Boozehound Reviews: Talisker 10 Year Single Malt Scotch

Talisker 10 year old Single Malt Scotch whisky
The whiskey offers a delicious balance of smokey, spicy and sweet characteristics. — photo by Patrick Strang

In honor of Scotland and its upcoming vote for independence on September 18 — and also to recommend something to drown your sorrows should the Hawkeyes’ offensive woes continue — this week we are revisiting the wide world of Scotch. And what better whisky to try than Talisker 10 year old Single Malt whisky?

Talisker is produced by the only distillery on the Isle of Skye, an island in northwest Scotland located outside of the more well-known Scotch-making regions (Campbelltown, Islay, Highland, Lowland and Speyside). While there’s a certain amount of spiciness and smokiness to Talisker 10 Year, the smoky characteristics are not nearly as pronounced as the peaty Scotch made on the island of Islay.

The bottle claims that it is “made by the sea,” and, while I can’t find any independent verification of the claim, I’m willing to believe them going on taste alone. While Talisker isn’t salty, there’s a quality that brings to mind salted caramel or even a crisp spray of ocean water. It is, in short, delicious and available for $66.99 at many liquor stores including John’s Grocery.

Color: Bright, vibrant gold.

Aroma: Spicy and sweet. There are hints of black pepper, as well as honey and dried fruits like dates and figs. The peaty (read: smokey) characteristics common in Scotch from the Western Isles are restrained and provide the perfect undertone to this clash of spicy and sweet.

Taste: You begin to see why the bottle makes such a big deal about Talisker being made by the sea as the smokiness takes on maritime characteristics that brings to mind seaweed or even smoked salmon.The mouthfeel is perfectly balanced: not too syrupy and not too watery. The finish leaves you with a nice burn that spreads quickly, followed by a smoky aftertaste that seems to the stretch down the throat. Talisker will warm you up gradually and beautifully, and leave you with the perfect afterglow.

Overall: Weary of peaty Islay Scotch like Lagavulin or Laphroig and looking for something more subdued but flavorful in other ways? Talisker has character and complexity without inundating your senses with aromas and flavors of peat.

Grade: A


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