Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The distillery is still the only one on Skye and was built in 1830. It changed hands and was renovated a few times before 1915 when a consortium including John Dewar & Sons and John Walker & Sons took it over. Until 1928, Talisker triple distilled their spirit. The distillery was badly damaged by a fire in 1960 and 5 replacement stills, exact replicas, had to be made. Five is a strange number, and Talisker is one of only two distilleries (the other being Macduff/Glen Deveron) that uses two wash and three spirit stills.
Talisker has been a big part of Johnnie Walker blends for over 80 years and the JW 'striding man' logo was on the Talisker label until the 1980s. Talisker sticks to its alcohol level of 45.8%. This is 80 proof in the Sikes hydrometer system. Originally, distilled spirits were “proved” by dissolving gunpowder in the spirit and trying to ignite it. If it burned evenly and steadily, the spirit was "proven." By Sike's hydrometer, proven spirits were at least 57.1% alcohol by volume. The British proof system is built on this number. “Proof” spirits, or 100-proof spirits, are 57.1% alcohol by volume. Basically, to find out British proof, multiply the %abv by 1.75 and you will get a rough idea of its proof. So Talisker 45.8%abv is 80 proof, Glenfarclas 105 is 60%abv, etc.
Talisker 10yo has won the trophy for best single malt under 12 SIX times at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, more than any other malt. It also is the whisky that convinced Kristin back in 2003 that she could like whisky.
Deep, warm sweetness of baked pears and sweet potatoes. Really incredible. Some creamy sherry with a sort of sourness that is sometimes in Chinese food. Sweet and spicy like red peppers and vinegar, tabasco. A smoky element throughout that is throughly exciting, never outpowering any of the other scents, just complimenting them like smoke from a peat fire on the beach wafting downshore.
Much more smoke on the palate. It almost billows in your mouth. Wow. Multi-dimensional. Raw almonds, vanilla and dough. Woody and peppery. Long finish of smoke, dried legumes(beans and stuff), raw green peppers.
I often forget how great this whisky is. It really impressed me today. It is big and satisfying and rich and dense and very well constructed in that it sits in great balance in the mouth, without any flavours ever being out of place or too overpowering. Also, in my experience hosting tastings, it is an amazingly approachable whisky for the new whisky drinker (once you exlplain them that smoke is only an element in some whiskies and not to hold it against the spirit at large) before trying an Ardbeg or something.The only distillery on the isle of Skye and the only one that combines the kinds of flavours that it does. Great value, too, especially for the 18yo. Second helpings, please?
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