After a couple of fantastic, age-stated Taliskers come a fresh batch of NAS bottles for review – this time in the form of miniatures of both Talisker Storm and Talisker Skye. I cracked them both open to compare side-by-side!
Talisker Storm was released in 2013, presumably part of the NASpocalyspe, a time when Scotland was a victim of its own success and old whiskies were becoming tough to guarantee. Talisker, like many distilleries before it, raced to release NAS versions whose ingredients they could consistently maintain, eschewing the age-statement in favour of a sexy naming gimmick.
I must admit determining the differences between this and Talisker 10 – or even Talisker Skye – is not a trivial task. There’s mention of toasted refill casks, and some flowery language regarding flavour profile, but not much available to the public about what makes these drams fundamentally different… Which in my mind is the worst way in which NAS releases can present themselves, cloaked in mystery and lacking in transparency. Oh well, Talisker wouldn’t be the first (or last).
Talisker Storm is bottled at their usual (and lovely) 45.8%. But the proof (ha) is in the tasting – onwards!
Spicy. Very spicy. We have a significant cloves and pepper thing happening, like the 10 but WAY more in-your-face. In all other ways the smells are bang-on with the 10. Quite sweet, but not overpowering, a salted caramel rather than candy sweetness. Vanilla. And of course, plenty of Talisker-brand peat, rich, cold and oceanic.
Veeery spicy. And strangely floral. A little butterscotch floating around there. Malty and crisp. Olives, brine. The peat takes on a braai chops and bacon smokiness, which is great. The texture is also great – thick and oily, a really heavy spirit. But apart from that, the overpowering spiciness is just a little too intense, making the experience a little… one-sided. This is still clearly Talisker through and through – but doesn’t offer those layers of nautical goodness I get from my beloved 10.
I struggled here, fussing with water in various proportions in multiple glasses. At first, I thought adding a little splash or two helped matters, but on second or third diluted sip I had major water-regret. The first moments helped cut through the curry-powder spice and reveal something delightfully sippable. Shortly thereafter it was flat, disappointing and bordering on off-putting. Neat!
Warming, very pleasant – with that same anchovy Talisker twang. Nice!
Before someone accuses me of age-statement-snobbery, I’d like to mention that many (most?) of my favourite whiskies are NAS – Kilchoman STR, The Spice Tree, Uigeadail, Edited. I have no attachment to age statements apart from some “whisky transparency nerdism”, and when it comes to taste am capable of loving whiskies I know almost nothing about in terms of creation and bottling (most Johnnie Walkers, for instance).
In this case, I simply can’t see the point of switching over from Talisker 10. Tally 10 has far better balance – fruity as well as spicy, floral as well as meaty – and does so with a light touch and a firm understanding of the “sweet spots” for all those different flavours. It handles water or ice effortlessly, and can be configured to suit any mood or time of day without the fuss.
However, Talisker Storm is by no means bad whisky. At its core, you still get a great dose of pure Talisker goodness – this just feels like it should have remained a blending experiment in the heart of the distillery.