Arthur Schopenhauer said that “everything exquisite matures slowly”, and we who have chosen whisky as our passion know this well. But Schopenhauer forgot to add a note: exquisite samples do not become exquisite if they spend two years in the bloggers’ cupboards. Bloody Kraut snout, your fault! We arm ourselves with rigorous idealism and try to make up for lost time by sampling two 2019 Diageo Special Releases, before moving on to the 2020 ones. First up is the full strength 15 year old Talisker, which reminds us that “human life is like a pendulum that swings ceaselessly between boredom and pain, with fleeting, and moreover illusory, intervals of pleasure and joy”. For example, when you drink Talisker at cask strength.
N: very full and very sweet, the clear idea of a tangerine pastry comes immediately to mind, or a cream cannoli for the traditionalists. Behind this beautiful blanket of vanilla given by the barrel, here are small and growing signs of Skye: oily naphtha, a hint of peat, slowly the brine gets more evidence. Pandoro with mascarpone cream, but salty. Pink grapefruit and suntan oil. Coastal, but not too much.
P: pungent, with a lively alcohol. The peat becomes energetic, with notes of bonfires, burnt fish, embers and tar. Then there is a congealed and bitter part, between pure liquorice and orange marmalade, which is accompanied by a maritime and herbaceous soul (laurel, but even more so saltwort), which leads to green olives in brine. Angus speaks of Dirty Martini and he’s not wrong. Underneath, acting as an unfailing and unbreakable track, is the sweetness of cooked apple and vanilla from the barrels already dominating the nose: what a richness.
F: long, salted caramel, burnt citrus and pepper. Salt, salt and it doesn’t hurt. With water it becomes mentholated.
Not the most Talisker of Taliskers. The real soul of the distillate comes out in the long run, when it manages to make its way through the cumbersome (but delicious) notes of pastry from the barrel and the unusual burnt veins of peat. That touch of brine, sea and pepper holds it all together in a rather expressionistic picture that perhaps, if the spirit had been less stubborn and solid than Talisker, would have been a little lost between opposing extremes. Instead, it stands proudly on its feet and is a pleasure to drink: 87/100. Still available, among others, on Aquavitae.
Recommended soundtrack: SteveNSeagulls – Thunderstruck, Ac/Dc cover.