Today’s Malt comes from a distillery I like very much : Talisker. Talisker distillery is located on the isle of Skye which is the 2nd biggest island in the Scottish isles. The Isle of Skye is much bigger in population size (around 9000 inhabitants) ,and houses only one distillery only – Talisker.
Talisker’s malts are known as strong, quite peaty (for non Islay malts), and most of all peppery. The intense pepper and peat is the so called ‘trademark’ of the Talisker malt. The pepper and peat flavors are attributed mainly to the pearty barley used in the production process (around 20 ppm) and the water source used by the distillery Cnoc nan Speireag (Hawk Hill), flows over peat which adds additional peatiness to the whisky. More information can be found on the excellent TWE Talisker page.
The Talisker core line consists of the 10 year old (which is the best selling and highly available), the award winning 18 year, and the more expensive and rare 25 and 30 year old. Other versions include the Talisker 57 (which I will review today), Talisker DE and Manager’s choice versions.
The Talisker 57 North gets its name from the Latitude of the Isle of Skye where the whisky is distilled, and also because of the special ABV % that this whisky is bottled at. It’s called “Special Strength” and not Cask strength for a good reason: The folks at Diageo (owner of Talisker) wanted more flexibility with the alcohol percentage of this bottling, and since CS bottling cannot be “enhanced” with water, this version cannot be called “Cask Strength”. The malt is aged in European Oak casks, and there is no age statement.
Now let’s get going with the Tasting notes:
Talisker 57 North , “Special Strength” , 57% ABV ,£47 (buy here)
Nose: On first whiff, it reminds me of the ocean. Yes, clearly and island malt. Seaweed , Sugar Candied ginger . Some peat, Spice. Quite a briny character. Pepper is not very strong on the nose, however. Quite restrained in comparison to the Palate and finish (see below).
Palate: Oh dear. This is not a malt for the faint of hearted: Peat intertwined with Pepper (Yes, this is a Talisker, what did you expect, eh? 😉 ). It’s Quite salty on the tongue, salty and Oily. The 57% ABV is definitely felt on the tongue. This is a big-bodied malt.
Finish: Pepper. Chilly. Habanero. You name it. This is one of the most peppery finishes I’ve ever felt. You think the 10 year old is peppery? Try this hot mama of a finish. It’s absolutely biting. Wow! The spicy and chilly effect stays for a loooooong time. Oh,man!
The 57 North is not for the faint of hearted. It’s biting, very powerful and non compromising malt. The nose is restrained in comparison to the muscular body and thrashing finish. I did find the finish a bit too peppery for me at first taste, but on the second tasting I liked it more and more.
This expression is not for everyone : If you are a delicate whiskies fan, then look elsewhere, this is going to shock your system! But on the other hand, if you like the 10 year old, don’t mind a nice portion of peat pepper and spice and want to try something with a little more oomph, it’s a great alternative to the regular 10 year old, and/or peated malts.
Thanks again for my good friend and whisky enthusiast Igal T (@hmemcpy) for this sample.