Google Crazy old Talisker

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

December 17, 2019


Crazy old Talisker

I’m afraid we’ll have some pretty rare ones today, one for America, one for the Far-East, and one from my birth year as a bonus.

Talisker 14 yo 1979 (46%, Whyte & Whyte, USA, D&M Liquors, +/-1993)

Talisker 14 yo 1979 (46%, Whyte & Whyte, USA, D&M Liquors, +/-1993) Five stars
Colour: straw. Nose: ah, I remember, I think Moon also had some of these batches, they’re very lightly peated, if not almost unpeated, and would rather go towards stewed vegetable, cauliflowers, cabbage, brussels sprouts, with just a wee dollop of crème de menthe and some soot… A pretty austere nose all in all, without much of the trademark coastalness. Having sad that, there are various fresh mints developing, which is nice, obviously. Spearmint, basil mint… Mouth: it’s a very earthy, oily, almost muddy Talisker at first, that gets then properly coastal, and really very salty. Some white pepper as well, then oysters and whelks. Even langoustines, honestly, but no mayonnaise (that was helpful, S.), rather some wee coconutty touches from the oak. Perhaps samphires, wakame seaweed, hijiki… Solid body. Finish: rather long, and rather on salted tropical fruits, like in some kind of Indonesian dish, the name of which I have long forgotten. The aftertaste is impeccably maritime and waxy ala Old Clynelish, it wins one or two extra-points here, which does not happen often. Comments: this baby just never stopped improving. Not the first time that in these vintages, Talisker and Clynelish kind of converge a wee bit. Give this one time – should you find a bottle.
SGP:463 - 90 points.

Talisker 33 yo 1985/2018 (53.6%, OB, Private, Asia, 384 bottles)

Talisker 33 yo 1985/2018 (53.6%, OB, Private, Asia, 384 bottles) Five stars
One of those single casks Diageo are liberating for Asia only – quite. I’m sorry I don’t read Chinese, so if you’ve got a little more data about this baby, I’m interested. Colour: full gold. Nose: this one was distilled just six years later, but it’s much rounder, less rough, and brighter than the 1979, even if I do find wee whiffs of cabbage indeed. Or Jerusalem artichokes. Other than that, we’re having the whole oysters menu plus mint and lemongrass and one or two madeleines. Beautiful notes of fresh marzipan and putty arising after two minutes. With water: perfect earthiness, mud, mint sauce (not a French thing at all having said that), and, indeed, a tiny wet dog. Yorkshire? Chihuahua? Mouth (neat): bang! Extremely tart and peppery at first, then unexpectedly honeyed, which combines well once you get over the initial surprise. Rather on lime then, but the oysters are always there, while I would even find touches of tabasco. I may be dreaming, though, should be pepper. With water: careful with water, but provided you add just a drop, a lot of salt and liquorice would come out, while you’d avoid a few notes of cardboard. Big pepper too. Finish: wax, salt, pepper, and oysters. A drop of some kind of fruity sauce as well. Perhaps passion fruits… Comments: Talisker is less immediate than Lagavulin on the peatier side, or than Clynelish on the less-peaty one, but in a way, it’s a kind of blend of both, at least in this very case. Very classy malt that you cannot quaff just like that. It needs your attention.  
SGP:564 - 91 points.

Oh and so this little bonus while we’re at it, let's try to climb yet a little higher...

Talisker 1960/1979 (75° proof, Berry Bros & Rudd, 26 2/3 fl oz)

Talisker 1960/1979 (75° proof, Berry Bros & Rudd, 26 2/3 fl oz) Five stars
If you would try to translate those very British-Empire-esque measures, that would be 43% vol. and 75.7cl., but I’ve heard Boris wants to restore those old units, does he not? In theory, I should have kept this baby for my next birthday, as it’s my vintage. I mean, not 1979. But youth is impatient… Colour: gold. Nose: phooh, what a nose. It’s extremely subtle, and emblematic of a great old malt at 43% vol. Old malts could stand low strengths because they were much fatter and better textured, while contemporary distillates are much thinner ‘in general’, and rather need 46 or even 50. So, I would say pink grapefruits, winkles, seaweed smoke on a beach, maracuja, and just coal smoke. It is to be remembered that the still house was burned down in November 1960, and subsequently reconstructed, so this is well ‘old’ Talisker. Marvellous, in a way akin to a 1950s Macallan as far as texture is concerned. Another world. Mouth: thick and even syrupy, and full of animal waxes and oils. Mutton suet, ham, then those pink grapefruits, a touch of rather rough lamp oil, old cigars, old Pu-her tea, salted liquorice, vegetal tar, some kind of local broth made with, well, err, Talisker (bravo, S.!) and just God know what else. Perhaps bone marrow quenelles in a proper vegetable bouillon. Are you hungry yet? What’s noticeable is that the palate is rather less fruity than the nose. For the record, as they used to say at the KGB. Finish: you’ll hate me because I’ll use a wine analogy yet again. A Montrachet from around 1959-1961. Of course not 1960, a bad vintage for French wine! Comments: a benchmark old Talisker. Some say the spirit did not change one iota after the fire, since the SMD (I suppose it was SMD) rebuilt the Distillery exactly as it was. Hard to say, what’ sure is that this is magnificent. At 43% vol.!
SGP:363 - 94 points.

(Mucho gracias Angus and KC)

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