It’s good to see Diageo doing more for the sizeable throngs
who visit their distilleries across Scotland by releasing specific distillery
exclusives. These are not as desirable as the bottle-your-own experiences that
provide enthusiasts with a taste of the true distillery character, without the
interference of a master blender or minion in head office, but they are unique
and will become prized by collectors unable to visit Scotland.
To date in 2017 I’ve visited Blair Athol, Dalwhinnie and
Talisker, all of whom have offered visitors that extra special bottle to take
home. These tend to range in price from £75 to £90 so far and they are all in
the No Age Statement realm and quite limited on details. There is still room
for improvement by Diageo, but at least we’re seeing some movement; just a wee
kick up the backside might result in more progress.
For now, we have this Talisker which was only just launched
at the distillery a couple of months ago. It is such a hotspot for
visitors on the Isle of Skye that I doubt these 6000 bottles will last too
long. It’s one of the busiest distilleries for tours with the emphasis being
you have to book in advance otherwise you’ll have to sit back and take in the
views, whilst waiting for the next available slot.
Talisker is one of my favourite distilleries for its
location and rugged style of whisky. It has a salty smoke nature that sums up
the impressively foreboding Isle of Skye and has several classic expressions
within its ranks. The 10-year-old remains a regular go to dram and whilst the
price of the 18-year-old continues to rise; it’s still excellent. Then we have
the No Age Statement onslaughts and it’s been hard to keep track of all these
Taliskers, but I did come up with a theory for this as part of my recent
Talisker Skye review, or you can check out the Talisker vertical I put together
a couple of years ago now.
On paper what do we know about this distillery exclusive? It’ll
set you back £80 and is limited to 6000 bottles, which for Diageo isn’t a huge
outturn but just enough to cater for a season or two of visitors to the
distillery. I did ask one of the distillery workers what they knew about the
release i.e. possible age, cask composition etc. and I was advised that details
were pretty scant coming from headquarters. Word of advice to Diageo, give a
little more information other than tasting notes as I could have picked up the
18-year-old for the same price. You’ve got to hope that this isn’t merely pitched
at the tourist or flipper and has some substance.
I purchased this to experience another Talisker and report
back to you, the faithful reader or lost explorer online. I’ve also shared this
with other enthusiasts to minimise the cost, but if it is rather good then I’ll
be driving back along to the distillery as I’m on Skye for a couple of days
still. Bottled at 48% strength, there are now 5999 bottles out there, so let’s
Colour: worn gold, it must be said not as artificially glowing
as some recent Taliskers releases and that’s a good thing.
Nose: reaching out is that smoky blanket and coastal salt.
These are forgone conclusions for Talisker. Whereas Neist Point offered more
pungency in an attempt to hide its limitations. Here the experienced nose can
pick up more character. Cola cubes, fresh honey, charcoal and right at the end
a brief spurt of sweet cinnamon. There’s a strong hickory amongst the smoke and
a tarry Lapsang Souchong. I’m also picking up a stick of rock candy, especially
after the addition of water and liquorice.
Taste: a real kick of smoke pacifies allowing the charred
vanilla to step forward. Salted caramel and memories of Stornoway Black Pudding
with emphasis on the spices is difficult to shake off. Water should be used sparingly
with this whisky but when added at just the right quantity, it unleashed a swarm
of sweet sugary toffee smoke that rode into sunset as a prolonged finish.
Overall: as I write up this review during a long weekend on
the Isle of Skye, it’s safe to say I’ve had several expressions from this
distillery since arriving. The Skye expression itself felt watery and
lightweight, whist the Neist Point was forceful but lacked any definition. This
distillery exclusive in comparison is more rugged, natural and less engineered,
or at least if feels that way to me. It’s bold but had some added layers to
At £80 you’re paying for the exclusivity of this release. If
this was a bog standard bottling, I’d be having a go from a pricing
perspective. £50 seems about right and at a guess I’d say 4-6 years of age.
Given my experience with some youthful independently bottled Taliskers, it
can offer much at such an age. As a limited visitor only souvenir, I’m
satisfied with the price versus the experience. Given the storm that is brewing
outside and the last flecks of life from the fire embers; this is the perfect
dram for the moment.
Labels: distillery exclusive, featured, no age statement, talisker