Talisker has a bit of a cult following, with very little in the from of very old whisky out there. Yes, there’s a yearly edition of the 25 year old, a standard 30 year old, and a 35 year old from the 2012 Special Releases, but try to find older independent bottlings or a plethora of official single casks, and you’ll come up totally dry.
This is the first of a series of sherry finished Talisker expressions that Diageo will be releasing. Each expression exploring the Distillery’s relationship with a Sherry Bodega that was instrumental for the sourcing of casks. Since you also need a great story to go along with a bottle like this, we’re told that Talisker’s master blender hand-picked five casks that once held the Bodega’s finest 40 year old Amontillado Sherry. The rather short finish (about three months) took 40 year old Talisker whisky whisky that’s been aged in refill casks, and finished it in those five Delgado Zuleta amontillado casks.
I have seen these casks referred to as “Solera Casks”, and if this is the case, this would be a very rare occurrence indeed. The Delgado Zuleta Bodega offers a 40 year old Amontillado called Quo Vadis, and we can safely assume that the whisky was finished in those casks. We have no information as to chill filtration or added coloring, but I’ll assume that this whisky was treated with the respect it deserves.
Talisker 1978, 40 Years Old, Bodega Series, Delgado Zuleta Amontillado Sherry Finish, 2000 Bottles (50% ABV)
Appearance: Deep amber, very slow legs that are almost evenly spread.
Nose: Delicate and warm. There are dominant notes of baking bread with a bit of brine. Sweetness increases as it breaths with sherry on the nose and warm wood spices coming through, but they’re not dominant. With a bit of time, the dried fruit and the original malt come through.
Palate: Pepper turns into peat and runs into fruity sweetness. Dried fruit coat the palate as it gradually dries out in the mouth, and the spice takes over.
Linger: First sweet, then smoky. It then slowly dries out the mouth, leaving gentle wood spices in its wake.
There is a beautiful subtle understatement in this expression. The Talisker spirit has mellowed in those refill casks, the finish was short enough to not overpower the whisky yet long enough to impart character upon it.