It’s finally time for this year’s Diageo Special Releases, which in 2020 will continue the concept of the ‘Rare by Nature’ that had seduced us so much last year. And so there’s continuity with the labels, which replicate the Flora & Fauna theme in a contemporary way, and with the distilleries, which all return in this new range – all except the Singleton bottling, which this year is Dufftown and no longer Glen Ord. For now, thanks to the intercession of the great Corrado, we have managed to get our hands on a bottle of Talisker 8 years old, finished in ex-rum barrels. Trembling with fear we approach the glass.
N: non-existent alcohol, as usual, and we appreciate very much the sobriety of the rum contribution, which doesn’t almost affect the soul of Talisker. The sweetness is clear, white, and heterodox for the distillery: sticky, sugary candies, liquid sugar. A scent of pen with strawberry ink (if you had a childhood, you know what we are talking about). Lime. Then a lot of sea: oysters, sea breeze. Acetone. A thread of peat in the background. A little bit of nutmeg, but just a little bit. With water it becomes sharper and sharper, all in all closer to the young and very young independent Taliskers we have tasted, and a note of wet hay and minerality comes out.
P: the attack is sweet, on vanilla, but of a sweet that you would drink buckets of it. The fight continues between easy, sugar and burnt sugar scents, and the more peaty/burnt and marine part – and it’s a fight without winners. Sea and smoke, and notes of green banana. Burnt marshmallow. More lime. Water makes everything more ethereal and sharp, even here, with a less pronounced sweetness and growing ash.
F: it remains salty and sweet at the same time, with a rather intense smoke in great growth compared to the previous phases.
Very interesting, the profile is curiously naked and sharp, an excellent vehicle for a (extraordinary) distillate that always remains protagonist and gives almost nothing to the tropical seductions of ex-rum barrels. The water displaces enough, and makes everything even more Talisker: great news, which we celebrate with an 88/100.
Recommended soundtrack: Baby Huey – Hard Times.