Talisker Storm Review

Talisker Storm144

45.8% abv

Score:  87/100


The skies opened up tonight here in Calgary.  An ominous wall of bruised black and grey cloud built up in the Northwest and slowly rolled in across the sky like a surging army.  The thunder rumbled and lightning flashed from time to time.  And of course we were out on a family walk when this all developed.

As we walked the last half kilometer or so back home it dawned on me how perfectly aligned the universe is sometimes.  Earlier today I’d pulled out a couple Taliskers for a little tasting session.  The 10 year old, just as a point of reference and to maybe update a rather sh*tty earlier review; the 57° North; and, of course, Storm, of which you’re reading now.  Serendipitous natural occurrences.  Love ’em.

First things first.  I like this whisky.  Quite a lot actually.  It’s not the best of Talisker, but it’s a solid addition to the range, and another worthy variation on a theme.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is a little less palatable for me.  At the end of the day, it’s simply a matter of principle.  Some may not take exception to this particular issue, but it’s sort of a topical subject for me at the moment, and this malt is a perfect tool to use in making a case.  Storm is yet another NAS whisky.  I doubt there are any of you out there not ‘in the know’ at this point, but if so…don’t sweat it.  NAS means ‘no age statement’.  In short it means that the distillery is best served by NOT telling us how old the whisky in the jar is.  In some cases the dram still comes together cohesively and age is a non-issue (but should still be declared, in my humble opinion).  In other cases, there are absolutely easily detectable nuances of overly young whisky in the mix.  Storm is a prime example of this less than flawless blending.  The whole is better than its individual parts (the individual casks), I assume, but the parts, unfortunately, are all visible.  And some seem young indeed.

Let’s not get too down though, or start flogging a dead horse.  At the end of the day…it’s still a good malt.  I like it.  And will happily continue to give my money to Diageo.  If the price is right, don’t feel bad about dropping a few bucks (Pounds.  Euro.  Whatever).

Nose:  A little more on the dry peats and wet rock notes than the standard Talisker.  Young barley sugar.  Supposedly a mix of old and young, but the youth rules.  Somewhat of a creamy, custard note.  Vanilla ice cream-ish.  With cracked pepper atop, that is.  Peat and seaspray.  Sour green candies.  Occasional waft of smoke.

Palate:  Peat and pepper.  Lemon juice on oyster shells.  Fairly active wood, faint licorice.  Cinnamon.  Slight fishiness (or smoked seafood of some sort).  Chewy fruit sweets.

Thoughts:  Smells young.  Still works, but could have been much more with a little more oomph and age.  Oh well.  Any Talisker is a good Talisker.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

5 thoughts on “Talisker Storm Review

  1. Jeff

    “In short it (NAS) means that the distillery is best served by NOT telling us how old the whisky in the jar is.” This is a key point; if one determines who NAS is MADE to serve, one has a far clearer view of what it is doing. I think it’s clear that producers start with the position that, either because of reduced access to aged stocks or the desire to realize higher profit margins and quicker turnover with young whisk(e)y (or probably both) – but countered by consumer concerns about overpaying for young, immature spirit of DOCUMENTED age – that NAS serves current industry interests very well. Producers then work backward from that position of self interest to try to show, pretty unconvincingly (as per the recent Spirits Business piece), how it also benefits consumers. It’s a doomed effort – mainly because, of course, NAS was never designed to benefit consumers (and so, doesn’t) in the first place.

    In that context, I question whether it can assumed that “the whole is better than its individual parts (the individual casks)”, particularly when “the parts, unfortunately, are all visible” and “some seem young indeed”. If the point of NAS is to move young whisky, whether out of choice or necessity, come hell or high water, improving the pre-blended quality of the casks is, quite possibly, very secondary to that end, which is how you might end up with less-than-flawless blending. These casks might be better in combination than alone, but which casks are they and who is to say? Some of the older stock in Storm might be of tired quality, “freshened” by younger spirit or, far more likely to me in theory, of older and fairly solid quality, used to even out and mostly try to obscure the flaws in far larger (excessive?) volumes of young whisky (so much for the irrelevance of age).

    But if blending casks perhaps DOESN’T result in significantly better quality for an NAS overall, what would be the purpose in doing so? Age concealment for the vatting as a whole: in the minds (or at least in the press releases) of some in the industry, ANY amount of older whisky in an NAS makes an age statement “unfair” or “irrelevant” as such an age statement can only count the youngest whisky in the bottle. Removed from the possibility of such a multi-vintage (and, importantly, NAS DOESN’T, in and of itself, actually guarantee any such multi-vintaging is, in fact, being done) there IS no excuse that an age statement is “unfair” or “irrelevant”. Whether older malt, frequently of unknown age and concentration, provides significantly greater quality to some NAS offerings is debatable, but it most certainly provides all of them with a cloak. Once again, for the industry, age is only unimportant in certain contexts.

  2. Robert

    Uh. Okay. I was just going to say this is a good version, whether NAS or not. I’m not a fan of Talisker 10, but I really like the DE. Same for Laphroaig 10. I love the CS and QC, though. Storm is like the QC in that it is a good variation for the distillery that is slightly more than the base model and sufficiently different from the others. Again, your score and description seem fair.

    PS – I do drink the Talisker and Laphroaig 10’s at bars as they are generally the cheapest malts on the menu and I’m not analyzing them.

    1. Robert

      Picked up another bottle of this today, along with a 2005 Longmorn 15 (very exciting) and a High West Campfire (a blend of rye, bourbon and peated Scotch malt (Highland?). I’m saving the last two, the Longmorn for a special day and the Campfire for when I finish off my open bottle of High West Rondevous (sp?). Had to open the Storm, though, as I’ve missed having it, which says something about how good it is. It needs a bit of air time (don’t they all!), but it’s a good daily dram.

  3. Robert

    Close to finishing off my most recent Storm. I was sitting outside in the cold smoking an Oliva V Torpedo (great cigar!) and drinking Storm. I really like this version. It’s like a really good peaty blend, but no grainy crap. I’ll definitely pick up more of this (and Ardmore; $29!!!!) for the cold to come. My problem with the 10 is the pepper, which I don’t like at all. The Storm is “pepper-less” but quite peaty. Yes, there is young stuff in it, but it is still really tasty. Should be a good intro to peated whisky for newbies, along with High West Campfire ( a blend of bourbon, rye, and Highland peated scotch (no name).


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