanced with depth. While I did begin with the Famous Grouse and Glenfiddich 12, this really is the one that started it all – an inspired gift by the Scotch Guru. A scotch to be studied by the novice and expert alike, sort of like A Book of Five Rings. If Musashi drank scotch, this would be the one.

    APB for Ontario Talisker fans: the big boy size of the Distiller’s Edition is now available in a few stores. It’s pricey ($109.95), but a great exercise Amoroso-finished whisky.

  2. James

    Why does everyone still continue this ‘illusion’ that Talisker 10 is still good whisky? It used to be.

    Now it’s bland and not a patch on what it used to be. I suspect it has been over caramelised which has killed the flavours.

    I’m curious about the 18 year old but until I see the 18 year old put in proper perspective to a disappointing Talisker 10, then I will take these reviews with a pinch of salt.

    1. ATW Post author

      Hi, James. I will never buy into the argument that the miniscule amount of caramel used to color whisky affects the flavor. We are literally talking drops in a bucket.

      Not sure if you had a bad experience with Talisker 10, but I have had many bottles over the past years, and have a new one now, and all are decent.

      The 18 is beyond decent. It is bloody good.

      You can still take the reviews with a pinch of salt, as you should. I won’t be offended. 😉

  3. Robert

    I’m a bit of an abnormality as I don’t really care for Talisker 10, probably since I don’t like black pepper, except in small amounts. I do like to mix it with Caol Ila 12 as they seem to compliment each other and the dilution makes the pepper more pleasing to me. Maybe the 18 would be more to my liking? I don’t really like Laphroaig 10 either, but love the QC and CS versions. Any advice?

    1. Jeff

      I do think the 18 is exceptional, and a much rounder whisky than the 10. That said, Curt’s and James’ points may not be mutually exclusive: the 10 is good but it may not be what it was, even only a few years ago (a subject of note in Ralfy’s recent re-review). Over time, I’ve found the 10 becoming a little hotter and thinner, moving a little more toward the profile of Arran or Hazelburn without the lemon, and I can’t say I find it an improvement.

    1. Rob77


      Yes, they do. My bottle has the laser-etched code L2229CM000 on it. L2 = 2012. 299 = day of the year. The L will vary. 0 = 2010, 1 = 2011 etc.

  4. Peter Benkoczki

    Just checked my bottle, but i haven’t found any code. It”s the old blue box, and maybe it was resting in the shop abput 4-7 years.
    Are the newly packaged ones as good as the older ones?

    1. Peter Young

      If the photo in your article is the bottle you tasted, then that is the 2007 Talisker 18. It won best single malt in the world in the 2007 World Whisky Awards. It is indeed amazing. If you have a second sealed bottle you might want to put it away. It will definitely appreciate.

  5. Robert

    Wow! Thanks, Peter! You reminded me I picked up a bottle of this about a year ago. It’s been sitting in the back of my cabinet since, waiting for a good reason to open. I need to think of a good reason! Anyone with a suggestion?

    1. David

      Because you want to? that’s probably the best reason of all…. otherwise it can gather dust for years waiting for the right time.

      I suffer from needing a good reason to open things as well (cause once it’s gone, it’s gone…), if anyone has a cure, let me know.

  6. Mike

    I’m 2/3 through a bottle with the exact box and label and no laser etching. I’ve had it since 2011. It’s quite simply a top 5 single malt I’ve ever had. I hate to finish it. I describe it as leather and spice and redman golden blend chewing tobacco….all in the best possible ways.

  7. Robert

    Wow! I’m glad I didn’t leave this in the back of the cabinet any longer, especially with the anticipation it was really good. My personal tastes must have totally skipped Talisker, as I don’t find this that good. In fact, I only find it $40 okayish (I paid $90+). Will never buy it or any other Talisker, as the 10 and DE are disappointing. I tried over about 9 months and never found it to be more than okay. I’d pay $40 for this and that’s it. I’m sure it’s quite good, but my palate doesn’t get it. I have the same issue with Four Roses bourbon. Everyone seems to love it, but I find it meh. I’d rather have any NAS tossed out by Ardbeg ( or Wild Turkey) than this 18. Sorry Jeff, but it’s true. In fact, I find this only slightly better than Tomatin 18, which I thought was kinda crap, partly because the Tomatin was at least a lot cheaper.

    1. Jeff

      Sorry, it’s exactly that approach that ends up reducing product information for consumers without any enhancement of quality whatsoever – not that people don’t really know that and take it anyway. Such is the way of those who bemoan the direction whisky’s taking even as they help it along.


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