So much whisky, so little time | Singapore | Tasting Notes

Talisker DE 1991/205 TD-S: 5GS

Some whiskies are so so shy, one has to coax it out of the glass by artful manipulation (swirl swirl swirl), or else by plain duress (plain water treatment). In extreme cases, I have placed whisky in a small bottle and given it 15 seconds of the slap about treatment.

This Talisker needs no such encouragement, it is all to glad to reach out of the glass and greet you by the nose. But then could less be expected from so extroverted an individual?

Talisker DE 1991/2005 TD-S: 5GS 45.8%(aka customary Talisker strength)



Beyond Carbost Village close to the shore is a gentle haven sheltered from the bleak ravines which sweep down to the coast.

Here in the shadow of the distant Cuillin Hills lies the island’s only distillery Talisker.

The Golden Spirit of Skye has more than a hint of local seaweed peppered with sour & sweet notes and a memorable warm peaty finish.

Nose  Nose: Strong seas ahoy. Sea spray, best have that peat fire going ‘ta keep warm, Skye’s peat seems a bit resinous mixed with a handful of wet muddy earth to me.  Oh and here comes the wet round ripe fruit- warm tones like fresh but not overcooked orange and plum jam. Pinch of cloves. Sweet. Sounds a little out of place but I can see what the DE version is getting at, just not too well integrated there. Pepper and seaweed (here it smells like seaweed, in another whisky it could be like..  Swedish Bitters) arrives together, it is a Talisker after all, then that old forgotten leather/old books smell.

Taste  Palette: Whoosh pepper, smoke and wet peat, salty-sweet  turning astringent with wet leafy herbs, quite mentholated, chewy medium weight. Some dark fruit or chocolate under all that just jostling to get out but the Talisker in this easily has the upper hand all the way to the finish.

Finish  Finish: Medium, drying leafy herbs. Cocoa? Peat in the rear.


Enjoyable take on Talisker, all its classic elements are present. The sweetness is noticeable on the nose though not completely integrated but on the palette? Really, the sherry does not stand up to the power of Talisker.

Now as to how I ended up with a Talisker tonight?

Over the weekend the DramFull FB group organized a tasting session at the Auld Alliance Singapore, highlighting 5 special bottlings. Emmanuel who had just arrived from Scotland had a treat. A bottle recovered from the 1895 shipwreck of the SS Wallachia. Serge covered this bottle here. The bottom of the glass bottle was indeed cast with GLENLIVET DUFFTOWN P DAWSON. Emmanuel let us all have a whiff and dear God, was this rotten …  an octopus crawled in got drunk, died and liquified.

SS Wallachia

Ok anyway, that was not the treat.

Emmanuel promptly remedied the situation by offering everyone glasses of his 1951 Gordon & Macphail Talisker. Now there’s a rare thing. I immediately put aside my Kornog. Sorry Kornog, oily candied sweetshop you were. But it is simply not everyday one gets a glass of 1951 Talisker. With compliments. Thank you Emmanuel.

Talisker 1951


No tasting notes for this, I was too gone for a proper one. But I remember that old bottle smell, thick and lacquered like a closed library with a bowl of overripe fruit. So unlike anything in modern bottles (who knows what modern bottles will smell of in 30 years eh?). Also it was redolent of peat oil, less so smoke, and the pepper in modern Talisker? Barely a trace. Emmanuel says its got to do with the modern cut.

And while we’re at it, here’s something interesting distillers say about their peat:

I ask Jason Craig of Highland Park whether the quality of the water is the fundamental element that decides a whisky’s flavour and style.

“I’m not so sure about that,” he says. “We don’t make any great claims about our water here. Heck, all Scottish water is great. And as for the other two ingredients, our barley varieties are constantly changing and yeast is yeast as far as we’re concerned. No, I’d say what’s important is the peat we dry our barley with.”

Peat is the terroir of island whiskies and here on Orkney’s Hobbister Moor, a wind-blasted heath with no trees (where, it is said, folk topple over whenever the gales temporarily cease), the peat is rich in decayed heather and rootlets. The lack of wood in its composition means that it burns slower at a lower temperature and with less smoke than most peats.

“We could just dry our barley with a giant hairdryer,” says Craig. “But by drying it with smouldering peat you get a wonderful sweet, floral, smoky flavour. Using our own unique local peat is what Highland Park is all about and is our point of difference.”

Over at Talisker, on the Isle of Skye, distillery manager Mark Lochhead takes a slightly different view. Talisker’s peat comes from Caithness and Lochhead argues that it is less about the peat itself but more the amount of peat used that matters. For him, though, it is Talisker’s water that is really the key.

“We use our own supply which has gone through Skye rock, earth and all the associated minerals that you won’t find on Speyside or Orkney,” he says. “It’s

unique to us and must surely have a major effect on the final spirit. To me it’s our water, which is in fact quite peaty, that gives Talisker its distinctive notes of pepper and spice.”

On Islay at the resurrected distillery of Ardbeg (it was shut for many years in the Eighties), distillery manager Michael Heads doesn’t answer my question about the importance of peat outright, but leads me straight into a brightly whitewashed former malt bin. It still reeks of the stuff.

“Aye, so it does,” he smiles. “And when you consider it hasn’t been used as a malt bin for 30 years you get some idea of the influence that peat can have.”

Here the peat is grassy and mossy, mixed with heather, wood, sand and even seaweed. In its raw state it doesn’t smell at all, but once lit it releases a wonderfully rich, earthy aroma that is replicated in the whisky itself. And as for the iodine and salt I also detect, Heads simply waves his hand towards the sea breaking on the cobbles of the old jetty just yards from where we stand.

“They say the Manzanilla sherries of Sanlucar in Spain are salty because of the proximity of the sea, so why not our whisky?”


Taken from source article here.

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This entry was posted on February 19, 2014 by in Talisker and tagged , , .
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