Limited Availability on an Inspired Single Malt from a Celebrated Distillery
2009 Talisker 8 Year Old “Old Particular – KL Exclusive” Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($72.99)
“Easily one of the best young Taliskers I’ve ever had.” —David Othenin-Girard
We’ve been exploring Scotland and its 120-plus distilleries for the last decade, and part of that journey is finding new and interesting bottlings to offer our customers. However, sometimes you have to step back and appreciate the pillars of an industry for what they are. Not only is Talisker one of the most recognizable single malts in the world, but it’s widely considered one of the very best distilleries of any kind anywhere in the world. While only a small fraction of the malt distilled will ever be sold as a single malt, the distillery’s releases are roundly lauded as the highest quality.
Today’s featured bottling wonderfully captures all the best characteristics of this cherished distillery. Having bottled a few casks over the years, we’re starting to get a sense of the potential of this incredible whisky. At around the eight-year mark, the spirit takes on a new complexity that the younger versions lacked. Adding to the deep briny Talisker character, expect rich, fresh whole grain bread, roasted lemons, almond butter, camphor, raw honey, and freshly shucked oyster. While Talisker is not the peatiest whisky in Scotland, it does offer the most authentic “Island” experience available, transporting its drinkers directly to the Isle of Skye without the hard edge smoke of the south coast Islay distillers. Of all the incredible casks we’ve sold this year, this might be the most interesting. A truly eye-opening offering from one of Scotland’s true “Grand Cru” distillers.
Talisker has sort of this mythical quality in the pantheon of great malts. The majestic distillery on the banks of Loch Harport has long been a staple of any good Scotch selection thanks to its inclusion in the original “Classic Malt” line-up. While it was always one of the more available high quality malts on the market, Talisker was almost NEVER bottled by independents. Word was that Diageo prohibited the sale of casks to blenders under that name, but a special few bottlers, like Gordon Macphail, had access to filling contracts which allowed them to use the name. Needless to say, the mark was exquisitely rare and we had never tasted a single cask until our friends at Douglas Laing offered one up a few years back. We’ve since bottled a few of these, but have yet to find one as special as this one. While Talisker is moderately peated (circa 22ppm) it has an ocean quality that is almost unmistakable. It’s difficult to pinpoint just where these mindblowing flavors come from, but it must be some combination of the peat and the unusual five still set up. The extreme saltiness makes you believe it’s peatier than it is, but actually it’s the bold malt that is coming through more than the peat.
David Othenin-Girard | KL Staff Member | Review Date: January 29, 2019
There’s always a risk when you pick rare casks from a blue chip distillery. Not to mention the fact that you’ll need to pay a bit of a premium, but also these sorts of casks receive an extra dose of scrutiny from our discerning customers. It’s not enough to put out a cask of Talisker just because you can. It needs to be special. We’ve done it a few times in the past and while all those casks were good, none broke the threshold for true greatness like this one has. The 8 year age statement from Talisker is a historical one and the distillery has an incredibly rare LE making the rounds in Europe right now. So we thought we’d have a crack at filling the void that product has left for lovers of the old still on Skye. Here is what to expect. The nose is all salt and lemons. Touches of sourdough and pumpernickel. Not at all as spirity as past barrels have been. We’ve really turned a corner here in terms of maturity. Some big salted orchard fruit chopped and wrapped in nori. On the palate, big ripe Meyer lemons and salty smoke. Tons of grip and bold peat. It’s always surprising that Tali shows so much intensity of smoke and salt when the peat levels are only around 16-20 ppm (half of the big boys on Islay). Savory herbs, fennel, lovage, coriander, but very clean and pointed. With water, the brine fully takes over. For those who like ‘em salty, you’ve found your malt. Basically seawater. Easily one of the best young Taliskers I’ve ever had.
Andrew Whiteley | KL Staff Member | Review Date: January 29, 2019
While independent casks of Tali are indeed rare, this bottling is perhaps as classic as Talisker gets. Until 1998, Talisker’s predominantly available malt was 8 years of age. Check. The remote distillery on the Isle of Skye with a very long history has always been unique. Its five still setup really utilizes the wash stills’ unique shape to produce a huge amount of reflux without a ton of copper contact. This contributes to the fruity, yet full bodied and peppery nature of the house. Add to that the peat smoke and saline environs and you have a splendid combination that defines the malts of Talisker. All of that is on full display here. Check, check. It’s like sucking down a fresh oyster while sitting on a beach with a blazing fire keeping you warm. Add to that some salty snacks and you have yourself a Talisker afternoon. The malt carries through in a big way here, there is tons of rich cereal to stand up to that incredible and unwavering salinity. Add to that a chance to enjoy it at full proof and you’ve got the real deal.
Jeffrey Jones | KL Staff Member | Review Date: February 07, 2019
From my experience young Talisker selections are really good. They are lively, expressive and delicious. This Old Particular that was distilled in 2009 is no exception. Without the addition of water the nose is smoke and sea and the mouth is sweet and round. It is the addition of water that makes this product shine. The smoke and sea aromas open up and become more pronounced. The flavors are more open to taste with sweet malt, salt and a kiss of smoke coming through.
William Beare | KL Staff Member | Review Date: January 29, 2019
Step forward and give yourself to the embrace of the ocean. Shake hands and mingle with Leviathans, Krakens and Cthulus, while you share in this mystically wonderful sea-sprayed scotch. The nose of the 8 Year Old Particular Talisker Single Barrel is a powerful melding of seaweed and pepper, with some rich, smoked fish pâté both on the nose and the edges of the palate. Touches of candied citrus rind (more bitter than sweet), with another big dose of smashed peppercorn on the finish. I love Talisker, and found this to be a serious treat, not to mention a re-affirmation of the truly special quality on display at this distillery.
Neal Fischer | KL Staff Member | Review Date: January 29, 2019
The first sniffs of this bottling remind me of going to the deli and getting cured, pepper-crusted meats. This is Talisker at its full robustness – it’s bold, brash, and unflinching. Because of the young age, the peat feels fully present and this quality pairs perfectly with Talisker’s core characteristics of black pepper spice and sea salt brine. But underneath all that power, there’s a delicacy here as well. There’s soft vanilla notes and some honey sweetness, and there’s scents and flavors of candied tropical fruits and dehydrated pineapple. The more I nose my glass, the more prominently these fruity dessert elements come out. The palate reverses this power-to-delicacy dynamic with the initial flavors focusing on those tropical fruit notes before the spice and smoke come out and build. As the finish comes on, the spice warms the entire mouth and leaves me with the flavors of ash and smoldering campfire embers.